Mayor gives key to city to parents of Humboldt player whose organ donation began a movement

In an emotional ceremony at Winnipeg city hall, the parents of a Humboldt Bronco hockey player were presented with a key to the city in honour of their advocacy for organ donation.

Logan Boulet, 21. was one of the 16 people killed in the 2018 bus crash near Almey, Sask. Next week will mark four years since the tragedy.

The day after the crash, Bernadine and Toby Boulet decided to donate Logan’s organs. Logan had registered as a donor after being inspired by a former coach and mentor, Ric Suggitt, who died in 2017.

“In what would become known as the ‘Logan Boulet Effect,’ an estimated 150,000 Canadians became organ donors in the days and weeks that followed,” Mayor Brian Bowman said at the ceremony.

Six people benefited from Logan’s donated organs.

His donation inspired the creation of Green Shirt Day, an annual awareness day to support organ donation and registration across Canada. The campaign’s goal this year is to have 100,000 more donors register.

“We will talk about organ donation and registration every year for as long as it’s needed,” Bernadine said.

Bernadine says that she and her husband, who live in Lethbridge, Alta., have met people on organ donor lists over the years and have witnessed the impact that an increase in registrations has.

“The hope that they get every time that number [of donors] goes up, they know they are that much closer to getting a transplant. It makes a different to them and their outlook, it makes a difference to their families,” she said.

Logan Boulet, 21, had signed an organ donation card just before the tragedy, and was kept on life support while matches were found for his organs. (SJHL)

Bernadine is an early childhood educator in Saskatchewan, and shared that her Grade 2 students are enthusiastic about learning about organ donation.

Next week, her school is hosting a Green Shirt Day assembly for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

“All these hands went up, I could see even in these seven-year-olds the impact of Green Shirt Day was making, and they wanted to be a part of the assembly when they don’t even know what an assembly is because, as Grade 2 [students], they have never actually been to an assembly,” Bernadine said.

Winnipeg connection

Toby Boulet’s father’s side of the family is orginally from St. Boniface, but relocated to Dumas, Saskatchewan.

He shared a memory of travelling to Winnipeg with his son Logan for a hockey tournament when his son was nine.

Familiar with Winnipeg, Toby acted as a tour guide for the team during the trip. Logan was a history buff, he says, and when he heard about the Nonsuch boat exhibit at the Manitoba Museum, he couldn’t wait to go.

“He wanted to climb around on the boat the way I did [as a kid]. Whenever we travelled somewhere, he was always enthralled with the places we got to go see, and he knew about them before we got there.”

Manitoba has an online organ donor registry where people can declare their intent to donate their organs. Donors must be declared legally brain dead by ICU physicians and kept on a ventilator that keeps their organs viable. 

It is common practice for Manitoba’s organ donation agencies to reaffirm an individual’s intent to donate with their families when they pass.

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