Donor support helps U of S students expand their horizons


David Stobbe /

Kari Duerksen has received multiple student awards thanks to the Annual Campaign for Students.

The Annual Campaign for Students 2015-16 officially launches on September 28.

The Annual Campaign for Students is the foremost annual charitable campaign for the University of Saskatchewan (U of S), raising funds from thousands of alumni and friends. Last year, the campaign raised more than $1.34 million to support student initiatives across campus.

Thanks to the support of generous donors, U of S students received awards and bursaries in a variety of disciplines, and were able to participate in travel opportunities and extracurricular activities that add value to their university experience.

Says Kari Duerksen, fourth-year Arts and Science student and recipient of multiple student awards, “Receiving student awards is very motivating. It’s an acknowledgement that someone believes in me, and that motivates me to work harder, not just for myself but to make the donor’s investment worthwhile.”

Working part-time as a neuro-feedback technician, Kari uses what she’s learning in her psychology courses to help war veterans and RCMP officers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Her weekends are spent volunteering at the Sexual Assault Centre in Saskatoon—another cause that aligns with her educational pursuits.

While her friends are working long hours to finance their education, donor support has allowed Kari the freedom to choose opportunities that align with her goals and directly impact her future.

An excited group of U of S students prepares for another school year.

An excited group of U of S students prepares for another school year.

Every cent raised from the campaign is student-centred. One hundred percent of your contribution will be dedicated to helping students like Kari focus on their studies and get ready for their future.

U of S students appreciate how annual donors help enhance their university experience. With more than 5,400 donors contributing to the campaign last year, our goal this year, is to encourage even more to give. Whether you choose to support your college, or help students across campus by giving to a university-wide awards fund, we hope that you’ll help students today.

The 2015-16 campaign runs until April 2016. Interested donors are encouraged to vist: for more information on how to give.

Thank you for helping our students expand their horizons at the U of S.

Written by: Brittany Stevens, Development Communications Specialist

All photos by: David Stobbe/Stobbe Photography

U of S alumna looks to revolutionize the way we talk about mental health.

Dr. DeeDee Maltman (front and centre) poses with members of the College of Medicine Class of '85.

Dr. DeeDee Maltman (front and centre) poses with members of the College of Medicine Class of ’85.


Having been a physician in Saskatoon for thirty years, Dr. DeeDee Maltman (MD ’85) has seen firsthand the increase in the rate of mental health issues.

Following the tragic death of two friends from mental illness in 2013, Dr. Maltman knew it was time to re-examine the way we talk about mental health.

Having completed a fellowship program in integrative medicine in 2012, Maltman was prepared to seek out new treatment options for patients. While she is quick to credit traditional medicine as a great model for assessing chronic illness, Maltman is well aware of the need for change in today’s health care system.

Examining many internal and external factors that could be contributing to mental illness, integrative medicine examines the whole person, ‘the mind, body and spirit’ and examines patients at microbial, chemical, gut and social levels to detect deficiencies that could connect the mind and body.

She knew that if should could combine her knowledge of integrative medicine with the traditional models she had practiced throughout her career it would have a huge impact on the treatment of mental health patients.

“My role in integrative medicine goes beyond the biomedical model,” she says. “I want to look at the way multiple facets such as diet, lifestyle and surroundings play a role in affecting one’s mental state.”

She adds, “Looking at mental illness through the lens of integrative medicine, offers patients a more complete and upstream approach to treatment.”

It is through this way of thinking that Maltman’s idea for the Neural Health Project evolved.

The Neural Health Project will offer patients suffering from mental illness an integrated approach to treatment.

“Because mental illness affects multiple channels, there are many things that need to align in order to help those suffering,” says Maltman.

The project will bring together a team of interdisciplinary researchers that will work collectively to incorporate integrative methods to assess an individual’s treatment needs. Thanks to a successful fundraiser in July 2015, their study is expected to launch before the end of 2015.

While it was obvious that funds needed to be raised, Maltman knew that it needed to be more than just a one-time donation.

With the help of family friend and NHL coach, Mike Babcock, Maltman organized a $1000 a plate dinner that took place on July 24, 2015 to raise funds for the project.

Called “One Voice”, the event featured appearances by mental health advocates Michael Landsberg and Clara Hughes and featured a crowd of 560, ranging from sport celebrities to musical stars and many Saskatoon locals.


