The treeless 252,000-square-mile province of Saskatchewan, located in central Canada, has been called by some “the forgotten place on the Canadian prairie.” Latter-day Saints in Saskatchewan feel anything but forgotten, however, as unexpected spiritual blessings have come their way in recent years.
The latest unexpected blessing came in October of last year. At the fall stake conference, a new stake was to be created—the Regina stake. The Saskatoon stake, which had been the only stake in Saskatchewan since its creation 24 years earlier, was to be changed to the Saskatoon district, in spite of members’ best activation and missionary efforts. The Saskatoon stake members were disappointed, but “we all were prepared to return to district status, accepting this as the will of the Lord,” said Eric Slocombe of the Saskatoon Second Ward.
Then Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles came to preside at a special stake conference on 27–28 October. During the Saturday session of conference in Regina, Elder Nelson created the Regina Saskatchewan Stake, as planned.
On the morning of the Sunday session of conference in Saskatoon, as Elder Nelson was conducting interviews prior to selecting the new president for the Saskatoon district, he excused himself in order to pray in private. Upon returning, Elder Nelson proceeded with the interviews and selected a new president. During the conference session, Elder Nelson surprised everyone when he announced not a new district president but a new stake president for the Saskatoon Saskatchewan Stake.
“There was no oxygen left in the room because everyone in the audience gasped when they realized that a district was not being created but that they still had their stake. Then the tears came,” said Milton Derry, first counselor to Brother Slocombe, who was called as the new Saskatoon stake president.
An earlier unexpected blessing for members in Saskatchewan came in August 1998, when President Gordon B. Hinckley visited Regina, Saskatchewan’s capital city, to speak to local members. As President Hinckley directed his remarks toward temple building, members listened eagerly, knowing the Church President was announcing the construction of many new temples at that time.
They were hoping, recalls Joanne Thomson of the Regina First Ward, that President Hinckley would announce a temple for Winnipeg, Manitoba, a likely city for a temple because many Latter-day Saints and the Canada Winnipeg Mission headquarters are located there. Winnipeg is 357 miles (571 km) from Regina, but that would still be closer than the 434 miles (700 km) Regina members were accustomed to traveling to the Cardston Alberta Temple.
When President Hinckley announced that a temple would be built in Regina, “there was a huge collective gasp, and then the tears started,” said Sister Thomson. “No one ever suspected a temple would be built in Regina, here in the middle of nowhere.”
The Regina Saskatchewan Temple was dedicated on 14 November 1999.
Today, the nearly 5,000 members living in Saskatchewan are doing all they can to be worthy of their temple and their two stakes—working together in missionary efforts, supporting each other, and performing family history and temple work.—Janet Kruckenberg, Wahpeton Branch, Fargo North Dakota Stake
First baptism: 1913
Today’s members: Nearly 5,000
Units: 2 stakes, 8 wards, 10 branches
Temple: Regina Saskatchewan