Tag Archives: remembrance

Humboldt Broncos Bus Crash Remembrance Tradition


Informant NR was visiting family in Canada on the anniversary of a bus crash that killed 16 and injured 13 more, mostly players on the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team on April 6th, 2018. The crash was widely publicized and became a major topic in Canada. In the years since, NR says that many Canadians have started wearing hockey jerseys on the day of the crash to commemorate the dead and injured that were players on the team.

Main Piece:

“Everyone in Canada on that day wears a hockey jersey. I remember, one time we were, um, spending time with family in Hamilton, and we just happened to be in town on that day, and I remember, we did some sort of like, house tour, and this like lady who was apparently normally very fancy and like, put together, she was wearing a jersey as well., and like, she was the realtor.”


Hockey is a very popular sport in Canada, and the tragedy of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash really shook the population. Though there is a trend of folk speech disrespecting or making light of tragedies that are pushed as serious topics by national media, this practice moves against that trend. This may be because the victims were largely children, and because the sport of hockey acts as a uniting force for the country. The tradition is also very accessible, as many Canadians already own hockey jerseys for their preferred teams, so many do not have to purchase any additional materials to participate in the remembrance.

This national remembrance custom stands out to me because of the rising trend of insensitive or crude humor as a response to tragedy after the rise of mass media. In Of Corpse: Death and Humor in Folklore and Popular Culture, Peter Narvaez examines this phenomenon, illustrated for example through the internet memes surrounding the September 11th terrorist attacks. One theory he concludes with is the idea that mass media, by instructing everyone to care deeply about all major events, even those that had no connection to them, spurred an opposite reaction of humor jokes at the expense of those who suffered the tragedy. What is interesting to me is that this reaction does not seem to have happened in response to this tragedy. My analysis of this is that the victims, mostly teenaged hockey players, who had no fault in the driving accident, are very much aligned with the Canadian cultural ideal. They were generally of a privileged race and gender, and played Canada’s most popular and beloved sport. This endears them to the rest of the population, since even if they didn’t know any of the victims, they probably do know a teenage boy hockey player, or someone who used to be a teenage boy hockey player. The Canadian mass media succeeded at invoking sympathy for the victims of this tragedy because they were so relatable and emblematic of the Canadian establishment.

Armenian Song – “Garun a”

(This conversation took place in Armenian)

Main Piece

Lyrics (Original Script):

Գարուն ա ձուն ա արել, 

Վայ լէ լէ, վայ լէ լէ, վայ լէ լէ, լէ լէ 

Իմ եարն ինձնից ա սառել, 

Ախ չորնա, վախ այ եար, 

չար մարդու լեզուն 

Վայ լէ լէ, վայ լէ լէ, վայ լէ լէ, լէ լէ 

Phonetic Script

Garun a dzyun a arel

vay le le, vay le le, vay le le le le

Eem yar-n indznits a sarrel

Akh chorna, vakh ay yar

char martu lezun

vay le le, vay le le, vay le le le le


It is spring, it has snowed

Oh le le, Oh le le, Oh le le le le.

My sweetheart, from me, is frozen

Oh, dry up, my sweetheart, 

the evil man’s tongue

Oh le le, Oh le le, Oh le le le le.

Lyrics (Translation):

It is springtime and yet it has snowed

Oh le le, Oh le le, Oh le le le le.

My sweetheart has turned cold

Oh, how I wish for the evil man’s tongue to dry

Oh le le, Oh le le, Oh le le le le.


My informant explained that when she lived in Armenia, this song was a significant part of the day of remembrance for the Armenian Genocide, which took place on April 24, 1915. She explained that it is a song to be understood by the heart and felt by the soul. The song remembers not only those who lose their lives in the Genocide of 1915, but also the Armenian Massacre of 1894, which is what the song is originally referencing. When asked where she learned this song, she told me she could not remember, and does not remember a time when she didn’t know the song. 

This song has no known author but was popularized by Father Komitas, who was an Armenian preacher and singer. This song is a very powerful aspect of Armenian culture about the Armenian Massacre of 1894, which occurred during the Spring. The lyrics emphasize the notion that during the Spring, a time that brings flourishment and growth, there was “snow.” This snow is metaphorical and represents the cold and bitter nature of the massacres during a time that is usually celebrated for bringing flowers and warm weather. Komitas’s rendition of this song became the canon.


This song is sung by various members of the community on April 24 every year. This is a recurring tradition in Armenia, but can be performed by Diasporan Armenians in other countries.

