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Okanagan College Foundation board welcomes new directors, thanks retiring directors
Okanagan College Media Release

Following its annual general meeting the Okanagan College Foundation has announced five new directors have joined its board in 2015.

Anne Clarke, BA, B.Ed, MA (North Okanagan)
A retired English professor at Okanagan College, Clarke is an active community leader who has served in a variety of capacities on numerous boards and councils throughout the region and at the provincial level. Clarke served as a Councillor for the City of Vernon from 1984-1986 and as Mayor from 1987-1990.

Bob Eby, CA, (North Okanagan)
An experienced education administrator and chartered accountant, Eby served as Okanagan College’s Vice President of Finance and Administration for more than seven years, from April 2007- December 2014. He joined the College’s executive team following a 17-year career with the Vernon School District as Assistant Secretary Treasurer. He also previously served as Treasurer for the Okanagan College Foundation.

Gladys Fraser, MBA, PFP (North Okanagan)
Fraser has over 25 years of experience in banking as a Financial Services Manager, Personal Financial Planner, Business & Professional Banking Advisor. She also brings a wealth of experience in corporate social responsibility built through her position as a Branch Manager for Scotiabank. Fraser is current President of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and Vernon Montessori Society and previously served as a Director and President of the North Okanagan Hospice Society.

Keith Grayston, B.Com, CGA,  (Central Okanagan)
Prior to his retirement in June, Grayston was the Director of Financial Services for the City of Kelowna; he was a member of the Financial Services Department for 18 years and has more than 35 years’ experience in the financial industry. He recently served as a Director on the Board of the Government Finance Officers Association of BC. 

Alan Sanderson, CA (Central Okanagan)
With extensive experience in the accounting industry, Sanderson is currently a partner with BDO Canada and previously a partner of Sanderson & Company Chartered Accountants. Sanderson is actively engaged in the community and philanthropy in the Okanagan, having supported numerous charities and philanthropic projects.

“The mission of the Okanagan College Foundation is to advance the power of education by engaging individuals and communities in supporting Okanagan College,” says Foundation President Alf Kempf. “With a $7-million fundraising campaign now in full swing for the new trades training complex at the Kelowna campus, this is a crucial and very active time for our board. 

“On behalf of my fellow directors, I am pleased to welcome our newest directors. They bring a great diversity of skills and depth of experience, and we look forward to working with them to achieve some important goals over the next term that will hopefully have a positive impact on students in the valley.”

Kempf says the board also wishes to extend a sincere thanks to three of its current directors who retired from the board at the Foundation’s annual general meeting in June. 

Frank Richter retired after serving nine years with the Okanagan College Foundation, Vern Nielsen retired after serving five years, and Cher Watkins retired after serving four years.

Since its incorporation in 2002, the Okanagan College Foundation has raised and disbursed more than $9 million in scholarships and bursaries to students at Okanagan College’s campuses in Kelowna, Penticton, Salmon Arm, and Vernon. In total, the Foundation has raised more than $23 million, including student awards, capital projects, programming and an endowment that now totals over $8.3 million.

More information about the Foundation’s current board members, mission, and projects is available at www.okanagancollegefoundation.ca.
College trades campaign gets another boost from a local auto dealer
Okanagan College Media Release

Students in the Automotive Service Technician program at Okanagan College will test drive an exciting new learning environment next spring thanks to a generous donation from a local automotive dealer.Kelowna Toyota donation July 2015

Kelowna Toyota has donated $50,000 to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills Campaign. The donation will support the construction of a classroom in the new three-storey Trades Training Complex currently under construction along KLO Road. 

“As the technology in our vehicles advances at an ever-increasing pace, it is vital for automotive tradespeople to have a solid foundation of formal training,” says Jack Kofoed, Dealer Principal at Kelowna Toyota. “We have had the privilege of hiring numerous Red Seal graduates from the College over the years and have seen first-hand the quality of the training they receive.

“The new complex is going to be a great resource for our region and we are proud to support it.”

“It is very encouraging for our students, and for everyone at the College, when industry steps forward in a bold way like this to recognize their potential and support their futures,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We are very grateful to Kelowna Toyota as one of the local industry leaders who have stepped forward as donors and champions in the community for this project.” 

Kelowna Toyota has also donated two vehicles to Okanagan College in recent years. 

The donated vehicles provide valuable hands-on training opportunities for students. Once the students and instructors have ensured they are road-ready, the vehicles are then auctioned off by the Okanagan College Foundation with proceeds going towards student support.

Kofoed visited the Kelowna Campus recently to tour the renovated Automotive Service Technician (AST) shop which is already in use, as are updated shops for carpentry, collision repair, and heavy duty mechanical trades.

“It is wonderful for the Okanagan to have a trades trainer like the College to supply local industry,” says Kofoed. “Providing opportunities for students here in the valley, and establishing the Okanagan as a hot spot for trades, benefits us all.”

The new Trades Training Complex in its entirety is expected to open in Spring 2016. Blending renovation and new construction in innovative ways is a challenge the College has embraced with the project.

In addition to the new Trades Training tower along KLO Road, the College is also aiming to meet LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge standards with the renovated shop and classroom spaces. When doors open next spring, it will accommodate more than 2,400 students annually.

The $7-million fundraising campaign for the 10,000 sq. metre complex renovation and expansion project launched in October 2014. The College is aiming to raise $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support to top up the provincial government’s commitment of $28 million for the project.

More information about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved can be found at www.okanagan.bc.ca/campaign
Salmon Arm students recognized for their achievements
Okaangan College Media Release

Forty-seven students from Salmon Arm were honoured with scholarships and bursaries this month at Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm Campus awards ceremony.

A number of mature students from the Salmon Arm campus credit support from the College and the community for helping them to realize their dream of returning to the classroom.

Laureen Shannon June 2015Laureen Shannon, who is currently pursuing a Business Administration diploma, received one of five Al Neale Bursaries valued at $1,500. A single mother to three children, Shannon says the bursary helps in more ways than one.

“Receiving this bursary will help me complete my program,” says Shannon. “But the impact of the support goes beyond alleviating financial stress. I feel incredibly inspired by the fact that someone in our community recognizes my hard work and wants to help me in my education.”

When she completes her diploma in 2016, Shannon hopes to go on to pursue a Bachelor of Business degree in Human Resources Management at the College.

“I feel very proud to be able to set an example for my sons,” says Shannon. “I am showing them the importance of lifelong learning, and I’m very grateful to the donors and to the College for helping me bring my dreams within reach.”

Jim Barmby, Regional Dean for Okanagan College’s Shuswap-Revelstoke region spoke about the role that donors play in supporting the interactive educational experience offered by the College.Sean Rossouw June 2015

“The learning environment provided by Okanagan College is conducive to a high level of student-teacher interaction, which is something we are very proud of and feel greatly benefits the students,” says Barmby. “It is all the more special that the people of our region play such an active role in supporting our students.”

At the ceremony, numerous students credited small class sizes and the quality of instruction they received as contributing factors for their success the College.

Sean Rossouw received two awards, including the Salmon Arm College Scholarship for top student in Business. According to Rossouw, the generosity of his professors echoes the generosity of donors in the community.

“Having top-level professors who are so incredibly generous with their time as well as their knowledge has been life changing for me,” says Rossouw. “I have been touched by their generosity as well as by the generosity of the surrounding community that is so involved in supporting students.”

Rossouw previously completed his Associate of Arts Degree at the College and hopes to parlay his Bachelor of Business Administration Degree (Accounting) into a career that allows him to give back.

“People have invested in my future and I want to do the same,” says Rossouw. “It would be wonderful to be able to use my business skills to help others kickstart their ideas. It would be a way of paying forward the investment that has been made in my education.”

This year, more than $75,000 will be disbursed to Shuswap area students from the Okanagan College Foundation, the Shuswap Community Foundation, local community groups and individual donors.
Serwa family supports trades training complex at Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

Cliff and Lois Serwa June 2015Their family’s connection to Okanagan College goes back more than 50 years, and through a generous donation to the new Trades Training Complex at the Kelowna campus, Cliff and Lois Serwa are helping the College build for the next 50. 

