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Okanagan College meets industry demand with tuition-free truck driver training program
Registration opens for popular 3-Hour Short Story Contest
Award-winning photographer reveals rarely seen spectacular and threatened B.C. landscape
Do you think of ink?
Residential Construction students use skills to support local family
Auto sector support vital to successful $2.5 million launch of campaign to revamp Okanagan College’s Trades Training Complex
Dr. Heather Banham receives the CGA Association’s highest honour
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Okanagan College meets industry demand with tuition-free truck driver training program
Okanagan College Media Release

In the provincial government’s Labour Market Outlook 2022, transport truck drivers were identified as number two in the top 10 most-needed professions. It’s estimated that the province will need a whopping 18,000 drivers by 2022.

“Those numbers are staggering,” says Steve Moores, Okanagan College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “But the College is partnering with both industry and the government to fill that gap and provide workers with the skills they need to be competitive in the future.”

To that end, Okanagan College joined forces seven years ago with Taylor Pro Training, a leader in truck driver training, to offer Class 1 Driver Training. This experiential, full-time program covers the broad range of hands-on skills necessary to find employment as a transport truck driver and can be completed in just six weeks.

What’s more, the provincial government, realizing this looming shortage, has provided full funding for the program to eligible applicants through the Canada-British Columbia Job Fund. Of the 32 students who participated last year in the tuition-free program, 29 found employment in the trucking industry.

To be eligible for the funding, applicants must be unemployed, legally entitled to work in Canada, a resident of B.C., not currently receiving employment insurance or have not received it in the last three years, not enrolled in high school or another post-secondary training program, and not participating in another government-funded program.

The Class 1 Driver Training program has new intakes across the Okanagan, including Revelstoke on Oct. 27, Salmon Arm on Nov. 3, Vernon on Dec. 15, and Penticton on Jan. 19, 2015.

To find out more about the program and eligibility for funding, contact Shawna Klempner at 250-762-5445, ext. 4479, or toll-free at 1-877-755-2266, ext. 4479.
Registration opens for popular 3-Hour Short Story Contest
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College is calling all budding writers to exercise their creativity and participate in the 3-Hour Short Story Contest taking place on all four College campuses on Nov. 1. 

The recent accolades lauded on short story authors are a testament to the genre’s increasing popularity. Last year, Alice Munro won the Noble Prize in Literature for her body of work and Lynn Coady won the prestigious Giller Prize for a book of shorts called Hellgoing.

“There’s a lot of talk these days about the short story being a more relevant form for the digital age, since information and entertainment are moving steadily towards shorter texts, videos, and sound bites that can be easily consumed and enjoyed in one sitting,” says Okanagan College English Professor and event organizer Corinna Chong.

“Short stories are also the best way for a writer to learn and practice the fundamental principles of narrative before they move onto longer forms like the novel,” she says.

For this contest, writers will not only be challenged with a time constraint all stories must be written in a designated location within a three-hour time period but they’ll also have to find a way to incorporate a “secret phrase” that won’t be revealed until the moment the contest begins. 

Last year, more than 70 students took part, including Okanagan College student Mary Bevan from Kelowna, who won with her story The Use in Usefulness.

“The surprise phrase and the three-hour time limit meant no one was more prepared than anyone else,” says Bevan. “We were all starting with a blank sheet.”

The 3-Hour Short Story Contest is open to students in Grade 11 and 12, and those attending Okanagan College. The competition takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1 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 material or anything online.

Four prizes of a $250 tuition credit will be handed out – one for each campus winner. The grand prize winner will be chosen from those four and receive an additional $250 tuition credit as well as have their story published in a limited fine-print edition by the Kalamalka Press.

This popular contest is free but can only accommodate a limited number of entrants, so interested scribes are encouraged to register early. Deadline for entry is 12 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 31. 

Visit to sign up.
Award-winning photographer reveals rarely seen spectacular and threatened B.C. landscape
Okanagan College Media Release

Ian McAllister Oct 2014The Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia is globally renowned for its astonishing biodiversity. Encompassing 21 million acres from Vancouver Island to Southeast Alaska, the area is the largest coastal temperate rainforest on earth. Comprised of a complex landscape of ocean, mountains, glacier-carved fjords and old growth forests, it is home to such species as cougars, wolves, salmon, grizzly bears and Kermode—a unique species of black bear in which one in 10 cubs have a white coat. 

