Search This Blog


Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Not Just Medicine

By D'Arcy Hande, The StarPhoenix

When under scrutiny, the Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation and its CEO Neil Alexander like to put on their suits of shining armour as the champions of nuclear medicine.

So Alexander's letter (Appropriate work, March 26) comes as no surprise. But in a StarPhoenix interview in December, he had on his more business-like jousting suit and proclaimed how SFCCNI's research could facilitate building small nuclear reactors for deployment in Saskatchewan. The core funding of $30 million for the centre at its inception in 2011 came from the Saskatchewan government. The centre's original business framework stated: "The province expects nuclear power to be considered in the range of energy options available for baseload generation capacity in the medium and long term after 2020 and that the CCNI will be able to serve as a source of expertise to inform decisions in this area."

More than half the Fedoruk Centre's board of directors has connections to the uranium and nuclear industry.

Alexander states that the centre "has no role in the mining or sale of uranium." However, research and development for the nuclear industry is a different story. A check of projects approved for funding by SFCCNI over the past three years demonstrates that there is inevitably money granted toward research on nuclear reactors and aspects of uranium mining.

Obviously the Uranium Development Partnership agenda of 2009 is still alive and well at the University of Saskatchewan's Fedoruk Centre.

D'Arcy Hande

© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

Re: Deadly Legacy

“Appropriate Work”
By Neil Alexander, The Starphoenix March 25, 2015

Re: Deadly legacy (SP, March 20). Bryan Lee's disappointment with the Saskatchewan government funding of the Fedoruk Centre appears to be rooted in a misunderstanding of the centre's activities. To date, the bulk of the centre's investment has been in using nuclear imaging techniques to develop a better understanding of cancers and other diseases in humans, animals and plants. This complements the work of the province's universities, the cancer agency and other advanced research centres.

 I invite Lee to visit the new cyclotron facility to talk with the researchers about the work they will do and the lives they believe they will save. The centre also supports social and environmental studies regarding nuclear development, such as how to have fact-based discussions on complex scientific topics, as well as research into nuclear energy, safety and materials science using neutron beams. This work is entirely appropriate for institutions of higher learning. Words used by Lee, such as "toxic" and "lethal" perpetuate fear and misunderstanding, which can lead to poor public decision-making. This is an issue that concerns me and I will be talking about it in the Tox on Tap series at the Woods Alehouse on April 28.

While the Fedoruk Centre has no role in the mining or sale of uranium, as a scientist concerned about the environment, I am well aware of the contribution nuclear science has made to greenhouse gas avoidance and the slowing of the onset of climate change - the biggest environmental challenge that faces our planet today.

Neil Alexander
Executive director, Fedoruk Centre Saskatoon

Friday, 20 March 2015

Deadly Legacy

By Bryan Lee, The Starphoenix March 20, 2015 6:03 AM

Neil Alexander, executive director of the Fedoruk Centre stated in an interview that Saskatchewan's future could be much brighter, richer and cleaner if the province embraces nuclear power.

Brighter? For Cameco, Areva, Rio Tinto and others including Alexander. Richer? For the same groups. Cleaner? Enriched uranium causes cancer and birth defects. Enriched uranium placed in nuclear reactors to create steam to drive an electric turbine is the most lethal, toxic material known to humankind. Reprocessing of the high level toxic material produces plutonium that is only used for military purposes.

Science has never discovered how to detoxify or neutralize this material, which future generations will have to contend with for millennia.

I am disappointed that the Saskatchewan government funds the Fedoruk Centre and that the University of Saskatchewan continues to be influenced by the corporate interests. It amazes me that a public institution of higher learning promotes the nuclear agenda.

I am further disappointed at Premier Brad Wall's comment that, "The only program for First Nations and Metis is Cameco." This comment and the premier's international travel to sell uranium certainly underscore the need for leadership in the Saskatchewan legislature.

Bryan Lee
Metis representative on the U of S Senate
Christopher Lake

© Copyright The StarPhoenix

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Radioactive Trinity: a Study

USSWORD senators recently completed a study of the partnerships and collaborations of Government, Industry and the University of Saskatchewan. Read the full study here.


Thursday, 12 March 2015

Columbia University launches community wide program to address rape culture

Columbia student Emma Sulkowicz vowed to carry her mattress everywhere she went until her alleged rapist was expelled from university. 

