Previous Posts(7)
New program helps support workers better serve Aboriginal people and communities
OC business team brings home Social EnterPrize
Nutech supports new Trades Complex
Ready to write? 3-Hour short story contest returns
Tops in tomatoes – OC students hit trifecta in Florida recipe contest
Wine experts come to B.C. to offer an international perspective on wine marketing
Entomologist crime sleuth unveils the clues
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New program helps support workers better serve Aboriginal people and communities
Okanagan College Media Release

A new program developed by Okanagan College in collaboration with local First Nations communities and regional Aboriginal organizations will prepare learners to step into community support work assisting Aboriginal individuals and families.

The Aboriginal Community Support Worker Certificate program launches on November 28 at the College’s Salmon Arm campus. It will include a practicum with a local community/human service work employer.

“This program is the product of extensive consultation with bands throughout the Interior of B.C. as well as a number of community entities that serve Aboriginal peoples in the region,” explains Dr. Dennis Silvestrone, Okanagan College’s Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Training. “We learned there was a need for training that enables community support workers to gain a deeper knowledge of the specific challenges facing Aboriginal individuals and families.”

The College worked closely with members of the Aboriginal community to develop the curriculum and to ensure it was built on a strong foundation of traditional Aboriginal knowledge and culture. Jennifer Leason is one of the scholars who is helping guide the process and make the program a reality.

The Aboriginal Community Support Worker Certificate says it all in its name,” notes Leason, a highly regarded Anishina-kwe scholar and PhD candidate who teaches Women’s Studies at Okanagan College. “The program is about transformative learning and providing culturally safe, relevant and meaningful support when working with Indigenous peoples, families and communities.”

Leason is no stranger when it comes to advancing Indigenous knowledge in the post-secondary sector. She also recently piloted a new course at the College on Canadian Indigenous Women's Perspectives, Indigenous Feminism, Oppression and Resistance. Her research focuses on Indigenous women’s maternal and reproductive health in Canada.

The course includes workshops featuring local Aboriginal knowledge and culture, Elders and other guest speakers from local bands. It is designed for students of all backgrounds (Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal heritage) who are interested in working with the Aboriginal community, notes Leason.

“The approach to designing and delivering the program has been based on collaborative relationships, respectful dialogue and meaningful engagement,” she says. “The course engages students in a process of decolonization and encourages them to work together towards reconciliation. It is truly an innovative and exciting program."

The College is currently looking for organizations in the health and human service work field who are interested in accepting students for practicum placements.

More information about the Aboriginal Community Support Worker Certificate program is available


OC business team brings home Social EnterPrize
Okanagan College Media Release

Mission Possible_1 Oct 2016A team consisting of two Okanagan College professors and one student researcher are among only five teams across the country to be awarded prestigious research grants from the Trico Charitable Foundation.

Dr. Kyleen Myrah and Kerry Rempel of the Okanagan College School of Business, along with Cassandra McColman, a third-year business student, recently received a Trico Social EnterPrize award for case study research.

The biennial awards go to Canadian organizations demonstrating best practices, impact and innovation in social enterprise.

“In short, a social enterprise is an organization endeavouring to solve a social problem through a business approach,” explains Rempel, who has consulted for social enterprises and non-profit clients in B.C. and Alberta. She designed an innovative Non-profit Management course at Okanagan College, which pairs students with local non-profit staff and volunteers in the classroom.

The Okanagan College researchers partnered with Mission Possible, a Vancouver-based non-profit that helps people challenged by homeless and poverty find meaningful work. The hope is that the detailed case study of Mission Possible’s social enterprise model will aid other organizations looking to do the same.

“We are thrilled to be working with Mission Possible and really grateful for the support from the Trico Charitable Foundation,” says Myrah. “For Kerry and I, our teaching and passion lie in social enterprise, so the fit could not be better. It provides us with a real-world example to share with students.”Mission Possible_2 Oct 2016

The social entrepreneurship course Myrah teaches has led to over 200 community based student projects since 2007 and incorporates real cases, such as this one, into the curriculum.

“There aren’t a lot of role models out there for organizations looking to enact change,” notes Rempel. “This research is exciting in that hopefully it will provide a road map for others.”

Another benefit of the research lies in its capacity to inspire students, as Rempel explains.

“It has been one of the most uplifting experiences because it has re-affirmed that what we teach in the classroom is real. Hopefully what we learn will inspire students and show other organizations in Canada and around the world that social enterprises can be sustainable and effective in driving change.”

The case will be published and shared extensively by the Trico Charitable Foundation in the coming months.

For Myrah, the award marks the second time being recognized by the Foundation. In 2014, her case study was among four Social EnterPrize studies supported by the Foundation. Myrah was lead researcher on a project with local business consultant Elvia Picco; the pair wrote about the YWCA Metro Vancouver Social Enterprise Hotel. That case study can be found online here.

Both Myrah and Rempel are quick to point out the importance of having a student perspective on the Mission Possible project. That perspective comes from Cassandra McColman, a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree student and research assistant in the social enterprise arena. McColman recently joined Myrah and Rempel in touring Mission Possible’s Vancouver office.

“Having the opportunity to bring our research to life while visiting Mission Possible's staff and clients allowed me to experience firsthand how impactful this organization is in their community,” says McColman. “Working with them and getting to be a part of that impact has been incredibly rewarding.”

More information about the Trico Charitable Foundation’s Social EnterPrize can be found at


Nutech supports new Trades Complex
Okanagan College Media Release


Nutech at OC Oct 2016A local fire protection and safety services company is showing its support for the recently opened Trades Complex at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus, and the company’s gift carries an important message to students about health and safety.

Nutech Safety has pledged $30,000 toward the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizons, Building for Skills fundraising campaign. The support will help outfit the first aid room in the new building.

“As a company we feel strongly about supporting students,” says Bob Dieno, President of Nutech Safety. “We want to ensure the next wave of tradespeople knows business is behind them. And given our company’s focus, we obviously want them to know that safety while they are in school, and when they step out into the workforce, is very important.”

With offices in Kelowna and Kamloops, Nutech is one of the region’s key suppliers of fire protection, first aid and safety gear. The company also works with organizations of all size to create fire safety plans and other training resources.

The College’s new Trades Complex was officially opened on Sept. 22 by Premier Christy Clark, B.C. Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson, Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson and Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. The new complex blends 10,000 sq. metres (over 100,000 sq. feet) of renovated facilities and new construction, including an all-new three-storey tower along KLO Road.

“Safety is critical in the trades,” says Steve Moores, the College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “Having a local industry leader like Nutech step up and support our campus serves as a reminder to students about the importance of safety measures on every jobsite, and while they are training. We deeply appreciate Nutech’s support.”

More than two years in construction, the Kelowna Trades Complex is one of the College’s most ambitious capital projects to date. It was launched by a $28-million investment from the province and has been bolstered by community support. The Okanagan College Foundation kicked off the Bright Horizons campaign in October 2014 with the goal of raising $5 million for capital construction and $2 million for student and program support to complete the project.

More information about the new Trades Complex and opportunities to support the campaign can be found  


Ready to write? 3-Hour short story contest returns
Okanagan College Media Release

A challenge has been issued to local writers: go big on creativity while short on time.

Okanagan College’s English department is once again inviting up-and-coming writers to step out of their comfort zones and into the frenzied creative world of the popular 3-Hour Short Story Contest, returning Saturday, Nov. 5 at all four campuses.

The contest is open to students in Grade 11 and 12, and those attending Okanagan College. As in previous years, writers will not only be tested by a time constraint, they’ll also have to find a way to incorporate a “secret phrase” that won’t be revealed until the moment the contest begins.

“It’s an atmosphere unlike any other I’ve encountered as a writer,” says last year’s overall winner Daniel Greene, an Arts student at the College’s Penticton campus. “It challenged me, focused me and spurred me to take an idea for a story I had been turning over in my head and bring it to life.”Daniel Greene Oct 2016

Greene’s winning story “Watercolours,” available online here, illustrates a moment of connection between grandmother and grandson. Despite the tight timeframe in which he had to craft the story, Greene was able to delve deeply, and explore in remarkable clarity, themes of love, loss and memory. He says the process helped him hone his craft.