“This treasured habitat is also one of the most endangered landscapes on the planet—under significant threat of destruction from massive energy projects,” says Ian McAllister, award-winning photographer and co-founder of the wildlife conservation organization Pacific Wild. 

A long-time Great Bear Rainforest resident, McAllister will reveal his explorations from the headwaters of the region’s river valleys down to the hidden depths of the offshore world in his talk The Great Bear Wild: Why Should We Care About its Protection? on Monday, Nov.3 at 7:30 p.m. at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus Lecture Theatre. 

McAllister is the author of The Great Bear Rainforest, winner of the B.C. Bookseller’s Choice Award, and his images have appeared in publications around the world. He has been honoured by The Globe and Mail as one of 133 highly accomplished Canadians, and he and his wife, Karen McAllister, were named by Time magazine as “Leaders of the 21st Century” for their efforts to protect B.C.’s rainforest. He is a member of the International League of Conservation Photographers and has won the North America Nature Photography Association's Vision Award and the Rainforest Action Network's Rainforest Hero Award. Brother Bear Oct 2014

McAllister’s new book The Great Bear Wild, a stunning collection of photographs and personal narrative, is the product of 25 years of research, exploration, and campaigning within the spectacular area he calls home.

The Great Bear Wild is presented in collaboration with Pacific Wild, and is part of the Science in Society Speaker Series (a joint project by Okanagan College and the Okanagan Science Centre), which is sponsored by the Best Western Vernon Lodge, Cooper’s Foods, Starbucks Coffee, and the Vernon Morning Star.

Admission is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For tickets, call the Okanagan Science Centre at 250-545-3644 or visit To subscribe or obtain more information about the Science in Society Speaker Series, visit
Do you think of ink?
Okanagan College Media Release

For as many books, magazines, and newspapers that you have read, you may never have asked yourself about the social life of ink.Ted Bishop Oct 2014

nd that’s where Ted Bishop, an internationally recognized author and academic, is different from the rest of us.

In his role as a professor of English literature and film studies at the University of Alberta, Bishop is known for “poring over stains on paper made by some of the greatest minds in literature” (to borrow words from his publisher). Recently, though, the Edmonton-based Bishop started to contemplate the ink itself. And a forthcoming book, The Social Life of Ink: Culture, Wonder And Our Relationship With The Written Word, will reveal the discoveries he has made along a route that traverses thousands of years, continents, cultures and technologies.

He’ll be reading from the soon-to-be-released book, being published by Penguin Random House Canada, at a presentation at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m., as part of a week-long College initiative to highlight authors, scholarly and creative activity, and research.

“We take ink for granted,” says Bishop. “Unless the pen or the printer runs out of it.

“But this is a miraculous invention that really goes to the heart of our culture. There are countless fascinating aspects to this ubiquitous substance - I found myself enthralled as I researched the topic.”

InkBishop has a pedigree that promises a rewarding read. He had published on Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and modernist publishing but, after a motorcycle crash in which he broke his back and collapsed his lungs, he wrote his first cross-over book: Riding with Rilke, an account of a motorcycle ride from Edmonton to Austin, Texas to work in the James Joyce archives at the Harry Ransom Center

The book garnered a Governor-General’s award nomination in Canada, and 11 words of praise in Playboy magazine in the U.S. (You can read more about Bishop at 

“Ted is a highlight of our week of focusing on authors, scholarly and creative activity and research,” explains Ross Tyner, Okanagan College’s Director of Library Services. “We invited him to come to read from his forthcoming book because he bridges the gap between the academic world and popular literature. His first book was a fascinating read and I expect this work will be too.”

The week-long celebration at the College features many of the institution’s own faculty and staff who are accomplished and nationally known for their books, novels, articles and research, explains Tyner. 

“We have organized an entire series of presentations and lectures that span the region and an array of topic areas, as well as displays of OC authors’ work in each OC campus library.”

All are open to the public – a complete list can be found online at
Residential Construction students use skills to support local family
Okanagan College Media Release

Armstrong Res Con Oct 2014A team of 15 Okanagan College trades students put their skills to good use for a worthy cause this summer.  

The students, who took the Residential Construction Foundation program in Armstrong, which ran from February to August, were working digging holes and laying backfill at a project house when it was delayed due to weather conditions. 

