It’s fitting that Lorne should receive this year’s Lifetime Achievement award – after all, he’s devoted a lifetime to the service of others. Service is a huge part of his ethic – service to the province, Church, higher education, and, vulnerable people whose voices are seldom heard. Lorne was born and raised in Moose Jaw and educated at the Universities of Regina and Saskatchewan. In 1976 he became an ordained Minister of the United Church of Canada. He began his multi-faceted career as a minister in pastoral charges in central and southern Saskatchewan and in Moose Jaw. It was while in Moose Jaw that he decided to run for elected office, first becoming a member of the Saskatchewan legislature, and ultimately as leader of the New Democratic Party and Premier of the province. While in office, he also served as leader of the opposition and in several cabinet posts.
A career change came in 2009, when Lorne became the Principal of St. Andrew's College, a theological training centre of the United Church.
Wherever he has lived, he has contributed to the quality of life in his community, whether as a youth group leader, champion of facilities for youth such as summer camps, or as an advocate of multi-faith and ecumenical dialogue. He has been an advocate of equality and justice in the community through programs such as the Saskatoon Inner City Ministry's 10 X 10 Art project and the International Day to Eliminate Poverty's Hands Across the Bridge. He is a member of Rotary International and has been involved in many fundraising activities, notably with Tom Jackson's Holiday Train tours in support of the Food Bank, Saskatoon's Meewasin Valley and Moose Jaw's Wakamow Valley.
In retirement, Lorne continues to give back to the community through his ethic of servant leadership. Whenever he is called upon to serve, he does so cheerfully and accomplishes what he has been asked to do, and then some, in his own engaging way.
Questions and Answers
What drew you to politics in the first?
There is rarely a single answer to our life choices. In my case I was drawn to seek elected office from a desire to see change in our province and to serve the community I had grown up in. Another decisive influence was the encouragement of people whom I deeply respected.
How would you characterize the time you spent at St. Andrew’s College?
St. Andrew’s College offered me the perfect return to the church after public life. Those were years of restoring a solid financial foundation for the College, of seeking to understand and define the place of a theological college within the contemporary context of a public and secular university and struggling to serve a rapidly changing Protestant denomination in Canada. Personally, the time I spent at the College gave me better understanding of post-secondary education and the unique and interesting ethos of a university.
What do you do for fun?
Camp, fish, play piano, walk, read mystery novels, debate my Conservative friends and visit our kids and grandkids!
How would you characterize being the Premier of Saskatchewan?
It was the most intense and defining job I’ve ever had. The challenges of being Premier are many: finding the correct balances in public policy; making decisions which may not be politically popular; having little time for family and friends; bearing the daily criticism and commentary from opposition and media; working with one’s own caucus and Party. But the rewards are much greater than the challenges: meeting and experiencing every aspect of life in our Province and our communities; achieving goals that make life better for our neighbours and the future better for our children; celebrating the successes of our people and province; experiencing the hospitality of Saskatchewan people everywhere; leaving with a storehouse of irreplaceable memories. It is an experience like none other.
What prompted you to follow a career in the clergy?
Music drew me into the church; an exceptional young minister drew me into the faith; faith drew me to a conviction that life involves service to others; and, as with my venture into public service, I was called to the ministry by people whom I deeply respected.
What is something that most people would be surprised to learn about you?
That I have spent most of my adult life renovating old school buses into motorhomes for our family, and being stranded with those same buses in many, many, many Saskatchewan communities and campgrounds.
What are your fondest memories of your time at the University of Regina?
The friendships on campus; the sense of being part of a student movement coming out of the 60’s; the stimulation of the environment of the campus and the Economics department in the Faculty of Arts; playing with friends in a dance band to fund the experience; the pinball machines in the Campion Cafeteria; and the friends and families of Whitmore Park United Church.
What was the most important thing you came away with from your U of R experience?
An understanding of the role played by economic structures and decisions in shaping the social fabric of a community and a passion that economies should serve people and not vice versa. The University of Regina gave me my political and economic foundations and they have not essentially changed.
What role did your university experience play in shaping the person you have become?
I believe the U of R gave me both the desire to engage in social change and the confidence that change is possible. We were a generation of students who believed a better future was always possible and that we could shape that future, not just for ourselves but for our neighbours. I’d like to think these qualities are still there in the person I am today - the same guy who graduated from the U of R those many years ago.
What does receiving this award mean to you?
Thinking of all of those who have graduated from the University of Regina, and then from among them having been chosen to receive this award is for me firstly surprising and then humbling! It is with much appreciation that I receive this award. To be recognized by one’s own school is about as good as it gets.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Now having reached the happy stage of retirement, not working is a daily experience. Some of my days are now filled with volunteering with our local church, working with the Moose Jaw Wakamow Rotary Club and what I hope will be a growing involvement with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. And, of course, all of those fun things listed above take most available hours.
How would you characterize your fellow ACAA recipients?
Simply an amazing group of individuals of which to be a part! If we are known by the company we keep, this is very good company!
Where do you live and who are your immediate family members?
My wife Betty and I are now living on the north shore of Buffalo Pound Lake in the community of North Grove in the Qu’Appelle Valley. We have two children – Dave and Stephanie; two grandchildren – Levi and Haven; and a new grandchild imminent in the next few weeks.