The Sanchez/Krpan Family

“If something good comes along, of course we should support it, particularly education as far as I’m concerned.”

These words of Mackenzie’s Bev Krpan guided her decision to support the late 1980s social movement that would lead to the creation of the University of Northern British Columbia. She was one of 16,000 northerners who signed a petition and donated at least $5 in the late 1980s calling on the provincial government to create UNBC.

Bev says she felt it was terribly important that the push to create UNBC was a success, and that’s why she threw her support behind it. It made education more affordable for a generation of Northern British Columbians.

“It was just the right thing to do,” says Bev. “We gave such small donations, but I guess it’s small donations that help all causes.”

Camila Sanchez with her partner's grandmother Bev Krpan

Yet Krpan’s dedication did more than help increase the educational options for people in the North; it also helped her grandson Mark find his partner, Camila Sanchez.

Camila grew up on Vancouver Island, but decided to travel north to pursue an undergraduate degree in Health Sciences, majoring in Biomedical Studies. Little did she know that her future partner’s grandmother helped create a University in the North.

Camila was attracted to UNBC because she attended a small college on Vancouver Island and thought the transition to a smaller university would be easier. The greeting she received upon moving into residence made her feel like she made the right choice.

“I remember I drove up with my parents and my brother and on moving day, former UNBC President (George) Iwama was there to welcome everybody,” she says. “We had a little chat. The sports teams and soccer teams were there to help students move in. It was a great welcome.”

Camila found her program was well-rounded, and also completed a minor in First Nations Studies, knowledge she uses in her work with Carrier Sekani Family Services. Camila has been accepted to the Northern Medical Program and plans to practice medicine in the North after she graduates in 2018.

It was while attending school that Camila met her partner Mark. On a recent trip to the university, she showed Bev around UNBC’s Prince George campus for the first time, so Bev could see what her signature and support laid the foundation for.

“She was very impressed and I think it meant a lot to her that her contribution led to one of her family members graduating and continuing to attend UNBC,” says Camila.

“The architecture, the grounds, it’s absolutely awesome,” says Bev. “Everything is really impressive.”

Camila doesn’t think she’d have chosen Northern BC as a place to live if it hadn’t been for UNBC.

“I’d never actually travelled this far north,” she admitted. “I’d been to 100 Mile House and the Williams Lake area. That’s as north as I’d been. I can say with 100-per-cent certainty I would never have lived and worked here if the university hadn’t existed.”

What makes Bev’s support of UNBC extra special is it has added an important person to her family, someone who never would have come to Northern BC otherwise.

“I’m glad she came,” says Bev. “She’s a wonderful person. They’re both well educated, well spoken, wonderful kids. But that’s what a grandma is going to say isn’t it?”

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