Realizing the Vision: Founding Faculty and Staff

The Founders Lounge, fourth floor of the Geoffrey R. Weller Library building, is home to an installation highlighting key elements of UNBC's founding, including a list of all staff and faculty who worked for UNBC from its creation in 1990 to December 1994. These founding employees were the first people to bring the vision of a northern university into reality. 

UNBC emerged from a grassroots campaign in the late 1980s that culminated with the UNBC Act in June, 1990. It was then that work began to turn UNBC from a dream into a reality with faculty and staff, a campus, and symbols of the University’s autonomy and authority. The installation includes text to highlight each of these elements. 

The Pr​ince George Campus

The original concept of the Prince George Campus was based around a hub-and-spoke design featuring three axes intersecting at the centre of the Agora Courtyard. They are represented by the dark grey bricks in the courtyard and serve as a physical manifestation of the UNBC mission. Most of the campus buildings are aligned on one of the following axes:

The entrance axis is the axis that visitors to the campus first follow when they arrive on campus. It points to the North and to the University’s academic heart, the Library.

The growth axis roughly follows the Cranbrook Hill escarpment and has been the axis upon which much of UNBC’s physical growth since 1994 has occurred. Buildings aligned on this axis include the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre, the Laboratory buildings, and the Teaching and Learning Centre.

The view or “community” axis bisects the Canfor Winter Garden and the botanical garden, and aligns with the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako Rivers. This confluence represents the origins of Prince George and is represented in the name of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation.

The campus strongly features natural materials in its construction, such as wood and stone. No building is taller than the surrounding trees, further enhancing the relationship between the campus and the surrounding landscape.

Ceremonial Items

UNBC’s ceremonial items were carved in 1992 by Ronald A. Sebastian, a Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en artist.

Carved from yellow cedar, the ceremonial chairs represent the rich cultural diversity of the peoples and regions of the North. Both chairs include, at top and bottom, a human mask and sun, representing all peoples but particularly students and counselors. The Chancellor’s chair includes representations of the Thunderbird, Frog, Beaver, Grouse, Fireweed, Owl, Eagle, and Killer Whale, with armrests carved in the shape of a Wolf. The President’s chair includes representations of the Grizzly Bear, Wolf, Caribou, Black Bear, Crow, Frog, Moose, and Mountain Goose, with armrests carved in the shape of a Raven.

The UNBC Talking Stick (Mace) is unique in that it combines the Western European tradition of a mace being a symbol of authority with the First Nations tradition of the Talking Stick that is used both as a symbol of authority and the right to speak. The Talking Stick includes fourteen traditional First Nations’ crests, which represent all of the clans of Northern British Columbia. They are from the top to bottom: Wolf, Black Bear, Beaver, Wolverine, Caribou, Mountain Goose, Frog, Thunderbird, Raven, Fireweed, Killer Whale, Grouse, Owl, and Eagle. The human face situated at the centre represents all peoples. The Talking Stick rests in a base of red cedar, carved in the form of a salmon and both are decorated with abalone inlays.

UNBC Heraldic Arms

UNBC’s Heraldic Arms describe much about the nature, origins, and aspirations of the University. They were received by the Governor-General of Canada in May 1994.

The shield has three elements: the open book, which is a traditional symbol of learning; ravens, which are resident birds of the north, known for their intelligence; and the young coniferous tree, which is the backbone of the northern economy. The crest indicates the university’s location: Northern (snowflake); British Columbia (dogwood flowers); and Canada (maple leaf). Surmounting the crest is a salmon, which is the symbol on the base of the University’s Talking Stick (Mace), and is used there as a First Nations symbolization of all peoples. To the left is the Kermode bear, a rare sub-species of black bear found only in north-west BC. To the right is the woodland caribou, distinctive of the BC central interior and north-east. The “compartment” is the base on which the supporters stand, and represents mountains and trees, which are distinctive of much of the region, and a wheat field, signifying the Peace River district. UNBC’s motto, from the Dakelh/Carrier Elders, is used to remind us that all people have a voice and a viewpoint. Directly translated as “he/she also lives,” the UNBC motto, ‘En Cha Huna encapsulates the spirit of academic freedom, respect for others, and willingness to recognize different perspectives.

Founding Faculty and Staff

Many founding employees continue their work for UNBC and were part of a reception and unveiling on Monday June 22, 2015, UNBC's 25th Anniversary.