Year in review 2021

As we look back at an eventful 2021, we celebrate the success of our students, faculty, staff and alumni.

December 21, 2021
Giant number one in the iceberg skylights above the UNBC bookstore
One of the highlights in 2021 was UNBC once again ranked as the top university in its category in the annual Maclean's magazine rankings.


Geography Professor Dr. Catherine Nolin is elected to the College of Fellows of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Dr. Nolin’s research interests in Guatemala include political violence, the violence of development, mining injustice, social justice, human rights, forced migration, and qualitative research methodologies. She has also spent more than 25 years grappling with life after the Guatemalan genocides through long-term fieldwork, critical research, activism, and opening these experiences to Canadian university students through her regular field schools to Guatemala. 

Global and International Studies Assistant Professor Dr. Nathan Andrews receives a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship. He’s collaborating with Professor Ernest Khalema at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa to study the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on post-graduate engagement and academic co-mentorship.

When a camera installed by UNBC researcher Dr. Roy Rea discovers a moose on the loose on the Prince George airport property, it launched a collaboration between the Prince George Airport Authority and the University to save the animal while keeping airport operations safe.


A UNBC Athletics video featuring men's basketball player Tyrell Laing wins the Council of Advancement and Support of Education grand gold awards for video on a shoestring and the new opportunity and inclusion special recognition category. Laing approached UNBC about producing a video so he could share his thoughts and personal experiences about Black Lives Matter.

UNBC's Wood Innovation Research Lab (WIRL), a certified Passive House, performs exceptionally during a cold snap. With the temperature dipping as low as -37 C, heating demand at WIRL only fluctuated 3.5 per cent. Although it’s more than 900 square metres (nearly 10,000 square feet) and 10 metres tall, WIRL’s heating bill is about the same as a typical 1600 square foot house. The main reasons for this performance are the 50cm-thick walls filled with insulation and the attention given during design and construction to making the building as airtight as possible.

After completing her undergraduate degree at UNBC and her MD undergraduate degree at the UBC Northern Medical Program as part of the Class of 2020, Dr. Gurkirat Kaur Kandola enters UBC’s Pediatric Residency Program – Community Impact stream which offers training in both Vancouver and northern B.C., providing an opportunity to learn first-hand about rural pediatric care.

The UNBC Timberwolves launch a Wall of Honour to recognize the many outstanding contributions of student-athletes, coaches and administrators. The wall is located in the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre and the initial class includes 15 inductees. 


UNBC student Emily Erickson with menstrual products in the Canfor Winter Garden
Social Work student Emily Erickson helped work on the successful campaign to make menstrual products free at UNBC's Prince George campus.

Led by a group of committed students, UNBC is taking steps to end period poverty by installing menstrual product dispensers in high-traffic washrooms. Campus groups including the Northern British Columbia Graduate Students’ Society, the Northern Undergraduate Student Society, the Prince George Public Interest Research Group and the Northern Women’s Centre spearheaded the project that sees free menstrual products available beginning in the fall. 

As one of the first nurse practitioners in northern B.C., Shanda Rojas helped demonstrate the value they bring to the health-care system. Now as the UNBC graduate accepts a terminal diagnosis she is helping the next generation of Family Nurse Practitioner students through the creation of a new bursary program. Shanda passed away on April 6, 2021, one month after UNBC published her story. 


UNBC launches a revitalized Bachelor of Education program at its campuses in Terrace and Quesnel. The new program builds on the success of the existing cohort in Terrace and adds the BEd to the offerings in Quesnel. The expanded program focuses on the School of Education’s signature pedagogy of People, Place and Land.

After a multi-year engagement process, UNBC completes our academic restructuring with the launch of five new faculties and the Division of Medical Sciences. The new faculties are the Faculty of Human and Health Services; the Faculty of Indigenous Studies, Social Sciences and Humanities, the Faculty of Science and Engineering, the Faculty of the Environment and the Faculty of Business and Economics. 

An international team of researchers uses a supercomputer at UNBC, jointly funded along with the Hakai Institute, to create digital elevation models demonstrating that the rate of mass loss from Earth's glaciers is accelerating. UNBC Geography Professor, Hakai affiliate and Canada Research Chair in Glacier Change Dr. Brian Menounos co-authors the study published in the journal Nature.


Longtime faculty members Dr. Henry Harder (Health Sciences), Dr. Ross Hoffman (First Nations Studies) and Dr. Hugues Massicotte (Ecosystem Science and Management) are all granted the title Professor Emeritus upon their retirement from UNBC. 

UNBC graduate Aaron Larson in McCaffray Hall
What started as an undergraduate assignment is now the focus of Aaron Larsen's doctoral research at Oxford. A three-time UNBC graduate, Larsen will be supervised by Regius Professor of History at Oxford Dr. Lyndal Roper.

Aaron Larsen's interest in witch trials was piqued during an undergraduate history class at UNBC. A three-time UNBC graduate, Larsen prepares to begin his doctoral studies examining witch trials in Switzerland at the University of Oxford.


