University of Northern British Columbia

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University of Northern British Columbia
Nizdeh Nekeyoh Hohudel’eh Baiyoh (Carrier)
Motto'En Cha Huná (Carrier)
Motto in English
He/she also lives (translated as "respecting all forms of life")
TypePublic university
Established1990; 34 years ago (1990)
Academic affiliations
UArctic, Universities Canada
EndowmentUS$62.8 million (2020)[1]
PresidentGeoffrey Payne
ProvostWendy Rodgers
  • UNBC Main Campus (Prince George)
  • Wood Innovation and Design Centre (Prince George)
  • Peace River-Liard Campus (Fort St. John)
  • Northwest Campus (Terrace)
  • South-Central Campus (Quesnel)
TaglineCanada's Green University™️
Colours    Gold and green
Sporting affiliations
U Sports
MascotUNBC Timberwolves

The University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) is a university serving the northern region of the Canadian province of British Columbia. It is not affiliated with UBC. The main campus is located in Prince George, with additional campuses located in Prince Rupert, Terrace, Quesnel, and Fort St. John. Because of its northern latitude, UNBC is a member of the University of the Arctic. In the 2020–21 academic year, 4,253 students were enrolled at UNBC.

In 2022, Maclean's magazine ranked UNBC as the number one university of its size in Canada, in the Primarily Undergraduate category.[2] UNBC also finished first in the rankings in 2015 and 2016 and routinely finishes in the top three in its category. In 2023, UNBC placed second in its category. In 2007, the university obtained the trademark for "Canada's Green University".[3]


In response to a grass-roots movement spearheaded by the Interior University Society, the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia established the university when it passed Bill 40, the University of Northern British Columbia Act, on June 22, 1990.[4][5] UNBC offered a limited number of courses in rented office space in 1992 and 1993, but its campus was opened officially by Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, on 17 August 1994.[6] Some 1,500 students were enrolled that year, upon the completion two years of construction and the opening of the Prince George campus.[7]

The university gained attention with the introduction of the Northern Medical Program (NMP),[8] a collaboration with the University of British Columbia.[9] Through this arrangement, several academic physicians have been attracted to the city, which has led to an emerging academic medical community.

Organization and administration[edit]

The governance was modeled on the provincial University of Toronto Act 1906, which established a bicameral system of university government comprising a Senate (composed of members of the faculty), responsible for academic policy, and a Board of Governors (composed of members of the community), which exercises exclusive control over financial policy and having formal authority in all other matters. The President, appointed by the board, was to provide a link between the two bodies and to perform institutional leadership.[10] The founding President, in post until 1995, was Geoffrey R. Weller.


University rankings
Global rankings
QS World[11]781-790 (2024)
Times World[12]801–1000
Canadian rankings
QS National[11]26 (2024)
Times National[12]28–30
Maclean's Undergrad[13]2
Maclean's Reputation[14]32

The Prince George campus is located on Cranbrook Hill, overlooking the city of Prince George from the west, and is widely renowned for its innovative architecture. The award-winning Wood Innovation and Design Centre, designed by Michael Green Architecture, was the world’s tallest modern all-timber structure upon completion and serves as a facility for the research and education on the uses of wood.[15] The Wood Innovation Research Lab is an example of Passive House design in a northern climate.[16]

The separate buildings are linked by an agora that is partially below ground level. It is the efficient heating system connected to all the core campus buildings that permits UNBC to pursue its goal of heating the university by the gasification of clean-burning, renewable wood pellets collected from the waste of pine trees killed by the mountain pine beetle epidemic.

The buildings at UNBC are designed to represent the northern landscape. The Canfor Winter Garden area has a flowing blue staircase below a ceiling of wooden lattices, representing the west coast rain forests. The cafeteria has a lighthouse design that represents the rugged coastline of northern British Columbia. Another structural feature, a pair of triangular glass peaks, represents mountains and functions as skylights above the UNBC Bookstore.

On October 13, 2010, UNBC was co-awarded the Campus Sustainability Leadership Award by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) for its bio-energy project, which targets a reduction in fossil fuel use by supplying 85% of the heating needs at UNBC.[17]

University Hospital of Northern British Columbia[edit]

The University Hospital of Northern British Columbia is a Level III trauma centre in Northern BC.



The UNBC motto, 'En cha huná, directly translates as "that person also lives" in the Nak'azdli (Fort St. James) dialect of the Indigenous language Dakelh (Carrier). It is interpreted in English as "respecting all forms of life".[18]

Student life[edit]

The Northern Undergraduate Student Society, known colloquially as NUGSS, represents the undergraduate student body at the University of Northern British Columbia. A non-profit organization, NUGSS serves and represents all undergraduate students at all UNBC campuses. The Society governs student-led organizations on campus, provides the health and dental plan, advocates for student needs in local transit, and hosts various events. Annual NUGSS events include Backyard BBQ, Jump Back to NYE, and Final Affair.