“It definitely gave me confidence in myself and my abilities as a writer. I went from sharing stories with a few peers in class to having my work read by professors and other writers across the region. The feedback and affirmation I took away from that was helpful. It was the first time I thought to myself ‘Hey, I can do this. I can write.’ ”

Greene will graduate with an Associate of Arts Degree in December and plans to continue on to university to complete his Bachelor of Arts in English and Sociology. He is currently at work on a number of short stories for publication and future competitions.

The 3-Hour Short Story Contest takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5 at the College’s Salmon Arm, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton campuses. Writers will work on College computers and will not be able to access any pre-written materials or outside sources – print or online.

Four prizes of a $250 tuition credit will be awarded, one for each campus winner. From the four campus winners, a grand prize winner will be chosen to receive an additional $250 tuition credit. The grand prize winner will also have their story published in a limited fine-print edition by the Kalamalka Press.

This contest is free but can only accommodate a limited number of entrants, so interested writers are encouraged to register online early. Deadline for entry is 12 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4.

Visit to sign up and to view works by previous years’ winners. 


Tops in tomatoes – OC students hit trifecta in Florida recipe contest
Okanagan College Media Release


Annie Low Oct 2016Okanagan College’s culinary students are making a significant splash in the world of Florida tomatoes.

At least that’s the take of the judges involved in the annual Top Tomato Recipe contest sponsored by the Florida Tomato Council.

Would-be chefs at OC captured first, second and third place honours in the 27th annual edition of the contest.

Annie Low, an international student from Britain studying Advanced Culinary Management at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus, earned first place with her recipe for a Tomato Chili Jam recipe that incorporates fresh tomatoes, roasted peppers and fresh and dried chilies.

Second place went to student Morris Hsu, who developed a recipe for tomato iced tea. Hsu slow roasted tomatoes before they were strained and then infused them with mint, fennel leaves and ginger.

Third place belonged to Elizabeth Devereaux, who stacked a panko-crusted eggplant slice with tomato jam, mozzarella, a tomato slice, tomato mayonnaise and a fresh basil leaf.

“I was surprised to learn that I had won,” says Low. “I was even more surprised to learn that Okanagan College students had earned second and third place too.”

Low is interested in moving to Canada after she completes her studies.

The OC students were encouraged to enter the contest by their instructor, Chef Mike Barillaro.

“I’m impressed with the results, but not entirely surprised,” says Jonathan Rouse, Okanagan College’s Director of Food, Wine and Tourism. “We have a top-notch group of chef instructors and passionate students who appreciate fresh ingredients – and love developing recipes that reflect different ways of thinking about them.”

This isn’t the first time that Okanagan College has reached across the continent to impress the tomato aficionados of Florida. In 2009, another Okanagan College culinary student, David Colombe (who originally hailed from Chicago) captured top spot in the contest. Colombe went on to write a couple of cookbooks, served as executive chef at a number of well-known area restaurants and, of late, hangs his hat in Sorrento where he is associated with Left Fields Farm and is a strong proponent of the farm-to-table movement.

According to the Florida Tomato Council’s press release on the contest, judges award prizes based on flavour, originality, use of fresh Florida tomatoes and ease of preparation.

“The contest was designed to help educate students about proper handling of fresh field-grown tomatoes, which are a staple in the foodservice industry,” says the release. “It also allows culinary instructors to reinforce recipe development and writing skills.”

According to the Council, the Florida tomato industry produces virtually all the fresh-market, field-grown tomatoes in the U.S. from October through June each year - currently amounting to nearly 900 million pounds - and accounts for about 50 per cent of all U.S.-grown fresh tomatoes.


Here’s Low’s award-winning recipe for the Florida Tomato Chili Jam:

3 pounds of fully-ripened fresh Florida tomatoes cored and chopped
2 red peppers, cooked in oven until blistered and starting to turn black, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 small red chili, seeded and chopped fine

  1. Combine all ingredients in a pan and cook over medium-high heat stirring constantly.
  2. Bring to a boil for two minutes. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture has a jam-like consistency, about 2.5 hours. (a half-recipe cooks in 1.5 hours)
  3. Serve with a soft cheese and crackers.

YIELD: Approximately 3 pints*

* Remainder can be stored in glass container.


Wine experts come to B.C. to offer an international perspective on wine marketing
Okanagan College Media Release


Discover An International Perspective on Winemaking with keynote speakers Karen MacNeil and Rob McMillan at the inaugural Wine Talks event at Okanagan College on Wednesday, Nov. 9. Presented by Liquidity Wines and Okanagan College, this special evening brings two of the world’s most renowned wine industry experts to B.C. to share their insight and international experience of wine marketing.Karen MacNeil Oct 2016

“We’re thrilled to welcome two huge players in the wine world to the Okanagan,” says Ian MacDonald, owner of Liquidity Wines. “We hope that initiatives such as this help to boost B.C. as a wine region on the world stage and bring the area the international recognition that it deserves.”

Author of best selling book The Wine Bible, Karen MacNeil has won every major wine award, including the Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year (James Beard Foundation) and the Global Wine Communicator of the Year (International Wine and Spirits Association). TIME Magazine called Karen “America’s Missionary of the Vine,” and she is renowned for her engaging wine presentations. Her firm, Karen MacNeil & Company, creates customized corporate events and wine tours around the world for companies such as Lexus, Disney, General Electric and Singapore Airlines. She also created and chairs the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America in the Napa Valley, which has been dubbed the Harvard of wine education.

Rob McMillan is the founder of Silicon Valley Bank’s Wine Division based in California. Growing it from start-up phase in 1992, his division is now regarded as the leading provider of financial services to the fine wine business on the West Coast. His banking career has spanned 30 years and 20 of those have been with Silicon Valley Bank in various roles, including a term on the managing committee. Today, Rob focuses on sharing his views on the macro factors impacting the fine wine business. He has also published reports of varied and emerging trends in the wine industry, including the Annual State of the Wine Industry Report, which is cited in international wine press.

“We are looking forward to hosting Karen MacNeil and Rob McMillan at our Penticton campus, which is in the heart of Okanagan wine country,” explained Jim Hamilton, president of Okanagan College. “Events like this offer the community a great opportunity to connect and share knowledge, which is really at the heart of what colleges do. It’s exciting to partner with Liquidity Wines to bring some of the industry’s most respected leaders in viticulture to the Okanagan.”

Join both speakers for An International Perspective on Wine Marketing at Wine Talks on Wednesday, November 9, 2016. The event will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Okanagan College Penticton Campus (Room PC 113, 583 Duncan Avenue West, Penticton, B.C.). Tickets cost $50 and can be purchased online.


Entomologist crime sleuth unveils the clues
Okanagan College Media Release

Gail Anderson Oct 2016What has six legs and solves crimes? One of the country’s leading forensic entomologists will reveal the secret when she visits the Okanagan this fall to share her experiences cracking real-life whodunnit cases with the help of insects.

Dr. Gail Anderson, SFU professor and forerunner in the field of forensic entomology (the application and study of insect biology to criminal matters), will uncover all the clues in a public talk at Okanagan College.

The presentation will take place in the lecture theatre of the College’s Vernon campus on Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m. Anderson’s talk, entitled Murder and Maggots: The Use of Forensic Entomology in Criminal Investigations, is part of the Science in Society Speaker Series

Anderson will explain how insects can be used to estimate elapsed time since death and other factors about a crime scene, such as position and presence of wounds, and whether a body has been moved or disturbed. She will also discuss the role of entomology in animal abuse and neglect cases.

In this presentation, Anderson will use real-world case histories to illustrate the underlying science. Warning: some of the images may be disturbing; this talk is not recommended for anyone under the age of 15 without parental permission.