The Serwas have given $50,000 to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign behind the $33-million renovation and expansion of the College’s trades training facilities in Kelowna. The donation will support the construction of a state-of-the-art classroom space in the new three-storey tower along KLO Road.

“This community has been good to us and we’re very proud to be able to give back and support an institution that continues to have such a far reaching impact on students from all walks of life in the Okanagan,” says Cliff Serwa.

“Whether it’s supporting students fresh out of high school, or mature students, or single parents going back to school to find employment so they can support their families, the opportunities Okanagan College creates valley-wide are truly invaluable.”

Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton says community support for the campaign, in addition to topping up the provincial government’s investment of $28 million for construction of the new building, is also helping the College create new awards, bursaries and other support for trades students.

“We are sincerely grateful to Cliff and Lois Serwa for this generous investment in our students’ futures,” says Hamilton. “Support like this sends a strong message to our students that there are people in the community who believe in their potential and want to see them succeed.”

“The Bright Horizons campaign is aptly named because this renovation and expansion project is about just that—creating opportunities and building bright futures for the more than 2,400 students per year who will train in this new facility. And with a provincial skills gap projected across much of the trades sector over the next five years, this new facility will help bridge that gap.”

Cliff Serwa is known for co-founding Big White Ski resort and for his work as a political figure in British Columbia. He represented Okanagan South from 1986 to 1991 and Okanagan West from 1991 to 1996 in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, and also served in the provincial cabinet as Minister of Environment. Their granddaughter Kelsey Serwa is a world-class freestyle skier; she won a silver medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The Serwas’ support of students at the College goes beyond the trades. In 2007, they established an annual bursary for students enrolled in the Early Childhood Education program.

“Having worked around the trades, I can certainly appreciate the importance of formal training, now more than ever, as the trades become increasingly technical,” notes Serwa. 

“But on a broader level, the College offers students young and old so many avenues to better their lives through education.”

“The value of a gift lies not in its price but in its potential,” says Lois Serwa. 

The Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign complex launched in October 2014. The College is aiming to raise $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support, in order to top up the provincial government’s commitment of $28 million for the project.

More information about opportunities to get involved, including ways to contribute to existing awards, or establish new support for trades students, is available at www.okanagan.bc.ca/campaign
Solar panels power up College’s Kelowna campus
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College has activated B.C.’s second largest solar panel system at its Kelowna campus, taking another large step towards its ambitious goal of seeking to be energy net zero by 2025.Kelowna Solar Array

“With the longer and sunnier summer days upon us, we’re thrilled to have the solar panels up and running,” says Peter Csandl, Manager, Operations and Energy Systems at Okanagan College. “Imagine the electricity consumed by 26 homes annually. That’s the equivalent power the system is anticipated to provide the campus.”

The College is now benefitting from 793 solar photovoltaic module panels, which cover the top of the new outdoor training space at the College’s Kelowna Trades Complex. The outdoor shop was built as part of the Trades Training Complex renovation and expansion project currently underway along KLO Road. 

The 194 kW electrical solar photovoltaic array system is the second largest in the province, only slightly smaller than the 258 kW system built on top of the LEED Platinum certified Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence at the College’s Penticton campus. 

The array is part of the College’s larger sustainability plan that includes seeking LEED certification for its buildings and striving for the esteemed Living Building Challenge standards. Achieving energy net zero will require the College to produce as much energy as is consumed; the College is targeting to reduce its net carbon emissions by 80 tons per year, and is already well underway. From 2007 to 2013 the College successfully reduced its energy consumption per square meter by 32.2 per cent.

“There is the misconception that energy efficient systems can be cost prohibitive, but that is not the case,” explains Csandl. “In three short years, working with Skyfire Energy, we’ve seen a 40 per cent reduction in the cost of the installation of our solar panels.”

Csandl credits the maturing of the industry for this, including increased demand and production, as well as advances in the application of innovative technology. 

Solar photovoltaic modules are made of crystalline silicon, the same material used in a circuit board, and mounted on an aluminum frame. They have a glass front to protect them from the elements, while letting light in. Placed in sunlight, they produce direct current electricity (similar to a battery), which then goes into an inverter before being converted to electricity used by the buildings. They are durable, with relatively low cleaning and maintenance requirements.

As part of its commitment to sustainability, Okanagan College is a member of the STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) program and was the first college in the province to earn a silver ranking in sustainability from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

For more information on sustainability at Okanagan College, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/sustainability.
College’s new liberal Arts program ArtsX marks the spot for incoming students
Okanagan College Media Release

Anika Raynolds June 2015Like many of her peers, 18-year-old Penticton high school graduate Anika Raynolds has had a busy year researching post-secondary education options. The end goal has always been a Bachelor of Arts, but to get there she was searching for a program where she could apply her creativity, curiosity and one that suited her learning style.

Raynolds first heard about the ArtsX program at an Okanagan College information session.

“It sounded like a non-intimidating introduction to post-secondary education,” says Raynolds. “It’s reassuring that for the first year, courses are pre-selected to meet requirements and be well rounded. I was drawn to the small group focus, up to 30 students. I think that will definitely help to meet new friends and get more time with the instructors.”

Prospective students and their parents are invited to explore the College’s new program, the Arts Experience (ArtsX), at an upcoming information session at the Kelowna campus on Monday June 29 from 7 to 9 p.m. The session will be held in room E202 of the Centre for Learning building.

Attendees will meet the program’s faculty, including College professors Sharon Josephson and Jake Kennedy, who will explain the program, which is tailored to students who want to explore connections between key subject areas of our society in a multi-disciplinary approach. It is an opportunity for students and parents to ask questions they may have about the progressive structure, curriculum, and about what to expect.

The Arts Experience (ArtsX) was designed by Okanagan College faculty as an avant-garde learning approach offering a collective class for the two-year university transferable Associate of Arts Degree. The progressive and innovative education option will see a small group of students flow through core course curriculum together, but the classroom model and way of learning is what will be different.  

“I can get my two years of credit under my belt, while still trying a variety of classes,” says Raynolds. “It’s reassuring to know that I will get the same transferable credits of the regular Associate of Arts Degree, but that I can learn in a format that is focused on collaboration, self direction, and that goes beyond the classroom.” 

For Raynolds, the affordability of Okanagan College’s program, compared to similar styled programs offered at various North American universities, also factored into her decision to pursue the option that was close to home.

Students who have received admission into the Associate of Arts Degree program at Okanagan College will have an opportunity to apply to complete their studies with the limited enrolment ArtsX program at the Kelowna campus. To find out more about ArtsX, attend the June 29 information session in Kelowna and visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/artsx.
Ben Klick sets his sight on country stardom
Okanagan College Media Release

A 19-year-old audio engineering graduate from Okanagan College is poised to play alongside Canadian greats at Country Music Week in Halifax if he wins a province-wide competition. Ben Klick June 2015

West Kelowna resident Ben Klick is among the top three finalists of the British Columbia Country Music Association’s (BCCMA) Spotlight Performance Contest. The winning artist, to be announced June 19, will perform at the Canadian Country Music Association’s celebrations in Halifax, from Sept. 10 to 13, and take home more than $10,000 in cash and prizes.

Klick will be a familiar face around the Interior this summer as the guitarist and singer-songwriter performs at festivals ahead of the launch of his band’s new EP, which will be recorded in Nashville in July and released in August. 

“The summer months are extremely busy,” Klick says. “I definitely live in the now. I’m hoping when the EP drops in August it will start a little buzz, and I’m going to get a cross-Canada tour going.

“It would be a great career boost to win this competition.”

The country singer, who recently completed an Audio Engineering and Sound Production (AEMP) certificate with Continuing Studies at Okanagan College, has a dozen performances lined up over July and August, including West Kelowna’s Music in the Park on July 3, the Country, Beer and Barbecue Festival at Big White Ski Resort on July 4, and Rockin' River Country Music Festival in Merritt, July 30 to August 2. Peachland’s Canada Day festivities will mark one-year since Klick and his band began performing, although Klick has been playing guitar since he was six years old. 

