Maple Creek News
The story of the Arnal family is one of unimaginable loss — heartbreaking tragedies six years apart that left them without three beloved sons and brothers.
Blake Arnal was 14 when he was killed in an ATV accident in 2008, and Sean and Lyndon were 16 and 10 when they died in 2014 after their tractor tumbled down a hill on their southwest Saskatchewan farm. The grief that comes with that kind of loss never truly goes away for a family, but how it remembers a loved one can go a long way toward healing.
And the Arnals have done something pretty special in the memories, and honour, of Blake, Sean and Lyndon.
The family created the Arnal Boys Memorial Bursary for Young Farmers, which grants funding to students between the ages of eight and 18 who have big educational or entrepreneurial dreams in agriculture.
“They were super enthusiastic toward agriculture and had great passion for it,” sister Chantal Henderson says of her brothers. “They had said they were probably going to peruse further education in agriculture, and then take on the lifestyle in their futures.
“So when their futures were cut short, we decided it would be a good idea to, in their memory, be able to grant funds to students who are trying to pursue their dreams in agriculture.”
The bursary was launched in 2014, and in just three years has already granted funding to 41 recipients for more than $136,000 combined. Not at all too shabby when the family’s early predictions were much more modest.
“Initially when we started we weren’t sure how it would turn out,” Henderson says. “So we kind of set a goal of (distributing) $2,500 a year, and then after the first fundraising, which was the Rock Solid Bred Heifer Sale in Swift Current in December of 2014, more than $35,000 was raised.”
After that the family had a goal of $5,000 each year, only to watch thousands upon thousands more come in from a hockey tournament and skeet shoot in 2015. With all these events now running annually, the Arnal family is able to see more money handed out in the sons’ names than they ever dreamed could be possible.
“There are really no words for it to see the number of projects we’ve been able to help with, and how excited the students are when they get their funds,” Henderson says.
Students looking to earn funding provide a written proposal that includes a business plan for their entrepreneurial venture or educational plan, which has a written description of the business, research completed to develop the plan and then the overall goal of the project.
It helps to provide any revenue and expense projections they have done, and any information about how the project will help in agriculture. Students from the Chinook School Division will be given first look.
“We’ve had such a huge variety in the projects that people have applied for, and what’s interesting about it is every kid puts their own spin on how it will work for their business,” Henderson says. “It’s just a lot of innovative ideas and it’s really interesting to see how creative all these kids in southwest Saskatchewan are, their huge work ethic, and just how passionate for agriculture they are.”
Applicants can send their written submissions of applications before the March 1 deadline to:
CO Box 2097
Swif Current, SK
“This wouldn’t be possible without the extreme generosity from the community — individuals, businesses and the entire southwest — which has kind of stepped behind the bursary fund and made it possible.”
For more information, visit the Arnal Brothers Memoria Facebook page.