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Barj Dhahan with daughters Jordana Dhahan and niece Arpen Thandi, at UBC First Nations House of Learning. (Chung Chow)
Barj Dhahan with daughters Jordana Dhahan and niece Arpen Thandi, at UBC First Nations House of Learning. (Chung Chow)

Giving back

B.C. businessman becomes a champion of First Nations scholarships Add to ...

The donor Barj Dhahan

The gift: Raising $400,000

The cause: To fund scholarships at the University of British Columbia for First Nations students

When the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission came out last year, Barj Dhahan felt compelled to do something.

Mr. Dhahan had grown up in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island and he knew many First Nations families. “I had this kind of connection most of my life with members of the First Nations,” he recalled from his office in Vancouver, where he runs the Sandhurst Group, which has a real estate portfolio and operates several Tim Hortons franchises and Esso gas stations.

Mr. Dhahan, who graduated from UBC in 1983, contacted members of the Indo-Canadian community across the province and raised $100,000 toward a scholarship at UBC for First Nations students. The funds were matched by UBC, bringing the total to $400,000. Each year, five aboriginal students will receive $20,000 over four years to study at UBC.

“We wanted to make a statement and set an example for other Canadians to step forward,” he said. “I think that’s the only way reconciliation is going to take place.”

pwaldie@globeandmail.com

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