Halifax school board to change bus schedules while teachers work-to-rule

Concern for student safety during Nova Scotia teachers’ work-to-rule campaign is prompting the Halifax school board to change some bus schedules.

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New arrival and departure times, mandated by the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, would have created a supervision gap between when students arrive at school and when teachers and principals do. Teachers will start working-to-rule on Monday.

READ MORE: Nova Scotians split on who to support in teachers dispute

To avoid the safety concerns, the Halifax Regional School Board says all busses will arrive after teachers do to make sure students aren’t alone.

As part of the job action, teachers and principals will be arriving at school 20 minutes before classes and leaving 20 minutes after. According to the board, that would have meant that students from 15 bus routes would be at school before teachers arrived or after they left.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia teachers’ 16 contract demands and what the province says they cost

“We have been working with Stock Transportation this week to ensure all busses arrive/depart within the 20 (minute) window starting on Monday,” board spokesperson Doug Hadley said in an emailed statement.

“Our priority is student safety,” he said. “Students will be supervised at all times.”

He said the board was in the process of notifying families who will have to deal with new school bus pickup and drop-off times. Hadley said the changes will affect a relatively small number of people – just 15 out of more than 250 routes are affected.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia students to stage classroom walkout Friday

The board is also considering hiring lunch monitors for schools where teachers usually take part in supervision.

The fertility diet: The dos and don’ts of eating for conception

This is the latest article in a Global News investigation into fertility in Canada, and the emotional and financial impact infertility has on Canadians struggling to conceive.

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There are no-brainers when it comes to prepping for conception — quitting smoking is among the most obvious — but growing evidence shows that what you eat, in addition to what you cut out, could have a significant impact on fertility for both women and men.

“Poor ovulation is at the root of one-quarter of all cases of infertility,” says Quinn Hand, naturopathic doctor and founder of Q Wellness. “By eating a balanced and nutrient dense diet, you can increase fertility by as much as 80 per cent.”

To anyone who’s already a health-conscious eater, the fertility diet would look very familiar: a wide variety of colourful vegetables, lean protein (especially from fish sources), low-glycemic index carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa and millet, and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

“It’s the same whole foods diet that naturopaths have advocated for a long time,” Hand says.

But there are some caveats. Where some would perhaps veer toward low-fat or no-fat dairy options to lessen the caloric load, women looking to conceive should opt instead for full-fat dairy.

READ MORE: Here’s what you need to know about Ontario’s Fertility Program, one year later

In a landmark 2007 study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, researchers followed roughly 18,000 married women who conceived or attempted to conceive over an eight year period, and found that those who consumed full-fat dairy products had a decreased risk of ovulatory infertility. The study also found that those who opted for skim or reduced-fat dairy had an increased risk of infertility.

“The estrogen and progesterone that naturally occur in milk attach themselves to the fat globules,” says Lianne Phillipson, nutritionist and founder of Sprout Right, a company that specializes in preconception, prenatal and postnatal nutrition. “By skimming the fat from dairy, those hormones, as well as vital vitamins like D and K, are also removed leaving behind the male hormones. This creates an imbalance that can impair ovulation.”

For this reason, Phillipson advises her clients who are looking to conceive to consume one serving of full-fat dairy daily. That could look like one eight-ounce glass of whole or homo milk, one cup of full-fat yogurt, or 30 grams of cheese (think the size of three stacked dice).

Unfortunately, what that doesn’t mean is indulging in ice cream.

“Ice cream is at the bottom of the list of acceptable dairy options because it’s laden with sugar and other ingredients that can upset insulin levels, which can in turn trigger irregular ovulation,” Phillipson says.

In fact, the white stuff should be considered the sworn enemy of women and men looking to conceive. Because of sugar’s effects on insulin resistance, the fallouts are varied and range from diabetes to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), an endocrine disorder that can cause infertility.

READ MORE: Everything men and women should know about fertility testing

In men, sugar — especially the sugar in soda — has been linked to lower sperm count. A study conducted at the University of Utah in 2013 found male mice who ate a healthy diet supplemented with 25 per cent added sugar from soda (the equivalent of three cans) died earlier and reproduced less.

