Ina Boxeur (front) and her granddaughter Emily Watson share a moment together at Scout Island. Boxeur graduated from UNBC years after her grandmother signed a petition that helped lead to the founding of the university.

Ina Boxeur (front) and her granddaughter Emily Watson share a moment together at Scout Island. Boxeur graduated from UNBC years after her grandmother signed a petition that helped lead to the founding of the university.

Williams Lake connection highlights UNBC anniversary celebrations

Emily Watson made her grandmother’s wish come true when she graduated from UNBC with a nursing degree in 2014.

  • Oct. 16, 2014 10:00 a.m.

Emily Watson made her grandmother’s wish come true when she graduated from UNBC with a nursing degree in 2014.

Ina Boxeur, Emily’s grandmother, wanted a university nearby so her future grandchildren would have an easier path to post-secondary education. In the late 1980s, Ina was one of 16,000 people from across the region to sign a petition and donate at least $5 calling for the creation of a new university. The provincial government listened and on June 22, 1990 passed the UNBC Act.

“I figured university education should be available to anyone who needed it, in addition to a trades education,” says Ina. “There are a lot of people who wanted to enter professions and needed the education in a place that is more accessible to them.”

Always interested in sciences and helping others, Emily decided to follow her mother’s path into nursing. She is close to her family and says it was wonderful to be able to study near her hometown of Williams Lake.

She did her practicum in New Hazelton, where her fiancé Brian is from, giving her a chance to spend time with his family. They have a young son and being close to family meant she had help with daycare.

Emily took a semester off when she had her son, and didn’t get to graduate with the rest of her classmates. At first she didn’t want to attend the convocation ceremony, but her family convinced her that it would be worthwhile.

“They said I worked hard and I should go, so I went and I ended up having a lot of fun,” she says. “walking across the stage and getting my degree was the culmination of my program. It was a very proud moment for me.”

Emily now works in Williams Lake, filling a strong need for nurses in rural BC. She says she isn’t surprised her grandmother supported UNBC in its infancy.

“Education is really important to her,” she says. “She’s always been very supportive she’s always helped me. She’s a very giving person.”

Ina is proud to see how UNBC has progressed over the years.

“It means a lot financially, for young people to not have to go to the Lower Mainland for their education,” she says. “Emily was close enough that she could come down for any special occasions. Having UNBC around was a tremendous advantage.”

There are many other stories like Emily’s out there and UNBC wants to hear them. Visit to share your story about UNBC and to find about all the 25th anniversary events.

Peter James is a communications officer for the University of Northern British Columbia.


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