University of Manitoba, 1982, PhD, Plant Breeding
University of British Columbia, 1971, MSc, Horticulture
University of British Columbia, 1969, BSc, Agriculture (Plant Science)


Bessie Virdi was born in Rangoon, Burma, in 1945 and moved with her family to Brunei on the island of Borneo in 1950. She came to Canada in 1965 to attend UBC and graduated with a BSc (Agr) with a Major in Plant Science in 1969 and an MSc in Horticulture in 1971.

Bessie went to Tanzania as a CUSO volunteer and taught biometrics and horticulture at the University of Morogoro from 1972 to 1976. Following her return to Canada, she obtained a PhD in Plant Breeding at the University of Manitoba in 1982. She then returned to Africa with CIDA to head the Crop Production Department and manage the university farm at the University of Swaziland from 1983 to 1986.

Dr Virdi’s intense compassion for the less fortunate in developing countries led her to Carlton University in Ottawa, where she completed her MA in Development Administration in 1988. She then consulted with CIDA and various non-governmental organizations in the area of gender awareness and women’s participation in agriculture. She continued this work in Bangladesh, working on Canadian and British aid projects from 1990 to 1999.

Dr Virdi became a Canadian citizen in 1979, was married in 1992 and retired with her husband to Canada in 1999. She passed away in September 2003, after a brief illness. Her strength, determination, kindness and quiet insight touched many and will he long remembered.

R Blair and CR Nichols 2004, from Trek Winter 2003

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