The Kandola Family

In 1988, when the movement to create UNBC was at its peak, Jaswinder Kandola showed his love of community by signing a petition and pledging $5 to support the creation of a university for the North.

Years later, that decision would benefit his two daughters, Gurkirat and Daman. Both would go on to become UNBC graduates; Gurkirat earned a degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, and Daman achieved a bachelor’s degree in biomedical studies and a master’s degree in community health.

Sisters Gurkirat, Daman, and Jeenat Kandola with a picture of their late father, Jaswinder

Jaswinder came to Prince George from India when he was just a child after his family decided to make Northern BC home. He grew up here and became passionate about his community, raising money for local charities and was an important member of the local soccer scene. Sadly, he passed away when his daughters were still children, but his support of UNBC helped them attain a university education, something he foresaw when he was participating in the public campaign to create UNBC.

Gurkirat says UNBC gave her a better chance to excel during her undergrad years than she would have had at other universities. Having a university here made it easier for the sisters to pursue post-secondary education while still remaining close to home and being able to be there for their mum and youngest sister.

“You definitely get more time with professors, and the instruction you receive is world-class,” she says. “I really like the research aspect. If I were to go to a bigger university I probably wouldn’t have had an opportunity to do research as an undergrad. I think that’s one of the major benefits of UNBC.”

“He would always talk about us eventually going to university,” says Gurkirat, who was eight when her father passed away. “He would talk about UNBC, and say ‘We have a university in Prince George now, so you girls can go here.’”

Now that she’s a UNBC alumna, Gurkirat is proud to know her father played a role in getting a university established in Northern BC.

“It was a time before my sister and I were even born,” she says. “He thought it would be good for the community. He spent a lot of his life here in Prince George, and it was just something he wanted to do for the betterment of the community. I think that’s really amazing.”

Daman, who plans on returning to UNBC to pursue a PhD, says her father would have been thrilled to see his two daughters graduate from UNBC. They went to the same elementary and high school as Jaswinder, and then graduated from a university he helped found. They hope to see their youngest sister, one day attend UNBC as well.

“It’s part of an incredible legacy he’s left behind,” she says. “It’s been a blessing to have it here. It’s like something that lives on even now that he’s not here.”

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