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Town turns out for Movement of Hope

By Joel van der Veen DAVIDSON — As hundreds of people hit the streets of Davidson on Sunday afternoon, they had a vivid illustration of why they were there. Erin Gust, a brain tumour patient and the organizer of Sunday’s run-walk-bike event, was among the walkers at the Movement of Hope. “The 1K was a little

Just the beginning for Davidson’s graduating class

By Joel van der Veen DAVIDSON — Thirteen years ago, they entered Davidson Elementary School as blank books, stories waiting to be written. Now, 2,275 school days later, they’re ready for the next step. As valedictorian Andrew Read addressed his classmates and an audience of more than 300 last weekend, he reminded them of how

Renos continue at Craik fairgrounds as Lions plan summer event

By Joel van der Veen CRAIK — A $75,000 grant from Federated Co-op Ltd. will provide a major boost to ongoing renovations at the Craik fairgrounds. The funds, provided from the company’s Community Spaces Program, will be spent on upgrades at the site, including renovations to the agricultural building, concession stand and one of the ball

Goats add playful twist to yoga class

By Joel van der Veen BLADWORTH —  A herd of goats, a yoga mat, and thou. These were the ingredients for a unique experience at the farm of Mary Smillie and Ian McCreary at Bladworth on Monday night. Around 45 people visited the farm for a session of “goat yoga,” led by local instructor Lois

Excitement grows for pool’s opening

By Joel van der Veen DAVIDSON —  Swimmers in Davidson are counting down the days until the town’s new pool officially opens. Jessica Foster, a founding member of the swimming pool committee and now also a town councillor, said she’s been stopping by the pool on a daily basis to see the progress. “Every day

Street party raises funds for Hanley rink

Dustin Laventure (left) and Noemi Tews fight for the ball in a practice game of street hockey in Hanley on the afternoon of May 27. Also pictured at the back are David Tews and Case Hammond.

By Joel van der Veen

HANLEY — Summer in Hanley kicked off in fine form with a street hockey tournament and dance last weekend.

Between 20 and 30 players took their sticks to the street on May 27. A small section of Lincoln Street was fenced off for the games, which attracted both teens and younger kids.

Four games were played during the tournament, but the hockey continued until well after dark, with players remaining on the street till around 11 p.m.

At 8 p.m., Billy Bob, a three-piece band from Saskatoon, took the stage, playing a variety of fun music.

Organizer Cindy Prosofsky said the dance continued till shortly after midnight, ending after an equipment malfunction.

She said they were happy with the results and hope to make it an annual event.

“It was a good time and we learned a lot,” said Prosofsky. “Hopefully next time we can make it bigger and better.”

The events were organized to raise funds in support of the Hanley rink. The town is planning various upgrades to the facility, including the installation of artificial ice.

The arena, which was completed in 1981, currently relies on natural ice and is usually in operation for two months or so each year.

Organizers began fundraising in 2014, initially setting a goal of $1.5 million and later scaling back that target.

Prosofsky said they have raised around $150,000 so far and will soon begin work on some of the upgrades, including renovations to the penalty box and players’ benches.

The committee has been approved for a Community Initiatives Fund grant of $25,000, which Prosofsky said may be applied toward the purchase and installation of an overhead door.

Organizers are also looking at the purchase of a used artificial ice plant. Prosofsky said they plan to make a decision shortly.

Obituary: Burgess, William “Bill”

Burgess, William “Bill”

William James “Bill” Burgess passed away peacefully on Tuesday, May 23rd at the Pasqua Hospital in Regina, surrounded and supported by his wife and family members.

He is survived by his loving wife Kay; six children, Mark, Greg, Marie, Joan, Peter, Anne and their spouses, along with nine grandchildren, Kyle, Cara, Maddisen, Shane, Reanne, Malorie, Taryn, Kirsten, Shanna and their spouses; 12 great-grandchildren, Blaine, Lily, Nolan, Lyla, Evan, Adeline, Malakai, Ethan, Arianne, Danika, Aiden and Justin.

He is also survived by his sister Cleone; his brother-in-law Norman and his sisters-in-law, Ann, Cecile, Val and Eileen and numerous nieces and nephews.

He is predeceased by members of his immediate family: his parents Jim and Hester Burgess; his granddaughter Anita; his brother Russell and sister Joyce; and several sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law.

