Kelowna is mourning the loss of the young woman who was fatally assaulted this weekend while working the night shift as a security guard outside UBC Okanagan.
Paramjit Singh Patara, vice-president of the Okanagan Sikh Temple, said Harmandeep Kaur 24, was the victim of the Saturday attack outside UBC Okanagan. Patara said he’s learned she was a student at Okanagan College and recently got her permanent residency card. A fundraiser in her name indicates she’d been in the country for five years had aspirations to be a paramedic.
“Her parents are in India and they are on their way here,” Patara said, adding that the Sikh community is trying to figure out the best way to support them.
“The community is sad about what has happened.”
He said the community also has a lot of questions about how the young woman found herself in that position.
“We are very concerned that there are a lot of young girls who come here and I see them at bus stops early in the morning and late at night going to jobs.”
There are plenty of jobs available to help new residents offset the high cost of living but some are also putting them in a vulnerable position. What is available to protect them remains to be seen and that’s something that has caused concerns for Coun. Mohini Singh.
She pointed out Kaur was working as a security guard at UBC Okanagan and RCMP said it was Saturday at 5:55 a.m. when she was fatally attacked by someone else who worked on the campus. Whether the two knew each other has not been established but the accused has been apprehended under the Mental Health Act and RCMP said he remains in hospital and is could face murder charges.
“Here is the question I would like to ask the security company: what training did the girl have? Why was she working alone, especially on a night shift? What did she have to protect herself?” Singh said. “If the alleged attacker has a mental health issue, who is also a contractor, what steps are in place to ensure the safety of the students who work?”
Singh also feels for Kaur’s family. Not only are they going to be dealing with immense grief, she said, they also know nothing about Canada or about what supports are available.
Flowers and homages have been left outside the UBC Okanagan building where the young woman was fatally assaulted.
The university said in a statement that the university’s immediate priority is to support the family and individuals affected.
“All of our security personnel are deeply valued members of our campus community,” Lesley Cormack, deputy vice-chancellor and principal of UBC Okanagan, said. “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. This is an incredibly difficult time for our campus and I ask that we all respect the privacy and dignity of our community members.”
During Monday’s council meeting, Supt. Kara Triance said three of the last four murders committed in the Central Okanagan had significant mental health components.
A fundraiser has been set up to support the family