Anderson is a Professor in the School of Criminology and the Co-Director of the Centre for Forensic Research at Simon Fraser University. She is a forensic entomology consultant to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and municipal police across Canada as well as the SPCA and Wildlife Enforcement. She has been analyzing forensic entomology cases since 1988, and has testified as an expert witness in court many times. Recently, her research was used to help convict Robert Pickton for the murder of dozens of Vancouver women.

Anderson’s work has been featured in numerous television programs. She was a recipient of Canada’s Top 40 under 40 Award, the YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Science and Technology, and the SFU Alumni Association Outstanding Alumni Award. She was listed in TIME magazine as one of the top five global innovators in the world, this century, in the field of Criminal Justice in 2001 (the only Canadian listed) and as one of the Leaders for the 21st Century by TIME Magazine in 1999. She was awarded the Derome Award—the most prestigious award the Canadian Society of Forensic Science (CSFS) bestows—in 2001 for “outstanding contributions to the field of forensic science.” She was listed as one of the 100 most Influential Women in British Columbia by the Vancouver Sun in 2010, received a Dean’s Medal for Academic Excellence in 2014, and in 2015 was listed as one of the six most influential scientists in BC by the Vancouver Sun.

Admission to the lecture is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For advanced tickets call the Okanagan Science Centre at (250) 545-3644. To subscribe or obtain more information visit

The talk is presented by Okanagan College and the Okanagan Science Centre. The Science in Society Speaker Series is sponsored by the Vernon Atrium Hotel and Conference Centre, Starbucks Coffee, Save on Foods, and the Vernon Morning Star.


College sees four per cent growth over last fall

Okanagan College is again seeing fall student enrolment grow.

The total number of students enrolled in programs at Okanagan College’s four major campuses has climbed by almost four per cent compared to last year. A total of 8,329 students were registered in programs and courses on the College’s stable enrolment date (Sept. 16, the last date students could register and change classes).
Last fall the College had 8,005 students enrolled.

“The indications are that we are experiencing another strong year,” explains Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We can likely expect that this will be the 12th consecutive year that we exceed government’s total enrolment targets. More importantly the strong demand for our programming indicates we are providing relevant and valuable education for our communities, and that’s what is most important to us.”

In 2015-16, Okanagan College achieved 109 per cent of those government targets.
Salmon Arm, Vernon and Kelowna each recorded headcount growth over last year:
-          Salmon Arm grew by 23 per cent to 638 students from 525.
-          Vernon grew 6.8 per cent to 1,070 students, from 1,001.
-          Kelowna grew 3.5 per cent to 5,237 from 5,059.

While Penticton recorded a small decrease in headcount (913 from 966), the number of course registrations at that campus actually grew by four per cent, to 2,777 from 2,672. Overall course registrations at the College were up 5.7 per cent.

The number of international students attending Okanagan College also grew significantly: 683 international students were registered this fall compared to 534 registered at the same time last year.

Fall enrolment data doesn’t tell the whole story for Okanagan College. Various courses start at different times of the year, and a full enrolment report isn’t developed until after the fiscal year-end in March.

Carpentry students get new study space thanks to award-winning renovator
Okanagan College Media Release

Turner Family Sept2016A local renovation expert and long-time Okanagan College volunteer is showing his support for the newly upgraded facilities at B.C.’s second largest trades training institution.

Gord Turner, founder of Gord Turner Renovations Ltd., has donated $15,000 to support the outfitting of a new study space in the Carpentry shop. The space will come online for students this fall.

“I think it’s important to give back,” says Turner. “I’ve been fortunate in this business. With the way the industry is going, I feel it’s incumbent on us to support future tradespeople.”

“Our company has supported a number of apprentices during their training over the years. The industry is constantly changing. If you want to be successful in the long run you have to keep learning and changing with it.”

Turner says the decision to help create the new study space was an easy one given his long connection to the College. He has been a member of the Carpentry program’s Program Advisory Committee (PAC) for nearly a decade and took a refresher course in carpentry at the Kelowna campus in the early 2000s.

Gord Turner Renovations also boasts two other Okanagan College alumni on staff: Turner’s children. His son Cody earned his Red Seal as carpenter in 2005, while his younger son Kyle graduated from the Mechanical Engineering Technology program in 2008.

“I was brought up in this trade by my dad,” explains Cody Turner. “I was the first apprentice from our company to train at the College, so it’s nice to see our company able to support the place where our family and a number of our employees have trained.”

“It’s wonderful to see the College keep growing,” notes Kyle Turner. “Having access to trades training in Kelowna is a great for our business.”

The company has grown from an army of one – Turner – in 1991, to a team of 13 employees today. Along the way, Turner and company have racked up Gold and Silver Tommie Awards, including “Renovator of the Year” in 2010. Gord Turner Renovations has also been voted “Best Residential Renovator of the Central Okanagan” by the readers of Okanagan Life Magazine multiple years, including the latest issue in December 2015.

Sept. 28 marks the company’s 25th anniversary, and its founder is quick to point out that while building technologies, materials and styles may have changed over the decades, one aspect of his business has remained constant.

“We help people renovate their houses, design through build, and we do it really well. That’s it. And that takes good people.”

Which, as Turner points out, harkens back to the need for a deep pool of well-trained trades people in the region.

“The new trades complex will help the College continue to stay in step with the needs of industry,” says Steve Moores, Okanagan College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “From top to bottom, from shops to classrooms, it is a totally modern, cutting-edge learning environment.”

“We appreciate the way local employers like Gord Turner Renovations have embraced the project and have chosen to invest in the future of trades training at the College.”

The College recently completed a 10,000 sq. metre renovation and expansion of trades facilities at the Kelowna campus. The new three-storey LEED Platinum-targeted building opened to students in April and is slated for an official public grand opening this month. The new and renovated facilities will allow the College to train 2,700 students per year.

The Okanagan College Foundation launched its $7-million Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign in October 2014 to raise an additional $5 million for capital construction and $2 million in program and student support to top up the province’s $28-million investment.

To learn more about Okanagan College’s new trades facilities and opportunities to support students, please


Off the Rails, The U.S. Presidential Election
Okanagan College Media Release


With the first U.S. presidential debate now in the rear-view mirror, many Canadians are left wondering what effect the outcome of the upcoming election will have on Canada.

Dr. Rosalind Warner, Chair of Okanagan College’s Political Science department, will provide context and clarity to what all of this political discourse and the upcoming election results will mean to Canada and the world at large.

Warner will present “Off the Rails: The U.S. Presidential Election” on Oct. 24 in the lecture theatre of Okanagan College’s Penticton campus. Warner will be one of eight presenters who will lead the College’s Penticton Speaker Series, which takes place on Monday evenings between 7-8:30 p.m. from now until Dec. 5.

Warner, who holds a doctoral degree in International Relations and Canadian Politics from York University, won’t be forecasting the outcome of the election, but will provide insight into how a republican or democratic president-elect will impact Canada.

“The main question people ask me with regard to this presidential election is why it has taken this tone,” explains Warner. “People are wondering, is this politics as usual for the United States or is something different going on? And the short answer is that some of these issues are new and others are not.”

Warner explains that regardless of the outcome, there are a number of important issues on the table that will have a serious impact on Canada, chief among them is the U.S. policy on trade.

“One of the things that is interesting about this race is that both candidates share similar views on trade and that should be a worry for Canadians,” said Warner. “Every day Canada and the United States trade more than $2 billion in goods and services – that is extremely significant. With both candidates committing to curtailing open trade, Canada will be impacted.”

Warner will also take a closer look at the role of social media in the lead-up to the election. She will shed light on topics such as the role of the media as a watchdog and the importance of fact-checking.

“The world is concerned about the outcome of November’s election, and Canada is one of the countries that will be most impacted,” said Warner. “My goal is to provide understanding and context from a Canadian perspective and we will take a look at how we got here.”

Warner’s lecture, and all others in the Penticton Speaker Series, is hosted by Okanagan College with admission by donation. All donations support the Dire Straits Fund, an emergency bursary for Okanagan College students.

