Lisa Haslett

When Lisa Haslett’s grandfather Martin de Hoog came to British Columbia from the Netherlands in the 1950s, he came with the promise of a job that didn’t materialize. It was a rough start for Martin and his family, but like so many settlers of this region, his pioneering spirit helped him carve out a living in the wilderness of Western Canada.

Lisa Haslett holds a photo of her grandparents

Lisa thinks it was that same spirit that encouraged her grandfather, a thrifty character by her account, to donate $5 in support of UNBC back in the 1980s.

“He moved his entire family to Canada sight unseen,” says Lisa. “They lived in a barn for a while. He was really a resourceful person and a survivor. He recognized there was a pioneering spirit getting UNBC off the ground.”

Martin settled and raised his family in Burns Lake while working in the local logging industry. Martin didn’t have a high school education and Lisa says that may be another reason why he thought a university in the North would be a good idea.

“He realized there were some limits to what he could do because of that,” she says. “I’m sure that made him want to help create better opportunities for others.”

The opportunities Martin’s support and the support of 16,000 other petition signers made for Lisa proved to be very important in her life. She went on to get a bachelor’s and master’s degree in English, and is now a UNBC employee.

Lisa was a single mother while attending university and says it wouldn’t have been possible to pursue an education without the help she got from her family during that time.

“I needed support close to me,” she says. “I needed to be close to my parents, brother, and sister so I could have that support from them. To be able to return only hours from home was great.”

Lisa had been living in Kelowna for a few years, but was encouraged to return to the North to study at UNBC. She says she enjoyed the small class sizes and the personal connection with professors, many of whom she still sees around campus.

Lisa’s brother Neil is also a UNBC graduate, and her aunt is a petition signer. Lisa recently spoke to her aunt about the donation and what it’s meant for her.

“I got two degrees and a job out of this place. She said now that she looks at it, it was a pretty good investment,” she says. “I said ‘I think I owe you $5.’”

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