Klick credits the College’s music recording program for accelerating his career as an artist.

“I came into the program with little to nothing except knowing the guitar and how to be an artist,” Klick says. “What the program taught me was how to be the business guy, the manager, the promoter.”

Klick wanted to learn every aspect of the music industry, and found AEMP instructor Corey Bell, a local producer and audio engineer with 12 years of industry experience, to be a huge help.

“The College has a phenomenal reputation with the music industry around the Okanagan,” Klick says. “The knowledge I’ve gotten through the program has allowed me to get gigs, saved me money recording and helped me be more self-sufficient.” 

Bell, who has helped four classes graduate from the eight-month certificate program, said the College’s curriculum is at the forefront of music production in Canada. Thanks to Bell’s industry contacts, numerous graduates work at music festivals and production companies across the Okanagan. Graduate Evan Ferguson, who opened Empire Sonic, Kelowna’s largest recording studio, a year ago with his father, is another example of the program’s success, Bell says. 

“What sets our grads apart is the hands-on experience they get in the program and their attitude,” he says. “We provide a realistic view of what the industry is and help students find their place in it.”

Bell encourages students tailor their studies to meet their individual goals. He helped Klick, for example, develop a business plan to support the up-and-coming country music singer’s dream of success.

“Ben’s an incredibly likeable person and his work ethic is second to none,” Bell says. “He’s very passionate.”

Klick, meanwhile, hopes to become a household name in country music, much like his idols Shania Twain, Keith Urban and Brad Paisley. In July, Klick will follow in their footsteps and head to Nashville to work on the second half of his next EP, which he began recording in March. 

“Country music is all about life story and true everyday life,” Klick says. “That’s what got me hooked.”
Recognition keeps coming for one of world’s most sustainable buildings
Okanagan College Media Release

COE June 2015Add another chapter to the sustainability story of Okanagan College’s Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation.

The College received LEED Platinum certification recently for the Penticton building from the Canada Green Building Council. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is globally recognized as a means of assessing green building practices and outcomes. Platinum is the highest LEED certification that can be achieved.)

The Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence was opened in 2011, and was jointly funded by the federal and provincial governments along with more than $9 million in community contributions—donations that also helped develop programs, scholarships, bursaries and student support associated with the building.

The building has been recognized for its sustainable features with several prestigious awards, including:

-          International Architecture Awards’ Green GOOD DESIGN Award from the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies
-          Two awards from the Illuminating Engineering Society
-          A Canadian Green Building Award from SAB (Sustainable Architecture Building) Magazine.

The Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence has attracted international attention from architects and sustainability experts, drawing them to Penticton to tour the facility and learn from the College, architects, engineers and builders who made the Centre a reality.

“LEED Platinum certification is a testament to the level of sustainability we have achieved with the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “What’s as important, though, is the benchmark we have set for ourselves, our students and others in the public sector. We are leading by example.”

The College’s goal is to have the Centre of Excellence achieve the Living Building Challenge standard, which is based both on construction and continuing performance. It is a higher standard than LEED Platinum and requires the building be carbon neutral, among other things.

The 7,000-square-metre Centre of Excellence was designed by CEI Architecture. It was built by PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc. The building provides space for trades and technology training, includes a community gym, as well as classrooms for a whole host of academic and vocational programs. It is also home to the B.C. Wine Information Society Sensory Centre.

“What was inspiring was the way that architects, engineers, builders, the community and the College coalesced around the idea of building something better, something that would stand as a beacon for sustainability,” says Hamilton.

It was one of three buildings in North America featured by the New York Times as examples of carbon-neutral campus architecture.

“The Centre of Excellence is truly an innovative facility, providing leading edge training in sustainable practices for Okanagan College,” said Bill Locking, senior partner with CEI Architecture. “The integrated nature of the design and construction team enabled the Centre of Excellence to achieve ambitious targets for sustainable design. We couldn’t be more proud to have been part of the project.”

“Working on this project was an education for our company and tradespeople about how vision and dedication can turn a commitment to sustainability into a beautiful, leading-edge building,” says Gary McEwan, special projects manager for PCL Westcoast Constructors. “We are all very proud of the outcome and the recognition that the building has received. I can tell you that it has impacted our work on a whole host of other projects since.”

While LEED Platinum certification is a remarkable achievement, Donna Lomas, the Regional Dean for the South Okanagan-Similkameen, says there are much more impressive credentials that speak to the building’s attributes.

“This is a building that students love to learn in, that staff enjoy working in, that the community loves to use, and that continues to impress visitors. And it’s doing all that with a tiny footprint on our environment.”

To find out more about the Centre and its sustainability features, you can visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/centreofexcellence.

Okanagan College graduates top of their game at Skills Canada
Okanagan College Media Release

Graduating Okanagan College students demonstrated their expertise once again at the 2015 Skills Canada National Competition held in Saskatoon in late May. Josh Wams won gold in Electronics and bronze medals went to Ethan Delichte in Automotive Service Tech and Nathan Schulte in Plumbing.Josh Wams and Jim Hamilton June 2015

The gold medal earned by 20-year-old Vernon resident Wams, marks the fourth year that an Okanagan College student has earned a podium finish in the Electronics category at the national skills testing event. 

“It was an amazing experience, it felt like the Olympics but for trades and skills. There was a great team spirit throughout the competition,” says Wams. “It’s good to have proof that the College prepared me for putting my skills to work at a national level.”

The challenging competition saw Wams and his co-competitors use and program an accelerometer—it is the electronic equipment that allows smart phones to flip screen images from horizontal to vertical when tilted. Participants then designed, built, troubleshot and programed a printed circuit board-PCB over the three days of scheduled testing. The students all had the same circuit board to assemble which used small surface mount components. These components are the building blocks of all electronic gadgets we use every day.

Wams’ coach, Okanagan College instructor Kevin Bradshaw, pointed out that Wams’ exceptional soldering skills with the assembly of the circuit board was what set him apart.

“When I was studying at the College we had tons of hands-on training opportunities,” says Wams. “We were given the tools to learn, some of which is expensive equipment. It’s pretty great that a school has those resources for students to practice on.”

Wams studied the two-year Electronic Engineering Technology diploma program at the College, and plans to pursue an Electronic Engineering degree at UBC Okanagan.

Bronze medalist Delichte, completed the fourth level of his Automotive Service Technician Apprentice at the College and is currently employed at Car Craft Automotive. Also earning a bronze finish was Schulte, who studied in the Plumbing and Piping Foundation program and he is working at Modulux. Each were coached respectively by Okanagan College instructors Jamie Bloomfield and Bruce Slater.

“I congratulate Josh, Ethan and Nathan on their exceptional merit in demonstrating their skill set on the national stage, placing them at the top of their industry,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “Training the future workforce of our region and country is at the core of what we do at the College. Our students’ successes are testaments of the quality of training available to them right here in the Okanagan.” 

The Skills Canada National Competition sees more than 500 students from across the country compete in over 40 skilled trade and technology contest area each year. During the Skills BC Provincial competition held earlier in the year, Wams, Delichte, and Schulte each won a gold earning them spots in the nationals. College students also earned a silver and three bronze medals at the provincial level.
Dr. Dennis Silvestrone is PRAISEworthy
Okanagan College Media Release

Silvestrone and Barranoik June 2015Okanagan College’s Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Development, Dr. Dennis Silvestrone, was honoured by the Canadian Institute of Management (CIM) on June 5 for his commitment to the Winnipeg Branch of the organization.

Silvestrone worked at the University of Manitoba before coming to Okanagan College and was very active in promotion and development of CIM members while he was there.

“The award recognizes individuals who contribute to our success as an organization and Dr. Silvestrone had a role to play in serving our members in Winnipeg,” explains 

Wilfred Barranoik, a former west/central region president with CIM and current chapter membership director for British Columbia and the Yukon. 

He presented the PRAISE – Performance Recognition for Achievement, Innovation, Service and Excellence – award on behalf of the Winnipeg chapter’s Louise Doberstein, vice-president of membership and board of directors. Winnipeg boasts having the largest CIM chapter in the country.