To view the complete line up of speakers in the series, visit:


College business program accredited by HRMA

HRMAWhen Ryan Lazauskas graduated from Okanagan College in June with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, the 27-year-old knew he had written his last college exam. But in the back of his mind, another daunting exam was weighing heavy on him—the National Knowledge Exam, the first step in obtaining the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation.
“I did a lot of research before I chose to study human resources at Okanagan College,” said Lazauskas, who is now a Human Resources Assistant at Tolko Industries. “The program has an excellent reputation and the professors have the industry experience that really makes a difference in the real world. I knew I wanted to pursue the CHRP designation and was confident an education at OC would put me in the best position to be successful after graduation.”
However, Lazauskas isn’t going to have to challenge his knowledge with the national exam.
Baldev Gill, Chief Operating Officer of the Human Resources Management Association (HRMA) of BC and the Yukon, was in Kelowna Thursday to recognize Okanagan College as an HRMA accredited institution, which means graduates of the Human Resources Management program are exempt from writing the exam. The announcement was welcome news for recent graduates like Lazauskas.
“This new accreditation is just one more reason to take business at Okanagan College,” he said. “It’s a lot to expect students to finish their degree, start a new career and at the same time prepare for a really intense exam. I am so glad the program has been accredited by HRMA; it allows new graduates to really focus on building their careers and adjusting to life after post-secondary.”
Dr. Heather Banham, Dean of the Okanagan College School of Business, says the accreditation marks a significant achievement for the institution’s human resources specialty.
“This agreement represents a tangible outcome ensuring that BBA graduates are well equipped to take on professional roles in organizations of all types and sizes,” says Banham. “Employers can be confident that these students have developed competency in the nine required practice areas and are on their way to attaining certification as a Certified Human Resources Professional.”
Lazauskas couldn’t agree more.
“This accreditation is a huge step forward for the program,” he said. “The professors at the College bring so much industry knowledge into the classroom and that creates a learning environment that prepares students for the challenges they will face when they enter the workforce.”
The agreement will be retroactive for three years, meaning students who graduated with a BBA and human resources management specialty dating back to May of 2013 will receive an exemption from writing the exam, providing they achieved a minimum 70 per cent grade point average. 

Partners collaborate to offer coding fundamentals course
Okanagan College Media Release


Okanagan College is teaming up with Lighthouse Labs - one of Canada’s fastest-growing computer coding trainers - to offer an introductory course that will start students on the path to a career in coding.

The Coding Fundamentals course begins Oct. 11 in Kelowna and will provide students with some of the most in-demand skills in the high-tech marketplace. Over the course of 60 hours, students will build their coding literacy and learn the fundamentals of web development. Talented developers will mentor students as they work with templates and create apps using coding languages including Ruby, Sinatra and Swift.

“Coding is garnering a lot of interest from educators and employers,” observes Dr. Dennis Silvestrone, Director of Okanagan College’s Continuing Studies and Corporate Training department. “Lighthouse Labs is a recognized leader in this field. We are excited to collaborate with them on this leading edge course.”

Lighthouse Labs co-founders Jeremy Shaki and Khurram Virani are among those who see the need for more focus on coding and more educational opportunities. During last fall’s federal election, they called on all political leaders to put coding at the forefront of their policy platforms.

“We're disappointed,” they wrote in an open letter. “The tech community is disappointed. And many Canadians, from coast to coast, are disappointed with the lack of discussion on the importance of technology, technology education, and code literacy to drive prosperity and innovation across Canada. We know that technology is the beating heart to drive progress in Canada and that it is the biggest driver of growth in the industrialized world.”

Some levels of government are paying attention. The B.C. government, for instance, announced earlier this year that coding will be a component of its public school curriculum. This came just as an industry analysis revealed that Canada could face a shortage of 182,000 information and communications technology workers by 2019. The new Coding Fundamentals course has been made possible as a result of a Provincial investment in coding programs at several B.C. institutiions.

One Okanagan company with an interest in finding qualified employees and which has experience with Lighthouse Labs is FreshGrade, which has developed apps for use by teachers, parents and students that are in use in 70 countries by more than a million people.

"FreshGrade has always been invested in helping grow the Okanagan tech community, and more developer talent will only support that growth,” says Steve Wandler, Co-Founder of FreshGrade. “It's wonderful to see organizations like Lighthouse Labs come into the community and partner with the Okanagan College to train locals to fill the demand for tech talent."

"We've worked closely with Lighthouse Labs in the past, and are looking forward to seeing the positive impact on Kelowna's industry with the addition of more coding training opportunities."

The course is being offered Tuesday and Thursday evenings, beginning Oct. 11. The cost is $1,800. For more information about the course, visit


WFN Councillor new Vice-Chair of OC Board of Governors
Okanagan College Media Release

Chris Derickson, a councillor from the Westbank First Nation, is the new-vice chair of Okanagan College’s Board of Governors.Chris Derickson Sept 2016

Derickson, who replaces Doug Manning in the role, has been on the College Board since 2014, has been a Westbank First Nation Council member since 2012, and has a consulting practice working with First Nations communities developing community plans, community engagement strategies, strategic plans, and providing legal research services.

He holds a degree in law from the University of British Columbia and a Bachelor of Arts degree from UBC Okanagan. He is also completing a Masters of Business Administration in Aboriginal and Business Leadership at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business.

“Chris is a respected community member who brings leadership and planning insight to the Board of Governors,” says Okanagan College Board Chair Connie Denesiuk. “He will be a key asset in the governance of the College as we implement our new strategic plan.”

“I appreciate the vital role that higher education plays in strengthening our communities and transforming individual lives,” says Derickson. “I look forward to continuing to help grow and develop Okanagan College as a key engine in our region’s social and economic progress.”

Manning finished his term with the Board of Governors at the end of July after serving the maximum allowable six years.

“Doug will be missed – he contributed significantly to the College’s growth and development over his tenure on the Board, bringing a sincere concern for student wellbeing and success to our deliberations and decisions,” says Denesiuk.


Astro-paparazzo in search of goldilocks worlds
Okanagan College Media Release


Jaymie Matthews Aug 2016Evidence is mounting that life-supporting planets may be more commonplace in the Galaxy than previously thought. As of late August 2016, there are about 3,500 confirmed exoplanets (planets with the right conditions for liquid water, and with it the potential for life) and thousands more candidates. What about life on those planets? What about liquid water oceans on alien worlds?

Dr. Jaymie Matthews, one of Canada’s foremost astronomers and a self-proclaimed astro-paparazzo, will take stage, in a public presentation at Okanagan College, to describe his efforts to spy on planets around other stars that might be homes for alien celebrities.

“The first step in finding abodes for life is to find planets in the Habitable Zones of their stars, whose surface temperatures would allow liquid water,” explains Matthews. “These are known as ‘Goldilocks Worlds’ – not too hot, not too cold, but just right for life as we know it. We live in a revolutionary era for the understanding of the origin and evolution of planets, including our own Earth.”

Matthews’ presentation, entitled Goldilocks and the Three Thousand Worlds: Searching for planets that are "just right" will take place at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus in the lecture theatre on Monday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. The talk launches the 10th season of the Science in Society Speaker Series, which is co-presented by Okanagan College and the Okanagan Science Centre.

Matthews is a Professor of Astrophysics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of British Columbia. He leads the MOST (Microvariability and Oscillations of STars) mission – Canada’s first space telescope – and is an expert in the fields of stellar seismology (using the vibrations of vibrating stars to probe their hidden interiors and histories) and exoplanets. 

