Merlis Belsher Place construction hits halfway mark

Members of the media received a sneak-peek tour Tuesday of how the state-of-the-art Merlis Belsher Place facility is coming along, with construction now 50 per cent complete and on track to open the doors this fall. The $42.9-million multi-sport complex will serve as the new home for Huskies hockey teams, as well as brand-new basketball practice facilities for the U of S teams. In addition, the new facility will welcome community groups, including offering a much-needed 1,500 hours of ice time annually for Saskatoon Minor Hockey teams.

See more construction photos in the U of S Flickr gallery.

“It is great to note that we are now halfway through construction, so if things keep progressing as they have, it is safe to say that we are actually a little ahead of schedule,” said U of S President Peter Stoicheff. “Merlis Belsher Place is such an important facility, not just for the university, but for our entire community. This is an exciting project and we are looking forward to opening this remarkable facility in the fall.”

President Stoicheff, major donor Merlis Belsher and Lorne Wright of Wright Construction, the local company completing the building, led the media tour of the new complex. Construction on Merlis Belsher Place, which will replace the aging Rutherford Rink that was built back in 1929, began in April of 2017 and is projected to be completed this fall, with the official grand opening celebrations expected in early 2019.

Belsher was thrilled to see first-hand the progress that has been made on the facility that will be named in his honour.

“It’s truly a multi-purpose facility, so I am overwhelmed, actually. It’s great,” said Belsher. “And I think the comment about the community and the City of Saskatoon, and their engagement to get behind it so (construction) could be commenced last May, I think that was critical to why we’re at this stage today … I never would have imagined, when I was first approached, that it would be this kind of a facility.”
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Home Ice volunteer, Kelsey Hahn

What do hockey and business have in common? For Kelsey Hahn (BComm’12), they both build character.

Hahn is a young business-professional in downtown Calgary where she manages Viewpoint Research, a Canadian-based leadership centre. She is quick to point out that her success as a professional has come from learned-traits that have stuck since her time as a Huskie athlete.

Kelsey Hahn played on the Women’s Ice Hockey Huskies team from 2007-2012

“From teaching me about time management, determination and focus, to teamwork and leadership skills, the diligence of playing a sport taught me more than any textbook ever did,” Hahn explains. “Being a student-athlete built a solid foundation for my life and subsequent career path —I owe more than I can ever repay to the game, to Huskie Athletics, and to the University of Saskatchewan.”

For many athletes, it’s the games they won and the moments of fierce competition that stick in their memories, but for Hahn, she fondly remembers the time spent in-between.

“I can remember pitching in as a team to shovel the ice in between men’s and women’s practices, when the ice plant and Zamboni broke down,” she recalls. “Looking back now, I feel lucky to have gotten to be a part of the tail-end of Rutherford’s history, though the next generation of Huskie athletics is very lucky to be able to use and enjoy a new world-class facility.”

It was a natural move for Hahn to get involved with the Home Ice Campaign as a way to pay tribute to her alma mater. After a number years of attempts with a campaign for a new rink, Hahn credits President Stoicheff for the support that began to build momentum with a number of dedicated individuals. With the support of fellow volunteers in Calgary — in particular, team lead, Dell Chapman — Hahn visited various alumni, business leaders, community members, and “friends of the Huskies” in Calgary to share the news about the rink and seek support for the project.

As the only women’s Huskie alumna in the group, she was thrilled to meet with lots of current and former women’s team supporters. “Being a part of such a devoted and strong group of volunteers has been one of the most rewarding experiences. Our Calgary team was full of very busy, yet selfless individuals who committed many hours to the campaign. I was amazed at how deep the alumni roots ran for these people.”

For Hahn, the engagement of supporters speaks volumes to the community that the Huskies has created, not just in the hearts of former and existing players, but in those who choose to rally around an asset to the province. “When I think about Merlis Belsher Place finally becoming a reality, I am also reminded of the incredible alumni, donors, and Huskie community that stepped up to make this possible,” she says. “Mr. Belsher in particular who was, and continues to be, a true passionate champion throughout the campaign. The generosity and comradery of Saskatchewan people is an amazing thing. Huskie Athletics have a bright and promising future enabled by this new facility.”

Paying it forward

After a day of classes on campus and working at his father’s company, Aaron Loraas (BA’01) would often lace up his skates and join friends for a game of hockey at Rutherford Rink. Now, more than a decade later, Aaron has traded in ice time to attend his daughters’ dance classes. “I’d love to still play, but it’s just too late in the evening!” Aaron says with a laugh.

His role as vice-president of Loraas keeps Aaron busy too, as the disposal service has evolved over the years. Established in 1965, the company started out as a small waste service in Saskatoon. It has since expanded to become one of the most advanced recycling and waste management services in Canada.