UNBC's Student Life department is dedicated to student success, and aims to raise student engagement in the UNBC community. Led by community leaders known as "student ambassadors", Student Life hosts regular events, workshops, and volunteer opportunities for all UNBC students. The Student Life department is also in charge of UNBC's Orientation and Weeks of Welcome.[19]

The Northern British Columbia Graduate Student Society (NBCGSS), represents about 750 full-time and part-time graduate students. It was founded in the year of 1997, less than a decade after UNBC was founded. Every year NBCGSS holds events like winter/semi formals, a ski trip and a summer trip. NBCGSS is a member of the British Columbia Federation of Students (BCFS).[20]

The UNBC First Nations Centre provides support services for indigenous students, including bringing in elders, counselling, and events such as talking circles and sweat lodges. The Northern Pride Centre or (also known as the "PC") offers a safe space, support, and resources to the LGBT and ally community, including a new Positive Space Campaign designed by UNBC

Student media[edit]

  • Over the Edge, a bi-weekly student newspaper. Established in 1994.
  • CFURadio 88.7 FM, the independent campus community radio station.


The Timberwolves compete in the Canada West Universities Athletic Association. UNBC fields men's and women's teams in soccer and basketball.

Notable alumni[edit]

Additional images[edit]


Coat of arms of University of Northern British Columbia
Granted 21 March 1994
Rising from a circlet of maple leaves snowflakes and dogwood flowers set alternately all Argent a wave Azure leaping therefrom a salmon as styled by Ron Sebastian.
Vert a coniferous tree eradicated Or on a chief also Or an open book proper bound Sable between two ravens respectant also Sable.
Upon a compartment rising above barry wavy Argent and Azure charged with a killer whale as styled by Ron Sebastian per pale dexter a forest Vert beneath mountain peaks Argent sinister a field of ears of grain Or embellished Vert dexter a female kermodei bear (Ursus americanus kermodei) Or chested Argent gorged with a collar of conifer branches Vert fructed Or sinister a woodland caribou buck (Rangifer tarandus caribou) Or gorged with a like collar.
'EN CHA HUNÁ (Respecting All Forms Of Life)
A sun in splendour Argent charged with a stellar jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) wings displayed Azure.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2020. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20 (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. February 19, 2021. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  2. ^ "Canada's best Primarily Undergraduate universities: Rankings 2022 -". 7 October 2021.
  3. ^ "UNBC is Canada's Green University - University of Northern British Columbia". Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  4. ^ Elizabeth II (1996). "University of Northern British Columbia Act". Queen's Printer. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  5. ^ "UNBC History Timeline". University of Northern British Columbia. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  6. ^ "Royal Visit '94: The Visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to Prince George, August 17, 1994". Northern BC Archives. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  7. ^ Pound, Richard W (2005). Fitzhenry and Whiteside Book of Canadian Facts and Dates. Fitzhenry and Whiteside.
  8. ^ "Northern Medical Program". University of Northern British Columbia. Retrieved 17 August 2022.
  9. ^ "Northern Medical Program". Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  10. ^ "Organizational Structure - University of Northern British Columbia". Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  11. ^ a b "QS World University Rankings - 2024". QS Quacquarelli Symonds Limited. 2023. Retrieved 27 June 2023.
  12. ^ a b "World University Rankings 2024". Times Higher Education. TES Global. 2023. Retrieved 17 October 2023.
  13. ^ "Canada's best Primarily Undergraduate universities: Rankings 2023". Maclean's. Rogers Media. 6 October 2022. Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  14. ^ "Canada's best universities by reputation: Rankings 2023". Maclean's. Rogers Media. 7 October 2022. Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  15. ^ "Wood Innovation and Design Centre". Think Wood. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  16. ^ "The Wood Innovation Research Laboratory".
  17. ^ UNBC Wins AASHE Award. (2010-10-12). Retrieved on 2013-08-12.
  18. ^ "About the University of Northern British Columbia - University of Northern British Columbia". Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  19. ^ "Contact Us - UNBC Orientation". UNBC. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  20. ^ "About: Our Approach". Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  21. ^ "University of Northern British Columbia". Canadian Heraldic Authority. 12 November 2020. Retrieved 27 August 2021.

Further reading[edit]

  • Charles J. McCaffray (1995). UNBC, a Northern Crusade: The how and who of B.C.'s Northern University. Duncan, British Columbia: the author. ISBN 0-9680300-0-9.

External links[edit]