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Chef Bernard Casavant, one of the country’s best-known chefs, has joined Okanagan College as the institution’s Culinary Manager.
Casavant’s reputation spreads beyond the kitchen – he has also been a major force for improvement in the hospitality industry during his career, and in promoting the farm-to-table movement in the Okanagan and throughout B.C.
“The addition of Chef Bernard to help lead our team of talented professionals signals the importance of the culinary arts to our educational mix,” explains Jonathan Rouse, the Director of Wine, Food and Tourism at Okanagan College. “He brings tremendous expertise, energy and enthusiasm to the role that will help inspire many more chefs who will serve the industry well.”
Casavant has been at the forefront of improving the standards of the hospitality industry throughout his career. In 1986, he was one of the first chefs in Canada to earn Chef de Cuisine Certification (CCC). In 1991, he became the first West Coast-born and trained chef to represent Canada in the prestigious Bocuse D'Or Competition, France, and currently serves as president of the Okanagan Chefs Association.
“I see this as an opportunity to have an influence on how we train tomorrow’s great chefs,” says Casavant. “Okanagan College is developing a solid reputation for chef training and is also importantly taking the lessons of the locavore movement to heart, which we will endeavour to support through our culinary department.”
“There is significant talent in the instructional cadre at the College and I am eager to work alongside the chefs as we help further build the region’s renown as a food and wine destination – not just for tourists and residents, but for aspiring chefs as well. As a region, we are poised to achieve greatness,” he says.
Casavant is a member of the British Columbia Restaurant Hall of Fame. He has held directorships on with the British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association, Industry Training Authority, and the BC Culinary Tourism Society. He graduated at the top of his class from the culinary arts program at Malaspina College in 1976 and was later honoured as a Distinguished Alumni in 2012 by the institution, which has since become Vancouver Island University. His devotion to local food and connections to farmers stretches from the mid 1980s, and is evident in the fact that he was a founding member of Exclusively BC, Farm Folk, City Folk, and a director of Whistler’s Farmers Market.
“Chef Bernard’s passion and influence has been instrumental in changing the image of the Okanagan to one of a true culinary destination,” says colleague and Okanagan College Chef Instructor Geoffrey Couper. “The list of chefs he has influenced is long and distinguished and the opportunity to join that list by attending the culinary arts programs at Okanagan College will definitely be a deciding factor for future students as they consider their educational options.”
Collaboration between Okanagan College and the British Columbia Wine Institute will mean wine and food servers in this province and elsewhere can now take a free online course to enhance their knowledge of vintages, varieties, and appellations.
The new course, which takes about two hours to complete, was the brainchild of the British Columbia Wine Institute CEO Miles Prodan and Okanagan College’s Director of Wine, Food and Tourism, Jonathan Rouse.
“We saw an opportunity and need to provide education and insight to some of the people who can have a real impact on wine sales in B.C., and on the wine tourist experience,” says Prodan. “Our goal was to develop a course that anyone who serves B.C. VQA wine could take at their leisure. The course allows anyone who takes it to gain a greater understanding of the distinguishing factors of B.C. VQA wine and the B.C. wine industry, as well as gives practical information on serving wine and enhancing the tasting and dining experience.”
“This is an innovative initiative that will help an important component of B.C.’s growing value-added agriculture sector,” noted B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick.
“We saw this as a tremendous way to help the industry,” says Rouse. “It means everyone who is involved in serving wine in this province, whether they are in Fort St. John, Ucluelet, Vancouver or Naramata can gain a better understanding of the industry and the product that our residents and tourists are interested in.”
The online course features a generous serving of videos and draws in a broad range of experts and personalities from the industry.
Serving as “host” for the course is Kurtis Kolt, a name known to many in B.C.’s hospitality industry. He has run several restaurants in Vancouver and in 2010 was named “Sommelier of the Year at the 2010 Vancouver International Wine Festival. He has been profiled by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, run the wine program for an evening at James Beard House in New York, and been one of Western Living Magazine's Top 40 Foodies Under 40. He’s joined by personalities such as Quails’ Gate Winery’s Tyler Galts, Mission Hill Family Estate Terrace Hill Chef Chris Stewart, and Wine Maker John Simes.
“My experience in restaurants, where I’ve educated many servers about wines generally and B.C. wines specifically, led me to immediately appreciate the value of this kind of course,” says Kolt. “I’m guessing that as word spreads, a fair number of restaurateurs will be encouraging their servers to take the time to do the course.”
“As we all know, everyone benefits when servers have more wine knowledge; guests and tourists enjoy an enhanced experience and that’s good for the industry.”
The MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) is free and doesn’t require registration. You can find it at www.okanagan.bc.ca/wineserver.
For one Okanagan College graduate, the diploma he’s receiving this Saturday marks the end of a long journey—both figuratively and literally.
John Partanen, age 45, decided to come to the College in 2010 when he saw a posting for a job as a Water Engineering Technologist with Metro Vancouver.
“It was a detailed job description and it described exactly what I wanted to do,” he says.
While Partanen had a lot of relevant experience—he had been working at a pulp mill just outside of Fort St. John for 16 years, the last six as an environmental technician—he lacked the necessary credentials. As it was, the plant he was working at was facing cutbacks, so Partanen and his wife, who were recent empty nesters, decided to change careers.
After researching Water Engineering Technology programs, he chose to apply to Okanagan College because of its reputation, practical training, and proximity to family in the Salmon Arm area.
He was accepted and in the summer of 2011, he packed up his family and moved to Kelowna. He completed the two-year diploma program in December 2013 and already had a job lined up with United Water in Lake Country when he finished.
“What I learned at Okanagan College gave me the technical knowledge and applied skills to get the job, but also the ability to think critically and have the confidence to apply that knowledge to new situations in the job,” he says.
This weekend Okanagan College is honouring nearly 1,400 students who will earn credentials in academic, vocational and trades programs.
Partanen will be attending Convocation on Saturday, June 7, when the College will confer 483 credentials, comprised of 133 bachelor’s degrees, 56 associate degrees, 271 diplomas, and 23 certificates, during two ceremonies.
The morning ceremony 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.
At 1:30 p.m., the College will confer degrees, diplomas and certificates to graduands of the Okanagan College School of Business.
The festivities on June 7 will also recognize three of the four 2014 Honorary Fellows. In the morning ceremony, Margriet Ruurs will be honoured for her work in promoting children’s literacy, while Kelowna entrepreneur Raghwa Gopal and Penticton business owner Jim Henderson will both be recognized in the afternoon.
Nearly 900 Trades and Apprenticeship students will be recognized at a ceremony on Friday, June 6 at 6 p.m.
This weekend’s ceremonies include students from three of the College’s six Convocation ceremonies for 2014. The first Convocation of the year was held in January and honoured 299 students. Later this month, the College will hold two more ceremonies – one in Vernon on June 25, the other in Kelowna on June 26.
The Vernon ceremony will also recognize the 2014 Distinguished Service award recipient, author and retired Okanagan College Regional Dean John Lent.
The final summer convocation in Kelowna on June 26 will confer approximately 430 diplomas and certificates and recognize lawyer Garry Benson QC, the fourth Honorary Fellow recipient of 2014.
More than 2,100 students will have graduated from Okanagan College in 2014 before the end of the month.
To watch the convocation ceremonies via live streaming, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/convocationlive.
Okanagan College Media Release
Alexandra Staple chose to become a welder because she wanted a different future.
“I really wasn’t going anywhere in life doing what I was doing,” says the 23-year-old from Kelowna. “And I wanted a career with a future, not just a job.”
Staple, who had been working in food and beverage service for several years, chose Okanagan College because of its strong reputation for trades education, and welding specifically because as an artist she likes working with her hands.
“I’m not the type of person who thrives sitting behind a desk,” she says.
Luckily since graduating, she hasn’t had to. Three days after completing her foundation program she found a position as a welder at Monashee Manufacturing in Kelowna.
Staple is one of 140 graduands of Okanagan College’s welding program and part of a larger graduating class of nearly 900 Trades and Apprenticeship students who will be recognized for their achievements at Okanagan College’s Trades Commencement on Friday, June 6.
“The BC Government projects there will be one million job openings by 2022, and 43 per cent of those will require a skilled worker,” says Okanagan College Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship Steve Moores.
“The graduating class of Okanagan College’s Trades students truly represents a very important part of the labour market and the future of province’s economy.”
More than 570 of Okanagan College’s graduands completed foundation programs in 15 trades including welding, aircraft maintenance, electrical, plumbing and pipefitting, automotive service, carpentry and studio woodworking, to name a few.
An additional 320 students will also be recognized at Friday’s event for completing the final levels of their apprenticeship training.
The Trades Commencement ceremony starts at 6 p.m. and will also feature Okanagan College alumnus Todd Regier, co-owner of Prestige Collision, who will address the students as the industry speaker.
To watch the convocation ceremonies via live streaming, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/convocationlive.
KELOWNA, BC and TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - April 07, 2014) - Budding art, design and media graduates and community non-profit organizations will benefit from two Scotiabank donations announced today to post-secondary education institutions in British Columbia.
