EDMONTON, AB - Chris Joseph was honoured and thankful but admitted there were mixed emotions.
On one hand, he was being recognized for his dedication to improving the safety of Canadian highways after the tragic accident that saw the loss of 16 members of the Humboldt Broncos Hockey Club, including his son Jaxon.
Joseph was the recipient of the Ace Bailey Award of Courage at the 2019 NHL Alumni Awards Gala in Toronto on Monday, a distinction presented to "a recipient who has shown exceptional courage and exemplary determination in life."
The Oilers Alumni member, his wife and many other parents affected by the tragedy have taken a concerted effort to ensure Alberta and Saskatchewan truck drivers have the best training possible when entering the field.
But on the other, Joseph would trade everything in the world to reverse it all.
"When I first heard I was winning the award, I kind of had some mixed feelings. We're very honoured but we would trade it in in a heartbeat for a little quick trip back in time to change everything," Joseph said.
"But some of my peers, they felt some of the work we had done has been worthy of some attention and they decided to honour me. I think in doing so they honoured not just me but my wife and all the other Humboldt Broncos families for some of the work we have done to try to make the roads safer. I would accept that on all our behalves but we're all pretty honoured that they recognized us."
Joseph feels obligated to be an advocate of road safety and detailed how he and his group have attempted to do so.
"Ultimately, we're trying to make the roads as safe as we can," he said. "We want young drivers, many of them immigrants, to be able to come to Canada and be trained properly. We want them to have a national standard across the board."
While Joseph was the one receiving the award, he was quick to point to the Humboldt Broncos families - which have become a team of their own after the devastating event - that have helped raise awareness of the issue.
"We have 29 families that all love and support each other in different ways," Joseph said. "We all feel that this cause is something the world needs, Canada needs and so we are sticking together."
Together, the families have created numerous scholarships and legacies in honour of the Broncos members that were lost and have supported one another wholeheartedly in their pursuit for greater road safety.
"We're a real team," Joseph said.
"We lean on each other when we have hard days. We celebrate with each other when we have good days. But for the most part, it's been a lot of talk about making sure the trucking industry is done right, the training is done right. We want to make sure we hold the government accountable to some of their promises. There's no end in sight for us."