The bad news for soda drinkers doesn’t end there, either. In a different study out of Denmark conducted in 2012, researchers found that women who consumed soda had reduced levels of fertility. Although the study was meant to determine the effects of caffeine on fertility, researchers discovered that women who drank soda, both sugar-sweetened and diet, had lower rates. (Caffeine remains a grey area; some studies link it to a minor reduction in fertility while others show no effects at all.)

Processed and junk foods high in trans fats are other obvious offenders. They’re blamed for a host of health repercussions, from insulin resistance to clogged arteries. The latter is especially detrimental to men as decreased blood flow to the genitals could result in erectile dysfunction.

“Every two per cent increase in trans fat leads to a 73 per cent increase in risk of ovulatory infertility,” Hand says.

Her aforementioned diet is a good place to start when looking to boost fertility and general health, although bear in mind that not all healthy-seeming foods are created equal.

“You really should be eating organic as much as possible,” she says. “Health studies have shown that we harbour 264 different chemicals and pesticides in our bodies, 164 of which are endocrine disruptors and oxidative stressors that are bad for sperm and egg quality. The more we can decrease the burden, the better our chances are of fertility.”

Hand recognizes, however, that an all-organic diet can be out of financial reach for most people, so she suggests focusing on the “dirty dozen” list of foods that are highest in chemicals and pesticides.

Phillipson cautions against beverages that are marketed as healthy.

“When you drink a glass of orange juice, you may think you’re doing something healthy but you’re just downing concentrated sweetness with none of the fibre,” she says.

And smoothies are among the worst offenders. Unless you’re going to a smoothie bar where you’re watching someone feed fresh fruits and vegetables into the juicer, most commercially-made smoothies harbour sugars and syrups.

Here’s a handy breakdown of fertility-enhancing foods you should be eating.

READ MORE: 7 fertility myths and misconceptions Canadian women need to know

Fruits and vegetables

“Eat the rainbow,” Hand says. Colourful fruits and vegetables have an assortment of antioxidants, phytochemicals and minerals that are beneficial for egg quality. Make sure your plate is made up of 50 per cent vegetables at every meal, she suggests.

Protein

Think of fish as a crucial building block for preconception and pregnancy health. Oily fish in particular (salmon, sardines, mackerel) are rich in Omega oils, which are shown to regulate hormone levels, decrease inflammation, boost sperm production and increase blood flow to the sexual organs. Look for wild caught fish, versus farmed varieties, as the latter have more PCBs (a known carcinogenic compound) in their tissues. With meat and poultry, opt for lean varieties. “Most toxins are fat soluble, so they store themselves in the fat cells of animals,” Hand says.

Low-glycemic index carbohydrates

Carbohydrates that digest slowly, like quinoa, brown rice and millet, have a high fibre content and slower release. That means they’ll have a gradual effect on your blood sugar thus preventing a surge in insulin resistance and preserving ovulation.

Supplements

Unfortunately, a run of the mill multivitamin won’t cut it if you’re looking to boost fertility. For one thing, Hand says, don’t buy generic supplements. “Professional-grade vitamins contain nutrients that are easily activated by the body,” she says. “A lot of over the counter varieties contain binders and food dyes.”

Make sure to boost your diet with vitamin D, which will help with ovulation and hormonal balance; an antioxidant with vitamins A, C, E, zinc and selenium; folic acid to help prevent neural tube defects and congenital heart defects in the fetus; and CoQ10, which improves egg quality, counteracts ovarian aging and boosts sperm quality.

The jury, both medical and naturopathic, is out on subjects like caffeine and alcohol, although women and men are strongly advised to cut down on consumption if they’re trying to conceive. Eliminating it altogether is not necessary, however. Especially when you consider the psychological benefits they can have.

“Conception and fertility are stressful issues, and stress will zap your hormones,” Hand says. “If I have a patient who is super stressed out and really loves craft beer, I tell them to go out, have a beer and relax, because that helps too.”