Residential Construction Instructor Les Shuert needed to find an alternative project to fill the gap. When he was telling John Aarestad, building supply manager at Shepherd’s Home Hardware about his problem, Aarestad suggested the students try out their new skills building two 8-by-10 foot garden sheds and the store would donate the materials. 

As the students began building the sheds, tragedy struck Okanagan College Carpentry Instructor Gerry Leverrier when his four-year-old granddaughter Megan was diagnosed with a rare liver disease and sent to the Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto for treatment. Megan lives in Salmon Arm with her parents, Gerry’s son Jamie, who is an RCMP corporal with the Salmon Arm detachment, her mom Michelle, and her younger brother Gavin.

Shuert and his colleague Okanagan College Tool Room Attendant Brian Thomas jumped on the opportunity to help the young family and asked Aarestad if they could donate the sheds to an auction that the RCMP was holding to help the Leverrier’s with expenses related to the family’s extended stay in Toronto. He agreed and together the sheds were sold for nearly $1,000 at the auction in July. 

“Building the sheds gave the students an opportunity to do things they wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to do, such as affixing roofing material, hanging doors and building rafters, which really helped develop their on-the-job skills,” says Shuert.

“While it’s hard to beat the pride you feel from seeing a finished project, knowing it was helping a family going through a really difficult time made it even that much more rewarding for the students,” he says.

Okanagan College is currently accepting applications for the next intake of its 30-week Residential Construction program in Salmon Arm, which starts February 2015. The program provides students with the necessary theoretical and practical knowledge to seek employment as an Apprentice Carpenter in the residential construction industry.
Auto sector support vital to successful $2.5 million launch of campaign to revamp Okanagan College’s Trades Training Complex
Okanagan College Media Release

The Okanagan College Foundation campaign to raise funds for a new Trades Training Complex at the Kelowna campus Trades Oct 2014has kicked off with donations from 43 donors totaling $2.5 million – a significant portion of that coming from Kelowna area car dealerships.

Local car dealerships have collectively provided $610,000; a sizable donation that includes $10,000 from the Kelowna Auto Dealers Association. Another $845,000 has come from industry leaders in the auto, welding, construction, plumbing, mechanical, and electrical sectors.

“We’ve only just launched our campaign and we’re more than a third of the way to reaching our $7-million goal,” said Dennis Gabelhouse, Chair of the Bright Horizons - Building for Skills Campaign. “To have one of our key trades sectors come forward with this level of commitment really sets the tone for what we hope will come. The Kelowna Auto Dealers Association and local auto dealers clearly understand the importance of supporting the College.”

Work on the $33-million Trades Training Complex expansion and renovation has begun and is expected to be complete in the Spring of 2016. The provincial government has committed $28-million to the project and the Okanagan College Foundation is responsible for raising an additional $7 million; $5 million for capital costs and the remaining $2 million going towards student and program support.

Gabelhouse thanked Sentes General Manager Adam Rich for being one of the first industry leaders to publicly support the campaign. Rich is one of 18 sector chairs who not only volunteer their time to the campaign, but have collectively donated $345,000. He also recognized John Bokitch, president of the 18-member Kelowna Auto Dealers Association.

Bokitch said supporting the College makes business sense, given the industry’s reliance on the institution to educate many of the industry’s employees.

“We need highly skilled mechanics and technicians and graduating students need jobs,” he said.

The support shown by the automotive sector has been phenomenal, says Kathy Butler, the Foundation’s Executive Director.

“The Foundation is very grateful that the individual auto dealers and the Kelowna Auto Dealers Association have chosen this campaign as its charity of choice,” she said. “We’ve all read the statistics that the demand for skilled tradespeople is high. Having this industry come forward and invest in students’ future is great news.”

“Today’s announcement makes it clear that industry recognizes the importance the trades play in our economy and is working with the College to address the skills shortage we know is coming,” Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton said. “We know that 43 per cent of the one million job openings that will be created in B.C. by 2022 will require trades or technical training and many of those jobs will be filled by Okanagan College graduates.”

“Community support is vital to building that connection between our College, our students, and this province’s future.” 

Okanagan College student Emma Paul will complete the 30-week Automotive Service Foundation Program this week. She has already secured a job with Lexus.