He was born west of Imperial, on the family farm on September 28, 1928, the third of four children, to Jim and Hester Burgess. In 1951 he married Kay Krpan, the love of his life and they enjoyed 65 wonderful years of marriage. Bill was a gentle man who loved to tell stories, dance, play his banjo, play rummy, listen to music, hunt and of course his life’s work, carpentry. His passions are almost too numerous to mention. He will be sadly missed by his family.

For online condolences, tributes or to make a donation to Long Lake Valley Health Foundation in his memory, please visit fotheringham-mcdougall.com.

Kerpan family continues campaign against impaired driving

Allan and Melanie Kerpan hold a framed photo of their late daughter Danille at their home near Kenaston. (Leader photo by Joel van der Veen)

By Joel van der Veen

KENASTON — Days before Danille Kerpan died, she had a conversation with her sister Stefanie, the kind of deep talk the sisters often had.

Danille, then 25, talked about her future goals and the things she wanted to accomplish — including her desire to help at least one person.

More than two years after she was killed by a drunk driver, Danille’s family is working to keep that dream alive.

Her picture is prominently featured in two new campaigns against impaired driving, both of which were unveiled recently.

On May 11, SGI released a new 60-second commercial, featuring family photos of Danille and other victims of impaired drivers.

They are shown surrounded by loved ones. Then their images fade from view, representing the void left behind.

The campaign runs from May 14 to June 16, with the ad appearing online, on TV and in theatres.

A second campaign, presented by MADD Canada and the RTL-Westcan Group, was launched in Saskatoon on May 17.

Danille’s photo will appear on 40 truck trailers operated by Westcan in Saskatchewan, along with her name, her age when she died and the words, “Killed by an Impaired Driver.”

Through these campaigns, Stefanie said at the Westcan launch, her sister still has the opportunity to accomplish that dream.

“Thank you, Westcan, for giving Danille the platform to do just what she wanted — to not only change lives, but to save them,” she said.

* * * * *

Allan and Melanie Kerpan live in the same farmhouse west of Kenaston where they raised their four children: Joshua, Tyrel, Stefanie and Danille.

Family photos adorn many of the walls, and images of Danille, from childhood through adolescence to early adulthood, are everywhere.

Some of her keepsakes and possessions are also on display. One item, a description of herself written as a Grade 12 student, seems poignant now, especially in certain parts: “I worry that I will not stay young forever.”

For the Kerpans, the house itself is filled with memories old and new. They now have three grandchildren, with a fourth on the way.

Melanie, a teacher who works from the Distance Learning Centre in Kenaston, said it can be overwhelming when the rest of the family is home. Generally, though, she finds it a source of comfort.

“I feel her here all the time,” she said. “I don’t find it overwhelming. I find it comforting.”

Allan, a farmer and a former MP and MLA, said he struggled with seeing Danille’s face at first.

“The first few days or weeks, I couldn’t look at the pictures without crying,” he said. “Now I’m glad they’re here.”

Danille died Oct. 10, 2014 in a head-on collision on Highway 11 just south of Bladworth, when her vehicle collided with a truck headed north in a southbound lane.

She was one of 59 people killed that year in auto collisions in Saskatchewan where alcohol was a factor.

The driver later pled guilty to impaired driving causing death. He was sentenced to four years in prison and will be prohibited from driving for seven years after his release.

Two-and-a-half years after Danille’s death, the Kerpans face constant reminders that life has changed.

“There is no more normal,” Allan said. “You look at everything differently than you did before.”

He recalled how friends and neighbours appeared to act differently around them, especially in the first year — unsure if they could approach them or talk to them about it.

Gradually, Allan said, people seem more comfortable raising the subject with them, especially as they have stepped into the role of advocates.

In the last couple of years, the Kerpans have made presentations in area schools and become more involved with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

To read the full story, please see the May 29 edition of The Davidson Leader. To subscribe, contact The Davidson Leader, 306-567-2047.

Gust takes cancer fight to the streets

Erin Gust (centre) had her head shaved in March as she underwent treatment for a brain tumour. Offering their support are (from left) Jill Gust, Erin’s daughter Georgia, and her sister-in-law Erin Kinder.
(Contributed photo)

By Joel van der Veen

DAVIDSON — After she was diagnosed with a brain tumour last fall, Erin Gust began the fight of her life.

Now she’s taking that fight to the streets of Davidson, and inviting the rest of the community to join her.

Gust is organizing a fundraiser, The Movement of Hope, for June 11, with proceeds going to the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.