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‘I caught on fire’: N.S. mother of four seriously injured in blaze

Annette Conway says she’s lucky to be alive after being injured in a grease fire in her Halifax home on Nov. 22.

“I tried to put it out, tried to control it myself and I caught on fire,” Conway said Thursday.

The mother of four was left with serious burns over much of her body. The worst injuries she sustained were on her arms, which she used to protect her face in the blaze.

Doctors say Conway will need plastic surgery and that it will likely be a year until she recovers fully from the burns.

Neighbours were ‘guardian angels’

Two of Conway’s neighbours called 911 and tried to keep her calm until help arrived. Because of that, she now calls them her guardian angels.

“It could have really been way worse. I’m just glad she’s fine,” said Tanya Husbands, Conway’s neighbour, who was doing her dishes when the fire started.

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“I heard her screaming at the top of her lungs, like someone was in a lot of pain. I ran out with no socks on or anything,” she said. “I don’t know about a hero. I just think that neighbours should look out for neighbours,” she said.

“They held me the whole time … and I just want to tell them I am so grateful for their help and for everyone else who came to help me that date,” Conway said.

Starting over weeks before Christmas

From the outside, it’s hard to see the impact the fire has had on Conway’s home. But inside, the family lost nearly everything, including all their Christmas gifts.

They are staying in a motel for now and have no idea when they will be allowed to return home.

“I want to go home now,” said Conway, fighting back tears.

“But if we could get home for Christmas, it would mean the world to us.”

Conway’s sister has set up a GoFundMe page to try and help the family get back on their feet and try to make Christmas as normal as possible. The goal is to raise $4,000.

“It’s great to see the community and people that are not even from here …donating,” said Hedy Cameron, Annette’s mother. “It’s wonderful to have people that care.”

“I’m so grateful for all the help that we’re getting,” said Conway. “I’m seeing so much kindness and humanity. My heart is just, growing every day from all the love we are receiving.”

Those interested in helping the Conway family can visit the fundraising page here.

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3 teens charged after east-end Toronto student violently beaten, video posted online

Three teenagers are facing charges after a video shared on social media and sent to Global News shows a student being struck repeatedly and falling to the ground.

The video was sent to Global News by a student who asked to remain anonymous and said it involved students at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate Institute in Scarborough. Video of the incident was also shared on social media.

Toronto police said the three arrests occurred after an incident was reported to officers on Friday and that the investigation is ongoing.

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“Obviously it’s very concerning – this kind of behaviour, this kind of action in this school,” Toronto police Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook said.

“We’re going to do everything we can to work with the school board to try to deter this kind of action.

Uniformed patrol officers were seen on patrol at, and around, the school on Thursday.

Toronto District School Board spokesman Ryan Bird told Global News the board is aware of fights from multiple east-end schools and school officials are working with police.

“If any students have concerns about fighting or any other matter, we strongly encourage them to tell a staff member at the school, so they can immediately follow up,” Bird said in a statement.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate Institute students said the fights are orchestrated to settle disputes.

“It’s apparently like, one person was trying to steal other people’s things. It’s more like an accused thing,” Zack Fedasz said, adding that he has seen past fights in the neighbourhood with crowds up to 200 people.

“I don’t agree with violence. But you film it? You talk about it? Then you put it on TV, I think that’s just crazy,” Damien Ablitt-Ramrob said.

READ MORE: Prince Rupert RCMP investigating fight involving teens, Mounties

Meanwhile, some students coming out of school approached Global News and condemned the video.

“There’s so much stuff that Laurier has to offer. More than these silly fights that you hear about on the news,” Fiona Shakyaver said.

“I don’t think it’s fair how they’re like portraying our school. There’s a lot of things to offer in this school that are great and amazing,” Renell Chari added.

Oriena Vuong contributed to this report

Manitoba on the path to break record of road fatalities in a year: RCMP

WINNIPEG —;  There have been 105 road fatalities this year on Manitoba roads, the second highest number of deaths in ten years. RCMP say they are on track to reach a new tragic record.