In 2006, Prof. Matthews was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada, and in 2012, he received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

In addition to his accomplished academic record, Matthews is an ambassador in the promotion of astronomy and public science education in general. He holds a 1999 Killam Prize for teaching excellence in the UBC Faculty of Science, and the 2002 Teaching Prize of the Canadian Association of Physicists. Matthews is a co-founder of and instructor for UBC’s Science 101 course for disadvantaged residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. He was a “Human Library Book” in Surrey, BC where “readers” could reserve him to ask about science or life, and a storyteller at the Kootenay Storytelling Festival in Nelson, BC. Matthews was featured in the Discovery Channel series "Light: More Than Meets The Eye", and the documentary “LUNARCY!” He is a producer and writer for Knowledge (BC’s educational TV network) of Space Suite – a series of astronomy/space ‘music videos’. Matthews was awarded the Canadian Astronomical Society’s Qilak Award for education and outreach in 2016. Qilak is an Inuit word meaning “canopy of the heavens” or the sky overhead.

Interest in exoplanets is trending with the recent discovery of Proxima B, the closest exoplanet to earth yet to be found at a mere 25 trillion miles or 4.2 light years away. It is thought to be a rocky, Earth-sized planet orbiting the nearest star to us: the red dwarf Proxima Centauri.

Admission to the lecture is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For advance tickets call the Okanagan Science Centre at (250) 545-3644. To subscribe or obtain more information visit

Presented jointly by Okanagan College and the Okanagan Science Centre, the Science in Society Speaker Series is sponsored by the Vernon Atrium Hotel and Conference Centre, Starbucks Coffee, Save on Foods, and the Vernon Morning Star.


Program prepares nurses for in-demand specialization
Okanagan College Media Release

An aging population could mean a dual crunch for B.C. hospitals over the next decade, with an increased number of patients requiring care coming at the same time as a wave of retirements among the province’s nurses.

A program being offered by Okanagan College aims to help health authorities bridge the skills gap in an increasingly in-demand specialization.

Shirley Pope is among the first graduates of the College’s Gastroenterology Nursing Certificate program. After a 15-year career in neonatal nursing in Calgary, Pope and her husband retired to Kelowna a few years ago. But when she found out about the opportunity to pursue a new specialty in the Okanagan, Pope decided to forgo retirement in favour of the chance to make a difference in a field new to her.

“I tried retirement for less than six months and thought, ‘No, I’m not ready. I want to try something different in nursing’.”

The field has proven to be a new calling for Pope.

“It’s a specialty that’s definitely growing, and it’s one that requires a great deal of education.”

“I gained a lot of knowledge and then put it to work during my practicum, which reinforced the learning.”

Okanagan College launched the program last October, after consultation with Interior Health and with the support of the Canadian Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates.

The program is delivered online and focuses on providing practicing nurses with the knowledge and skills for endoscopy-room nursing. It includes 232 hours of theory and a 70-hour practicum.

Despite never having taken a distance education course before, Pope says she was pleasantly surprised with how quickly she adjusted to online learning.

“The program was set up very well,” explains Pope. “It was challenging, but I was impressed by the way it was delivered.”

“It was nice that students in the class could share their experiences. Coming from a different specialty, I found the level of interaction highly beneficial. I didn’t feel isolated.”

For Pope, the best news of all came just after completing her practicum when she was offered full-time employment on the Gastroenterology unit at Kelowna General Hospital. She says a number of her classmates have also been hired onto the unit.

“It’s been a wonderful thing for me,” says Pope. “I love the new challenge.”

She is quick to point out that even for experienced nurses, stepping onto a specialized unit can be incredibly difficult without prior training.

“It really helps a nurse coming onto a unit to have that background of knowledge,” she says. “Learning is ongoing—you will always keep training, but having the knowledge in place has really made my transition into a new specialty that much easier.”

The program is already being hailed as a groundbreaking new training opportunity. Prior to its launch, practicing nurses who wanted to prepare to take the Certificate in Gastroenterology Nursing exam would often have to educate themselves.

“This program has been well received by the first group of Interior Health nurses participating in the studies as well as by their managers,” noted Denise Dunton, Interior Health’s Surgical Services Clinical Leader in Acute Care Services.

Dunton was instrumental in the program’s development. She saw a need for it after discussions with gastroenterological nurses and administrators at IH. She then checked in with other health authorities, including Fraser Health Authority and the Northern Health Authority, and found that they were supportive of a specialized program being developed. Dunton approached the College’s Continuing Studies and Corporate Training department and provided input on the curriculum as it was developed. The first students stepped into the classroom in October and began practica earlier this summer.

The next intake for the program begins on Sept. 12. Dunton is excited about the program’s ongoing development and the need it is filling.

“Feedback has been excellent and I am pleased to be supporting the second cohort of students in this comprehensive program,” said Dunton.

According to B.C. government statistics, the province will need 25,000 nurses by 2022. New and mid-career nurses will be needed to replace those retiring in specializations like Gastroenterology.

To review admission requirements or for more information about the Gastroenterology Nursing Certificate program, visit


Comba and Stewart receive OC Alumni Association’s highest honours

In recognition of outstanding contributions to the College and its surrounding communities, two Okanagan College alumni have earned the top honours awarded by the Okanagan College Alumni Association (OCAA).

Kelowna’s Heather Stewart is this year’s recipient of the OCAA Distinguished Alumni Award that recognizes excellence in the areas of leadership, the environment, business or industry, public or community service, the arts, and/or support for Okanagan College. Sarah Comba, also from Kelowna, will receive the OCAA Young Alumni Award, which recognizes extraordinary contributions of an alumnus who is under the age of 35.stewart news 2016

Stewart, a sought-after organizational development consultant and founder of Sage Transitions, was involved in facilitating development of the College's first strategic plan. Since then, she has remained engaged in the College’s ongoing strategic planning and has also helped to guide planning for the OC Foundation and the OCAA.

“Okanagan College has made such significant progress in the past decade, and it’s been a fabulous opportunity to be involved, in a small way, in that progress,” notes Stewart, who was a student at the Vernon campus in the early 1970s when classes were still held in the old army barracks.

After pursuing general studies at the College, Stewart went on to earn a Masters Degree in Distance Education and an Advanced Graduate Diploma in Distance Education Technology from Athabasca University. She taught in Okanagan College’s School of Business in the mid 2000s and continues to volunteer her time with the College in numerous ways. In 2013, when the College was celebrating 50 years of transforming lives and communities, Stewart was named one of the 50 People Who Made a Difference.

“I’m very honoured to be recognized,” says Stewart. “I believe strongly in supporting organizations where I can contribute to them and to our community. I feel we all need to find ways to give back to those groups and causes that are important to us.”

Stewart’s latest contribution to the College will make a difference in students’ lives for years to come. Last year, she launched a scholarship fund to assist automotive technician trades students.

comba news 2016Young Alumni Award recipient Sarah Comba, who earned her Business Administration Diploma in 2007, is another difference maker.

While in her second year of studies at the College, Comba partnered with the Alumni Association to launch the Pay it Forward campaign, which invited the College community to contribute useful items – clothing, food, toiletries – for the Kelowna Gospel Mission, Inn from the Cold, and other local organizations serving those in need in the community. More than a decade later, the campaign she founded is still going strong and Comba remains as inspired as ever by the people it brings her in touch with.
“I’ve learned that through simple, small acts of kindness we can have an impact on the lives of others,” says Comba. “That’s all there is to it. It’s such a simple idea: it’s not money, or time, it’s just a few small items, like a pair of socks, that can make all the difference in the world to someone.”

Comba admits her drive to give back pervades all elements of her life. She is also a member of the fundraising team at The City of West Kelowna Parks and Operations Department where she has worked as an Operator for six years.
“I suppose I’ve always been a nurturer in life. I always want to be taking care of people.”
Despite her already impressive track record of giving back in the community, Comba admits she was surprised to learn she’d been selected to receive the award.

“I was honestly shocked when I found out,” says Comba. “To me, this is such a simple act of kindness that I was surprised anyone would take note. But I am truly honoured and humbled by it.”

“Heather and Sarah have each focused a great deal of their time, expertise and energy into making Okanagan College and their community an even better place,” says Kara Kazimer, President of the Board, Okanagan College Alumni Association. “On behalf of my fellow OCAA board members, I commend both of this year’s award recipients on their accomplishments and the high bar they have set for our future OC alumni.”

