Kwantlen Polytechnic University awarded Dr. Irving (Ike) K. Barber, one of B.C.’s most prominent entrepreneurs, and Dr. Bikkar Singh Lalli, a prominent figure in the South Asian community, with Honorary Doctors of Laws at the 2011 Convocation ceremony held on its Surrey campus.
Barber was born in Alberta in 1923. He dropped out of school in Grade 11, but because of his service in the Second World War, he was given the opportunity to continue his education.
Barber graduated at the age of 27 with a Bachelor of Science degree in forestry from UBC in 1950. He credits this second chance at education as his starting point for the success he has enjoyed both personally and professionally, and the experience that has motivated him to become an ardent supporter of education.
Barber spent all his working life in the forest resource industry, working with B.C.’s communities and its people. In 1978, at the age of 55, he founded Slocan Forest Products Ltd. and under his stewardship of over 20 years,
Slocan grew to be a dominant public forest products company in Canada. He is also a recipient of the Order of B.C., an officer of the Order of Canada, and a companion in the Canadian Business Hall of Fame.
Lalli’s lifelong passion for education began quite by chance at age five. Being too small to assist with farm work, and to comply with a new government rule to enroll at least one child from the family in school, his grandfather suggested that Bikkar be sent to school. That accidental opportunity started a long and distinguished academic career.
Lalli received his master’s degree in mathematics from Punjab University and, while his wife and three young children remained in India, he completed a Ph.D. in mathematics at UBC. His family joined him in Saskatoon where he had accepted a position at the University of Saskatchewan and he spent the next 29 years as a mathematics professor and head of the department of mathematics and statistics before retiring in 1996.
“I am honoured and humbled by this award from Kwantlen,” said Lalli. “An opportunity for education has been a blessing that has opened many doors in my life for which I am truly grateful. What I would share with young people is to take a moment to look around at those in need.
“The gift of service is our life’s purpose,” says Lalli, 83.