“Our unit feels pretty frustrated,” said Cpl. Carrie Kennedy of the RCMP.

“We feel like we are putting our best foot forward and we aren’t able to prevent those deaths.”

Kennedy says the number of roadway fatalities has risen this year compared to last year, and many of them are due to drunk driving.

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RELATED: 2nd fatal crash this week on Manitoba highway

Of the 105 deaths, 40 per cent are due to impaired drivers. Speeding is the leading cause at 47 per cent.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers has been busy supporting grieving families and trying to spread their message about the dangers of drinking and driving.

RELATED: Fatal crash near Portage la Prairie kills two

“That is a statistic that is climbing, particularly young females getting into vehicles with people who have been drinking,” said Melody Bodnarchuk of MADD Winnipeg.

Bodnarchuk put the numbers into perspective.

“To me, if this was something like a virus, Manitobans would be in a panic, that every three and a half days, somebody in Manitoba is dying,” she said.

In an effort to reduce drinking and driving over the holidays, Manitoba RCMP announced the kickoff of their 2016 Holiday Checkstop program. The checkstop campaign begins on Dec. 2 and runs until Jan. 2.

RELATED: Winnipeg Police arrest 56 drivers during holiday checkstops

The RCMP has written more than 40,000 tickets in 2016—6,000 more than last year. But the message doesn’t seem to be getting through.

“The truth is, if behaviours don’t change, an estimated 10 people will die on our roads during the holidays,” said Scott Kolody with Manitoba RCMP. “And in the past decade, there has not been a single year when someone has not died.”

In addition to driving sober, the RCMP is encouraging drivers to buckle up, avoid using their phone, and to drive for the conditions.

Vancouver heritage house saved, being moved to a new location

A Vancouver heritage house is on the move after being saved by a local development company.

The house, built in 1905, was originally located at 1754 Pendrell Street. But after the land was bought by Westbank Development, they decided to donate it to Point Grey Development, which is moving it to a new location on East 5 Avenue.

But it has quite the journey before it reaches its new home.

Nickel Bros. is moving the house, which is currently sitting in an alley at Davie and Pendrall Streets.

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The house has been jacked up, placed on steel beams, and had the walls of the basement removed. It is now sitting on wheels ready to continue its journey.

The next stage begins early Saturday morning around 1 a.m. when the crew from Nickel Bros. will drive the house down Morton Avenue, towards Morton Park. It will then be driven east on Beach Avenue, then down on to the beach just north of the Inukshuk.

There they will load it onto a barge and sail it up False Creek, under the Burrard, Granville and Cambie Bridges.

From there it will sit in a yard near Olympic Village until mid-January. It will not be moved to its new location, in the 400-block of East 5 Avenue, until a year from now, when the new site is ready.

Dennis Langendorff, an estimater at Nickel Bros. says this is quite a difficult move, even for an experienced crew.

He says they have also had to coordinate with Telus, Shaw, BC Hydro, Westbank and the City of Vancouver to make sure the move goes smoothly.

Credit: Sergio Magro

Environmental groups slam deal allowing Nova Scotia to use coal plants past 2030

Two environmental groups are slamming the recent agreement allowing Nova Scotia to use coal-fired electrical plants beyond the new federal deadline to phase them out by 2030.

The federal-provincial deal was touted as recognition of the work Nova Scotia has already done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with the province having already met the national target of a 30 per cent reduction in emissions from 2005 by 2030.

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READ MORE: N.S. wins deal to use coal-fired plants past new federal deadline of 2030

But the Margaree Environmental Association and the Sierra Club Canada-Atlantic said Thursday the agreement would simply keep the province reliant on coal when it could do more to wean itself off fossil fuels faster.

“Many Nova Scotians like us are extremely concerned about the federal-provincial agreement to allow Nova Scotia to continue to burn coal rather than having a plan to shut down coal and pet-coke burning plants as soon as possible,” said Gretchen Fitzgerald, the national program director of Sierra Club Canada-Atlantic.

