April 3, 2023
Harnam “Hari” Singh has never forgotten the day he was asked to withdraw from UBC.
It was 1962, and he had run out of money to pay for his tuition. As a last resort, he reached out to the Dean of Inter-Faculty and Student Affairs for help. Hari walked away from the chat with $500.
Thanks to this generous act of kindness, Hari was able to complete his studies in 1966, with a BSc in Economics. His experience shows how important financial support can be to students—and helps explain his generosity in creating the Harnam A.N. Singh Bursary for Single Parents and the Harnam A.N. Singh Scholarship in Economics at UBC.
Born in Trinidad in modest circumstances, Hari’s journey to UBC was not easy. After emigrating to Canada, he worked hard to overcome the financial, cultural and educational barriers he faced, and to gain his grade 12 equivalency. As a result of his effort and dedication, he achieved his goal of admission to UBC.
As a mature student, Hari graduated at age 36. Prioritizing his family’s welfare, he eventually found work driving a bus with BC Hydro transit.
His experience of being uprooted to a new environment gave Hari a great sense of empathy for newly arriving international students. His family shared his compassion, who would cook for the students and provide a taste of home—pushing back on the prejudice South Asian students faced with their cuisine and culture.
“Nobody wanted the curry smell,” Hari ruefully remembers. “Nobody wanted East Indians living in the basement or their neighbourhood.”
Hari’s son, UBC alumnus Anil Singh, speaks to his father’s dedication to helping international students feel welcome.
“My early memories are of my parents entertaining and cooking so international students could come and get a taste of home,” says Anil. “Dad would continue to rent to students at a discount and sponsor students to come over. He’s always been generous—and always been a person who looks after people needing help.”
The new awards were funded though Hari’s newly created foundation, HARIVAD. When asked what motivated him to establish the HARIVAD Foundation, he responded, “I wanted to establish the foundation because I had so much help from the University of BC.”
At $5,000 each, the bursary will support single parents, navigating the challenges of pursuing higher education, while the scholarship will support students in economics. Both awards reflect Hari’s belief in the power of education to transform lives and create a brighter future.
Anil explains his father’s philanthropic focus as promoting spiritual expression, intellectual development, physical wellness, and mental health.
Hari Singh’s generosity and vision will create opportunities for countless individuals, with his legacy of helping others as he was helped—making the world a better place, one student at a time.