Alumnus Scott Moe to be 15th premier of Saskatchewan

Scott Moe (BSA’97) has been elected to replace Brad Wall as leader of the Saskatchewan Party.

Moe grew up on a farm near Shellbrook, and went on to study agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan. Moe was first elected to the Saskatchewan Legislature as the MLA for Rosthern–Shellbrook in 2011. He was re-elected in the 2016 general election. Moe won on the fifth and final ballot at the Saskatchewan Party leadership convention in Saskatoon on Saturday, January 27. He took 8,075 votes, or 53.87 per cent.

Read more about the election.

International honour for a Usask alumnus

Dr. George Fedak (BSA’63, MCS’65) research scientist at Agriculture Canada, has been awarded the Vernadskyi Gold Medal by Ukraine’s Academy of Sciences for his outstanding achievements in the field of natural, technical and socio-human sciences genetics and selection of agricultural plants.

Dr. George Fedak, recipient of the VI Vernadsky National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Fedak was born on December 28, 1940 in Canada in the city of Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan. In 1963, he received his first Bachelor’s Degree in Bachelor’s Degree in Plant Sciences from the University of Saskatchewan. Subsequent degrees – Ph.D. and Pdf – he received in the field of cytogenetics in 1969 and 1970, respectively, at the University of Manitoba Province and the Research Center in Ottawa.

The wide field of his scientific interests covers such fields as remote (inter-species and inter-species) hybridization of plants, search for and introduction into the selection of new genes from wild species, molecular genetics and molecular cytology, research of QTL loci in populations of dihaploids in tissue culture, development of physical maps of chromosomes using EST induced by fungal infection, pyramidation of disease resistance genes.

Fedak has earned a reputation as a world-famous scientist, making invaluable contributions to the world treasury of research in leading cereal crops of barley and wheat.

Alumnus, former chancellor named as lieutenant governor

Tom Molloy (BA’64, LLB’64, LLD’09)

Former U of S chancellor, Tom Molloy, has been appointed as lieutenant governor general of Saskatchewan.

Molloy is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit. He led the team that negotiated the Nisga’a Final Agreement, the first modern-day treaty in British Columbia, and was the chief negotiator for the Government of Canada in negotiations with the Inuit of Nunavut in the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement, which led to the creation of the Territory of Nunavut in 1999.

Read more on Molloy’s new position.

Remembering Rutherford Rink

Although there was a team as early as 1910, University of Saskatchewan hockey was first played on campus on natural ice in the late 1929, within what was originally called the ice drome. The official opening, which included an appearance by Premier James T.M. Anderson and a “fancy skating exhibition” did not occur until January 23, 1930. With the death of the Dean of Agriculture William Rutherford that same year, the building was named Rutherford Rink in his honour. The initial cost was $47,000 for the brick-faced building, which held a small ice surface and was used not only for varsity hockey, but also for recreational skating, band nights, and winter carnival activities.

Many stories in my book Dogs on Ice: A History of Hockey at University of Saskatchewan document the use of the rink for hockey, recreational skating, and as a military drill facility. My personal experience with Rutherford in any meaningful way started when I came to teach English at the U of S in 1991.

For years I have sat in a lawn chair I bring to every game. To this day, a number of us old-timers view the games up against the glass in the northeast corner of Rutherford. I have gone years without missing a single men’s hockey home game.

Like most spectators in Rutherford Rink, I lament the shortcomings of the rink, which has a well-deserved negative reputation for its lack of spectator amenities. It is cold, the sightlines obstructed by steel posts (and thick black netting seemingly recycled from a Nova Scotia trawler!), the seats are backless boards bolted to concrete, the sound system is barely audible, the concession offerings are limited, and the two public washrooms are small and spartan.

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Alumni appointed to the Order of Canada

Two U of S alumni have received one of the country’s highest civilian honours by being appointed to the Order of Canada.

Karim (Kay) Nasser and Harold Orr were recently appointed to the Order, which recognizes Canadians for their outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.

Dr. Kay Nasser (Photo: Liam Richards)

Nasser, who earned his PhD and taught civil engineering at the U of S for 33 years, is a passionate long-time supporter of the university. His appointment to the Order is in honor of his contributions to civil engineering and community development, and for his philanthropy in support of education, health care and the arts.

