Dr. Anne Neufeld’s support of the newly installed tipi encampment continues the dream of friend and former Sask Polytech dean Jamie Hilts

October 2023

Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s former Provost and Vice President, Academic (2014-2018) Dr. Anne Neufeld provided a $25K donation to the Hannin Creek Education and Applied Research Centre at Candle Lake. The donation is earmarked to complete the installation of the Indigenous Outdoor Learning Centre.

Dr. Anne Neufeld, a long-time advocate for Indigenous student success, says supporting the tipi project is a tangible demonstration of her commitment to truth and reconciliation. The grand opening for the Indigenous Outdoor Learning Centre was held in June of 2022. The official name for the centre in Cree is mitho askiy kiskethihtamowin, meaning good learning through experiences on the land. The donation will support the addition of the remaining platform construction under three of the five tipis. As well, accessible walkways will be built leading into and around the encampment. 

Brenda Suru, Interim Dean, Faculty of Technology and Skilled Trades says, “With Jamie’s passion and vision, the Hannin Creek Education and Applied Research Centre saw substantial growth under his leadership. The tipi encampment was the latest expansion. Jamie’s vision focused on making sure the Indigenous Outdoor Leaning Center was based entirely around students – students of all ages that would be able to access traditional teachings and land-based learning. Unfortunately Jamie passed just prior to the opening of the tipi encampment.”

Neufeld says, “The Outdoor Indigenous Learning Centre was one of the many partnerships Jamie made happen through his connections with Indigenous leaders in the province including the Prince Albert Grand Council. The opportunity to complete his vision was important to me and will allow the encampment to function as intended. It expands the quality of education and training by connecting faculty and students to traditional Indigenous teachings and knowledge.”

“Thank you to Dr. Neufeld for investing in our students and to the Indigenous Outdoor Learning Centre,” says president and CEO, Dr. Rosia. “If Jamie were here today he would be humbled by your generous gift to the tipi encampment, which you made in his memory.” Dr. Rosia adds, “He epitomized our mission of inspiring success in every learning journey. Jamie was a man who lived our principles of respect, integrity, sustainability and excellence. He inspired those he worked with and those he taught. And while he may be gone, his legacy will not be forgotten.”

Jamie Hilts’ family, his daughter, Kelsey (and her husband Hudson); his mother Irene Hilts and sister Debbie Hilts were in attendance for the unveiling of a new sign in honour of the donation from Dr. Neufeld and to recognize the commitment Jamie put into the tipi encampment project.

Jamie’s daughter, Kelsey says, “We are honoured to help recognize the contributions of my father to Saskatchewan Polytechnic.” Kelsey adds, “Thank you Anne and everyone who has helped bring this project to life. Looking back, I realize now I should have paid closer attention to the many stories dad told about his work. The visions he spoke passionately about. He often talked about the camp. It always made him happy to talk about the changes that were happening at Hannin Creek and the plans for the future.”

In addition to the $25K donation, the first ever recipients of the new Jamie Hilts Memorial Awards were also announced at the ceremony. Established through the office of the president, the scholarships are available to full-time second-year students enrolled in the School of Mining, Energy & Manufacturing or the School of Natural Resources & Built Environment.

Four deserving students received the $2500 scholarship this year. Chad Teskey from the Electrical Engineering Technology program, Moose Jaw Campus, Andrew Kuras from our Resource and Environmental Law program, Prince Albert Campus, Matthew Fiddler, from our Design and Manufacturing Engineering Technology program, Saskatoon Campus, and Steve Klimack from our Mechanical Engineering Technology Diploma, Saskatoon Campus.