Building community, one game at a time

When Daphne Arnason and Leo Bourassa heard about the Home Ice Campaign, they knew they couldn’t watch from the bench.

Having raised four children who all played the sport, Daphne and Leo were no strangers to the sport and spent many late nights and early mornings traveling to practices, and cheering on their sons at Rutherford Rink. With much of their spare time dedicated to the game, they were thankful to be in the company of a supportive and growing social circle of likeminded families. The couple not only got to know their children’s friends and parents, but siblings, cousins, grandparents and friends of the families.

Leo Bourassa and Daphne Arnason first met on campus. Both were students and their social circle was built primarily around the U of S– hockey games at Rutherford, meeting friends at the campus pub, and enjoying various organized activities. Later in life as a married couple with four children, the couple would find themselves back on their old stomping grounds, spending many days and nights at their children’s hockey practice at Rutherford.

Even when the kids got older, the relationships they had built through hockey stayed strong.  “We missed the activities when they came to an end, but the connections are quickly rekindled when we run into one another at various events,” says Daphne. “Now we can talk about enjoying the comforts of a new facility, as we follow the next generation – our grandchildren – at play.”

For Daphne and Leo, Merlis Belcher Place will not only be a state-of-the-art, multi-sport facility, but a space where relationships within our community can expand and flourish for years to come.


Home is where the hockey is

The Huskies’ new home at Merlis Belsher Place will also provide opportunities for up-and coming community athletes, thanks to donors like North Prairie Developments.

Company partners (L to R): Tyler Williams, Angela Williams, John Williams (founder), Bernice Williams (founder) and Andrew Williams.

North Prairie Developments has been helping to build our community for thelast 30 years—one home at a time.

Starting from its humble roots in small-town Saskatchewan, it has now grown to become one of the largest development companies in the province.

To say thank you to the people of Saskatoon who have supported them for decades, the Williams family and their business have decided to give back in the most generous way—a $250,000 gift to the University of Saskatchewan Home Ice Campaign.

Their donation is helping us build a modern, multi-sport arena for Huskie athletes and minor hockey players to sharpen their skills and compete with pride.

Thanks to the Williams family and North Prairie Developments, our athletes move into their new home in October 2018, and our campus and community will be stronger for generations to come.

College of Law donor impact video: how your support changes lives

Donors to the College of Law are making a difference every day.  Through their support, our students have the encouragement and opportunities to make their dreams a reality and they go on to help make the world a better place after graduation.

Some of our law graduates have become household names on a provincial, national or international scale—including a prime minister, a governor-general, three Supreme Court of Canada judges, two premiers and a university president. Our alumni  have gone on to be mainstays of the legal profession across the country, as private and public lawyers, and as judges. There are also alumni who have sought careers outside of the legal profession as staff members of unions, as managers of worldwide corporations, as employees of international human rights organizations, as radio personalities and more.

It is through the generosity of donors that our students find the encouragement and support to pursue their career goals, whatever they may be.

Watch this year’s College of Law donor impact video, and hear students Lissa, Jasmine and Kwaku convey the personal impact of donor’s contributions.

David Stobbe /

For more information, please visit the College of Law website.

Ground breaks on long-time dream for new ice

Soccer, basketball and hockey Huskie and Minor League athletes, with (l-r) Kohl Bauml, Bruce Bradshaw, Logan Hjelte, Lorne Wright, Mayor Charlie Clark, Ron Graham, Libby Epoch, President Peter Stoicheff, Merlis Belsher, Ken Cheveldayoff, Lawrence Rychjohn, Jack Van Norman and Gabriel Michael. Photo By Josh Schaefer/University of Saskatchewan/

On April 28, a decades-long dream became a reality—the U of S started construction on Merlis Belsher Place, the replacement for 88-year old Rutherford Rink. Nearly 250 supporters, athletes, and community members turned up for the official groundbreaking ceremony to recognize the project’s many contributors and swift progress on the fundraising campaign.