Mike Babcock addresses the crowd at the One Voice event in Saskatoon on July 24, 2015.

Mike Babcock addresses the crowd at the One Voice event in Saskatoon on July 24, 2015.

“We knew we aimed high,” says Maltman. “Our goal was to raise $1 million, thinking we would get there eventually, but we have been overwhelmed with the support we have received.” The project has both met and exceeded their goal, and donations are continuing to come in.

The Neural Health Project will find its home at the University of Saskatchewan, in the College of Medicine’s Department of Community Health and Epidemiology. Under Maltman’s direction, it is hoped that this research will shift people’s perceptions and help shed the stigma associated with mental health.

Maltman also hopes that this project will be seen as a catalyst for change in the healthcare system. “This approach,” she says, “is not about eliminating medication, but of bringing in new ideas that can work in conjunction with old models.”

She adds, “This will be an ongoing research project, that will require ongoing funding. We’ve only just begun.”

For more information about the Neural Health project, visit:

Written by: Brittany Stevens, Development Communications Specialist



Rewarding Diversity: Brad Berg and Brian Rolfes establish LGBT Rights Scholarship

Brad Berg (LLB '92) and Brian Rolfes (LLB '91) have established a scholarship in the College of Law to support LGBT students and allies.

Brad Berg (LLB ’92) and Brian Rolfes (LLB ’91) have established a scholarship in the College of Law to support LGBT students and allies.

When Brad Berg and Brian Rolfes discovered that there was no scholarship at the University of Saskatchewan that specifically recognized students for their involvement in advancing LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights, they decided to do something about it.

The pair have committed $25,000 over four years to fund the new Brad Berg and Brian Rolfes, LGBT Rights Scholarship, which aims to recognize students’ exemplary commitment to the pursuit of LGBT rights through their program of study or outreach activities in the greater community.

While there are currently two awards offered at the U of S which provide funds to students researching or studying the topic of LGBT rights, theirs is the first where the selection committee invites applicants to self-declare as LGBT persons.  “It was surprising to us that this was the first scholarship of its kind,” said Berg, who along with his husband, Brian Rolfes, is proud to be able to make this contribution, having experienced first-hand the difficulties LGBT persons may face while pursuing an education and establishing a career.

Berg, who grew up in Meadow Lake, completed his commerce and law degrees from the University of Saskatchewan before clerking at the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal in 1993.  It was there that he met fellow College of Law alumnus, Brian Rolfes, who had completed a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford before returning to Saskatchewan to clerk.

It wasn’t until they began their relationship that Berg and Rolfes felt they were ready to go tell their family and friends that they were gay.  This was especially true for Berg, who grew up in a smaller community.  “I think it is still very difficult to come out if you grow up outside of the cities and that is one of the reasons why we really wanted to create this scholarship at home, in Saskatchewan.”

While both acknowledge that over the years it has become less difficult to come out, neither felt that they were ready to do so during their time at the College of Law.  “In the late 1980s and early 1990s, whenever anything related to gays or LGBT came up on campus, it was always portrayed as negative,” said Berg.

“I think that when we were both at the College of Law, it would have been great to have a few more role models and more visibility on the topic, so hopefully this scholarship, in some way, will help do that,” added Rolfes.

The Toronto duo hopes that their new award will encourage not only LGBT students to share their commitment to LGBT rights, but non-LGBT students, as well.

“All of the data indicate that people’s views on LGBT rights change fundamentally when they know someone who is LGBT.  So anything we can do to allow people to be who they are is a good thing,” said Rolfes, emphasizing that the award is also open to LGBT allies.  “That is how the world will change.  One, because individuals come out, and two, because straight friends and family will say ‘no, this isn’t fair’, or ‘I am going to change attitudes on LGBT issues too.'”

The award they have created at the U of S is only one example of what Berg and Rolfes have done to further the advancement of LGBT rights.  Both men have become heavily involved in promoting and understanding LGBT rights in their workplaces and the larger Toronto community.

Rolfes, a global recruiting partner with McKinsey & Company, was instrumental in founding GLAM, a group of over 300 members and 700 allies which was created to foster a positive environment for LGBT employees at the company and attract more talented LGBT members to the McKinsey community.  He was also chair of the board for the largely LGBT Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto for eight years, including the period over which church successfully litigated to have same-sex marriages recognized in Canada.

