Wayne Olson, a community minister for the Church of Christ in Dauphin, stands outside Parkland Crossing in Dauphin, Man., on Wednesday, June 21, 2023. Olson is one of the organizers of a community memorial service for the 16 people who were killed in a bus crash a week ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kelly Geraldine Malone

RCMP to release names of Manitoba crash victims as city gathers in mourning

RCMP are set to release the names of the people who died in a fiery bus crash a week ago as a small western Manitoba community prepares to gather in mourning for the 16 lives lost.

“Death happens but we never forget the ones who passed away. They will always be in our hearts. They have moved us and shaped us,” said Wayne Olson, a community minister for the Church of Christ in Dauphin and one of the organizers of a community memorial service Thursday evening.

The minibus was carrying a group of seniors from Dauphin and the surrounding area to a casino last Thursday, when it went into the path of a semi-trailer truck on the Trans-Canada Highway near the town of Carberry, some 190 kilometres to the south.

Health officials have said nine others are in hospital. Four are in critical condition.

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson and first responders who were at the crash are scheduled to attend the RCMP press conference in Dauphin.

As it becomes clear who died in the crash, Olson said it is important that people have a place to come together.

The service, organized by the Dauphin and District Ministerial Association, is to include comment from Mayor David Bosiak and Ernie Sirski, reeve for the Rural Municipality of Dauphin. There will be hymns, older songs that those affected by the crash likely knew well, Olson said.

A prayer is to be said in English and Ukrainian, to reflect the heritage of the region.

Olson said he hopes it will bring comfort to the community.

Kim Armstrong, administrator for Dauphin Active Living Centre where many seniors spend time, said people have been waiting to learn who from their community was on the bus. Once they know for sure, she said, the grieving process will begin.

“It’s timely that we can come together in the evening and just sit together, whether it’s in silence, whether we want to talk, but the community will be able to come together,” she said.

The seniors’ centre has had counsellors and other supports for those who stop by. She said it will continue to be open for people who need to talk or don’t want to be alone.

A week after the deadly crash, a flower memorial has grown outside the centre.

Olson said it will be important to celebrate the lives of those who died. They made an impact on their families, and throughout Dauphin and the larger rural municipality.

He said he thinks about how the minibus was full of seniors on a trip ready to have a lot of fun.

“You have to think the laughter and the joy on that bus was tremendous and tragedy struck,” he said.

“We are not guaranteed tomorrow.”