Comba and Stewart’s achievements will be celebrated at the OCAA awards ceremony and reception at the College’s Kelowna campus on September 13, 2016. For more information about the awards and previous recipients, please visit

OC and Toyota Technical College celebrate 25 years of cultural and educational exchange

Twenty-five years ago the first students from Toyota Technical College arrived at Okanagan College to embark on a summer program of collision repair training and learning English. It planted the seed for a relationship that would blossom to span oceans, cultures, and decades.OC and Toyota 2016

This year a record 110 students from the Japanese institution are completing the program, bringing the total to more than 1,000 participants since the program began in 1992. On Friday, Toyota Technical College President Kazunori Ikeyama joined Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton in congratulating students and the passionate instructors and sanseis who have helped to grow the program.

“Today we celebrate and reflect on this great friendship and the many students it has benefited over the years,” explained Ikeyama. “It is a program and a partnership that means a great deal to both institutions.”

“What started out as an educational partnership has become, in many ways, so much more,” noted Hamilton. “The cross-cultural exchange that takes place has enriched our campus community tremendously over the years. The more than 1,000 students and the many teachers who have come here to learn about Canadian culture have been, and will continue to be, our honoured guests, friends, learners, and teachers.”

Five years ago the two presidents celebrated the program’s 20th anniversary (and 700 students through the program) by planting a Japanese Cherry tree – or Sakura – at the Kelowna campus. The tree serves as a year-round reminder of the friendship between the two institutions.

Video from the event can be found here:


Aboriginal students can gain jobsite skills through CCWAB program

With strong demand for construction trades workers across the province and a healthy residential construction market in the region, Okanagan College is offering up a second intake of a popular program designed to help Aboriginal students build jobsite skills, gain apprenticeship training and get on the fast track to employment.
In March 2015, the College delivered the new Red Seal Construction Craft Worker apprenticeship program. Last November, the College worked with the province to develop an intake customized specifically for those Aboriginal students who might benefit from cultural, financial and academic support alongside the apprenticeship training. Twelve First Nation and Metis students, aged 20-56, completed the program and many of them are now working full-time in construction in the Okanagan and Shuswap regions and in Fort McMurray.

Okanagan College, in partnership with BC Hydro, will offer a new intake of the program, Construction Craft Worker Aboriginal Bridging (CCWAB) from September 12 – December 16, 2016. Delivered at Westbank First Nation (WFN) and the College’s Kelowna campus, this hands-on program will cover a variety of topics, from trades math to carpentry skills to workforce training certifications. The Construction Craft Worker program is designed to benefit students with limited construction experience or those looking to refresh or enhance their skills. The program is tuition-free and includes work boots, bus passes, group study sessions, cultural activities, volunteer work experience and job search skills to remove potential barriers and support success.
“Working with, and learning from, the Indigenous community is one of the key directions in Okanagan College’s new strategic plan,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “This course is an example of ongoing collaboration with our local bands and First Nation communities, employers and the province to provide training that is responsive to the needs of industry and highly supportive for our indigenous learners.”
The B.C. 2025 Labour Market Outlook predicts there will be about 123,000 job openings in trades, transportation and related occupations in the province over the next decade.
Building on the success of the first in-take of the program, the College, WFN, and BC Hydro will offer a number of additional supports for students—both in the classroom and on the jobsite—to promote their success in the program. Students enrolling in the course this September will once again receive one-on-one training and support from a dedicated Aboriginal peer mentor.
“Mentorship is an important element of the program,” explains Hamilton. “In addition to learning from experienced instructors and employers like BC Hydro, students also get to work beside a recent graduate who can share some insight into how to put their best foot forward in the industry.”
“By understanding the local environment and available resources, we are able to coordinate relevant training and education with local service providers, educators, and our own project teams,” says Laurie Sterritt, BC Hydro Director of Aboriginal Employment and Business Development. “With programs like the CCWAB, together we develop solutions that ensure local Aboriginal people gain the skills and experience needed to join our workforce and/or our contractor network.”randy weatherbee
Randy Weatherbee, a member of the Okanagan Indian Band, was among the dozen students who completed Level 1 earlier this year. Shortly after, he landed a job as a construction craft worker with WIBCO construction, a First Nations construction company based in West Kelowna. Weatherbee is now working on the new WFN Youth Centre, only steps away from the WFN Community Centre where he and his fellow students were recognized for completing the program.
“I was looking to change careers and so the program gave me the opportunity to learn a lot and gain some valuable certifications in a short time,” says Weatherbee, who worked in IT for 15 years prior to enrolling. “Many of the other students had some construction experience but it was all new to me. The program is fast-paced and focused on skills that employers want to see on the resume. It helped me get a foot in the door in the industry.”
Jay Charleyboy graduated the program with Weatherbee and now works alongside him at the WFN project site. A member of the Ulkatcho First Nation and a single father of three, Charleyboy says the program has helped him advance his career in the construction industry.
“I’ve been in construction for a long time, but the program was a great way to relearn skills,” says Charleyboy, who after earning his Occupational First Aid Level 2 was hired on as the Construction Safety Officer and First Aid Attendant for the project.
“There’s a ton of hands-on training, from carpentry and joinery to pipelaying,” explains Charleyboy. “The course has helped me get into the industry again, refreshed. I’m excited to keep learning, keep building my career, and keep building a better life for myself and my family.”
More information about the Construction Craft Worker program is available at

Two new board members for Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

A former Chief of the Splats’in Indian Band and a Vernon lawyer – both with established community service profiles – are joining the Okanagan College Board of Governors.

Gloria Morgan, who was Chief of the Splats’in Indian Band from 2001 to 2005, has been appointed for two years to the College’s Board, while Riminder Gakhal’s term is to Dec. 31, 2017.Riminder Gakhal Aug 2016

Gakhal is an associate at Davidson Pringle LLP in Vernon and also serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Vernon and District Immigrant Services and as a director of the Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Services Agencies, which is a province-wide association working with more than 70 member agencies who serve immigrants and work to build culturally-inclusive communities.

Gloria Morgan Aug 2016Morgan has been an RCMP officer, a criminal defence lawyer and a Crown Prosecutor. She was the President of the Enderby and District Chamber of Commerce, and member of the RCMP’s E Division Aboriginal Advisory Committee, and served on the board of the Provincial Community Co-ordination for Women’s Safety. She was recently appointed to the BC Patient Safety and Quality Council and serves on the BC Patient Care and Quality Review Board. She was the recipient of the Community Leader Awards – Community Builder award 2016, North Okanagan.

Gakhal grew up in Vernon, and completed her Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Northern British Columbia. Upon graduation from UNBC, she worked for TD Canada Trust as a loans and investment officer before attending law school at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom. She was called to the British Columbia bar in 2015.

“I’m looking forward to being involved with the College,” says Gakhal.

Morgan sees the importance of education for Canada’s Aboriginal community and is eagerly anticipating working on a board that can help further build access and support success for Aboriginal students and for other students who may face obstacles. “I am so impressed with the high number of Aboriginal students enrolled at the College,” she says. (More than 1,500 Aboriginal students attended Okanagan College in 2015-16.) “I honestly believe knowledge is power – power for self-improvement.”

“I know that both Gloria and Riminder will add to the strengths of our current board,” observes Connie Denesiuk, Chair of the Okanagan College Board of Governors. “Their experience, enthusiasm and energy will be welcome.”


Education uncorks wine industry opportunities
Okanagan College Media Release

Ryan Fipke is a confirmed believer in the future of the Okanagan’s wine industry, and a staunch advocate of educating yourself to take advantage of the growing opportunities.Ryan Fipke Aug 2016

As tasting room supervisor and sales co-ordinator for Tantalus Vineyards and a long-time resident of the region, Fipke has witnessed the growth of the industry, and sees more ahead, as the chance blossoms to introduce more Canadians to the wines of British Columbia.

(Recently, the B.C., Quebec and Ontario governments announced they would make interprovincial sales easier by removing trade barriers.)

“Definitely a good thing,” says Fipke. “The easier it is sell our wines to more Canadians, the better it will be for us.”