Berg, who is a partner and litigation practice group leader at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, has been a board member of Family Services Toronto, a volunteer at AIDS Committee of Toronto and has served on the executive of the Advocates’ Society.  Like Rolfes did at McKinsey, Berg helped to found a network at Blakes called Pride@Blakes to support LGBT employees and create better connections with their LGBT clients.

“Both Brad and I are very fortunate to live in Toronto and work with large organizations that are LGBT-inclusive and welcoming. We have been part of the leadership at our respective firms, something that is truly valued by us,” said Rolfes.  “We are proud of these contributions, and of this new scholarship.”

While Berg and Rolfes have found success in their careers, their rise to the top hasn’t been without struggle. “When I came out in 1993, I didn’t encounter very much of what I would call hostility or opposition, but there was a fair degree of education needed about LGBT issues.  It took awhile for our families and friends to understand what it all meant,” said Berg.

They both admit that they have also faced discrimination based on their sexual orientation, but they haven’t let it affect their careers.  “There have been incidents along the way,” admitted Berg. “When I was a graduate student at the University of Toronto, my office door was spray-painted with the words, ‘kill fags’ and there have been small incidents like that, but nothing that we believe has held us back.”

The two Toronto professionals have advice for LGBT law students and alumni.  “My advice is if you can, then you should be out,” said Berg.  “I think you will present as a more authentic, fully-formed, contributing person when you go into a job interview, look for a promotion or pitch to a client.  It’s just an overwhelmingly far healthier space to be in.” But Berg understands not everyone is ready for that, so he puts a caveat on his advice.  “I always say if you are ready to come out, then do it.”

Rolfes agreed.  “If employers are going to discount your applications because you are gay, you don’t want to be a part of that organization anyway.  They are going to be on the losing side of history.”

Speaking from a human resources perspective, Rolfes knows that the war for talent is on.  “Increasingly, employers are realizing that talent comes in all shapes and sizes, all genders and orientations.  Those organizations that can truly be inclusive, in the long run, are going to be the winning firms.” He added, “The best employers look at the ‘full-self’ of the candidate in front of them and say, ‘This is someone we can celebrate as a leader in this community or for that project–that’s the kind of person we want as a future partner or leader around here.'”

Both because they hope to improve the experience of the LGBT students pursuing their education in the College of Law and because of their own experience at the U of S, Rolfes and Berg could think of no better place to establish a scholarship.  They are extremely grateful for having started both their legal paths, as well as their married life, at this university.

“Brian and I got married in March 1998 in the United Church at St. Andrew’s Chapel on campus with 130 family and friends in attendance,” said Berg.  “Gay marriage didn’t become legal until 2003, so having our wedding ceremony on campus in 1998 is just another reason we really wanted to create this scholarship at the U of S.”

“The University of Saskatchewan will always be–in a very special way–our home university,” added Rolfes.

Written by Sarah Trefiak, as appears in of Note: College of Law Alumni Magazine, 2015

This story was also featured in the Globe and Mail, by Paul Waldie:


Celebrating K+S Potash Partnership

DSCN1319The College of Nursing and K+S Potash Canada GP came together this week for a BBQ luncheon to celebrate an exciting new partnership supporting Regina’s Street Culture Project Inc.

K+S Potash will provide $21,000 distributed over three years to help College of Nursing students in Regina provide mentorship and deliver health promotion programming to youth at Street Culture.

Marie Dietrich Leurer, Assistant Professor at the Regina Campus, will lead the project. “As part of the nursing students’ community or mental health clinical placement, they will offer weekly sessions at Street Culture designed to provide social support and skill development,” Dietrich Leurer said. “Sessions will include preparing meals with the youth, followed by a variety of interactive educational and recreational activities. The youth will be involved in the planning of the sessions, creating a unique and dynamic learning environment for both the Street Culture youth and the nursing students.”

“K+S Potash Canada is proud to partner with the U of S and the Street Culture Project, so consistent programming can be offered, which will result in improved health outcomes for vulnerable youth and ultimately, the community of Regina,” said Kim Poley, K+S Potash Canada Vice-President of Human Resources and Corporate Services.

Street Culture is a non-profit, charitable organization that provides support and mentorship to marginalized and under-serviced youth in Regina. Using social entrepreneurialism and positive adult role models, they connect with youth to help change their lives. “We are extremely pleased to receive this sponsorship from K+S Potash Canada, as the anticipated program is well designed and will meet the interests of our youth,” said Street Culture CEO Kim Sutherland. “What is really exciting is the concept of hands-on mentoring between the nursing students and youth. This is exceptional and critical in our efforts around “normalizing” a street youth’s experience in government based housing services.”