Participants are invited to walk, bike or run the route of their choice — either 1 km, 3 km or 5 km.

Registration will begin at 1 p.m. at Davidson Town Hall, with the participants leaving at 2 p.m.

Gust, 35, said she feels well enough to walk despite some continuing issues with her right leg: “I’m probably only doing the 1K.”

Seven months ago, she visited her family doctor, Dr. Lang, after experiencing weakness in that leg. He immediately referred her to a neurologist, who sent her for an MRI scan at the beginning of November.

Within a couple of days, Gust was told that doctors had found a tumour and were recommending a biopsy.

Gust underwent surgery on Dec. 5, when doctors removed an anaplastic astrocytoma, a grade-III tumour.

She began radiation treatment in February and finished on April 10.

Currently she is undergoing chemotherapy, taking medication in five-day stretches followed by three-week breaks.

Gust said she will continue on this regimen for six to 12 of these cycles, while also undergoing MRI scans on a regular basis.

She said she has handled the treatment well, adding, “Actually, I’ve been really lucky . . . I’ve been pretty much side-effect free.”

She said her family, including her husband Billy and their three children, have dealt with the situation really well.

When Gust shaved her head in March, several family members did the same as a sign of solidarity, including her sisters-in-law Erin Kinder and Aileen Martin, their cousin Jill Gust, and her mother-in-law Lorraine Gust.

“The support we’re receiving from the entire community has been absolutely overwhelming,” she said. “There’s no way we could do this on our own, and we haven’t had to.”

To read the full story, please see the May 29 edition of The Davidson Leader. To subscribe, contact The Davidson Leader, 306-567-2047.

Al-Katib receives Business for Peace award at Oslo gala

Murad Al-Katib, CEO of AGT Food and Ingredients, received the Business for Peace award in Oslo on May 16. He is pictured here with Darla Lindberg, CEO of the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce.

By Joel van der Veen

REGINA — Murad Al-Katib’s career has taken him around the world, but at the same time he’s always stayed close to his roots.

Al-Katib, 44, is the president and founder of AGT Food and Ingredients, which distributes lentils, chickpeas and other pulse crops to more than 120 countries around the world.

“We’re in the business of feeding the world,” said Al-Katib, who was born and raised in Davidson.

He maintains close connections in the area, saying it plays a very important role in his business, which posted $2.1-billion in revenue last year.

Al-Katib made headlines this spring when he was announced as one of four recipients of the Business for Peace award.

The awards were presented in a ceremony at the City Hall in Oslo, Norway on May 16.

He was the first Canadian to receive the award, which places him in highly prestigious company, alongside other honourees like Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk.

He was nominated by the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, whose CEO, Darla Lindbjerg, also attended the ceremony.

During the dinner, Al-Katib found himself hobnobbing with global leaders like Haakon, crown prince of Norway, and former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland. (The latter was responsible for chairing the Brundtland Commission and its pioneering 1987 report on sustainable development.)

The citation recognized contributions made by Al-Katib and his company to sustainable agriculture and to providing food for millions affected by the Syrian refugee crisis.

AGT is a major partner with the United Nations World Food Programme and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Though their efforts, more than 4.5 million parcels of essential food items were distributed to refugee families, equivalent to roughly 700 million meals.

Al-Katib said these projects are evidence of how companies can effectively address the issues facing society as a whole.

“Business leaders doing their business in a socially responsible way is what will contribute to advancing society,” he said.

“Entrepreneurs will be the ones who will solve problems like clean drinking water, pollution and food security . . . It’s not going to be governments.”

To read the full story, please see the May 29 edition of The Davidson Leader. To subscribe, contact The Davidson Leader.

Motor home destroyed in fire near Dundurn

By Joel van der Veen

DUNDURN — A motor home was destroyed after catching fire on Highway 11 just north of Dundurn.

Laura Friesen, chief of the Dundurn Fire Department, said the crew received the dispatch at 3:16 p.m. on May 16.

Six members responded with four vehicles to the blaze, but the motor home was a total loss.

Friesen said the driver of the vehicle was travelling on the highway when he noticed signs of fire.

“It started to smoke, so he pulled off,” she said. “He managed to drive it off the highway when he knew there was trouble.”

The driver brought the motor home off the road north of town, near a storage facility.

The town office posted a notice on Facebook shortly afterward, noting that the fire was under control and asking residents to avoid the scene.

Friesen was unable to confirm any further details, but she said she believed the driver was not a local resident. There were no injuries reported.