LATEST VIDEOS FROM CTV REGINA
Memory of Sask. brothers killed in farm accidents lives on through bursary
Published Thursday, June 29, 2017 6:07PM CST
They've since left the place they once called home, but the Arnal family made their most-treasured memories on their family farm in Ravenscrag, Sask.
"Part of being on a farm is learning about all the things that are going on around you,” said Anne Arnal. “You get to see everything being done, and you just intrinsically pick it up."
Nestled in the rolling hills of southwestern Saskatchewan, Arnal and her husband raised six children – Chantal, Blake, Dylan, Olivia, Sean and Lyndon.
In 2008, tragedy struck the close-knit family.
"My brother Blake was killed in a farm accident,” said Chantal Henderson – the eldest of the Arnal children.
Blake was 14 years old when the ATV he was driving went over a ridge.
"You just sometimes you wish you could go back on the really good times and relive those ones instead of the bad ones"
The family was still working to come to terms with their grief when the unimaginable happened. In July 2014, another farm accident claimed the lives of two more family members.
Sean, who was 16, and 10-year-old Lyndon were killed, when the tractor Sean was driving crashed on a gravel road near Ravenscrag.
"If you really stop and look at how big that loss is... it is crushing,” Arnal said through tears. “So, the only thing you can do to keep yourself functioning, and manage at all, is to look beyond that and to pick another project or direction to go."
And the direction the family took was to create a bursary, in honor of the late Arnal brothers.
"They were so involved in Ag. They had a passion for Ag, all their future endeavors pointed towards Ag. All the plans that they had,” recalled Henderson.
The same year as Sean and Lyndon died, the family created a fund to offer money to young students who wanted to pursue their own personal agriculture endeavors.
Recipients must be between the ages of eight and 18, and must attend school in the Chinook School Division. The applicants are asked to submit a business plan, including their costs and goals.
In the bursary's inaugural year, the family hoped to give away a few thousand dollars. But, in the three years since the fund was started, they have awarded more than $100,000 to 41 recipients.
Thirteen-year-old Ty Andreas has been planting a potato garden with his dad since he was a toddler. This past spring, his business was bolstered by the bursary.
“I kinda got the nickname ‘Tater Ty,’” Andreas said. “That's why my business is called Ty's Taters"
Nearly $52,000 was handed out at the bursary awards at Eastend School in May, and Andreas was among 16 recipients.
"I bought irrigation with the money,” said Andreas. “We spent it on sprinklers. We used it to buy seed potato and we bought a hundred pounds of fertilizer.”
Andreas expects to harvest 8,000 to 10,000 pounds of potatoes this year.
He sells the poatoes in the parking lot of the Swift Current Mall, raising money for next year's patch, and his post-secondary education.
“I’ve definitely learned work ethic. If I want the potatoes to survive, then I have to work for it,” said Andreas.
“It also teaches me communication skills because I’m working with people and meeting people when I sell in town.”
Down the road from Andreas’ Swift Current-area farm, Brock Doerksen was checking on his new spring calves.
"My motto is, if my cows are happy, I’m happy,” said Doerksen.
In 2016, the 18-year-old was awarded $5,000 to bottle-feed calves.
"A lot of them still think I'm their mother,” he said. “They come running up to me. They are not timid at all.”
Sometimes, a cow isn't able to provide milk for its calf or the calf is orphaned. In that case, ranchers have to separate the babies and feed them by bottle.
"That's where I come in. A lot of ranchers don't have time to bottle feed it, so I go and pick the calf up and bring it back home,” said Doerksen.
“I feed it milk for about three months – three times a day for the first month, twice a day for the second month, and once in the third month.”
Doerksen has now raised his first few bottle calves into 1,200-pound steers and heifers. He has also purchased dozens more, growing his herd to about 30.
"To see the passion and the enthusiasm for Ag in those students… just reminds me of the passion and enthusiasm that Blake and Sean and Lyndon all had,” said Henderson.
But the family admits they couldn't have built up the bursary on their own.
The $136,000 given out over the last three years has come from the proceeds of a memorial hockey tournament, an annual cattle sale, and thousands of dollars in personal donations from both friends and strangers.
"The entire community and all of southwest Saskatchewan has wrapped their arms around the project and really truly lifted it off the ground,” said Henderson.
And those who have received the funds hope to now give back to the community in their own way.
"Whether it's through supporting (the Arnal family’s) multiple fundraisers, or even if it's as simple as helping other kids who want to learn about cattle, if I can give them any advice or help them learn, that's very valuable,” said Doerksen
The Arnal family plans to continue giving out money to students for years to come, helping young farmers to grow their own futures, while still honoring the legacy of the ones who passed.
"I am so proud of the kids who have applied, the community,” said Henderson. “And I’m proud to be able to do this in honor of my brothers.”