Harmandeep Kaur is being named as the homicide victim of Saturday’s attack at UBC Okanagan.
Paramjit Singh Patara, vice-president of the Okanagan Sikh Temple, confirmed the 24-year-old woman’s name, saying she moved to Canada six years ago from India.
Kuljit Pabla is a family member of Kaur’s and resides in West Kelowna. “We are devastated,” he said.
“We just can’t comprehend why it happened,” said Pabla. “It just seems so senseless.”
“She came to Canada, trying to progress her life.”
She made the decision to move to Canada after discussions with her family. Pabla explained that her family chose Canada because they consider Canada a safe place. “Usually it is,” said Pabla.
She initially went to school in the Lower Mainland, but to improve her chances of being granted permanent residency she decided to start working. Pabla said that she was a hard worker and worked many jobs, including being a supervisor at a Five Guys restaurant.
“She worked many jobs to fast-track her permanent residency,” said Pabla.
Kaur had been granted her permanent residency just three weeks prior to the devastating attack. Pabla said she and her family were elated.
Most recently, she had been working for Paladin security as an officer at UBCO, hoping to one day attend school there, said Pabla.
“Her goal was to continue (her) education as she saved up money, with support from the family,” he said.
She would tell Pabla and his wife “I want to be like them,” when she saw the kids studying at the university while she worked security. “She wanted to be there as a student,” said Pabla.
A tribute to Harmandeep Kaur is displayed on the UBCO campus. (Jordy Cunningham/Capital News)
She was attacked early in the morning on Sat. Feb. 26 after working an overnight shift on campus.
Kelowna RCMP announced Monday that Kaur had succumbed to her injuries and that officers were investigating her death as a homicide.
The attacker was identified shortly after the incident and was apprehended under the Mental Health Act. His identity has not been released and he remains in hospital and faces possible murder charges.
A press release from Kelowna RCMP indicated that the suspect was an employee of the university at the time of the attack.
Lesley Cormack, deputy vice-chancellor and principal at UBCO, issued a statement regarding the attack stating the campus is working with RCMP to provide any assistance required in the investigation.
“All of our security personnel are deeply valued members of our campus community. They work tirelessly every day to keep our students, faculty and staff safe and to be a welcoming, friendly and reassuring face when help is needed,” she said.
Patara explained that Kaur’s family is currently travelling from India to Canada and added that the temple has offered to pay for the funeral and expenses.
Kaur also has family in Squamish, the lower mainland and the U.S.
“No one deserved this, but she definitely didn’t deserve this,” said Pabla.
During Monday’s Kelowna City Council meeting Kara Triance, Kelowna RCMP superintendent stated that three of four homicides in the city last year involved a mental health component.
RCMP calls for service involving mental health-related issues were up slightly in 2021, at 3,105, compared with 2,899 in 2020. Triance said there is a need to respond to multiple different areas, such as the need for care while incarcerated, the need for mental health and substance use support and dealing with mental health calls in general.