“I’m honoured by the recognition,” says Silvestrone. “I enjoyed working with CIM and helping the membership. I look forward to a continuing connection with CIM here in the Okanagan as well.”

The Canadian Institute of Management is Canada's senior management association. As a non-profit organization, the Institute was established in 1942 and is dedicated to enhancing managerial skills and professional development. Currently, there are 16 chapters coast-to-coast with the National Office in Barrie, Ontario.

Since its inception, the Institute has helped over 55,000 managers to develop a broadly based education in management skills with a rich and diversified series of programs from individual courses to professional designation. The Institute offers the professional designations "Certified in Management" (C.I.M.), "Professional Manager" (P.Mgr) and "Chartered Manager" (C.Mgr.). It also offers its educational certificates "Certificate in Management and Administration" (CIMA) and "Certificate in Supervisory Management" (CSM).
Northside donation keeps Okanagan College trades campaign on upward arc
Okanagan College Media Release

Training the next wave of welders will be crucial for the local manufacturing industry, says one Okanagan College donor who has Steve McKay and John Haller June 2015stepped up to support the College’s new trades training complex.

Northside Industries, a steel manufacturing company based in West Kelowna, has donated $30,000 to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills Campaign. The donation will support the construction of three new welding booths in the $33-million complex currently under renovation and expansion along KLO Road. 

“Having a strong trades training facility here in the Okanagan is so important for our industry, which relies heavily on the welding trades,” says Steve McKay, President of Northside Industries. “We’re very proud to support Okanagan College and its students, and we’re excited about what this new complex will mean for our region.”

“The new trades training complex will help to further establish our region as a hub for trades training in B.C.,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “With expanded space, leading edge equipment, and new programming opportunities, there will be an immediate benefit to students and a long-term economic benefit to our surrounding communities. 

“We are very grateful to Northside Industries—and all our industry partners—for supporting our campuses and working closely with us as we build for the next 50 years.”

Northside has been in operation for more than 45 years. The company provides manufacturing services to a variety of sectors including oil and gas, forestry, heavy duty transport, and military. And with welding playing a key role in many of these services, McKay notes that Northside often looks to Okanagan College’s welding program for new apprentices.

“It’s great that we have manufacturing in the valley and a college that can support it,” says McKay. “Okanagan College does a tremendous job of preparing graduates for industry, and it works especially well for companies like ours to have a strong pool of talent to draw from locally.”

Northside’s support of the College goes beyond dollars and cents. They are also an active member of the Program Advisory Committee (PAC) for the welding program—a group of organizations and individuals that provides the College’s Trades department with insight into the latest industry trends and training needs.

“We are constantly consulting with industry partners across various sectors,” says Steve Moores, Okanagan College Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “This allows us to stay current, keep our programs relevant to the needs of employers, and ensure that students are getting the skills and training that makes them employable.”

According to Moores, recent feedback from the Welding program PAC indicated that there remains demand for welders in other sectors despite the slowdown in the Alberta oil patch.

“It is very helpful for us to be able to get feedback from industry to identify which segments are busy, so we can advise our graduates where apprentices are needed,” says Moores.

Construction is currently underway on the new trades training complex; the building is expected to open in spring of 2016. When the roughly 10,000 sq. metre renovation and expansion project is complete, the complex will accommodate 2,400 students per year. 

The $7-million fundraising campaign for the $33-million complex launched in October 2014. The College is aiming to raise $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support to top up the provincial government’s commitment of $28 million for the project.

Program and student support includes entrance awards and other support intended to make trades training accessible for a diverse array of students.

More information about how to support the capital project and student awards, and how to donate equipment is available at www.okanagan.bc.ca/campaign
College program inspires mature Aboriginal learner to chart a new course
Okanagan College Media Release

Edna Felix June 2015Forty years is a long time to be away from a classroom. For Splatsin Nation Spiritual Helper and Elder Edna Felix it proved to be the opportunity to change her life’s course.

After her husband passed away, Felix found herself struggling to balance working odd jobs with the responsibilities of caring for her four children and two foster children (who are also her grandsons). Finding it difficult to secure work with only a Grade 8 education, Felix turned to social assistance. She credits a social worker who mentioned the Stepping Forward program offered at Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm campus for broadening her horizon and leading her to gainful employment. 

“I was nervous heading into the program but through learning I understood that my life experience in and of itself had been an education,” says Felix. “The program teaches essential skills for the work place, and also valuable life skills including goal setting. I realized I already had many of these skills, but simply needed to hone them.”

Within the classroom, Felix took a role in mentoring the younger students, her peers. For an essay assignment she wrote about the history of the Shuswap people, her husband, and the land, culture and her family tree. 

Upholding the tradition of oral story telling, Felix mentored the young students in teaching them the stories of her family, land, and people. Nothing written down, just passed down with the word from an elder to the younger generations. Some of her fellow students, it turns out, were relatives.

“Okanagan College is openly interested in preserving, honouring, and advancing Aboriginal culture, which made me feel comfortable and welcome,” says Felix.

The 21-week Stepping Forward program, offered through the Continuing Studies department at the College, provides pre-employment skills and essential skills training, as well as Adult Basic Education upgrading. It incorporates traditional First Nations heritage teachings and culture through Aboriginal work history, Medicine Wheel, and drumming workshops.

According to Felix, the qualifications and certifications (including FoodSafe, First Aid, and Camp Cook) she received during the program were crucial to her finding employment. She is currently employed as a dishwasher and prep cook at the Wicked Spoon in Salmon Arm. 

Felix has set a long-term goal of opening and managing an Elders’ home. She has already applied to Okanagan College’s Health Care Assistant program and is building her work experience to encompass all aspects of owning a care facility, including as a cook and janitor. 

“If I am to be a supervisor, I need to know what needs to be done and how to do it so that I can say I understand the roles of the job.”

The Stepping Forward program offered at Okanagan College was developed in coordination with First Nation partners to provide a well-rounded education program for Aboriginal learners experiencing barriers to employment, including lack of high school graduation, work and life skills training. 

Felix’s class included 24 students from a combination of the Neskonlith Band, Adams Lake Band, Little Shuswap Lake Band, and Splatsin Nation; all 24 graduated in March 2015. Funding for the program has been provided through the Canada-British Columbia Job Fund Agreement. The Ministry of Advanced Education supported the program with funds from the Aboriginal Community Based Delivery Partnership Program. Participating students pay no fees.

The Stepping Forward program originated through a partnership with the Okanagan Indian Band which has run two programs to date, and it has also been offered in Osoyoos. 

“This program truly is transformative and benefits such a diverse array of students,” says Caroline Chartier, Aboriginal Transition Planner at Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm campus. “Some have been through residential schools, some not, some are mature students, others still in their late teens.

“Our focus is on supporting students through the whole process, and giving them opportunities that extend beyond the support they already receive from their Bands.”

Chartier says that while some students initially arrive apprehensive about the idea of school and education, the program creates a safe place to learn, and affords them the opportunity to experience and belong to the College community. In some cases, it has inspired the students to consider higher education beyond the program.

“We are very proud of these students. Some are gainfully employed, others are pursuing further education, and a handful are in the process of job interviews. They are now better equipped to be able to support themselves and earn steady income,” says Chartier.
College looking for host families for short-term international tours
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College is hoping that some Kelowna-area families may want to spend a part of the summer or early fall entertaining some international students.

Okanagan College’s International Education Department Homestay Program is looking for hosts for its programs that range between one and four weeks for the months of July, August, and September.

Homes on the Kelowna side of the bridge are preferred and must be on a good bus route.

Host requirements include:
  • Pre arrival host meeting
  • Airport pickup and drop off
  • Provide three meals plus snacks per day
  • Private room with comfortable bed
  • Occasional ride to/from school or events

Host families get paid approximately $25 per student per day. More information about hosting and an application form can be found at http://ow.ly/NSDge

New world of opportunities await College graduates
Okaangan College Media Release

Gurdeep Dhanoa June 2015With a will to learn and to become well-versed in Canada’s health care system, Gurdeep Dhanoa, graduating from the College’s Practical Nursing diploma program this weekend, knew that the pursuit of education was imperative when she immigrated to Kelowna from India.