College of Nursing students currently completing a placement at Street Culture have indicated this investment provides an opportunity to focus on mental health by forming meaningful relationships with Regina’s at-risk youth, engaging them in activities that facilitate healthy practices and emotional well-being.

Thank you once again K+S Potash for this sponsorship!

Written by : Kylie Kelso
Photo by: The College of Nursing

Donor support helps build future generation of U of S alumni

Jacinta Classen (front and centre) poses with a group of northern students

Jacinta Classen (front and centre) poses with a group of northern students

Students receive certificates at NASA conference

Students receive certificates at NASA conference

U of S students volunteer at NASA conference.

U of S students volunteer at NASA conference.

For Sommer Benjamin, coming to Saskatoon for university has always been in the back of her mind. However, growing up in Dillon, Saskatchewan, a northern community of less than 800 people access to higher education has its restrictions.

But thanks to donor support, on May 6th, 2015, Sommer joined 71 other high school students from northern communities, for a three-day conference in Saskatoon.

Arranged by the Northern Administration Students’ Association (NASA), a university-student run volunteer group, the conference was aimed at highlighting post-secondary education options for students currently ranked at the top of their class.

Hand selected by their teachers for their commitment to their studies and community involvement, these students were given all-expenses-paid opportunities to experience life as a university student in Saskatoon.

Student representatives from across the U of S toured the students around campus and spoke to them about program offerings, career options and demonstrated how the application process works.

For many of these students, the conference marked their first time on a university campus, and for others it was their first time in a city as big as Saskatoon. Attending university away from home is overwhelming for anyone, but for these students who are often isolated by their geography as well as social and cultural differences, it can be even more daunting.

Jacinta Classen, President of NASA knows the struggles and adversity these northern students face, only too well. Raised in Uranium City, she found solace in the NASA community when she arrived in Saskatoon for her first year of university.

“We wanted to communicate the possibilities available to these individuals and empower these youth to challenge their perceptions of post-secondary education, “ Jacinta says.

NASA’s hope was that the conference would also serve as a social outlet for these students, and they scheduled a dance and various outings throughout Saskatoon to encourage the youth to engage with their peers and get their bearings in the city.

“Our hope with this conference is to lessen the culture shock and help these students make informed decisions that could change their lives,” she adds. “I noticed that students were engaged and actively participating in the tours and career fair, which to me feels like a success.”

For students like Sommer, they really took away from the conference what Jacinta and the rest of the committee hoped they would.   Says Sommer, “I really loved this conference. It seemed that everyone at the U of S is really happy to be here and I am excited to come to university.” When asked if she had considered post-secondary prior to attending the conference, Sommer responded, “Yes, but I thought I would go into nursing.” She notes specifically, a newfound interest in geology. “I didn’t realize how much more there is to study here and now I’m starting to change my mind.”

NASA received funding from the President’s Student Experience Fund, as a result of donations made to the One Day for Students campaign, which took place on March 20th.

In just one day of giving, a total of 302 donors contributed $27,696 to this fund, which works directly in support of students.  Combined with an additional donation from Professor Emeritus Kay Nasser and his family, who contributed a total of $30,000 to the campaign, One Day for Students brought in a grand total of $57,696 to help support and enhance the student experience at the U of S.

Thanks to the generous and unwavering support of our campus community, Jacinta and her team were able to put $5000 towards empowering youth like Sommer to see the benefit in post-secondary education and make a difference in their lives.

Written by: Brittany Stevens

All photos by: Brandon White





Fund helps to relieve therapy cat’s pain

9-year-old Peyton with his beloved cat, Clijsters.

9-year-old Peyton with his beloved cat, Clijsters.

Since Clijsters and her feline partner Stosur have come to live at Mark and Karlinda Weiderick’s home near Outlook, Sask., the two young cats have transformed the life of the couple’s nine-year-old son, Peyton.

They’re not just family pets: they’re therapy cats for Peyton who has been diagnosed with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity and a sensory disorder.

That’s why the Weidericks were devastated when their veterinarian told them that Clijsters would need extensive dental work to ease the pain in her mouth.

“We have Clijsters and Stosur because Peyton needs them, but we don’t have the funds to afford extra care for them,” says Karlinda.  “When we saw the estimate for the work that Clijsters needed, we knew it was more than we could handle.”

