As a dentist, Paul Collard of Vanderhoof noticed the difficulty of getting health professionals to work in the North. When a colleague, medical doctor Alvin Mooney, told him about the drive to get a university built in Northern BC, he saw it as a potential solution.
“I recognized that we trained all our health-care professionals and auxiliaries on the Lower Mainland, so it was very difficult to be here in the first place,” he says. “You need very good undergraduate education, and the best way to keep people in an area is to train them where they live.”
Paul Collard and his daughter Tuppy Hoehn
Paul was one of many to sign a petition calling for the foundation of UNBC. Dr. Mooney and other local volunteers were collecting signatures in Vanderhoof’s Co-op Mall. It was a different display than the raffles and fundraisers people would typically find at that location; these people were selling the visionary idea of a university for the North.
That idea became reality in 1990 when the provincial government passed the UNBC Act, officially creating the university. Collard found it satisfying to know that governments do listen when enough voices speak loudly, as he and the rest of the 16,000 northerners did when they signed the petition.
Four years later, Queen Elizabeth II visited Prince George to officially open UNBC. Paul, who spent his formative years in Great Britain, felt proud the North’s university could draw such an important figure to its campus. He wasn’t the only one. So many people attended the opening ceremony, Paul was worried the stands might collapse.
Paul’s daughter Tuppy became a UNBC graduate in 2003, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in resource- based tourism. She and her husband started a company in Prince George, Stride & Glide Sports, and she says her UNBC education helped her set up a successful business.
“A big part of the program was the business component,” she says. “Almost half of it was commerce courses. A lot of that has crossed over into what we’re doing now. I thought that was a great way to prepare for what we’re doing.”
A member of Canada’s 1998 Winter Olympic team, Tuppy was able to continue her biathlon training while studying at UNBC’s Prince George campus. She still skis during the winter.
“I knew the training was great in Prince George, which was one reason I chose UNBC,” she says. “It’s even better now, so for student athletes the opportunities are really there.”
Tuppy enjoyed going to a smaller university, especially after hearing her friends who went elsewhere tell her about their classes, which often numbered more than a hundred students.
She isn’t surprised her father was one of the people who supported UNBC in its infancy, because he’s always been a community-minded person. His efforts and those of many others helped make UNBC a reality, and got Vanderhoof the health professionals it needed.
“I’m very proud of the medical and dental people we have here today,” says Paul. “I think we’re second to none in the province.”
Were you one of the 16,000 who signed the petition? Tell us your story here: http://www.unbc.ca/25/public-campaign-update-form