Teenage boy in hockey gear on a rink, holding two silver cups.

Bruce grew up playing hockey and rugby.

by Fred Broughton

Bruce Broughton grew up in Niagara Falls Ontario, playing hockey, rugby, fishing and having fun with his two brothers Curtis and Wray. After his first year of engineering school Bruce went to work in Alberta for an Ontario-based construction firm. He was working on a 60-foot high building near Grande Prairie Alberta when he fell to his death June 28, 2006 at the age of 22.

On Father’s Day 2006 while on my way to a job site in British Columbia I stopped off in Grande Prairie to visit Bruce. After landing and driving to the job site to pick him up, we went for dinner at a local restaurant and celebrated Father’s Day. That evening Bruce stayed at the motel with me. In the morning we had breakfast then we went to his job site. Bruce went to work and I went on to Hudson Hope B.C. to do my job as a health and safety manager providing training to work safely.

The following week I drove back to Grand Prairie and we went for dinner again. Bruce told me it was time for him to come home and he would call us Wednesday night around 12:00 a.m. to let us know what time to pick him up at the airport on Sunday.

Wednesday, about 10 minutes to midnight, an unexpected knock at our door. It was a policeman who asked if anyone was home with me. I said yes my wife had gone to bed. He asked me to get her up as he needed to talk to us. We sat in the living room and I told him that the phone would be ringing at 12 o’clock as our son was out west and coming home. The officer’s face went completely white and he said there has been an accident, Bruce had fallen 60 feet and died. Bruce’s lifeless body came home that Sunday in the cargo compartment of an airplane. Bruce kept his promise but it was not what we wanted or expected.

During the first visitation at the funeral home, a young lady working there asked to speak with me. She said there was a new organization called Threads of Life that we might be interested in. They help families in our situation. She provided a phone number so we could contact them. I spoke with Shirley Hickman who invited me to attend a meeting/training session in September of that year.

I attended that session and it changed me inside for the better. Everyone was asked to introduce themselves and tell a little bit about their story. After telling about Bruce’s death, and how it had broken my heart in two, and the pain, a young lady told about losing her husband and the father of their very young children. That completely shattered all my feelings but I then knew then our family could go on living with the pain even though it would take a long time.

Soon my wife Eva and I attended Threads of Life training sessions and became a part of the speaker’s bureau and Volunteer Family Guides. We have also participated and spoken at several Steps for Life walks.

In 2011 I was approached by Adele Tait (Investigation Specialist at Alberta Government Occupational Health and Safety Investigation Unit) and asked if I would be interested in helping out with a new program that was to begin in Alberta. I agreed and flew to Calgary to have Bruce’s story videotaped and used by Safety in Schools to begin their program.

The Safety in Schools Foundation of Canada is a non-profit organization established in 2011 to deliver occupational health and safety courses free to high school students. From their grassroots beginnings that started with one school and seven students, they are now in over 450 schools in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Over 150,000 Safety in Schools students have received industry-recognized certificates.

I believe that life is like a string that is pulled tight with your fingers. Every event in life cuts the string making it not the same length so the string and our lives will be changed forever. It is up to us to live with the lasting results. We can choose to live quietly or to become productive and make a difference in the world. The Broughton family has chosen the latter, thanks to Threads of Life.