Lila Mansour and Holly McVea deliver the valedictory addresses at UNBC’s virtual convocation. Mansour graduates with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. McVea graduates with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Biology. 

Catherine Wishart, a well-known northern champion for post-secondary education, is the new Chair of the University of Northern British Columbia’s Board of Governors. Wishart works as a consultant with public sector, First Nations and non-profit organizations on planning and development.

Four-time UNBC grad Bev Best in regalia in the Wabooz GardenBev Best's MBA is her fourth degree she has earned at UNBC in 15 years.

Bev Best becomes the first person to hold four degrees from UNBC after completing her Master of Business Administration degree. Best, who works at the University as the Manager of Aboriginal Student Engagement, also holds a Bachelor of Arts in First Nations Studies, with a minor in English, a Bachelor of Education and a Master of Arts in First Nations Studies. 

Four distinguished individuals receive Honorary Degrees from UNBC at the 2021 virtual Convocation. Lheidli T'enneh Elder Marcel Gagnon, engineer and entrepreneur Dr. Albert Koehler, B.C. Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and lawyer and scholar Dr. Valerie Napoleon all received honorary Doctor of Laws degrees. 


Dr. Darian Goldin Stahl brings art and medicine together through her 2021 Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship, a prestigious national research award. Working with Canada Research Chair in Humanities and Health Inequities Dr. Sarah de Leeuw, Stahl is undertaking an artist’s book project highlighting the impacts of illness from a patient perspective, which will provide a unique learning resource for medical students. 


The Cultural Safety Collection launches at the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health, based at UNBC. The collection is part of ongoing efforts to make health-care systems culturally safe and accessible for all Indigenous People in B.C. and across.

Northern Analytical Lab Services achieves the ISO/IEC 17025 International standard for testing and calibration laboratories, meaning it can produce and provide reliable water, soil and air test results for both UNBC researchers and external stakeholders.


In line with the provincial government's pandemic re-start plan, UNBC returns to primarily in-person instruction for the Fall semester. 

The first cohort of students in the Northern Baccalaureate Nursing Program begins their studies at the Fort St. John campus. The new program, housed at UNBC’s space in the Northern Lights College campus, makes nursing education more accessible for people living in northeastern British Columbia and aims to improve access to health care in the region by training nurses locally.

UNBC's increases its scores in all categories in the 2022 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. The most significant increases are in both the teaching and research pillars.

Northern Medical Program researcher Dr. Kendra Furber is named a 2021 Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar. The award, which recognizes early career health researchers, supports her work on investigating the biology of the myelin sheath in the brain. 

Artist Clayton Gauthier in the Canfor Winter Garden Cree/Dakelh artist Clayton Gauthier spent 18 months carving and painting 32 cedar planks. The art, submitted by 32 northern B.C. nations, is part of Nenachalhuya – The Cedar Plank Project.

Nenachalhuya – The Cedar Plank Project is now on display in Lhuhuhwhezdel: Gathering Place at UNBC's Prince George campus. Artist Clayton Gauthier hand-carved and hand-painted 32 cedar planks with submitted logos from 32 nations across northern B.C.


For the third time in seven years, UNBC ranks as the top university in its category in Canada in the annual Maclean’s magazine guide. UNBC excels across a wide range of categories, from the quality of faculty, staff, and the services it offers to how it strengthens the student experience through means such as maintaining a vibrant library system and funding scholarships and bursaries.

UNBC women's soccer player in new uniformUNBC women's soccer player Claire Turner shows off the new alternate logo designed by Gitxsan artist Trevor Angus. 

The UNBC Timberwolves unveil a new alternate logo designed by former UNBC student and Gitxsan artist Trevor Angus. The Timberwolves are the first college or university athletic program in Canada to have a logo or jersey completely designed by an Indigenous artist.

Dr. Kathy Lewis receives the Canadian Forestry Scientific Achievement Award from the Canadian Institute of Forestry. Lewis, UNBC’s acting Vice-President Research and Innovation, is a Registered Professional Forester, acclaimed researcher, and a founding faculty member at UNBC


UNBC and the University of Central Asia (UCA) agree to a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to facilitate student and faculty exchanges between the two institutions and increase opportunities to collaborate on joint research projects. UNBC Interim President Dr. Geoff Payne and UCA Rector Prof Sohail Naqvi sign the six-year agreement during a virtual event at both campuses.

UNBC expands its School of Engineering offerings with the addition of a Master of Applied Science in Engineering degree. The research-based degree focuses on managing engineering challenges and needs specific to cold environments.

UNBC signs on the Scarborough Charter on anti-Black Racism and Black inclusion in Canadian Higher Education. The charter identifies key barriers to Black inclusion and possible ways to address them. It also contains concrete actions and accountability mechanisms for institutions to deliver on their promise of structural and systemic change.


UNBC adds the third site for its Master of Business Administration program in Grande Prairie, Alta. In partnership with Grande Prairie Regional College, the new cohort will begin in August 2022. The MBA program is also offered in Prince George and Vancouver.