A $250,000 gift to the Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver will create the Scotiabank Platform Entrepreneurship Program. A $100,000 donation to Okanagan College in Kelowna will establish The Scotiabank Centre for Non-Profit Excellence.
"Through these gifts, we hope to give students the opportunity to learn about business -- which we believe is key to any successful enterprise," said Brian Porter, President and CEO of Scotiabank. "Education is one of the pillars of our philanthropic program, Scotiabank Bright Future, and to us, investing in education means investing in our communities."
The Scotiabank Centre for Non-Profit Excellence at the Okanagan College School of Business will help students learn business skills to support local non-profit organizations. Through course content and faculty-supervised research, students will assess the needs and critical gaps within non-profit organizations. Students will provide consulting services to help organizations improve operational capacity, deliver measurable impact, and potentially reduce reliance on external funding. Local Scotiabank employees will support development of the curriculum.
"Today's announcement of support from Scotiabank is welcome news for Okanagan College, our students and the many community organizations who will benefit from this funding," said Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. "Our School of Business has strong ties with many not-for-profit entities and other community organizations who provide excellent learning opportunities for our students and who in turn benefit from their expertise and knowledge. Scotiabank's generous gift acknowledges just how important these partnerships are to the well-being of our community and we thank them for their investment in our students and our college."
The Scotiabank Platform Entrepreneurship Program -- the first collaboration of its kind introduced at the school and aimed at graduates -- will prepare enterprising Emily Carr University graduates to take their business ideas from concept to completion. Delivered by the University's Department of Continuing Studies, it will allow students to work individually and collaboratively to develop a business plan and communications strategy under the guidance of advisors and venture capitalists. Platform will provide graduates with business start-up skills in financial planning, market analysis, communications and intellectual property management.
"Platform will allow Emily Carr to meet and expand on our current achievements," said Sadira Rodrigues, Dean, Continuing Studies, Emily Carr University. "Scotiabank's significant gift to our University contributes to developing the next generation of creative entrepreneurs who will further Canada's economic success."
Scotiabank is a leading financial services provider in over 55 countries and Canada's most international bank. Through Bright Future, our global philanthropic program, Scotiabank and its employees support causes at a grassroots level across six pillars: health, education, social services, arts and culture, environment and sports. Recognized as a leader for our charitable donations and philanthropic activities, Scotiabank has contributed on average some $50 million annually over the last five years to community causes around the world. Visit us at www.scotiabank.com.
About Okanagan College
Okanagan College is a public, post-secondary institution located in B.C.'s interior. With four campuses in Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon and Salmon Arm, as well as education centres in Oliver, Summerland, Revelstoke, the College serves more than 20,000 learners annually throughout its region.
Okanagan College is a significant driving force in the regional economy. Partnerships with industry, community groups and other educational institutions enhance opportunities for citizens of the region served by the College and beyond, giving proof to the College's mission of transforming lives and communities.
About Emily Carr University of Art + Design
Emily Carr University of Art + Design, established in 1925, is a world leader in education and research. Encouraging experimentation at the intersection of art, design, media and technology, our learning community merges research, critical theory and studio practice in an interdisciplinary environment. Alumni and faculty are internationally recognized as award-winning creators and thought leaders who have enormous impact on both the cultural sector and economy. We engage students, industry, and society to continuously explore and think differently about creativity and how it shapes our world. Emily Carr is building a state-of-the-art campus for 21st century learning at Great Northern Way. The University will be at the centre of a new social, cultural, educational, and economic engine for British Columbia. Find out more at ecuad.ca.
Methal Abougoush (Owner and General Manager, Boyd Autobody & Glass)
Hugo Cookson (General Manager, Cookson Motors Ltd.)
Brian Crowley (Branch Manager, PrairieCoast Equipment)
Jason Friesen (Vice President, Voyager RV)
Graeme Jenkins (Manager, Enterprise Steel Fabricators Ltd.)
Oscar Krueger (Owner, Krueger Electrical Ltd.)
Adam Rich (General Manager, Sentes Automotive-Lexus of Kelowna)
Cordelle Rich (General Manager, Sentes Automotive-Kelowna Infiniti Nissan)
Debbie Robert (Retired co-owner, L. Robert Enterprises Ltd.)
Patrick Waunch (President and CEO, Rambow Mechanical Ltd.)
Gord Wilson (Owner and President, TEAM Construction Management Ltd.)
Steve Moores, Okanagan College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship, said trades instructors are also taking a keen interest in the project, and have joined their business counterparts in the effort to create this new complex.