“I was a registered nurse for two years in India. When I arrived in Canada with my husband I quickly recognized that the technology, skills and even health documentation are very different than those from home,” says Dhanoa. “I knew that I needed to learn the basics, and build confidence in knowing exactly how the Canadian health care system works.”

Dhanoa received an equivalency that enabled her to work as a care aid at a residential care facility in Kelowna, but her goal was to study her way back to her passion, the nursing profession.

Taking the first step toward her goal, Dhanoa upgraded courses in English as a Second Language, Mathematics, and Biology 11 and 12 with the Adult Academic and Career Preparation (AACP) department at the College.

“Mathematics has always been my most challenging subject, I was dreading taking the course, especially as English is my second language,” says Dhanoa. “The teachers were patient and understanding, and they actually made me enjoy studying the subject. I wish I had had those teachers back home – maybe I would have liked math more then.”

Next Dhanoa registered in the College’s two-year Practical Nursing diploma.

“I wanted a program to give me the right training to get back to working soon. My sister had taken the same program at Okanagan College and she had told me about its great reputation with health care employers in the Okanagan.” 

With her program complete, Dhanoa is just one of more than 1,350 students who will be recognized at the College’s Convocation ceremonies this weekend. And, like many, Dhanoa has already found a job. She’s working at Brandt’s Creek Mews, a position she secured just two days after she completed her program.

The College will recognize the achievements of more than 920 trades students at its Commencement ceremony on the evening of Friday, June 5.
The following day, 438 credentials will be conferred to students in academic and vocational programs and include: 119 bachelor’s degrees, 67 associate degrees, 235 diplomas, and 17 certificates. 

The morning ceremony on June 6 in Kelowna starts at 10:30 a.m. and will see students from Arts, Science, Engineering Technologies, Computer Science, and Health and Social Development programs receive their credentials. Entrepreneur and public servant Norm Embree, former Chair of the Interior Health Authority will address the morning graduating class as an Honorary Fellow of Okanagan College. 

At the afternoon ceremony starting at 1:30 p.m., Okanagan College will confer degrees, diplomas and certificates to graduands of the Okanagan College School of Business. Renowned Kelowna chef Rod Butters will address the graduating class of business students in the afternoon.

This weekend’s ceremonies represent three of the College’s six annual Convocation ceremonies. The first Convocation ceremony of the year was held in January, and bestowed 322 credentials to students.

Two additional ceremonies will be held later in June. A ceremony in Vernon will be held on Tuesday, June 23 and will include an address from Honorary Fellow Annette Sharkey.

The final summer convocation in Kelowna will take place on Thursday, June 25 and will confer approximately 330 diplomas and certificates and recognize lawyer Rick Pushor as one of the 2015 Honorary Fellows of the College.

More than 2,000 students will have graduated from Okanagan College in 2015 before the end of the month.

To watch the convocation ceremonies via live streaming, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/convocationlive.
Community support pushes Okanagan College trades training complex campaign over the $4 million mark
Okanagan College Media Release

The fundraising campaign for Okanagan College’s new trades training complex has officially raised more than $4 million toward its $7-million goal, with support coming from every corner of the Okanagan.Trades Complex June 2015

Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton says the outpouring of support for the $33 million renovation and expansion project illustrates the extensive network of donors and industry partners working with the College to make education accessible to a diverse array of learners. 

“It has been very encouraging for us to see donors from a variety of areas and interests that have come forward to support the College as we build for the future,” says Hamilton. “From large organizations to families to our own staff and students, the depth of support for this project demonstrates the value our community places on education.”

“This new facility—which will accommodate more than 2,400 students per year—will be transformative for our students and for our communities as well, as we train the next wave of tradespeople in B.C."

The Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign launched in October 2014 with the goal of raising $5 million for capital construction and $2 million for new programming and student support, topping up the provincial government’s $28 million investment.

Okanagan College began the extensive renovation and expansion last June, in anticipation of the demand for trades and technically trained workers as baby boomer retirements loom. The Province of British Columbia predicts that of the one million job openings expected by 2022 in B.C., 430,000 will require trades or technical training. 

Donor support is opening doors for students to foundation or apprenticeship programs in more than 20 trades at the College, explains Campaign Chair Dennis Gabelhouse.

“The community has really embraced the fact that this campaign is about much more than building classrooms and labs and hallways,” says Gabelhouse. “It’s about the impact that we all can make by supporting the learning that occurs in those spaces. 

“It’s about opening doors for people through education and helping young people get a trade they can use to build a life for themselves and their families.”

Industry support helped the campaign build early momentum.

A $500,000 donation from KF Aerospace (formerly Kelowna Flightcraft) landed in December and the valley’s auto dealers have collectively pledged more than $600,000, with many other businesses outside of the trades sector also supporting the project, such as financial groups like D.K.L. Financial, which gave $50,000 and law firms like Pushor Mitchell, which donated $30,000.

One of the most inspiring gifts came from within the College, when the Okanagan College Students’ Union pledged $100,000 toward the project in February.

More than a dozen families and individuals from throughout the Okanagan have made gifts, including several major legacy gifts such as the naming of classrooms and other spaces after family members. Others have chosen to establish scholarships and bursaries for trades students. 

Earlier this week, the Rotary Club of Kelowna announced a $10,000 donation for the creation of a welding bursary in memory of Ross Gorman, founder of Gorman Brothers. The club previously donated $75,000 to the campaign back in January and also supports the College’s Gateway to Trades program, which aids local high school students in accessing trades training. 

“Supporting students is extremely important to our club,” says Club President Dennis Campbell. “It is an investment in the future of our communities. And when you consider that 23,000 people have received credentials from Okanagan College in the past decade alone, you get a sense of the ripple effect that helping students can have.” 

When doors open in spring of 2016, the three-storey trades tower along KLO Road will cap off a 10,000-square-metre renovation and expansion in which 50-year-old shops and classrooms will be updated and blended seamlessly into new construction, with the overall goal of achieving LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge standards.

To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/campaign
Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends Awards inspire incoming Okanagan College students
Okanagan College Media Release

Thorpe Award Penticton May 2015Entrance scholarships provided by two Okanagan College donors have inspired a group of graduating Grade 12 students to think about how they can translate education into community impact.

Shad Collins, Matt Finlayson, Jack Holman, Courtney Korabek, Breanne Pitts, and Jaxon Stel each received the $2,500 Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends Entrance Scholarship to support their studies at the College. 

During presentations at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus and Mount Boucherie Secondary School, the Thorpes congratulated the students and asked them about their career goals—a question which immediately generated a flurry of ideas about how each hopes to make a difference in the community.

“First and foremost, this award has helped bring my goal of becoming a Red Seal chef within reach,” says Pitts, who hopes to parlay her training in the Culinary Arts program into a career as a gluten-free chef. “I am incredibly grateful for that.”

Pitts’ mother and brother have Celiac Disease, which inspired her to follow in the footsteps of chefs who have elevated gluten-free cooking in recent years. She hopes one day to also teach cooking classes and pass on her skills to future chefs-in-training.

“The opportunity to be a culinary teacher in the future is really appealing to me,” explains Pitts. “Once I get to the point where I feel I am experienced enough, it would be a way of passing on what I have learned to others—which is a great way of giving back.” 

Established in 2007, the Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends Awards encompass a variety of scholarships and bursaries, including entrance awards for trades and technical students, as well as bursaries for mature students spanning all programs and faculties at Okanagan College.Thorpe Award Boucherie May 2015

“We are proud and delighted to be able to assist students with their post-secondary educations,” says Yasmin Thorpe. 

“These students have very bright futures ahead of them,” added Rick Thorpe. “We look forward to staying in touch with them and hearing about their accomplishments. And if in future they are inspired by the fact that someone supported their education, and they chose to do the same for others, what could be better?”

To date, the Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends fund has provided more than $70,000 in awards to students at Okanagan College. The Thorpes have also established numerous awards for students entering or enrolled at UBC Okanagan.

