Families and surviving members of the Humboldt Broncos will likely get their share of the money raised by a GoFundMe campaign very soon.
The advisory committee set up to oversee the fund filed their recommendations to the Court of Queen’s Bench on Thursday.
The committee recommended that $475,000 will go to the families of Broncos who died in the crash while $425,000 will go to the Bronco players who survived.
The committee, which includes Dennis Ball, Mark Chipman, Hayley Wickenheiser, Kevin Cameron and Dr. Peter Spafford, was created in August per Saskatchewan law to decide how the nearly $15-million fund should be allocated.
According to court documents, the fundamental question the committee faced was if the money should be allocated equally or unequally.
To help answer that question, the committee reached out to all the families and survivors to speak with them. The committee had either phone or in-person meetings with 24 of them between Oct. 30 and Nov. 6. Five families or survivors chose not to speak with the committee directly.
Perhaps most poignantly the committee spoke with two of the most severely injured young men, and the parents of two severely injured survivors who could not speak for themselves.
According to the court documents, these young men told the committee that they believed the GoFundMe money was “intended as a gift rather than compensation for future expenses” and “any additional amount they might receive would not make any meaningful difference to their medical conditions or chances for a full recovery.”
“One said that an equal distribution among the surviving players would help them continue to support each other as they travel together down their long road of mental and physical recovery,” the report reads.
A parent of one of the two men who are unable to speak told the committee “what they need is prayers, not money.”
Overall, court documents show most families preferred an equal distribution of the money, but also recognized that there may be other fair ways to distribute it. However, three families insisted an equal split was the only fair way to disperse it.
The documents do state a number of families of those who lost their lives in the crash feel “they have been more adversely affected than the survivors and their families” because the families of survivors still have their son. The committee made it clear, though, that the families have no resentment and celebrate the recoveries of the survivors.
In the end, the committee decided to disperse $50,000 more to the families who lost loved ones in the crash, finding “there is a huge difference in emotional circumstances between most of the families who lost a loved one and most of the families who did not.”
The committee went on to add that while the family members of those who died will likely not have the same future expenses as the family members of those who were injured, it is not dispersing the money to compensate expenses but as a gift.
Each family and surviving Bronco have already received a $50,000 interim payment, meaning, if approved, families of the deceased will be given a total of $525,000 and survivors a total of $475,000.
Any remaining money after allocation will be placed in trust and split equally among the survivors.
Equal distribution seen as ‘path of least resistance’ to avoid family tension
The committee report also provides insight into possible tensions among the families affected by the April 6 crash.
Three claimants, each separately claiming to represent all of the families involved, asserted every one of them was “unanimous” in supporting an equal distribution of the GoFundMe money.
“Two went so far as to suggest that unless the advisory committee recommended an equal distribution the reputations of individual committee members could be ruined,” the report writes.
The committee said while the claimants honestly believed they were right, “we did not find their relatively aggressive approach to be helpful.”
Others who spoke to the committee said they felt conflicted about equal distribution of the funds, but “overtly supported an equal distribution to maintain harmony within the group.”
“Some say an equal distribution would be the ‘path of least resistance’, and many express their concern that an unequal distribution would affect friendships among the group.”
The report continues, saying there were concerns uneven distribution would “pit families against each other” or “cause infighting.”
A hearing to approve the committee’s recommendations has been set for Nov. 28 in Saskatoon.
A full list of the court documents can be found here.
With files from 980 CJME’s Arielle Zerr and 650 CKOM’s Chris Vandenbreekel.