The couple didn’t know what to do.  Dental surgery was vital to Clijsters whose mouth was becoming more painful every day.  It hurt for her to lick  or swallow, and she was chattering her mouth in pain.

In desperation, Karlinda sent a message describing their situation to one of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine’s (WCVM) Facebook pages.  After exchanging several email messages, Karlinda received a call: if the Weidericks could bring Clijsters to the WCVM Veterinary Medical Centre (VMC), all treatment costs would be covered by the college’s Good Samaritan Fund.

The fund, which was established in 2011, pays for medical treatment in situations where animals are ownerless or where they’re owned by clients who are unable to pay for their care.

VMC director Dr. Duncan Hockley is gratified that the fund has been established so that veterinary services can be provided for animals such as Clijsters.

“Unfortunately, the Good Samaritan Fund is 100 per cent dependent on donations from supporters, and its availability depends on their continual help,” says Hockley.  “I hope that potential donors will consider directing their contributions to this valuable fund.”

As the veterinary college’s director of development, Jennifer Molloy often talks to potential donors about the benefits of supporting the Good Samaritan Fund.  For example, the fund is valuable because it recognizes the significant role that animals– such as Clijsters– play in the lives of their owners.

“Hopefully, through the support of our donors, families like the Weidericks won’t have to make difficult decisions based solely on finances,” says Molloy.

“Each donation really allows us to help one more animal and one more family .  Our animals are our family members and not easily replaced in our hearts to our homes.”

When the Weidricks brought Clijsters to the VMC, Dr. Erinn Hilberry’s initial examination confirmed that the cat had a debilitating dental disease called feline gingivostomatitis. This debilitating dental disease is often described as hamburger mouth due to the extensive inflammation it causes in cat’s mouth.

Hilberry, a clinical associate in dentistry and a 2012 graduate of WCVM, recalls that Clijsters was in extreme pain and needed to have all of her teeth extracted.   But two weeks after dental surgery, Clijsters’ gums had already become pink and healthy and she was running around the house like a kitten again.

The clinician is optimistic that Clijsters won’t need any further treatment, and she’s happy that she was able to help Peyton and his family.

“It was a real joy to work with Peyton,” says Hilberry. “He was just a sweet little boy who loves his kitty, and she has made such a big difference in his life.  You can tell they have a special bond.”

That special bond has changed Peyton’s life and that of his family in the three years since the Weidericks adopted the two cats from the humane societies in Regina and Moose Jaw.

“Peyton was in Grade 1 at the time, and every day when he came home from school, he’d have a complete meltdown,” says Karlinda.  “Once we had the kittens, they’d meet him at the door, and he would calm.  He’d pick up a kitten and rub his face on her and smell her, and once he was done, he’d put her down and be ready to be at home.”

Clijsters and Stosur act as therapy animals by helping to ease Peyton’s agitation during bedtime and other times of transition.

The animals’ different personalities and behaviours fulfill different needs, and they often work as a tag team.  Stosur, an active and playful kitty, provides important sensory stimulation by licking Peyton’s face with her raspy, rough cat tongue.  Clijsters likes to be cuddled, and Peyton loves to feel her soft chinchilla-like fur.

“They don’t freak out at all when Peyton has a meltdown,” says Karlinda.  “If Stosur takes off because she’s had enough, Clijsters is there for him to pick up.  I think it’s really good for him to have the variety of one that likes to play and one that just really wants to cuddle.  They also still like to play with each other like kittens, and he loves watching them.”

As he learns how to interpret his cats’ behaviour and gain a better understanding of their feelings, Peyton is acquiring a skill that will hopefully help him to fare better in social situations.  Karlinda points out that his pets are a constant for him and they provide a feeling of safety because they don’t judge him; they just love him.

Karlina and Mark are grateful to the people who donated the WCVM’s Good Samaritan Fund and made Clijsters’ surgery possible.

“Peyton prayed really hard that someone would be able to help his cat, and we’re so glad that the fund covered the surgery for us,” says Karlinda.  “For Peyton, Clijsters isn’t just an animal; she’s somebody that’s very important in his life.”

Written by: Lynne Gunville

If you would like to contribute to the WCVM Good Samaritan Fund, contact the WCVM Development Office (; (306) 966-7268).

Reprinted with permission from WCVM Today (

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