“These instructors are on committees tasked with designing new shops, labs, and classrooms to ensure our students and apprentices will have the very best learning environment once this complex opens,” Moores said.
Joining the team in their instructor capacity are: Corey Bransfield (Automotive Service), Alf Leimert (Carpentry), John Euloth (Collision Repair), Tom Stapleton (Electrical), Doug Noble (Heavy Duty/Commercial Transport Mechanics), Brad Oliver (Plumbing/Mechanical), Alan Cohoe (Retired from Recreational Vehicle Service) and Dean Nutter (Welding).
Last week, Okanagan College unveiled its plans for the new Complex, which is scheduled to open in the spring of 2016 with room for 2,400 trades students. The B.C. government has committed $28-million towards the project, and the Okanagan College Foundation is raising an additional $5-million in capital, plus $2-million for student and program support to complete the project.
More information about the Okanagan College Foundation is available on their website at www.okanagancollegefoundation.ca or call 1-888-650-6968.
Acclaimed author and retired Okanagan College Regional Dean John Lent will receive the Distinguished Service award next month during the College’s Vernon Convocation ceremony. Lent is the fourth person in College history to receive the award, which is the highest honour bestowed upon a former employee.
The award recognizes past employees who have given outstanding service to Okanagan College, who share and support its mission, vision and values, and are active within and outside the College community.
“John Lent is a very deserving recipient of the Distinguished Service award as he significantly contributed to the national reputation that Okanagan College has earned for creative writing and publishing,” says Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton.
“He was also instrumental in creating a community infrastructure that supports creative writing across the Okanagan region, including the development of groundbreaking projects like the Kalamalka Press.”
For more than 30 years, Lent taught English at Okanagan College in Vernon. In 2007, he became regional dean of the Vernon campus, a position he held until he retired in 2011.
In addition to his work at the College, Lent has been a successful author with an international reputation for three decades, having published 10 books in poetry, fiction and non-fiction.
“I am thrilled to receive the award,” says Lent. “When you do something you love over a span of decades, you don’t ever look at it holistically, you just find yourself completing one thing and moving on to the next.
“To be recognized for it is both humbling and gratifying.”
Residing in Vernon with his wife, artist Jude Clarke, Lent is hard at work on his latest book, a work of fiction called The Kitchen Sessions, and a currently untitled book about the poetics of the writing process he’s co-authoring with Okanagan College English professor, Jake Kennedy.
During his career, Lent has received many accolades for his work including being short-listed for the BC Book Prizes in 2005 for So It Won’t Go Away, and long-listed for the Re-Lit Award in 2009 for Cantilevered Songs.
As homage to Lent’s contribution to Canadian poetry, Kalamalka Press established the John Lent Poetry-Prose Award in 2012, which was designed to recognize and support Canadian writers in the early stages of their careers. In addition to his literary talents, he is also an accomplished Jazz/Roots/Blues singer with The Lent/Fraser/Wall Trio.
As the fourth recipient of the Distinguished Service award, Lent joins past recipients Lynda Wilson (2010), Gary Dickinson (2011), and Catherine Williams (2012).
Lent will receive his award on the evening of June 25 during the Vernon Convocation ceremony. He will also address the graduating students during the ceremony, which is held at 4:30 p.m. at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre.
On April 29, Okanagan College and Central Okanagan School District (SD 23) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on a groundbreaking new program called Early College.
Early College provides access to education opportunities and a supported transition to College for high-ability youth facing circumstances that would hinder their academic performance at a traditional secondary school. It is a unique dual-credit academic program for students interested in going into arts, sciences, technologies or office administration.
“This MoU goes to the heart of how Okanagan College executes its mission of transforming lives and communities,” says Tom Styffe, Chair of Okanagan College’s Board of Governors.
“Early College provides a supportive learning opportunity for students who want academic opportunities and who may not otherwise attend College. It will ultimately contribute to a better educated population in the Okanagan.”
Starting in September 2014, SD 23 students can enrol in Early College – a supported and customized program that will enable them to graduate with both a secondary school diploma and academic college credits.
Target enrolment is 30 Grade 11 students in September 2014 and 60 Grade 11 and 12 students in September 2015.
Students will have a homeroom at Okanagan College where they receive all of their instruction for the Early College program and have support from Okanagan College’s student services.
“This innovative dual-credit program is another example of how the strong partnership between the Central Okanagan School District and Okanagan College is focused on developing the attributes of regional secondary students,” says Moira Baxter.
The Central Okanagan School District will provide all administrative staff, teachers and counsellors for the delivery of the secondary school component of the program and Okanagan College will provide classroom space, administrative liaison, student services and faculty and instructors for the college courses that are part of the Early College program.