Emma Sulkowicz's #CarryThatWeight project (which she is doing as her thesis) garnered international attention. Rape culture on university campuses is an urgent problem and Emma's project inspired support from students across the USA - as survivors are feeling let down by the institutions that are supposed to protect them.  

This semester Columbia University launched the "Sexual Respect and Community Citizenship Initiative." As one part of this initiative, all Columbia students are taking part in new, required programming that explores the relationship between sexual respect and community membership. 

The programming options available to students include workshops, trainings, film screenings with discussion, videos and reflections, an arts option, and keys to resiliency, which are offerings specially intended for survivors, those who support survivors and others who have experienced trauma. 

Programs like this are a step in the right direction. However - Kirby Dick, director of a new documentary about rape on campus points out in his recent CBC interview that rape culture is alive and well.

In Canada 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted, that number is higher for first nations women and 83% of women with disabilities will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. The impact this has on our communities can be addressed in a meaningful way and the University of Saskatchewan can play an integral role in setting an example for universities across Canada by raising standards, responsibility and expectations. 

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

VOTE NOW! 2014 U of S Senate Elections

The 2014 University of Saskatchewan (U of S) Senate elections are upon us (May 5 – June 20, 2014). As the U of S Senate is "the University’s window on the Province, and the Province’s Window on the University,” all members of U of S alumni are invited to elect Senate representatives.

All pertinent information for voting (including candidate profiles) can be found on the here. To vote, you must use your username (NSID) and click on the “vote” tab on the website. If you do not know what your NSID is, be sure to contact the U of S Secretary at


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

University Senators question legality of Susan Milburn’s position on U of S Board of Governors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - March 13, 2013. 

SASKATOON – Several University of Saskatchewan senators are questioning the legitimacy of new Board of Governors Chair Susan Milburn’s continuing membership on the Board, pointing out that the appointment of Ms. Milburn as the chair is fundamentally flawed according to University of Saskatchewan Act, 1995, c. U-6.1.

Senator Stefania Fortugno, a practising lawyer in Saskatoon, explains,
     In 2011 with Milburn's second and final term as Senate representative on the Board soon to expire, the Board requested that the Government appoint Milburn as one of its five appointees to the Board. However, the Government chose to appoint other individuals.
     There was a second option:  the Government was asked to amend the University’s governing legislation to enable Senate Representatives (Milburn) to serve a third term.  The legislation has not been amended.
     Milburn's maximum term expired June 30, 2012; she was granted an extension for the time being.   And yet on March 5th the Board made her Chair until 2016, four years beyond the maximum set out in the Act.
     Our argument is that the University is without doubt subject to the laws of Saskatchewan.

Knowing that Milburn’s term as a Senate-elected representative on the Board would officially expire on June 30, 2012, a new representative should have been elected at the April 2012 Senate meeting.  The Board, wishing to retain Milburn’s services in the interests of continuity, recommended to Senate that the position be left vacant for the interim while waiting for the government to address the issue. The motion was met with some opposition at Senate but passed with the understanding that this measure would be temporary and the position would be filled in 2013.

Because of her status as a provisional senate representative, a number of senators were surprised to find that on March 5, without Senate consultation, it was announced that Milburn had been selected to chair the Board until 2016. This means Milburn is expected to remain on the Board a full four years beyond her legally prescribed term as Senate representative, according the Act.  

Concerned senators ask: for how many years will the Senate be prevented from electing an appropriate representative to the Board?  The current situation requires that the Board of Governors and the Senate intentionally, actively and knowingly circumvent the Act. In Fortugno’s opinion, “This is not an example of good governance. This decision represents a failure to respect legal and democratic principles, including the rule of law.”

Susan Milburn’s skills and contributions to the University are not in question, say the senators. The law, as set out in the University Act must be respected.  The Senate needs to elect someone who can legitimately represent the Senate on the Board of Governors. This is an opportunity for the Board to uphold its legal integrity and to act on its  recently proclaimed commitment to transparency and good governance.


Please see appended information package.

Media Contacts:  Mary Jean Hande                                                Sandra Finley
  U of S Senate Member at Large                            U of S Senate Member at Large
  647-458-5326,    250-248-3526,