Wright Construction will begin laying the foundation for the new multi-sport arena—located just south of the Saskatoon Field House—with piling work set to start in early May.

U of S President Peter Stoicheff noted the importance of the many community relationships which have facilitated progress on the project—including the City of Saskatoon, Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association and the campaign’s country-wide volunteer team.

“Developing strong partnerships has never been more important to us than it is today, and Merlis Belsher Place is a great example of the power and potential of these partnerships,” he said. “Thanks to our community’s diverse and generous support, I’m pleased this facility will make a real difference in the lives of our athletes and their families, and contribute to the health and economic impact of our city.”

Elder Fred Sasakamoose (left), with alumnus Sheldon Wuttunee, shared a traditional Cree blessing to honour the land before construction begins. Sasakamoose was the first Indigenous person ever to play in the NHL when he joined the Chicago Blackhawks in 1954. He said he was pleased that four of his grandchildren will have the opportunity to play in the new arena, thanks to the community focus of the project. Photo By Josh Schaefer/University of Saskatchewan/

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We’re breaking ground on Merlis Belsher Place

A rendering of Merlis Belsher Place, scheduled to open for hockey in October 2018.

The University of Saskatchewan publicly launched its Home Ice Campaign in October 2016 with a vision to provide students, youth and our community with a state-of-the-art, twin-pad ice facility.

As with many university projects, Merlis Belsher Place is the result of many people coming together in partnership—volunteers; community members; Huskie athletes; Saskatoon Minor Hockey players; university alumni, staff and students—to accomplish something truly extraordinary. With our shared vision and strong leadership, we know this facility will promote sportsmanship, mentorship, team pride, and a love of the game.

On April 28, 2017, we invite all of our supporters and friends from the community to celebrate a significant milestone in the Home Ice Campaign—the official groundbreaking ceremony for Merlis Belsher Place.

Join us as we celebrate the passion and excitement that has made this vision a reality.

For event details, please visit

Smile, YXE

On April 8, 2017 the University of Saskatchewan’s (U of S) College of Dentistry produced more gleaming-white smiles than usual. The U of S hosted Saskatoon’s first-ever Dental Day YXE, which offered free dental services to individuals and families unable to access care due to financial constraints. Community members flooded through the College of Dentistry doors from 8 am until 4 pm, in eager anticipation of dental cleanings, extractions, fillings, root canals, and denture repairs.

Dr. Alyssa Hayes, assistant professor of dental public health at the U of S, expressed the motivation behind the day, “We can impact many lives by relieving people of dental pain and improving oral health,” she said. “It is also a great way to bring the profession together and strengthen those bonds as a dental community as well as to the communities we serve on a daily basis .” She and Dr. Briere organized Dental Day YXE to be held at the U of S, and encouraged other professionals to offer their services.

Volunteers for Dental Day YXE gathered at the U of S to offer services free of charge.

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Huskie alumni giving back

From the beginning of the Home Ice Campaign, Huskie Hockey Alumni knew they needed to be involved and give to this inspiring project.

The group set a lofty goal and by late March of this year had achieved tremendous results from alumni at home and across Canada.

Huskie Hockey Alumni present U of S President, Peter Stoicheff, with a ceremonial cheque representing their cumulative giving from hockey alumni across Canada and the USA. Huskie Hockey Alumni have been fundraising for this project for more than a year.

We celebrate Huskie Hockey Alumni’s cumulative giving of $2.5 million, which will help fund Merlis Belsher Place – a modern, twin-pad ice facility at the U of S that’s greatly needed for university and minor hockey.

“As a group, we felt it was important to support this significant project,” said Tim Hodgson, Chair of the Home Ice Campaign and Huskie Hockey alumnus. “This total represents more than a year of hard work for Huskie Hockey Alumni across Canada and the United States and we are thrilled it will support such an amazing project.”

