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Bonnie and Jay Haaland: Reflecting on their Connections

Bonnie and Jay

Some places just speak to us. Being there instantly evokes a feeling of calm or a connection to an important time or people in your life. It could be the deck of a cabin overlooking a lake, the kitchen table at your parents’ home, or the point on the highway when your hometown comes into view.

For Bonnie and Jay Haaland that place is the Qu’Appelle Valley in Saskatchewan. They are generously honouring it by creating the Bonnie and Jay Haaland Entrance Award to provide support to a student entering the University of Regina’s Faculty of Arts from Bert Fox Community High School in Fort Qu’Appelle.

The award ties together the Haalands’ deep commitment to education, their alumni connection to the University of Regina and a part of the prairies that has great significance to them and generations of their families.

“The award brings our lives around full circle,” says Bonnie. “… tying this stage of life to our early adulthood. It pays homage to our parents, grandparents, and Jay’s great grandparents as well as our son and daughter-in-law and granddaughters who also live in the valley.”

“It’s a dedication to our family and an attempt, in a small way, to help others.”

Jay’s great grandfather homesteaded near the town of Fort Qu’Appelle and his grandfather was one of the first settler babies to be born in the region, in 1883. His family has had a summer cottage on nearby Echo Lake for more than 100 years. Bonnie’s family has had a cottage in the area for more than 40 years. Despite living in Ontario and BC for their careers, Bonnie and Jay return almost every year to spend the summer on Echo Lake.

“Saskatchewan has always been considered more of our home, in the spiritual sense,” says Bonnie.

When asked about their decision to fund the award, Jay explains, “We both recently retired and that created some reflection — looking back at our careers, places we’ve lived in Canada and feeling most at home in Saskatchewan. We met at the U of R so that has another special significance.”

They mention being at the point in their lives where they can fulfill a responsibility they feel to give back, especially to those who didn’t have the opportunities they had. Choosing both the university and the high school in the area for the award had special meaning.

Jay said they are conscious of the strong and deep-rooted Indigenous population in the area. The hope is that Indigenous students feel empowered to apply for this award and pursue their dreams of higher education.


“Indigenous people have always been an important part of the Valley, well past our families. We focused the gift on the University of Regina because of the proximity and the likelihood that the students would go there.”

Bonnie adds, “This is our small way of increasing the level of opportunity for young people from the Valley.”


Bonnie and Jay Haaland both began their post-secondary educations at the U of R. Jay earned a BA in Economics here in 1971 followed by an Honors [sic] Certificate in Political Science in 1972. Bonnie attended the U of R’s Faculty of Arts from 1970- 1972 and went on to graduate from the University of Saskatchewan with a BA (cum laude) the following year.

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