Thompson Rivers University

Lillooet man leaves TRU $350K for women in science

September 30, 2020

Education was his last wish.

James Bain of Lillooet passed away in 2019 and quietly left a profound gift upon his departure: his entire estate to fund bursaries for TRU students he will never get to meet. 

TRU has received a donation of $350,000 after Bain left his estate to the university foundation. It created an endowment that will produce at least 12 annual bursaries for women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics/computer science). 

Bain’s generosity will have a deep impact on students for generations to come and the donation supports TRU’s Limitless campaign to raise $50 million alongside the university’s 50th anniversary this year. Student support is one of the Limitless campaign priorities.

“This was a significant gift the TRU Foundation had not anticipated,” said Greg Garrish, TRU Foundation past president. “Not only was it a surprise, but it couldn’t have come at a more crucial time. If only Mr. Bain had known how profound his gesture would be. We are honoured to establish this legacy in his name.”

Bain gave no indication to the university that he was planning to leave such an important gift. His only stated desire was for his estate to fund bursaries for women in science. Bursaries are given to students who demonstrate financial need.

“Women are doing great things in STEM but we are still underrepresented in these fields,” said Catherine Tatarniuk, assistant teaching professor in the department of engineering and applied science. “I believe grants, scholarships and awards specifically for women are the best way to guarantee more women pursue careers in STEM.”

Tatarniuk is a member of the Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia Southern Interior Region Executive Committee, which works to promote women in engineering in BC and currently has a goal of reaching 30 percent female engineers in the province by 2030.

Bain’s endowment will be invested and the awards will be given to students for the first time in 2021—and every year thereafter.  

“It’s important for us to give current and future students the opportunity to become skilled in the techniques and approaches required for career success,” said Faculty of Science Dean Greg Anderson. “To do that, we need to make education accessible. Donors play a key role in funding awards that make education more affordable.”

Garrish said the TRU Foundation is grateful to Bain’s family and friends for helping the university understand how to honour his intentions. Had the university been aware of Bain’s wishes before his passing, the foundation would have been able to thank him directly.

“We’d also like to thank the many kind people living in Lillooet who ensured Mr. Bain’s legacy was honoured by sharing their stories, time and resources,” Garrish said.

For more on TRU’s Limitless campaign, visit For information on student awards and financial aid, visit

What is planned giving?

Setting up a legacy gift is a favourable option for any donor that wants to make a significant impact for the future. Leaving a portion of an estate for charity is as simple as adding one or two sentences to the will. TRU works closely with donors to establish meaningful ways to leave a legacy. For more information on how to set up a gift, contact Sarah Sandholm, Director of Development for Planned Giving at 250-320-0035 or

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