Music alumni make historic gift to U of S to honour legacy of David L. Kaplan

Xiaoping (Bob) Xu (MA ’92) and wife Ling Chen (MA ’90) have made another notable contribution to their alma mater. The internationally-recognized investor and philanthropist and his wife have donated $2 million to the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) to create the David L. Kaplan Chair in Music in the college of arts and science. The gift is the largest donation from alumni in the college’s history and a generous follow-up to the couple’s $1 million gift to establish the David L. Kaplan Music Scholarship in 2010.

President Peter Stoicheff announced the significant gift at the department of music’s annual student scholarship awards event on April 2. “By establishing a strings program, the Kaplan Chair will make our music program a destination of choice for emerging musicians on the prairies. I’m especially pleased this gift will help us contribute further to our local classical music community and deepen our long-term relationship with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra,” he said.

Ling Chen (MA ’90) and Xiaoping (Bob) Xu (MA ’92).

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Home is where the ice is

As a proud graduate of the University of Saskatchewan (B.Comm. ’52), Greg Greenough believes it is important to stay engaged with the community that provided him with a solid education and years of competitive sport as a Huskie athlete. “It was a special time for me, “says Greenough. “Hockey was a big part of my life when I went to Saskatoon. I could have chosen to go to a number of other universities, but I picked the University of Saskatchewan (U of S), and it was a great decision.” Greenough has been a consistent donor since graduating, and this year, he has involved himself in the Home Ice Campaign.  He chooses to give back to his alma mater in the hopes that students can have a memorable experience during their time at the U of S, just as he did, “You always get back more than what you give,“ he says.

Greg Greenough, (B.Comm. ’52).

After his studies Greenough moved to Alberta for his career, where he went on to be the President of Maclab Enterprises, a private holding company specializing in real estate development, property management, oil and gas and venture capital.  His involvement with sports has taken on a facilitating role with numerous boards and committees, both locally and internationally. He is a former member of the Canadian Olympic Association, was President of the Kinsmen Club, and spent nine years on the board of directors for the Edmonton Eskimo Football Club. Greenough is passionate about providing opportunities for athletes to develop and excel, so it comes as no surprise that he is eagerly anticipating the construction of Merlis Belsher Place.

Thinking back to his time as a Huskie hockey player, Greenough recalls the experience. “It had lots of character,” he chuckles. “It was the only arena that I’m aware of that had an upper level for a dressing room—we would have to climb down with our skates on!”

Greg Greenough at Rutherford Rink.

Greenough believes that the new state-of-the-art facility will give Huskie athletes the advantage they deserve and will attract events that weren’t a possibility before, such as national championships.  “It’s not just about a rink,” he says. “It’s about creating and celebrating a facility that will affect the level of prestige of every graduate and member of our community.”

Truly appreciative of Merlis Belsher’s and Ron and Jane Graham’s outstanding support of the project, Greenough is confident that other alumni will find the Home Ice Campaign an exciting project to get involved with. For him, it was an easy decision to get behind. Merlis Belsher Place will encapsulate the dedication and spirit of many generous supporters who believe in their homeland.

Excitement builds for hockey’s new home

Co-op is an integral part our city.

Saskatoon Co-op has more than 1,200 employees and serves over 107,000 members and their families at Co-op Food Stores, Home Centres, Convenience Stores/Gas Bars, Agro Centre and Liquor Store. As the largest company in the province, Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) supplies and supports retail co-operatives — like Saskatoon Co-op — across Western Canada, employing 1,000 people in the city.

Saskatoon Co-op and FCL are proud to make a $250,000 donation to the Home Ice Campaign.

Grant Whitmore, President, Saskatoon Co-op (photo: Dave Stobbe).

Together, Saskatoon Co-op and FCL are building a strong, vibrant community. They’re proud to give back and invest in local initiatives. Their gift will help the University of Saskatchewan build a new twin-pad ice facility to assist countless athletes for generations to come.

Thanks to their support, Merlis Belsher Place will soon be a reality and will give Huskie athletes and minor league hockey players the opportunity to sharpen their skills in the cutting-edge arena that they deserve.