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Tsawwassen's Ike Barber leaves behind a legacy of learning
Tsawwassen entrepreneur and philanthropist Irving (Ike) Barber passed away last Friday (April 13) leaving behind a legacy of learning.
Barber, who was 89, founded Slocan Forest Products Ltd. which grew to be a dominant public forest products company in Canada, donated much of his wealth to education programs across the province.
Among the causes he supported were the establishment of UBC's Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, the University of Northern B.C.’s forestry laboratory, and an endowment to aid students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
Jeff Norris, Chief Advancement Officer and Executive Director at the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Foundation told the South Delta Leader Barber was the school's single largest benefactor when he donated $2.5 million to the Irving K. Barber Endowment for Educational Opportunities two years ago. It was created to open doors to education for individuals who would never otherwise have such an opportunity.
In addition to that, Barber's other major donations include:
• $12.25 million in 2004 to create the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Science at UBC Okanagan,
• Barber’s contribution to UBC Okanagan ($15 million in honour),
• and $500,000 in 1999 to the University of Northern B.C. to establish an Enhanced Forest Laboratory.
“I want this money (donation to Kwantlen) to open the doors of post-secondary education to a segment of our society that would never otherwise attend university,” Barber said at the announcement of the donation in 2010 at the Surrey campus. “I’m one of those ‘second chance’ people.”
At the end of his service during the Second World War as a flight instructor Barber, like other young veterans, was given DVA (Department of Veterans Affairs) credits which granted him one month of university tuition for every month of service.
"So, I ended up bewildered as hell, but with a whole handful of credits. So, what do I do?" he told the Leader in an interview in June 2010.
He and a buddy at the time had thought about becoming forest rangers in B.C. after the war.
"I thought that was great," says Barber, who by that time had started a family.
But thinking better of it he ended up on UBC's doorstep with a Grade 11 qualification.
"And they let me in with a whole host of other people," he says. "At that time, UBC's population went from 4,000 to 10,000 almost overnight because of a surge of returning war veterans using these credits."
Barber says the significant point was that the government of the day never really recognized the impact of the program.
"That turned out a generation of mature, educated people that led our society who wouldn't have otherwise done that," he said.
"We're all very sad to see the passing of him, but it's heartening to know he left such a legacy, not only at our university, but universities across B.C.," Norris said.
Norris added Barber's influence went much further than the money he donated.
"Him bringing his name and his passion for education to our institution has really helped us leverage some other relationships that have also become great supporters and helped open doors for us in terms of educational offerings.
"We have an amazing amount of gratitude of what he did for us as an organization. His ideas around making sure education was open for anyone who wanted to pursue it was really matched with what Kwantlen's roots are. And it was a relationship that I was delighted to have over the last two years," Norris said.