“I grew up in Kelowna and I feel lucky to be able to complete my training here at Okanagan College. It never occurred to me to train anywhere else and I can say with all honesty that the training I have received has been exceptional. I work with top-of-the line equipment and I learn from instructors who have been incredibly supportive and have encouraged me every step of the way,” Paul said. 

“I am excited to be one of the students who will train in the refurbished complex and I am thankful to the College Foundation, the automotive sector, and the many donors and volunteers who are working so hard to raise the funds needed to see this project through to completion.”

Information about the campaign can be found on the Foundation’s website at
Dr. Heather Banham receives the CGA Association’s highest honour
Okanagan College Media Release

Dr. Heather Banham Oct. 2014The Dean of Okanagan College’s School of Business, Dr. Heather Banham, has been awarded the highest honour that can be bestowed on a member of the Certified General Accountants (CGA) Association.

On Sept. 20, CGA-BC honoured eight of its members with a CGA Fellowship designation, which is given to members who have made outstanding contributions to the CGA Association or the accounting profession. 

CGA-BC Chair David Sale praised Banham as a “fine example for anyone in a position of leadership within a large, multi-faceted organization.”

Banham was specifically recognized for her contribution to the development of the College’s business program and the creation of strategic partnerships between the College and the CGA, which resulted in a $100,000 endowment from the CGA through the Okanagan College Foundation. She also serves as second Vice Chair of the CGA-BC’s Board of Directors and has recently been elected as first Vice Chair for 2015. In addition, she has served on several committees, including Discipline and Education Appeals, and on CGA Canada’s National Education Committee.

“It was a real honor to be selected for the Fellowship designation by CGA Canada,” says Banham. “While the award is presented as a recognition for past service, I am looking forward to continuing to contribute as the CA, CGA and CMA merging of the profession takes place.”
College to host, compete in Young Chefs challenge

Okanagan College Media Release

The Young Chefs competition will return to Okanagan College next month as part of the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival’s series of culinary events and will showcase the talents of several Okanagan College apprentice chefs and alumni.
Ten up-and-coming Okanagan chefs from local restaurants including Waterfront Wines, Milestones, Kraft Kitchen, Salted Brick, Joey Kelowna, The Delta Grand Okanagan, Earls, Mission Hill Terrace Restaurant, Brodos and the Eldorado Hotel will compete for the title of the Okanagan’s Top Young Chef.
Each of the competitors will create a dish featuring Alexis de Portneuf cheese. The decadent dishes must be comprised of at least 20 per cent cheese and will be expertly paired with an Okanagan winery.
Judges and ticketholders will sample the culinary fares and vote for their top choices.
“We are thrilled to bring this unique event back to Kelowna for another year,” said Blair Baldwin, General Manager of the Okanagan Wine Festivals. “The calibre of skill and expertise coming from the young chefs of our region is astounding and this event gives people the opportunity to experience that in person. It’s really one of the most authentic and passionate culinary experiences of the year.”
Four teams of apprentice chefs from Okanagan College will compete in an additional challenge and will be mentored by College Chef instructors Perry Bentley, Mike Barillaro, Jim Armstrong and Reinhard Foerderer.
“We have an incredible lineup of chefs taking part in this competition,” said Chef Bernard Casavant, Okanagan College’s Manager of Culinary Arts. “I’m pleased to see four skilled Okanagan College alumni among the Young Chefs competitors and of course our apprentice chefs will showcase their emerging talents.”
The event will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 9 in the atrium of the Centre for Learning at Okanagan College. Tickets cost $60, include a Safe Ride Home and can be purchased online:

B.C. Wine Information Society Sensory Centre to be new home for judging Okanagan Wine Festivals’ B.C. Wine Awards
Okanagan College Media Release

Wine FestivalAs Okanagan College and friends were celebrating the opening of the new B.C. Wine Information Society Sensory Centre at the Penticton campus, a new agreement was being finalized that speaks to the value of the Centre for the wine and tourism industry.

Jonathan Rouse, Okanagan College’s Director of Food, Wine and Tourism, announced Wednesday that the Centre will be host to the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society’s professional judging for the 2015 B.C. Wine Awards.

“Each year, the Fall Wine Festival brings some of the continent’s best palates to the south Okanagan to judge the entries for the Fall Wine Fest,” explains Martin Lewis, the chair of judging for the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society. “We have used various venues for those intensive judging sessions, but we are very excited about being able to utilize the new Sensory Centre at Okanagan College next year.”