For Penticton resident Jack Holman, receiving an entrance award has not only inspired him to excel during his training as a plumber and pipefitter at the College, but also to continue his volunteer work. An avid soccer player, Holman currently volunteers as a fundraiser for local youth soccer clubs.

“Community involvement isn’t something that has to wait until I graduate college,” says Holman. “I want to give back as much as I can now, volunteering my time whenever I can.” 

“Rick and Yasmin Thorpe’s support has had, and will continue to have, an immense impact on many students at the College,” says Kathy Butler, Executive Director of the Okanagan College Foundation. “Their generosity, and the generosity of so many donors in the region, directly reinforces the College’s mission to transform lives and communities.”

In the past year, Okanagan College and the Okanagan College Foundation have collectively disbursed more than $1 million in awards to 886 students at the Kelowna, Penticton, Salmon Arm and Vernon campuses.
Team Construction Management Ltd. gift helps Okanagan College build for skills
Okanagan College Media Release

A prominent local construction firm has made a major donation to the fundraising campaign for Okanagan College’s new Trades Gord Wilson May 2015Training Complex, and the company hopes its donation will inspire others to follow their lead in supporting apprentices.

Team Construction Management Limited, based in Kelowna, has pledged $50,000 to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign. The donation will help to build a leading edge classroom space in the new $33-million complex currently under renovation and expansion along KLO Road. 

“As a business owner, foremost in my mind is the fact that we need a good pool of skilled tradespeople to draw from, and that is what the College provides,” says Team Construction founder and president Gord Wilson.

With a skills gap in trades and technical workers predicted as early as 2016 in some trades, the College has set out to proactively upgrade its facilities. 

“The Conference Board of Canada has predicted that we will need one million additional skilled workers across the country by 2020,” explains Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Support from industry has been crucial as the College helps to address that skills gap.

“We are very appreciative of Team Construction for supporting this project, as we are of all the businesses and individuals that have stepped up to help us build for the future of trades training in the region.”

Construction on the College’s new trades training complex began last June. Doors are expected to open in spring of 2016. The new complex will almost double capacity for trades students at the Kelowna campus, accommodating over 2,400 students per year. 

Okanagan College is currently the second largest trades training institution in the province. The College’s efforts to elevate the learning environment for trades students was a motivating factor in the company’s decision to support the project, says Wilson.

“When you look at the building trades, so much has changed over the past couple of decades. Every day we see new technologies, new materials, new ways of doing things, so trades education and upgrades are crucial and continual.

"
Young people considering trades should know that picking up a hammer is not the end of your earning potential, it’s just the beginning,” he adds. “There are so many opportunities to advance and grow your career in whatever direction you choose. A lot of successful people in our community got started in trades. Now they’re business owners, leaders, innovators in different fields.”

Team Construction’s support of the project goes beyond the donation. 

Wilson is volunteering his time as a sector chair on the Bright Horizons Campaign, and Team Construction Project Manager Chuck Cullen—an alumnus of the College’s Carpentry program—is also helping the College spread the word about trades careers. For several years now Cullen has delivered spotlight sessions at local high schools, educating students about career paths in the building trades.

“My training at the College was very valuable,” says Cullen. “I went from being a student fresh out of high school to someone who felt confident in my skills and confident on the job site.”

“The construction of this new facility is very timely,” says Wilson. “When you look at the growth of the Okanagan, a region our size needs a hub for trades training. It provides opportunity for students and it benefits the economy of the region. I hope others will choose to support it.” 

The campaign for the $33-million complex renovation and expansion project launched in October 2014. The goal of the campaign is to raise $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support. The provincial government has committed $28 million to the project. 

To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/campaign.
Kelowna author receives national award, second novel already underway
Okanagan College Media Release

All True Not a Lie In ItEven before the honour of winning a prestigious Canadian first novel award has set in, Okanagan College Professor and novelist Dr. Alix Hawley is already hard at work on her second novel.

In a crowded Toronto ballroom, the Kelowna based author was named the recipient of the national Amazon.ca First Novel Award for her debut novel All True Not a Lie in It. It is an attestation of Hawley’s talents as a writer, and of the reading community’s appetite for the stories she imagines.

“Writers have to keep chipping at their stories until the book starts to take shape, and that can be a lengthy and sometimes discouraging process,” says Hawley. “Receiving this award is a lovely boost, and an encouragement to keep going.”

The literary recognition is leading Hawley into her second novel: a sequel to All True Not a Lie in It, which continues to recount the adventures of American pioneer Daniel Boone, who Alix Hawley Feb 2015attempted to settle Kentucky and was captured by the Shawnee. She describes that it is in its early “messy note taking and drafting” stage. Readers can expect to have Boone’s character reappear, but will include more about his wife, Rebecca, and their children.

As with her first novel, Hawley will once again write the novel longhand.

“My scribbles and notes would make no sense to anyone but me. I like the secretive feel of that while I am writing. I then enjoy translating those notes, pen on paper, into the draft.”

While it is all business and back to writing for Hawley, she admits that when she was announced as the winner, she thought she had heard wrong. It’s a testament to the caliber of finalists for the award, all bright emerging Canadian authors: Emma Hooper, Sean Michaels, Guillaume Morissette and Chelsea Rooney.

“We congratulate Alix on her remarkable achievements as an author,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Her recognition as one of Canada’s finest emerging novelists is a tribute to her talent and hard work and a good example of the high degree of intellect, expertise, and knowledge our College faculty possess."

Hawley’s first public appearance since the big national win will be back at home in Kelowna. On Saturday May 23, from 1 to 3 p.m., the public is invited to a book signing event at Mosaic Books (411 Bernard Avenue), where Hawley will be reading passages of her winning novel All True Not a Lie in It.
Partnership proves successful in giving new Okanagan nurses a step-up
Okanagan College Media Release

Optimal patient care relies on nurses being able to make quick, effective, and educated health care decisions. For Courtney Miller, a Courtney Miller 1 May 2015young Kelowna nurse completing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN) this year, her decision-making confidence was put to the test in April during an aid trip to Zambia.

“The Western province in Mongu, Zambia, is a low income and low resources area of the country. The people there have an immense need for health care, including the most basic of care,” says Miller. “We had to work very autonomously, and feel confident in our decisions. I even got to deliver babies.”

During her African trip, she also set up a health clinic accompanied only by one doctor and another student nurse in a rural Zambian village. Each day, she would assess, diagnose and prescribe medications to more than a hundred patients.

“Returning to Kelowna, it certainly makes you grateful for what we have, especially the health care facilities, equipment, and medical teams,” adds Miller.

Miller is a member of the first graduating class to complete a partnership program that sees students take years one and two of the BSN program at Okanagan College and transfer to UBC Okanagan to complete the final two years. This inter-institution collaborative partnership, announced in 2011, is a successful example of the enriching educational opportunities available for students within B.C.’s interior. Both programs are recognized by the College of Registered Nurses of BC.

Miller says the small class sizes at Okanagan College truly helped her be prepared to transition into a larger university setting. With only 24 students in the College’s program, she credits the increased one-on-one time with the instructors for making sure questions got answered and concepts were understood.

Courtney Miller 2 May 2015“In a small class size environment, you can’t hide and you don’t get missed. The teachers knew us all by name and made sure we were on the right track,” shares Miller. “It also meant we each had more time in the health simulation labs with the mannequin to practice care scenarios. I felt prepared before going to UBCO, perhaps over-prepared, which is a good thing as nursing school isn’t easy.”

Students at Okanagan College gain practical experience in a state of the art simulation room that replicates a hospital room with all the modern supplies and equipment it would contain. During each semester students rotate through, and with a low student-instructor ratio, this means that every student receives multiple turns to practice.

“In the nursing program we encourage students to ask questions, think critically, and advance their knowledge through practice,” says Monique Powell, Okanagan College Bachelor of Science in Nursing Chair and Professor. “It’s about giving them the tools to succeed in their future endeavors, which with our nursing program affords them the opportunity to transfer to UBC’s reputable nursing program for completion of their degree.”

In describing the combined model, Miller explains that it is a reassurance to have a path mapped out. “It’s the best of both worlds.”