Aaron believes that the success of the company is due to the community.

Loraas disposal on site at Merlis Belsher Place. David Stobbe /

“Loraas is customer-driven. As customers require different services from us, we had to adapt and meet those needs,” says Aaron. “It’s as straightforward as sitting down with someone, listening to their needs, and coming up with a solution.”

So, when the opportunity was presented to get involved with his alma mater’s Home Ice Campaign, Aaron was listening. The project aligns with Loraas’ two giving principles: grassroots and children.

“We like to be able to see results in Saskatoon,” says Aaron. Loraas takes pride in knowing that the multi-sport facility will provide 1500 hours of ice time annually to the Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association. Children will benefit from the opportunity to enjoy the sport and sportsmanship with their fellow teammates and fans right here in Saskatoon.

In addition, Loraas is excited for Huskies athletes to be able to showcase their talents in a facility that matches their performance level. The pairing of the two groups is a powerful combination, providing mentorship for youth from hard-working U of S student athletes.

“The combination of the two parties being there will motivate young children to go to university and play for Huskies one day,” Aaron says. “I like that tie-in.”

Dr. David Edney gives back

For Dr. David Edney, learning and experience go hand in hand. Edney has contributed to enriching Saskatoon’s community by encouraging an exchange of culture and understanding. He practices an inclusive and influential way of living by sharing his passion with others.

Dr. David Edney, a committed member of our community.

Edney channels his talents and interests to serve others in the community. Edney has practiced yoga for over 35 years, and became an instructor in order to bring the practice to people who would not normally have access. Edney teaches yoga to inmates at the Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre and supplies funding to bring yoga to Indigenous communities. He believes the ancient practice shares philosophies with the traditional First Nations way of life and is partnering with the Saskatoon Tribal Council to train Indigenous people to become yoga teachers. Continue reading

Your support keeps students in the game

When he isn’t on the football field, you can find Jesse Gordon analyzing space missions, contemplating synchrotron physics, and experimenting with solar cells. At times, his academic and athletic schedule bleed into one another. He will study until the early hours of the morning in the library, grab a few hours of sleep, and return to campus to board the game bus with his teammates, off to another province to represent the U of S Huskies. “Despite the sacrifices, it has been worth it,” Jesse asserts.

Jesse Gordon, engineering physics student and former Huskie athlete. David Stobbe /

Since he was 18 years old, Jesse knew with certainty these two things:

  1. He wanted to play football.
  2. He wanted to pursue a higher education.

When he was offered a spot on the Huskies football team, he was overjoyed. He recognized it would be difficult to balance a demanding athletic schedule while pursuing a degree in engineering physics, but his competitive nature and motto– that hard work pays off in the end–  had him moving forward at a fast and furious pace. Continue reading

Home Ice volunteer, Dell Chapman

“Once a Huskie, always a Huskie” is not just a motto for University of Saskatchewan athletes; it’s a way of life for Dell Chapman (BCOMM’81).

“My days at the U of S were some of the most rewarding and fun times of my life,” Dell says. “The hockey part was particularly rewarding, as over a three-year period we went from a bit of a sad team to national finalists. I’ve been a ‘dyed-in-the-wool’ Dog ever since.”

Dell Chapman (right) with President Peter Stoicheff (left) in Rutherford Rink.

After leaving the U of S, Dell began a long and successful career as a chartered accountant and certified financial analyst, specializing in the oil and gas industry in Alberta. He and his wife, Claudette, started a family in Calgary, raising two children, Allistair and Lowell. Dell and Claudette met in the halls of Aden Bowman Collegiate in Saskatoon, and have over 37 years of marriage to celebrate. With strong ties to Saskatoon, the family calls both Prairie Provinces home.

Even though he and many of his teammates left Saskatoon after graduation, Dell was determined to keep the team threaded together. Despite being kept busy by his family, friends and work commitments, Dell carved out time to spearhead a number of alumni events in Calgary.

“In the early days we used to get a number of alumni from Saskatoon who would come out for a golf tournament and alumni hockey game because they didn’t have their own. I bug the boys in Saskatoon that the Calgary group was the first to have both,” he says jokingly.

When serious discussions of a new facility for the Huskies began, it was only natural that Dell was recruited to help rally Huskie alumni in Calgary. The Home Ice campaign went on to become the most successful volunteer-driven fundraising campaign in the university’s history raising an astonishing $29 million. This was largely due to dedicated volunteers like Dell, who put together and co-chaired a successful Alberta committee with Marlowe Allison. Dell is quick to give enormous credit and gratitude to those on his fundraising team in Calgary.

