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‘Incredibly, overwhelmingly powerful’: Les Canadiennes’ Jill Saulnier rallies the community to overcome a tragedy

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The Nova Scotia native is holding a charity hockey fundraiser for the Barho family.

Shanna Martin / CWHL

When the news of the tragic loss of seven children in a house fire in Halifax started to spread, Jill Saulnier wanted to help out any way she could.

Saulnier, a Halifax native, was asked by people in the community to support efforts to raise money for the Barho family, who suffered the tragic loss. However, now living in Montreal the ability to help was limited.

Because of that, she organized a charity hockey game to be held on Saturday, March 16.

“I thought, you know what, I have to do something to help out and bring the community together,” said Saulnier. “And, obviously hockey is my foundation and I decided this is going to be the best way to do something.”

Social media accounts around the hockey world have shared information about the event, including Hockey Night in Canada, and several Canadiennes teammates.

“It’s incredibly, overwhelmingly powerful,” Saulnier said of the response she has received. “There’s so much nonsense that goes on in the world today. And then when something tragic happens, you really see the hearts of people come out.

“It’s been really emotional in a really good way but also, of course, a sad way.”

The event will start at 3:30 p.m. with a family skate before a moment of silence and opening remarks, followed by the charity game.

“Most of my relationships with people in the Maritimes have that hockey foundation, whether it be an event I met them at, or on the street or a tournament I was at,” she said. “I’ve definitely developed a relationship in the hockey community back home and it’s amazing to see them all come together.”

The game will take place at the BMO Centre in Bedford, a suburb of Halifax, and one of the biggest source of funds will come from the silent auction, of which some items will be online so people can support the cause without being in Nova Scotia.

The auction has items from several people both in and out of the hockey world, including some Canadiennes teammates, other hockey stars and ticket packages, among other items. Online bidding has started and is available here.

“I joke around and I say that Nova Scotia is one degree of separation, and it feels right now that Canada is as well,” she said. “I’ve heard from people all across the country, all across North America, offering auction items, offering donations and just offering support.”

Saulnier didn’t know the Barho family personally, but she said that the hockey community, and the community at large, has rallied around them.

“While Nova Scotia is a smaller province, it certainly does not feel like a small community right now,” she said.