A testament to how the right training leads to jobs, Miller has already launched her career. Two days after returning from Africa, she started at Kelowna General Hospital where she is a nurse on the Acute Medical Floor that provides stroke patient care.
Building a strong foundation: Greyback Construction project gives students a chance to put their skills to work
Okaangan College Media Release

A unique job-shadow project is providing a group of students from Okanagan College’s Residential Construction program the chance to gain hands-on training as they build a high-end home in the South Okanagan.Kayle Blanchard May 2015

The class of 11 students, under the guidance of instructor David Lovisa, is helping construct a home at the Skaha Hills development in Penticton. The project arose as a job-shadow opportunity through Greyback Construction Ltd., the company overseeing the development of the resort-residential project situated on the picturesque bench overlooking Skaha Lake on the Penticton Indian Band reserve.

“This is an incredible learning opportunity for these students,” says Lovisa. “They are working side-by-side with experienced tradespeople and so their work has to be just as precise as the men and women beside them with many more years of experience.”

“Greyback Construction is pleased to be able to support the training and apprenticeship of new tradespeople in the Okanagan,” says Shaun McCafferty, Superintendent for Greyback Construction. “Job-shadowing and mentorship opportunities like this provide students with opportunities for real-world training and we believe that is important.”

For student Kayla Blanchard, the project has helped her to develop confidence on the job site, as well as her carpentry skills.

“This opportunity to shadow with Greyback has been amazing,” says Blanchard. “I’ve learned so much while working on this project. I’m really proud of myself and what I’ve accomplished.”

Blanchard credits her two-year-old son as her inspiration for going back to school to pursue a new career as a carpenter. She encourages other women to consider the trades as a career path.

“If you’ve ever wanted to get into a trade, now is a great time,” says Blanchard. “Go for it. Believe in yourself. I’ve learned that there is nothing I can’t accomplish.”

Her classmate Drake Sylvestre hopes to pursue a career in residential construction in the Okanagan; he acknowledged the value of hands-on training offered by the project with Greyback.

“I’d like to thank Greyback for accepting Okanagan College students on site and allowing us to shadow them and build a house,” he says. “Until you’ve done it, you don’t know how great it feels to actually build somebody’s home and see that come together.”

The 26-week Residential Construction program provides students with the necessary theoretical and practical knowledge to seek employment as an apprentice carpenter in the construction industry. As Lovisa notes, the focus is on developing practical skills for the construction workplace. 

“Having a chance to contribute to a project like this, and to learn by doing, is absolutely invaluable for students at this stage of their training,” explains Lovisa. 

The home the class is helping to build is expected to be finished in early June.

Okanagan College is the second largest trades training institution in the province. The College is currently embarked on a $33-million renovation and expansion of its trades training complex in Kelowna. The Bright Horizons Building for Skills Fundraising Campaign was launched in October of last year to raise an additional $7 million for capital construction costs to supplement the B.C. government’s $28-million investment. 

The campaign has raised over $3.7 million to date. As part of the $7-million goal, the campaign team is aiming to secure $2 million for programming and student support, which will benefit students through scholarships and bursaries, access and mentorship opportunities, and other support during their training. For more information about the campaign and opportunities to get involved, please visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/campaign.   

More information about the Residential Construction program and other Okanagan College trades foundation and apprenticeship programs is available at www.okanagan.bc.ca/trades.
Andrew Sheret donation supports Okanagan College’s efforts to go green with new trades training complex

Okanagan College Media Release

Trades Complex May 2015Inspired by Okanagan College’s goal of building one of the most sustainable trades training facilities in North America, a B.C.-based distributor of plumbing and heating supplies has stepped forward with major support for the $33-million renovation and expansion project.

Andrew Sheret Limited has pledged $50,000 toward the Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign. The company’s donation will support the construction of a tool crib in the new trades training complex currently under construction at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus along KLO Road.

“First and foremost, we see this as an investment in the future tradespeople of the province,” says Brian Findlay, President of Andrew Sheret Limited. “As technology advances, current training is so essential. We’re very proud to be able to support students and help the next wave of apprentices learn their trade.”

“The new trades training complex features innovative design and the latest technology and equipment,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “This facility will provide our students with a learning environment that matches the high quality of instruction they are receiving.

“We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Andrew Sheret Limited, and all our campaign donors, for supporting Okanagan College as we build for the future of trades training in the region.”

Findlay notes that the plan for sustainable construction was one of the factors that attracted Andrew Sheret Limited to donate to the College a second time, having previously given $50,000 to support the construction of the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Penticton.

“Sustainability is very important to us,” explains Findlay. “Our home office in Victoria is located in a LEED Silver building, and so when we heard about the College’s plan for sustainable construction on this building, similar to what the College achieved with the Centre of Excellence, that was something we were passionate about supporting.”

Okanagan College is currently the second largest trades training institution in B.C. The 10,000 sq. metre renovation and expansion project includes the construction of a 1,858-square-metre outdoor training space, which is covered by a canopy housing one of the largest solar photovoltaic arrays in the province.

It is estimated that the panel will generate over 208,550 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year. The average home in B.C. uses 8,000 kWh per year, meaning that the panel could generate enough electricity to power 26 homes for a year. The array will aid the College in achieving its goal of net-zero energy usage for the complex—meaning the building will generate all the energy it needs. The new facility will also feature smart environmental controls systems and processes, including geothermal heating and cooling and greywater recycling.

The Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign for the $33-million complex renovation and expansion project launched in October 2014. The goal of the campaign is to raise $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support. The provincial government has committed $28 million to the project.

To date, the campaign has raised $3.7 million, including donations of $500,000 from Kelowna Flightcraft, over $600,000 from the valley’s auto dealers, and several other major cash and in-kind gifts.

Campaign Ambassador Mike Roberts is currently touring the valley to spread the word about how the community can get involved and support students.

“This stunning new trades complex will attract thousands of students to train here, work here, and live here,” says Roberts. “The campaign team has been simply overwhelmed by the support from the community so far—from companies like Andrew Sheret to families and individuals—and we’re really hoping people will continue to come forward and help us reach our $7-million goal.”

To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/campaign.  

College professor’s novel finalist for national literary award
Okanagan College Media Release

Continuing to the capture the attention of the literary world, Okanagan College English Professor Dr. Alix Hawley’s debut novel All True Alix Hawley May 2015Not a Lie in It has received a nod from one of the country’s most reputable literary competitions, the Amazon.ca First Novel Award.

Hawley is one of five finalists for the award that recognizes outstanding contributions to the Canadian novel repertoire by first-time novelists. Head judge and fiction editor of The Walrus, Nick Mount, thoughtfully selected each of the finalists.

“The nomination came as a surprise, and I feel very lucky to be included in such good company of nominees,” shares Hawley. Joining Hawley in the nomination are authors Emma Hooper, Sean Michaels, Guillaume Morissette and Chelsea Rooney.

A panel of judges, including award-winning authors Helen Humphreys and Richard Wagamese, will review the finalists’ novels with the winner being announced on May 21, 2015.

Hawley’s novel, published in February, recounts the adventures of American pioneer Daniel Boone, who attempted to settle Kentucky and was captured by the Shawnee. Narrated in the first-person voice, the novel has been described as "remarkable," "a serious literary thrill," and "a book of great sympathy and sadness."

“As authors, we spend so much time writing our books, which is quite a solitary pursuit,” says Hawley. “It's a thrill to know that readers are finding my book, and even more to hear how they respond to the story. This nomination feels like a bonus above that.”

The Amazon.ca award has launched some of the country’s most celebrated authors, such as Michael Ondaatje and Joy Kogawa. Hawley still finds it hard to believe she is included in the company of these renowned writers.

For additional information about the award, please visit www.amazon.ca/firstnovelaward.
New award celebrates the legacy of renowned local author; encourages students to promote social justice
Okanagan College Media Release

George RygaA local author who achieved national recognition as a social justice playwright is being commemorated through a new award that encourages students to promote social justice in the Okanagan.

Two annual awards valued at $1,000 each have been established in memory of George Ryga, a renowned Canadian playwright and novelist whose work explored complex issues of race, class, wealth, opportunity, privilege, and social structures in Canada. 