Fipke is well-poised to be among those in the industry who can benefit, and he believes education for industry professionals will continue to be a critical factor if the Okanagan is to continue growing its reputation – both across Canada and internationally – as a producer of world-class wines.

Having completed three of the wine-industry certificate programs Okanagan College offers: Wine Sales, Viticulture, and Winery Assistant, Fipke is quick to point out the advantage gained by wearing many hats in the industry. The proof of his approach is to be found in the career he has carved for himself at Tantalus. “It definitely set me up for a management role.”

His career at Tantalus is a little like a homecoming for him. While his passion for wine was ignited by his father’s interest and appreciation for wine, it was cemented when he volunteered to help with a harvest at Tantalus years ago. “That gave me a taste for the industry.”

From there, the course was set: education soon became blended with the practical experience offered by the College’s programs.

“The practicums are one of the best things about the programs,” says Fipke. “It’s where you get the hands-on experience and where you get to learn from the experts.”

“We are really focused on answering the skills needs of the industry and addressing the career aspirations of prospective students,” explains Jonathan Rouse, Okanagan College’s Director of Food, Wine and Tourism. “Students like Ryan epitomize the enthusiasm and passion that make the region’s wine industry so vibrant and if we can serve them with the education, training and applicable work-integrated learning opportunities, we will.”

Okanagan College offers a number of certificate and short-term courses linked to the wine industry, from a free online program intended for hospitality industry servers (but of interest to anyone who wants to know more about B.C.’s wines –, to the three certificate programs Fipke took. To find out more visit or


10 years of opening eyes and shutters to digital camera capabilities
Okanagan College Media Release

Tom Cooper August 2016A decade of teaching Okanagan shutterbugs the intricacies and nuances of their cameras, and opening their lenses to the creative capabilities of digital photography has not dimmed Tom Cooper’s enthusiasm for teaching or photography.

The professional photographer and instructor in Okanagan College’s Continuing Studies and Corporate Training department is as keen as ever on helping photography enthusiasts make the most of their tools and talents.

“Photography is a lifelong interest for me that persists,” he says. “I still have photographs from when I was in university – more than a few decades ago – that I enjoy looking at.”

“Teaching at Okanagan College for the past 10 years has helped fuel that interest, as I watch a whole variety of different people discover things about photography and their cameras.”

“I learn from students too – I end up probing the limits of my craft.”

Cooper’s Kelowna classes focus on digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera essentials, creative modes and advanced features and functions.

“Digital photography is not rocket science, but it is complex,” says Cooper, who has been balancing his time teaching at OC with duties at Red Deer College in Alberta, where he is in his sixth year of teaching the Digital Photography Certificate there, which is delivered online.

“There are five skills to be a good photographer,” explains Cooper:

  1. Camera comfort
  2. Photo editing
  3. Photographic techniques
  4. Structure (composition), and
  5. Developing a creative eye.Tom Cooper Photo Aug 2016

Providing students the technical skills and theory isn’t enough to help them become great photographers, says Cooper. “You also have to create an environment to allow them to take risks and experiment, because that’s how you learn.”

It’s not who you might expect who signs up for his courses. Most students, he notes, have had their cameras for a couple of years.

Cooper’s passion for teaching predated his first DSLR camera. He was a computer-based training course developer and instructor for the Canadian Armed Forces and a community college instructor before retiring to the Okanagan in the early part of this century.

For more information on Cooper’s classes and other courses offered by Okanagan College’s Continuing Studies and Corporate Training department, you can visit or watch for College’s fall brochure, being distributed by mail and available online at


Okanagan College student passionate about building a lasting health and safety culture
Okanagan College Media Release

Ron Glave Aug 2016Ron Glave initially got into construction because he needed something to do during the off-season from skiing. Twenty years later, he’s passionate about having a lasting effect on the construction industry’s health and safety culture.

Glave is the Occupational Health and Safety Manager for the Vic Van Isle Group based in Revelstoke, B.C. He’s also currently completing the Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) certificate via an online course with Okanagan College, and will graduate this December.

“The first five-to-ten years I worked in construction there was still very much a culture of male bravado,” says Glave. “People were regularly taking unnecessary risks and nobody was coming around asking ‘where’s your protection?’ Now, our industry is changing and maturing. Safety leadership is more common than before. I think it’s more important to come from a genuine concern for everybody’s wellbeing rather than strictly from a compliance standpoint. Stronger cultures also develop from logic and reason rather than shall and must.”

Glave moved to Revelstoke nine years ago from Whistler, where he had just completed his first real safety gig at the 2010 Olympic Nordic Centre. His family had recently relocated to Revelstoke, and Glave, after years of industrial carpentry, followed his father’s recommendation to apply with Vic Van Isle Construction.

“I distinctly remember meeting with their safety manager, and being asked the standard interview question ‘Where do you see yourself in three to five years?’ I answered: ‘I want your job.’ And ultimately I got it.”

The company Glave began working for was rapidly expanding – going from a crew of seven to over 100 in 18 months on the Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR) project alone. Nine years later, the Vic Van Isle group has had hundreds of employees, with work in B.C., Alberta, and Ontario, and divisions in commercial/ industrial construction, independent Rona Building Centers, architectural millwork manufacturing, and heavy equipment rental, mechanics, and welding.

With strong work ethic and a variety of skills, Glave moved from taking care of first aid and carpentry for the first six months of the RMR project to spending 12 months as the onsite safety manager. Then in an unexpected turn of events the 2008 recession hit, and he was promoted into construction management.

“Health and safety is definitely a great field to be in,” says Glave. “It’s growing, it’s necessary, and it’s rewarding. It’s great knowing that I’m making a difference, and that over time all the little wins, and big wins, are positively changing the culture.”

But there certainly are challenges.

“It can be difficult at times. I’m not in the make money column, I’m in the save money column – and sometimes it’s hard for people to see the value right away. It also can take time, patience and persistence to turn around a very aged safety culture.”

One of the reasons Glave is taking the OH&S course at the College is to prepare for his Canadian Registered Safety Professional, which is a professional designation that will increase his value to his company and the industry. Another thing that appeals to Glave is the networking opportunities the program provides, particularly because the health and safety field is mostly lacking in available mentors.

“You can feel like you’re on an island by yourself. Unless you work with a large organization with multiple safety professionals that you can train under, you’re left sourcing a lot of important information on how to do things on your own. It’s great to be able to meet other safety professionals, connect to mentors, build a rapport, and know that we’re there to support each other. It definitely gives you the confidence and feeling of support to deal with the variety of situations coming your way.”

Glave has an insider perspective on Okanagan College. He’s worked with them previously while building the Human Resources department within Vic Van Isle, assisting with the College’s Seven Weeks of Certificates (employment skills development), and Fast Track program. He’s instructed employment and start-up skills programs at the College. He recommends his staff for professional development in office skills, project management, first aid, and he currently sits on the OC advisory committee board.

He credits his close connection to the College, especially his membership on the advisory committee, to his unique perspective as to why he thinks Okanagan College is so valuable.

“I find the College very forward-thinking, engaged, and supportive of the communities they’re in. On the advisory committee, I get to see the thinking and planning that goes into the community involvement initiatives, as well as how to Okanagan College stays competitive and relevant.”

As much as Glave is enjoying the OH&S online course, there’s definitely a drawback: staying focused during the summer takes additional discipline.

“It’s not a heavy workload, it’s just allocating the time to be consistent (studying and completing assignments) while balancing out the rest of life’s responsibilities. It also matters a lot what else you have going on in your life as in my case: working full-time, family, volunteering, relationships, friends, active playing, building a horse barn and a fourth season of beekeeping. In the end though, I know it’s all very worthwhile.”

To find out more about Okanagan College’s Occupational Health & Safety certificate, visit


Cloverdale Paint helps College go green

cloverdaleA unique donation from a national paint and coatings manufacturer with B.C. roots will be brightening Okanagan College campuses for years to come.

