My most compelling curling story would have to be the 2019 Brier in Brandon, MB. My friend and I had our tickets purchased and hotel room booked about a year in advance. I even had my flight booked from Saskatoon to Brandon as my husband and I would be en route home from spending a couple of months “snowbirding” in BC. He would drop me off at the Saskatoon airport on the way and I would meet up with my friend in Brandon. I was all set, or so I thought.

A couple weeks before the Brier, we received one of those dreaded phone calls at 5:30 am where you instantly know something is wrong: our son was calling to tell us that our home was on fire. We packed up immediately and started the trek back home to northern Saskatchewan.

Upon arriving home, we discovered that the house was completely destroyed, from the fire, and the efforts to extinguish the flames. Luckily, the house-sitter had woken up to the smell of smoke and had gone to a neighbour’s and called 911. However, our sweet kitten Pumpkin did not make it. We were grateful everyone was safe and that we had many of our personal belongings with us as we had been wintering away. However, we had lost a lifetime of pictures and memories.

We contacted our insurance company to get a claim started quickly and some friends offered us their house to live in for as long as needed. I made the decision to still attend the Brier in Brandon – tickets were purchased, hotel room booked, insurance claim started, place to live at home – why sit around and twiddle your thumbs?

While this was happening, my Brier buddy Karen started doing some behind-the-scenes work. For many years, Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs has been my favourite curling team. We were sitting in our seats watching the Saturday evening draw when a representative from Curling Canada (Marcy, I think was her name) came and introduced herself to me. She asked if I would like to carry the Northern Ontario teams’ placard during the introduction of teams prior to the Sunday evening game.

I was ecstatic. Marcy went and got me a special t-shirt to wear during the ceremony as well as giving me instructions on where to meet, etc. I was able to meet the team and talk with them before marching out carrying the Northern Ontario placard.

After attending more than a dozen Tim Hortons Briers across Canada in my life, I will never forget the feeling of walking out with the teams. Even when things seemed to be going so badly, I was reminded that there is good everywhere and that my curling family will always be there to support me. It gave me a happy story to counter the story of the fire, and a great memory to reflect on. I appreciate the effort put in by Karen, Marcy, and everyone else involved. Thank you.

Jackie Hritzuk