The fund was established by Ryga’s sister and brother-in-law, Anne and Ted Chudyk, and is open to Okanagan College students interested in creating awareness around social issues. 

“George had a passion for writing but an even greater passion for people,” says Ted Chudyk. “He was fascinated by people—especially the struggles and injustices they faced—and that fascination came out in his work. There were no bad people in George’s mind. He saw the value in everyone and he fought for them through his writing.”

Adds Anne Chudyk: “This award is meant to inspire students to follow in George’s footsteps, but they need not be writers. It is more important that they demonstrate a strong interest in promoting social justice in some way that will benefit the community.”

“George Ryga established a high standard of social commentary in Canadian literary and theatrical works,” says Dr. Robert Huxtable, Okanagan College’s Dean of Arts and Foundational Programs. “We’re very proud to celebrate his legacy through these awards and hope students will be inspired to follow the example set by a local author who had an immense effect in raising awareness of social justice issues in Canada.”

The fund also supports the production of the Ryga Journal, an initiative of Okanagan College’s English Department of the Faculty of Arts.  Ted and Anne Chudyk May 2015

Ryga (1932 – 1987) was born in Richmond Park, AB, near Athabasca, to poor Ukrainian immigrant parents. He displayed an immense talent for writing at a young age, working through grade school in only six years and completing high school by correspondence while working a variety of jobs to support himself and his family. He later studied at the Banff School of Fine Arts.

Ryga moved to Summerland in 1962, where he lived until his death in 1987 at the age of 55. Ryga garnered national acclaim for his play The Ecstacy of Rita Joe, in 1967. The play, written at his home in Summerland, is considered by scholars and critics to be an important landmark in modern Canadian theatre; it has been studied in post-secondary institutions across Canada, performed from coast-to-coast, and also adapted into a ballet by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Ryga’s final published work, Summerland, a collection of previously unpublished works, was printed posthumously in 1992.

Ryga’s sister recalls his struggles to support a family while pursuing his writing career in the Okanagan valley. 

“He’d be picking apples by day and writing by night,” says Chudyk. “It was a struggle and a labour of love. We hope George’s struggle, and the struggles he explored in his work, will inspire students to try to make a difference.”

The Anne and Ted Chudyk Memorial Awards in Memory of George Ryga are open to full-time students enrolled in any program at Okanagan College. Recipients must submit an essay explaining their interest in social justice. Applications will be accepted from June 1 to July 31, 2015. For more information, please contact Okanagan College’s Financial Aid and Awards Department at financialaid@okanagan.bc.ca or (250) 862-5419.

More information about this award and other Okanagan College awards, bursaries, and scholarships, can be found at www.okanagan.bc.ca/awards.
Health Care Assistant student awarded W. Brett Wilson Prize for creative care project
Okanagan College Media Release

Catherine Links May 2015For her embodiment of the true spirit of philanthropy in our community, an Okanagan College student has been named the recipient of the W. Brett Wilson Prize.

Catherine Links, a student in the Health Care Assistant program at the Penticton campus, was awarded the $750 prize for a project she has developed to strengthen care-giver/resident connections in complex care situations. 

The prize was established by the Okanagan College Foundation earlier this year in honour of W. Brett Wilson, well-known Canadian entrepreneur, philanthropist and 'Dragon Emeritus' from the CBC show Dragons' Den. Wilson delivered a free lecture at Okanagan College on January 27; he spoke about the importance of giving back.

“I am so grateful for this generous prize,” says Links. “It will help me to fulfill the vision I have for a program that will hopefully bring a great deal of comfort and happiness to members of our community requiring complex care.”

“I believe we need to spread the message that giving back to our communities is an opportunity, not an obligation,” says Wilson. “Whether we’re talking about corporate social responsibility for a large organization or individuals and families giving back, the point is that we can all contribute in some way to making our communities a better place.

“I want to extend my congratulations and appreciation to Catherine Links and to all the students who put forward great ideas for philanthropic projects in the Okanagan. I wish you all much success with these important endeavours.”

Links’ essay, “Furthering Philanthropy” was selected by a panel of judges as the top submission among nearly two dozen proposed philanthropic projects.W. Brett Wilson

Prior to her studies, Links had previously cared for two close family members, which inspired her to consider a career in health care. After enrolling in the program at Okanagan College as a mature student, Links, says she found her true calling when she discovered the struggles faced by those in our community who require complex care, including the challenges of dementia and physical decline. 

During her practicum in an extended care facility in Penticton, Links was tasked with caring for a female resident coping with dementia and requiring total care. Through art, music, and personal materials gathered with the help of the resident’s family, Links was able to build a connection with the resident. 

“Giving back is the most beautiful way to spend one's time. I believe it is the very heartbeat of a healthy society,” explains Links.

Links plans to utilize the funds from the prize to develop as many individually-tailored care kits as she can.

The W. Brett Wilson Prize was created for Okanagan College students in any program, who demonstrate a strong interest in strengthening the culture of philanthropy in the Okanagan; entrants were required to propose a project that would tangibly benefit the community.

“W. Brett Wilson’s efforts to further the culture of philanthropy in Canada has been recognized at the highest levels” says Kathy Butler, Executive Director of the Okanagan College Foundation. “We are very excited that the prize in his name has inspired students to develop some wonderful ideas for philanthropic projects in the Okanagan.”

Born in North Battleford, SK, and hailing from Calgary, AB, Wilson owns a home in Kelowna, as well as several properties and businesses, including Global Fitness. He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2011 and has received many awards for his business and philanthropic efforts.

More information about the W. Brett Wilson Prize and other Okanagan College awards, bursaries, and scholarships, can be found at www.okanagan.bc.ca/awards.
Culinary Arts open house demonstrates ripe opportunities for Okanagan chefs
Okanagan College Media Release

Jenna Pillon May 2015Imagine landing your dream job at the age of 25. Chef Jenna Pillon has done just that and was able to do it without leaving the Okanagan Valley. 

Pillon is settling into her second year at the helm of one of the South Okanagan’s most esteemed winery restaurants, Hester Creek’s Terrafina in Oliver, and is savouring every minute of it. 

Her culinary career took off rather quickly once she completed her Professional Cook Level 3 Apprenticeship at Okanagan College in 2011. After a two-month stint as a sous-chef, she was promoted to Restaurant Chef at Terrafina.

“I am where I’d hoped to be in five years,” she says. “I’ve come a long way in a short period of time and I’m still working on what’s next.” 

Long before she was creating beautiful dishes at Terrafina, cooking formed a significant part of her life. Pillon grew up cooking at home in Salmon Arm with her family but it wasn’t until she got her first job in a kitchen at a pub in her hometown at the age of 16 that the idea of cooking professionally became a real interest.  

“I realized the excitement of cooking on a line was fantastic and decided to pursue it more,” said Pillon. 

And pursue it she did. After completing her Professional Cook Level 1, she became an apprentice chef at Manteo Restaurant in Kelowna under renowned Chef Bernard Casavant, who is now the Culinary Manager at Okanagan College. She then successfully challenged the Professional Cook Level 2 exams and entered the six-week Level 3 apprenticeship program at Okanagan College. 

For Pillon, the best part of the Culinary Arts program at Okanagan College was the opportunity for hands-on learning. 

“Learning how to process local wild boar and venison in class was fantastic,” she said. “The College’s instructors are very knowledgeable. They helped me so much with wine knowledge, competition practice and constructive criticism. They try to make you the best cook you can be.”

The College is opening up its kitchen doors on the evening of Thursday, May 14, from 7:30-8:30 p.m., and is inviting anyone interested in pursuing a career in Culinary Arts, Pastry Arts or Culinary Management to explore the options for training for a dynamic career. 

“Cooking is a craft that takes true passion and it can be intimidating for the average person who hasn’t had any professional training,” explained Chef Casavant. “The truth is, with the right instruction and opportunities, anyone with that passion can turn it into a career with endless possibilities.”

Anyone interested in attending the free Culinary Arts open house can contact Chef Geoffrey Couper at gcouper@okangan.bc.ca to register.