HAMMONDS PLAINS: Hundreds of people filed into the BMO Centre in Bedford from across Halifax, East Hants, and even one fan who made the trip all the way from Toronto—all in the name of showing support for the Barho family.
The Barho Family charity hockey day was organized by Halifax Olympic women’s hockey player Jill Saulnier, with the assistance of two friends, Kevin and Staci Rimmer.
Ebraheim and Kawthar Barho’s seven children all died in a tragic and devastating fire at their Spryfield home that sent shockwaves across Canada. Ebraheim was seriously burned and remains in hospital. He has undergone several rounds of skin grafts. The family came to Canada through sponsorship from the Hants East Assisting Refugee Team (HEART) Society. They were just days away from returning to Elmsdale, where they had called home upon arrival two years ago.
Saulnier won silver with the Canadian team at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics. She is a member of the Montreal Canadiennes of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, who are set to begin battle for the Clarkson Cup on March 23.
She admitted to being the least organized person, so that’s why the Rimmer’s were heading it up.
“To be able to pull this whole thing off needed them,” Saulnier told the crowd. “I’m a huge believer in the power of community, and how much love can bring people together. Nothing we do can bring the children back, but we certainly can do something powerful and impactful.”
Saulnier said before they hit the ice they had raised $15,000, so a goal of $50,000 is what she had her mind set on. She will announce the final tally after the close of the online auction items on March 30.
Sophie Lavery-Grant of Elmsdale jumped at the chance to be on the ice when Saulnier went looking for volunteers. She was a goalie for the game, and even made a couple nice snags off the Canadian Olympian to keep the game 7-7 late.
“It’s something major that happened and I wanted to give back any way I could,” said Lavery-Grant.
She didn’t hesitate when the request for players was sent out.
“I messaged Jill right away and she responded within five minutes to say thanks and that I was on the team,” said Lavery-Grant before taking to the ice. “It’s the best way that I could give back.”
Torontonian Robert Hodgins, an avid hockey fan and jersey collector, flew to Halifax just for the auction. He paid $2,000 to obtain an autographed Saulnier jersey. He was aware of the reasoning for the charity hockey event.
“When you find out that people that are new to Canada escaping war and then they die in a house fire, I thought the very least we could do as Canadians is support that type of cause,” he told Anjuli Patil of CBC Nova Scotia on March 16.
Saulnier’s team won in a shootout 2-1, but it was the Barho family and HEART Society that were the real winners. Ther online auction is ongoing until March 30, with Saulnier saying she will announce the final tally of what was raised in April.
Lavery-Grant commented on the game, which quickly saw her squad down 5-1 late in the first before a rally to make it 7-7 after two forcing the shootout. Saulnier was the first shooter the goalie faced, and made a nice save to keep the Olympian off the scoresheet.
”I just read the play as best I could and the puck ended up going off the toe of my pad,” she said. “It may have been the biggest save of my career.””
Mayor Mike Savage spoke during pre-game ceremonies, and acknowledged that some of the firefighters who responded to the call were on the ice with the firefighters team.
Lavery-Grant said it’s great to see all the support of love and kindness for the Barho’s since that devastating day on Feb. 19.
“It’s absolutely amazing how many people have come out, the donations,” she said. “I’m just so happy I could do something to help out.”
MAIN PHOTO: Sophie Lavery-Grant of Elmsdale and Halifax women’s hockey Olympian Jill Saulnier pose for a photo post-game after the charity hockey game in support of the Barho Family. (Healey photo)