The groups said that 80 per cent of the current coal burning capacity in the province could be shut down by 2020 and replaced by more wind and solar power projects, expected power from the Muskrat Falls project in Labrador, and by importing 500 megawatts of power from Quebec.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia wants recognition of its emissions reductions in carbon pricing plan

Neal Livingston, co-chair of the Margaree Environmental Association, said the government has been setting itself up as an environmental leader when it will actually be the last jurisdiction in Canada to continue to burn coal.

The province has previously projected that coal would continue to play some part in its energy mix until 2042, although officials said during last week’s announcement that there was no timetable yet for plant closures under the new agreement.

Livingston said the province has skewed its record on greenhouse gases by including 60 megawatts generated by biomass projects, which he says don’t produce green energy.

“Premier (Stephen) McNeil also claims that Nova Scotians have already done enough,” said Livingston. “Nova Scotia’s record is not how he states it.”

Last week the province also said it was opting for a cap and trade system for industry, although the details wouldn’t be worked out until 2018.

Fitzgerald said that would have implications for plans to develop Cape Breton’s Donkin mine, which her group opposed during its environmental assessment.

READ MORE: Donkin, N.S., coal mine set to reopen this summer

Although proponents have said the goal is to export the mine’s coal to foreign markets, Fitzgerald says its operations alone will have an adverse effect on provincial targets for reducing greenhouse gases.

“We looked at 2050 targets . . . and the operations alone from that project are going to be between eight and 14 per cent of provincial greenhouse gases,” she said. “How much are we going to have to offset for that one project to run?”

Following a cabinet meeting Thursday, Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan said the mine, which is in his riding, could start small scale commercial production soon. He said once that happens it would probably take six to eight weeks before the mine ramps up to full production.

MacLellan said the province is mindful that the window is limited for the operation, given the commitment to get off coal in favour of more renewables in future years.

He said while there were talks with Nova Scotia Power about the possibility of burning some of the coal domestically, he hasn’t heard any confirmation that will happen.

“There will be a number of years where coal is required for steel production which is a significant part of that (operation),” said MacLellan. “We won’t see a lot of it being burned here over the next number of years but no question there is a market internationally.”

MacLellan said he would be meeting with mine officials on Monday to get an update on their plans.

Pan Pacific Christmas Wish Breakfast 2016

The 29th annual Christmas Wish Breakfast is taking place at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver on Dec. 13.

This is one of Canada’s largest toy drives. Last year, seven truck loads of toys weighing 40,000 pounds were hauled away.

This large haul included more than 1,000 bikes, 216 gift cards and about $17,000 in donations.

The event has grown from its humble beginnings almost 30 years ago to one supported by numerous organizations around Metro Vancouver, putting a smile on children’s faces every year.

Global News Morning will be broadcasting live from the Pan Pacific on Dec. 13, from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.

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Come down, say hi to Sonia Sunger, Mark Madryga, Kaitlyn Herbst and special guest Sophie Lui.

Rock101’s Willy, Kim and Alece will also be broadcasting live throughout the morning.

Donate an unwrapped toy or gift and get a free hot buffet breakfast provided by the Pan Pacific.

There will be performances from the Good Noise Gospel Choir, Goh Ballet, Langley Ukuleles, and a barbershop quarter, to name a few.

Volunteers from the Vancouver Police Department and Vancouver Fire Rescue will also be on had to help out.

Watch Global News Morning on Dec. 13, we will also be livestreaming the show on our website and you can follow along on social media using the hashtag #PanXmasWish.

For more details, visit the Pan Pacific website.

What to bring

If you’re looking for ideas of what to donate this year, here is a handy list:

Babies, toddlers and preschoolers:

Outdoor toys (tricycle, kick scooter, balance bike)Building blocks (mega blocks, wooden blocks)Play dohMusical toys (xylophone, maracas, drums)Educational toys (shape sorting cube, abacus, octotunes)Games (Hungry Hippos, Angry Birds, Knock on Wood game)Crayon, paints and easelsLeapster Explorer CameraToy cars and train setsDinosaur figures

Elementary school kids, tweens and teens:

Building toys (Lego, Duplo)Outdoor toys (skateboard, kick scooter, bike, soccer ball, basketball, sled)Games & brain twisters (Pokemon cards, Perplexes, Quirkle, Monopoly, Scrabble, Yahtzee, Cranium Family Edition)PuzzlesBarbieDoodle ArtArt sets (pencils, crayons, pastels)Tea and coffee travel mugWatchHeadphonesBooksAir hockeyTickets to concerts and sport eventsGift card (coffee, mall, store)Electronics)

If you cannot drop off items on Dec. 13 but you still want to donate, you can drop off a donation to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau or any Vancouver Fire Hall Department and let them know the item is for the Christmas Wish Breakfast.

Nova Scotia teaching students may lose practicum opportunities with work-to-rule action

Some Nova Scotia students working toward an education degree may have to put the invaluable hands-on practicum portion of their studies on hold because of work-to-rule job action the Nova Scotia Teachers Union is starting Monday.

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READ MORE: Nova Scotia teachers’ 16 contract demands and what the province says they cost

The practicum —; which puts the education students in Nova Scotia classrooms actually teaching the grade-school students —; is a critical part of their studies that’s required to earn a Nova Scotia Teacher’s Certificate.

“It’s so valuable because everything that you’ve learned in school is great but until you’ve actually had the chance to put it into practice, you don’t really know what it will truly be like,” said Michael McCallum, a math and French teacher who graduated with a Bachelor of Education from Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU).

McCallum is fresh into his teaching career and credits his practicum experience with landing a position out of school.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia public split on who to support in teachers dispute: poll

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to get a preview into the career before jumping in with both feet,” he said.

Education students must have a minimum of 15 weeks in an in-classroom training environment to be qualified for a teaching certificate.

It’s a part of post-secondary education studies that is currently “up in the air” because of the work-to-rule job action.

“We’re in uncharted territory here. So, first of all I’d ask education students to reach out to their faculty to talk to them,” Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan said Thursday.

Regan says the province will be meeting with faculty heads to discuss how the job action may impact practicums.

One-hundred-seventy-eight students are enrolled in MSVU’s Bachelor of Education program.

READ MORE: Halifax school board to change bus schedules while teachers work-to-rule

The student union is preparing to facilitate talks between students and faculty members.

“Heading into the next couple of weeks we’ll be working with our faculty of education to make sure that collectively we can provide those resources and supports for education students,” said Ryan Nearing, president of MSVU’s student union.

While nothing has been decided yet in regards to the future of practicums, Nearing says all he’s hearing from MSVU students is that they hope things get resolved between the union and the government sooner rather than later.

“As a student’s union we speak on behalf of Mount students and these students are hoping to receive their practicum experiences that a lot of them were looking forward to.”

University of Saskatchewan Home Ice Campaign receives $500K from Wyant Group

The Wyant Group has donated $500,000 to the University of Saskatchewan‘s Home Ice Campaign.

In front of stakeholders from Saskatoon’s hockey community, Vaughn Wyant expressed his passion for contributing to the project.

“I think people perform better when they have good facilities, good equipment, and good coaching. I think they’ve suffered long enough,” Wyant said.

“We’re very humbled and proud to be a part of it so giving our money is kind of a no-brainer.”

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The new complex, named Merlis Belsher Place, will replace Rutherford Rink and include two ice surfaces. Not only will the Saskatchewan Huskies benefit directly from having a new arena for their varsity hockey teams, but the Saskatoon Minor Hockey League will be a main benefactor, having full access to the small ice surface.

READ MORE: University of Saskatchewan launches final funding drive for new hockey facility

“It’s going to have clinics, basketball courts … it’s not just going to have a seating capacity for two rinks, it’s going to be a whole complex”, University of Saskatchewan president Peter Stoicheff said in accepting the donation.

Of the $35 million already raised, $7 million is still needed to fulfill the construction needs.

Stoicheff believes the community will step up to fill this void.

“I think there are still donors who care about Huskie Athletics, but also minor hockey,” Stoicheff said.

“Having a rink like this means you don’t have to travel to games, you can stay in Saskatoon.”