Cloverdale Paint Inc. has pledged $50,000 worth of product to assist the College in beautifying classrooms, labs, shops, and student spaces across its four campuses over the next five years.

“Cloverdale Paint is a B.C.-based, family owned business that was founded in 1933,” says Cloverdale’s VP of Branch Operations Dave Chaulk. “We are proud to support health care and education in the markets that we serve, and Okanagan College is an important facility for the community.”

The first canvas for the donated paint will be the College’s new trades facilities in Kelowna, which opened to students in April. The College is currently putting the finishing touches on the new three-storey complex, as part of the $33-million, 10,000 sq. metre renovation and expansion project in anticipation of an official grand opening this fall. Cloverdale’s donation has been directed to the $7-million Bright Horizons fundraising campaign for the building, although the product will support the College in enhancing numerous other spaces.
Colour palette aside, green is the theme the College has kept in mind throughout the renovated and expansion project, as part of its institutional commitment to sustainability.

“Sustainability is one of our core values,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “This generous gift from Cloverdale Paint supports our commitment to providing learning and work spaces that are healthy for our college community and for the environment.”
The Cloverdale credit gives the College access to ultra-low VOC (volatile organic compound) and environmentally friendly coatings that will help keep classrooms, shops, study and work spaces as healthy as they are environmentally-friendly.

The new trades building will allow the College to accommodate more than 2,700 students per year in a facility that targets LEED Platinum standards, one of the highest measures of sustainability that can be achieved by a building. In 2015, the College’s Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence (COE) building in Penticton became the first building of its size in the region to earn the coveted certification. Earlier this year, the COE was named the Greenest Post Secondary Building in Canada in a national independent review conducted by Corporate Knights Magazine.

Boasting the second largest solar-photovoltaic array of any non-utility building in the province (the largest is on the College’s Centre of Excellence), the new trades complex is expected to reach net-zero energy—meaning it should be able to generate enough energy to meet its operational needs without drawing power from the grid. Other sustainability features include geothermal heating and cooling, and the latest in energy efficient lighting and environmental controls.

To learn more about Okanagan College’s new trades facilities and the Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign for the project, please visit  

OC business students awarded prestigious international scholarships
Okanagan College Media Release

Two Okanagan College students will soon have the chance to continue their education abroad after receiving coveted awards from the Irving K. Barber British Columbia Scholarship Society.Lum Klingel Jones Aug 2016

Madeline Kempf and Cassandra Lum of Okanagan College’s School of Business are two of only six college students in the province to receive the Premier’s International Scholarships this year. The awards, valued at between $6,000 and $10,000 each, assist students studying a wide variety of subjects ranging from fine arts to nursing to political studies at colleges and universities around the world.

“It’s great to see students gaining international experience through support from the Irving K. Barber BC Scholarship Society,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College.

“Ike really believed in the transformative power of education. His support of students throughout the province has created a legacy that grows each year. It benefits students across such a diverse array of programs, backgrounds, interests, and institutions.”

For Penticton’s Cassandra Lum, receiving the scholarship was the ticket to fulfilling a long-standing dream of studying in France. Okanagan School of Business students currently have the opportunity to study abroad at institutions in 16 different countries.

“I couldn’t be more excited for this opportunity,” says Lum, who will graduate next June with a Bachelor of Business Administration specializing in Accounting. “I think it’s extremely beneficial to have a worldly view when it comes to business, but beyond that I firmly believe travel is just such an important part of how we learn and grow outside of the classroom.

Lum will depart for EDHEC Business School in Nice at the end of August.

“Studying abroad is a wonderful option the school provides,” says Lum. “I’d certainly encourage students to consider it when planning their studies.”

The scholarship win caps off a busy and rewarding year for Lum, who also served as President of Enactus Okanagan College, a community of young entrepreneurial leaders committed to advancing social issues through business. At the Enactus National Exposition in Toronto in May, Lum and fellow BBA student Abbey Jones were two of only 10 students from all across Canada to take home national Founders Bursaries.

The Irving K. Barber British Columbia Scholarship Society has awarded more than $3.1 million in international scholarships since the program’s inception in 2008. The Premier’s Scholarships are awarded once annually, while the Society’s One World International Scholarships are disbursed to students throughout the year.

Along with international scholarships, the society provides transfer scholarships and financial awards and scholarships for Aboriginal students at the undergraduate level through to those enrolled in Doctoral studies.

This year, Okanagan College students hoping to study overseas can apply online to tap into $35,000 available in One World Scholarships from the Society. More information about these and other awards for study abroad applicable to OC students is available at


COF funds financial literacy program for elementary

A $6,630 grant from the Central Okanagan Foundation (COF) is helping Enactus students from Okanagan College continue their efforts to support financial literacy among elementary school children.

The grant from the COF is supporting the College students as they develop a new teacher resource page for the CAN$ave program, thanks to a large grant from the Central Okanagan Foundation.  CAN$ave is an innovative award-winning financial literacy program aimed at Grade 1 and Grade 3 students, developed by Enactus students. Can$ave 2016

The elementary school participants learn the importance of buying for need over want, the differences between good and bad debt, and how to save for their future while putting money aside to help those in need.  The program is taught using a simulated economy, allowing students to earn pay for things like good behaviour and for completing their CAN$ave workbooks.  Students are also charged desk rent and are met with unforeseen expenses like the teacher’s SmartBoard breaking.  Students are enticed by toys from a "store", which may cause the students to incur debt, which can be as frustrating for a six-year-old as it is for an adult.

“We see this as a valuable investment that will benefit grade school students, as well as support the work of socially-conscious College students doing good things in our community,” says Cheryl Miller, Central Okanagan Foundation, Director, Grants & Community Initiatives.

The Enactus team partnered with Valley First Credit Union, a division of First West Credit Union, which donated $25 to the charity of a class’s choice for each student who successfully completed the program.  A Valley First representative also helped facilitate a lesson that teaches students how to open a savings account and how banking works.  In the spring, over 200 students successfully completed CAN$ave, resulting in almost $5,000 donated to local charities.

This fall, the Enactus CAN$ave team hopes to significantly increase the number of students exposed to financial literacy.  The creation of a teacher resource page means educators from across the province will be able to access CAN$ave curriculum and lesson plans free of charge. 

 “The grant from the Central Okanagan Foundation validates all of the hard work my team and our teacher partners have put into CAN$ave,” explains Abbey Jones, CAN$ave project manager. “We can't wait to see how much more impact we will have with these extra resources at our disposal.”

Jones, her team and area teachers will also be presenting CAN$ave to primary teachers from across the Central Okanagan at the School District 23’s Pro-D week before schools starts this September. 

The $6,630 grant from the Central Okanagan Foundation is the second grant received for the CAN$ave program in the past few months.  In April, the Central Okanagan Foundation for Youth and United Way's Gennext gave the Enactus team $2,000 to help purchase supplies for the CAN$ave program.

The CAN$ave program was introduced to teachers in January by Jones and a team of four other Okanagan College students.  In the winter, Jones and CAN$ave team member Hannah Griffin, earned first place at the Western Canadian Enactus Championships.  In May, the CAN$ave program was awarded second place at the Enactus Nationals, against 55 universities across Canada. 

“Teaching financial literacy to students has been a wonderful experience,” says Cody Troutman, another CAN$ave team member.  “We've learned that you are never too young to learn these important life skills.  When you see a seven-year-old starting to understand debt avoidance and how to save to help others, you really know that you are making a difference in someone’s life.”

“The Enactus OC students have put a tremendous amount of effort into creating and implementing CAN$ave,” says Okanagan College Professor Devin Rubadeau, who serves as advisor to the Enactus team. “It's very rewarding seeing other community programs come to our aid as Okanagan College students work to educate youth about the perils of debt and not saving for their future.”


EDS: Please find attached an image of a Grade 3 class from A.S. Matheson Elementary, with (left to right) Enactus members Hannah Griffin, Julia Lalach, and Abbey Jones. 

For more information:

Allan Coyle, Public Affairs
Okanagan College