The Moose Jaw Warriors hope that they've found a tangible way to honour the memory of Ethan Williams.
Moose Jaw Warriors
Williams, a 16-year-old Warriors prospect who played one Western Hockey League game with the team, died on July 29.
The Warriors donated the gate from their annual Black-White intrasquad game, which amounted to $2,000, to Moose Jaw's Journey to Hope. They will do the same tonight for their pre-season rookie game against the Swift Current Broncos at Mosaic Place. Fans are asked to make a donation at the door to gain admission.
"He was a great young man, they're a great family," said Warriors general manager Alan Millar. "Chris and Shannon Williams and the family are close to the Warriors' hearts. We just felt that this was a good opportunity to do something in Ethan's memory and help with awareness and help a really good local cause here in Moose Jaw."
Journey to Hope is comprised of individuals in the community of Moose Jaw and area who are members of the Survivors of Suicide Support Group or have been affected by a loss through suicide.
"Journey to Hope is all about suicide awareness and prevention. We do the fundraising, but the next step is where the work begins really," said Della Ferguson from Journey to Hope. "It's about doing awareness work in schools and we've done awareness work with seniors. We've done training for councillors and school workers in all forms of suicide awareness and prevention in our community."
That work in the community extends beyond Moose Jaw and broadly encompasses the Five Hills Health Region and the two area school divisions — Holy Trinity and Prairie South.
"We have a wealth of resources in this community and beyond.We want to ensure people are aware of those so that they're not suffering in silence, that they know who they can call and where they can go to. There are safe people and places that they can go to, to reach out for help," said Ferguson who was touched that the Warriors sought out a way to honour Williams.
"It's a very humbling gesture that they've so kindly chosen to honour the work of Journey to Hope," she said. "I'm very proud that there's an organization in Moose Jaw that have such empathetic hearts to make such a gesture."
Williams was a fifth round pick, 90th overall, in the 2012 WHL bantam draft. While he had never been a full-time member of the team, the Winnipeg-product had been to two spring camps and two training camps with the club.
"With what happened to Ethan, we did have some discussions with some of the young guys who are in our organization who knew him well," said Millar.
Gregg Drinnan from the WHL blog Taking Note reported that there have been at least four teenage hockey players from the west who have taken their own lives in the past year.
Millar said the Warriors are trying to ensure that they're players have the healthiest playing and living environment that they can provide.
"We've had some discussion with Sask. Mental Health and some other people. We feel that some type of orientation seminar looking at the big picture would be beneficial. It's something we've talked about for awhile," said Millar.
While the team is looking at ways to be proactive when it comes to the mental health of their players, Millar also feels that the groups and the community that surrounds the team does an exemplary job in their role of helping developing the players as people.
"People in and out of the organization are invaluable. We have our support staff at Vanier and the great people there — Brad Moser, Rick Bell and Ms. (RoseMary) Hartney. The billet families are such an integral part of what we do and our players lives. From top to bottom you need to have good people and I believe we have those people to be able to offer the best player environment that we can," said Mllar. "A lot more goes on than what people see between the boards here at Mosaic Place. The organization has to surround itself with good people to do everything we can to provide that right environment."