Nasser and his family have donated more than $13.5 million to the U of S, and continue to support students annually through The Nasser Family Emergency Student Trust and the Nasser Scholarship Fund, which has helped hundreds of students over the years.

In addition to his support of the U of S, Nasser has been a pillar in supporting various community institutions from the Remai Modern Art Gallery, Saskatoon Public Library, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, and all four city hospitals, including the new Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital.

Alumnus Harold Orr received both a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, and a Master of Science from the U of S, and is known as a pioneer of energy-efficient home building in Canada. His research led to the concept of passive solar design, which allows homes to retain heat from the sun through structural design. Orr’s appointment to the Order is in recognition of his contributions as a housing engineer who promotes energy efficiency and conservation in Canadian homes.

Threading the past into the present

Catherine Blackburn (center) with her sister and mother at the Saskatchewan Arts Awards, hosted by the Remai Modern. Blackburn’s artwork is inspired by her relationship with her family.

When Catherine Blackburn (BFA’07) enrolled in the Studio Art program at the University of Saskatchewan, she had never taken a formal art class. “I had the typical elementary art class experience, but nothing along the lines of learning to use a photography dark room or printmaking lab,” she explains. Arriving in Saskatoon with its bustling campus, Catherine set out to find her way—not only as an artist, but an individual.

Blackburn was born in Île-à-la-Crosse, Saskatchewan, and lived in the nearby community of Patuanak before relocating to the rural town of Choiceland, Saskatchewan. As a member of the English River First Nation, she felt displaced from her community after the move. “I didn’t get to build relationships with my extended family the same way as my cousins or even my older siblings. This shift resulted in me not learning the Dene language, creating another barrier of communication when visiting. The traditional Dene ways of life didn’t play a large role in my life,” she explains.

The U of S would expose Blackburn to a number of different art mediums, from painting to printmaking. As she began to create, themes of identity, culture and language began to emerge in her practice: she began exploring her history and heritage. “What started as a place of disconnect really evolved into a place of celebration,” says Blackburn. “I feel my voice has grown stronger, I am more confident in myself—not just as an artist—but as a representative of Aboriginal voice and experience.”

Photograph courtesy of the artist

“But There’s No Scar?” (left) Beads on deer hide, by Catherine Blackburn. Detail (right). Photograph courtesy of the artist

These days Blackburn’s kitchen table moonlights as a workspace for her art. Scattered across the wooden surface are bags of brightly-coloured beads, thimbles, scissors and containers of porcupine quills. With a needle in hand, Blackburn threads one miniscule bead after another, until her artwork takes form. “It can take anywhere between two to 500 hours to complete a piece depending on the size and complexity of the pattern,” she explains.

Blackburn’s dedication to the craft has not gone unnoticed. This year, she was presented the RBC Emerging Artist Award by the Saskatchewan Arts Board. The award recognizes an emerging Saskatchewan artist who demonstrates exceptional promise through early notable accomplishments. In addition to the prestigious title, Blackburn was awarded a cash prize. “I feel incredibly honoured. It is validation but, being the perfectionist that I am, it is also pressure. Prestige has its place, but to cultivate it in a way that is beneficial on a community level is a goal of mine.”

Since proclaiming herself as an artist, Blackburn has worked tirelessly to not only earn a living with her craft, but to share her own journey with others. By connecting with her heritage through family members’ experiences and traditions, as well as her own, she hopes that her art will be a catalyst for continued dialogue about the Indigenous experience in Canada. “After viewing my work, I hope people have a clearer understanding of how different and expansive the Canadian experience is and to be empathetic towards those experiences. I hope they walk away wanting to be involved in this discussion.”

Photograph courtesy of the artist

“Our Mother(s) Tongue”, by Catherine Blackburn. Seed beads, pins, velvet, gel photo transfer, cotton. Photograph courtesy of the artist

For Blackburn, art has been a place where she has been able to find a voice. By merging traditional Dene practices with modern concepts, she is able to tell a story that uniquely hers. “As I get older and navigate my way through these feelings, my focus is no longer centered on the loss, but has evolved to appreciate my own perspectives and experiences. I have coveted those memories of the north and use them in making new ones as I connect the dots in my journey. It becomes a map of my growth and I can appreciate the ways in which traditions and culture have formed and inform my practice.”

Blackburn’s artwork can be viewed here.