Biggar Couple Make Big Impact with Bursary

Sask Polytech alumni donation provides a helping hand to future students


Over the next decade, Saskatchewan Polytechnic students will receive a “hand up” to help finance their education, thanks to the generosity of two alumni who’ve been inspired to pay it forward.

Dale (Autobody Tech ’71) and Sherry (Dental Assistant ’71 and Diploma Nursing ’92) Martin have established a new bursary through a long-term trust, which will award two students $1,000 each.

“We felt, deep down, that some struggling student might need a hand up, not necessarily a hand out,” says Dale. As it’s a gift from the couple’s hearts, given with the hope for the recipient’s success, the Martins have aptly named it the “Hand, Heart, Hope Bursary.”

“Part of the reason for wanting to help was that we both had some help when we went back to school,” says Sherry, who, returned to Sask Polytech (then SIAST) in 1990 at the age of 38 to complete her nursing diploma. With their home base in Biggar, relatives in Saskatoon gave Sherry a place to live while she completed her diploma. Dale also benefitted from the opportunity to live with relatives while he earned his Autobody Tech certificate.

“Neither of us came from well-off families,” says Sherry. “I had to get a student loan to go to school and, with the help from family with accommodation, we were able to further our education.”

Their $20,000 gift coincided with Giving Day last November, although they had been considering the donation for quite a while.

“We only have one daughter so we were fortunate to be able to help get her through school,” says Sherry, adding that being able to help other students feels very fulfilling.

After graduating in 1971, Dale went on to operate his own auto body business and worked in farming. Later, he found employment in the maintenance department at Biggar Hospital, where he worked for 25 years until his retirement in 2017.

Sherry held a number of jobs while raising their daughter, eventually returning to school for her nursing diploma. After graduating in 1992 at age 40, Sherry also found employment at Biggar Hospital—and worked in home care—for 25 years before retiring in 2017.

Their daughter, Heather Mohr, is also a Sask Polytech alumna and an instructor in the School of Transportation. Through Heather, they learned about the financial barriers for students that exist “all through the campus.”

“I would hate to think that a student would have to drop out because they couldn’t financially make ends meet to finish their course,” says Dale. “This is just something we could do to help struggling students get ahead.”

The Hand, Heart, Hope bursary is directed to students enrolled at Sask Polytech’s Saskatoon campus. Students from any program can apply. “It’s hard to pick one program when there is need everywhere,” says Sherry. “Every one of the programs is valuable.”

Asked what advice they would give to other potential donors, Sherry says, “Education is important to get anywhere in the world. If you’ve got a few extra bucks, maybe that’s one good place to put it.”

The Martins gave through securities, one of many ways available to donate toward supporting Saskatchewan Polytechnic students. They hope they’ll be in a position to extend the bursary past the ten-year mark, says Sherry. “And in the meantime, if it helps 20 students, then all the better.”

November 2022


Saskatchewan Polytechnic serves students through applied learning opportunities on Treaty 4 and Treaty 6 Territories and the homeland of the Métis.