My Thoughts

Being Armenian myself, I completely understood the emotions my informant was trying to communicate. The gravity of this song is not easily communicated to one who is not Armenian. I found it interesting that, in times of mourning, the people unite to sing a song. Music has always been a big part of my life, so I understand the unity that singing this song may bring to a people. As mentioned above, Garuna is a folk song that was popularized by Komitas. With that being said, it is difficult to find an interpretation or arrangement of this song that is not in some way a cover of Komitas’s interpretation. It is difficult to trace the original version of this song, and it is just as difficult to verify how close Komitas’s version is to the actual folk song.

I encourage you to listen to the song, sung by Komitas himself, to understand the feeling the song communicates. I have cited a link to a YouTube video below.


“Komitas – Garuna (Live Voice).” YouTube, 5 Dec. 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8PK51TKepc.


Main Piece

I know it from the Australian perspective. So ANZAC day is a day for both Australia and New Zealand, but I know Australians celebrate it this way. You take a pause in the morning–well we celebrated it then–to remember the fallen soldiers. It’s for the first World War. It’s supposed to be everyone, but it’s when they landed in Gallipoli, which I think is in Turky or somewhere in the Middle East, and a bunch of people died. It’s similar to American memorial day. It’s like the whole country stops, and it’s like you have a toast to them. We did it with orange juice. Then, the rest of the day, you celebrate. I think the morning toast is called the Dawn Service to commemorate the attack. They were slaughtered.

Background/Context: This was told to me by my father. He lived in Australia in ’84 for one year when he was 15 years old with his older brothers, who were high school and college-aged. There were no parents, and they were not used to being such a white country as Australia. My dad is Filipino, but he spent most of his childhood in Papua New Guinea.


After visiting Australia myself, I think in part this is such a big tradition because this was the first time Australia sent large numbers to fight in far away shores. They didn’t have to, which made it even more devestating. WWI was awful, and this is one of the lasting memories. Like my dad said, it reminds me of Memorial day, but it seems more emotional.

Death Ritual

Me: do you have a ritual you do when you lose someone close to you?:

“When I was seven years old during one summer my cousin who was three years older than me passed    away right around her birthday. She had a rare heart condition that no one really know about… I was with my younger cousin     who was visiting me when we both got the call and found out. Now whenever I       see a heart shaped rock I always pick it up for her.”

Me: When did you start doing that?:

“I started doing it right after it happened I think. When we went to her actual funeral we all put heart shaped rocks on her grave during her ceremony, and ever since then it’s been something I’ve always done.”


Background: Zoe is a twenty-year old girl from Aspen, Colorado and currently attending USC.

Context: Zoe told me this story at brunch discussing the pain of experiencing a family member who passes away.

Analysis: I was very touched by this story that she shared with me because losing someone important to you is a very intimate, difficult, and emotional thing to share. I have been fortunate enough to only have lost one person in my immediate family in the years I have been alive, so I could not fully understand what losing a close friend or cousin would feel like at such a young age. Everyone has a different understanding of what happens after death and what capacity we have to maintain in contact with the deceased when we are still living. I think collecting something beautiful that reminds you of a special person you lost is a really amazing way of remembering what they meant to you. Zoe has a physical manifestation of remembering her cousin, which I think is a really incredible away of believing that she is seeing a little piece of her cousin every time she comes across a heart-shaped rock in nature.

Remembrance Day

“In Canada, we have a holiday called Remembrance Day on November 11. It’s for remembering those who died in service for their country. We remember these brave men and women for their courage and devotion, even in the face of extreme hardship. For this holiday, we wear red poppies on our clothes for support. This tradition is supposed to come from the famous poem “In Flanders Fields” from World War 1, I think. I remember reading that poem in school. On this day, we usually attend different ceremonies and visit memorials. The most remembered wars for this day are the World Wars and the Korean War. I remember my friend mentioning that she really appreciates that her grandfather, who fought in the Korean War is honored by the Canadian government as a war veteran who fought well for his country. Especially since this war is often called the Forgotten War.  This day reminds us as to why we must work for peace every day of the year.”

The informant finds this holiday to be an especially important one, because she believes that it is essential to honor anyone who has allowed future generations to be able to live in piece. It is also important to her because some of her family members fought in wars, and it allows her to honor and remember them, and to see others honor and remember them. In our everyday life it can often be easy to forget such important things, so have a Remembrance Day is important to re-remember those who have allowed us to have peace.

Remembrance Day closely resembles Veterans Day, and even happens on the same date. I thought they might be identical things, but from researching it on the Internet, it seems as though Veterans Day is something unique to the United States whereas Remembrance Day is celebrated by many different countries of the world. Personally, for Veterans Day, I do not think I do anything special to commemorate those who have fought. Remembrance Day seems to be a bigger deal in Canada, with many national ceremonies happening. I think that the act of wearing red poppies is a nice sentiment, as it is a physical symbol of what he day is about.