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Horizon School Division
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April 30, 2018 - A Message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

April 30, 2018

Where to begin. I suppose, first to apologize. Over the past three weeks, I have sat down on numerous occasions to begin the process of communicating a message I could share with each of you. In each case, I have been halted by my own feelings of loss or by yet another tragedy that has significantly impacted our homes, our schools, and our communities. April has been our worst nightmare, a dark spot in our history as a system, a province, and a country. Winston Churchill said, “If you are going through [the darkest place you can imagine], keep going”. I think that’s what all of us have done over these last weeks…we’ve just kept soldiering on, sometimes in spite of our own need to grieve. The light we enjoyed from small victories or incredible acts of kindness, seemed to be almost swallowed up with more and more news of tragedy and loss. I leaned heavily on those incredible leaders in my office and across our system who were ensuring the needs of our children were being met on a daily basis. Your work continues to remind me of the strength in our world that is the human condition and it burns brightest through learning, leadership, love, and compassion. We know the month of April was in complete contrast to what we knew to be our normal, and our newly required reality has ensured that our normal is forever changed. We have lost sons, daughters, siblings, fathers, friends, classmates, students, coaches – and every one of them had countless other connections to our communities, our schools, and our families across Horizon School Division. Saturday, April 21 saw the final memorial service honouring the 16 wonderful souls we lost following the unthinkable April 6th tragedy of the Humboldt Broncos bus accident. In the early hours of April 15, after a single-vehicle accident, we mourned deeply the loss of a grade 12 student from Raymore School and a student from Robert Southey School who were deeply connected to these communities and so many others across our system. On April 17, Horizon’s Coordinator of Learning Services, Jan Paproski, lost her father to a long health-related battle. We also extended our deepest condolences to our friend and partner in education, Chief John McNab of George Gordon First Nation, who lost his brave battle with cancer on April 18. On April 19, a recent Horizon School Division graduate from Bruno School, an incredible man, tragically lost his life far too young. Also that week, we mourned the loss of a community member from Lake Lenore whose life was also cut too short. Finally, on Friday, April 27, the Horizon community was once again shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of one of our long-time friends and bus driver at Bulyea School. April 2018 was easily the hardest month of my life and, I know for many of our lives.

At times, all this heartache has felt nearly impossible to bear. But through it all, we have not been alone. We are finding strength in each other, in our communities and in the support we have received from family, friends, and partners across the world. With support, we will move forward from this dark time. I want to offer my deepest and most sincere thanks to my Board of Education whose support went above and beyond their mandate but without it, we could not have continued to ensure our work was able to be accomplished. I also want to thank our fellow Bronco Board members and Bronco staff who worked tirelessly to ensure our families and billet families were supported in the best way possible. I want to also thank our fellow Saskatchewan school divisions and their Directors of Education who provided experienced personnel and other supports to help us address the trauma in communities and schools within Horizon. Thank you to our Premier, Honourable Scott Moe and the province of Saskatchewan with all its supportive ministries, who provided us with personnel and any other supports we requested to meet the needs of students, staff, caregivers, and communities. The greatest appreciation also goes out to Partners Family Services, the first responders (including Fire, EMS, and police), countless volunteers, the Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response, the City of Humboldt, and finally, to each of you, my incredible staff of Horizon and Englefeld School Divisions. With your ongoing support of our students and your continued strength in the face of some of the greatest adversity we have ever had to face, we have persevered. In the wake of these tragedies, we have come together as communities, as provinces, and as nations in ways that make me incredibly humbled but incredibly proud to be part of Horizon.

I will leave you this extremely hard month, with a quote I feel is fitting for all of us enduring grief and sadness. It comes from 19th Century writer, Washington Irving, who so aptly stated, “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.”

- Kevin

Kevin C. Garinger, B.Ed, M.A.Ed
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205