“Easily the most rewarding part of the campaign was when I reached out to the individuals in Calgary to join the fundraising efforts,” he recalls. “There was no hesitation when asked to join. Each team member personally committed their time and made efforts to reach out personally to many of their contacts in Calgary and beyond.”

Dell’s Huskie pride is as strong as ever. Now that construction has begun on Merlis Belsher Place, he is excited for hockey fans young and old to enjoy the benefits of what Huskie alumni have worked so hard to build.

“I see it becoming the center of hockey excellence in the province,” he says. “What better place for hockey minds to gather and progress the game.”

Written by Lindsay Royale

Campaign for Students: The places we will go

This year’s 2017-18 Campaign for Students: The places we will go, stations you alongside our dedicated students as they strive to make their mark on this world. Where can a U of S education take you? How far can you go? Your donation to Campaign for Students provides opportunities through scholarships and bursaries for students who are passionate about making a difference through their studies.

Nadia Philipenko, a Master of Physical Therapy student in the College of Medicine, is one of many students who have been a recipient of awards funded through the Campaign for Students.

“These student awards have motivated me to remain involved, and encourage me to continually strive for excellence.These gifts have allowed me to focus and dedicate myself to my academic endeavors, volunteer work, and to allow time to be spent with my loved ones.”

Nadia Philipenko is thankful for the donor support she has received during her education. She is looking forward to having a career where she can make a difference on an individual level, helping patients get back to what they love to do.  David Stobbe /

Your donation to the Campaign for Students ensures that students like Nadia are not on their academic journey alone. Through the Campaign for Studentsyour support eases the burden of tuition, books and living expenses when there’s no time for part-time jobs. Your encouragement teaches them the value of philanthropy because they feel the impact.

“I feel it is important for students graduating to know that they have the support from the community and alumni. Facilitation of these relationships contributes to the maintenance of excellence within the school as well as out in the community. Once I graduate, I look forward to making an impact here in Saskatoon, and also in rural communities in Saskatchewan where our services are less accessible, but needed,” says Nadia.

There are several ways to contribute to the Campaign for Students, including donations to specific colleges, funds, University Library, Huskie Athletics, and more.

Giving is easy, convenient, and any donation – regardless of the amount – has a lasting impact on U of S students.

The Campaign for Students runs until April 30, 2018. Please visit for more information on how to give.

Foundation support allows brightest students to shine

Regan Wilson (left) and Kinga Nolan are the recipients of the 2017 Schulich Leadership Scholarships.

Regan Wilson and Kinga Nolan are the latest University of Saskatchewan students to be awarded Schulich Leader Scholarships.

Canadian businessman and philanthropist Seymour Schulich created the scholarship program in 2011, providing entrance awards for high school graduates enrolling in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) undergraduate program at participating Canadian universities.

This year, there were more than 1,300 Schulich Leader Nominees from across Canada vying for 50 scholarships, valued at up to $100,000 each. Wilson and Nolan have joined the ranks of over 270 students who received this scholarship to date.

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$16.6 million to U of S researchers for work with Mozambique partners

University of Saskatchewan researchers have been awarded $16.6 million by Global Affairs Canada to work with Mozambique partners on improving the health and lives of 165,000 Mozambican women of child-bearing age and 23,000 newborns.

This major training and research project, which is six years in length, aims to create conditions in Mozambique that will reduce maternal deaths by improving health services for women and tackling gender barriers that prevent them from accessing effective care.

Latest available United Nations statistics show Mozambique had one of the world’s highest maternal mortality rates at 489 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015—nearly 70 times higher than Canada’s rate of seven per 100,000.

“This transformative initiative addresses a great tragedy and demonstrates our university’s ongoing commitment to global citizenship and international community service through research,” said Karen Chad, U of S vice-president Research. “This community-engaged project will also provide an extremely valuable international learning experience for our students.” Continue reading

Supporting Students

The fifth and final phase of the successful Preston Crossing development is nearing completion, with 15 new tenants opening their doors this year to bring the major shopping centre to a total of 40 stores, services and restaurants on the 70-acre parcel of land owned by the U of S. Lease arrangements with the developer have generated more than $17 million for student scholarships, bursaries and initiatives.

The University of Saskatchewan’s partnership with one of Saskatoon’s premier shopping centres is paying big dividends for U of S students.

“We think it has been really successful,” said Judy Yungwirth, U of S director of corporate admin istration. “When we started, our vision was to leverage the value of our land to generate revenue for priorities of the university. Student scholarships were identified as a priority at the time. It has exceeded our financial expectations and it’s become a hugely successful shopping centre.”
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