This year, the nine judges will consider a record 540 entries in the B.C. Wine Awards. The Festivals Society staff expects more will be entered next year.

“This is a welcome endorsement for the Centre,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Our goal was to create a facility with the amenities that would provide an excellent educational experience for students in credential and shorter-term programs. It was also to develop something that industry would want to use for purposes such as this.”

“Connections with industry are vital to delivering the viticulture and oenology programs that our students – and their employers - want and expect,” explains Rouse. “The Sensory Centre is, among other things, intended to be an incubator for those relations.”

Key to developing the facility was a $300,000 donation from the B.C. Wine Information Society, for which the Centre is named.

“Our Board understood the College’s goals for this facility from the beginning,” explains Society President Keith Bevington. “Learning that the judging for next year’s Fall Okanagan Wine Festival will be done in the Centre is proof of how valuable the facility will be to industry.”


Photo courtesy of Kiernan Frey
B.C. Wine Information Society Sensory Centre a College success even as it is officially opened
Okanagan College Media Release

sensoryclassAs Okanagan College celebrates the official opening of the B.C. Wine Information Society Sensory Centre at its Penticton campus, there’s already enough evidence to call the project a success.

The College and officials from the B.C. Wine Information Society and the Okanagan College Foundation were joined by wine and culinary industry VIPs on Wednesday as the cork was popped on the new $650,000 facility, which is housed in the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence.

It’s a 120-square-metre space dedicated to providing quality tasting and educational space for sensory evaluation of wine and food.

“This can already be declared a success,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Even as the finishing touches were being put on the facility this summer, our instructors, industry and students couldn’t resist putting the Centre into action.

“More than 150 students have already used the facility for a variety of programs and workshops. That headcount doesn’t include the informal receptions and events that have been held here to date. We’ve even offered a beer course.”

The support of the B.C. Wine Information Society, for whom the facility is named, was crucial to moving ahead with the project, explains Hamilton. “The Society has been a significant supporter of the College and its goals for wine and viticulture programming. When we approached them with the concept of the Sensory Centre, they were quick to come aboard and several of the society’s members offered valuable advice about structure and function.”

The Society has donated $300,000 toward the cost of creating the Centre. The Society’s contribution also allowed the College to access funds pledged by The Jim Pattison Foundation, on a matching fund basis.

The facility has been designed and built to optimize wine and food sensory experiences, and includes equipment for proper wine storage, a demonstration kitchen with multi-media capacity and a fully-equipped caterer’s kitchen.

“This will be a tremendous asset for the wine industry and the region,” says B.C. Wine Information Society President Keith Bevington. “We are proud to have our name on this facility and to have it located in Penticton. Our customers at the Wine Information Centre should know that the purchases they make through our store have helped make this possible. Okanagan College is helping to educate and train the individuals the wine and tourism industries need.

“As was intended, this space is also proving, to be a popular venue for consumer-focused programming that highlights B.C. VQA wine, food and talent.”

One of the goals for the Sensory Centre was to build on the reputation of the College’s Penticton-based wine and grape-focused programs, and that goal is being achieved. Food, wine, and farm workshops this summer attracted students from other parts of the valley as well as from Calgary. Programs scheduled for this fall and winter include registrants from Edmonton, Surrey, Toronto, Charlottetown, Sherwood Park and Vancouver.

"This fabulous facility really enhances the wine and food education we can receive in the Okanagan,” says Carla Leinweber, among those students who have already experienced the facility. “I took the very first class offered and it was excellent in all respects. The knowledgeable instructor, hands-on experience and sensory learning environment made it one of the best classes I have ever taken."

Joint survey seeks daycare input
Okanagan College Media Release

The Penticton and District Community Resources Society and Okanagan College are looking for community input to help determine the feasibility of establishing an on-campus daycare centre.

An online survey has been set up – – to garner information about demand for a daycare facility and service. 

“We are in the fact-gathering stage to determine whether there is a business case for an on-campus daycare that would serve students and staff but would also serve community needs. One of the things we’re very interested in is the demand for service in non-traditional hours,” says Okanagan College Regional Dean Donna Lomas. “We are thinking about families of the community’s shift workers, among others.”

“Access to quality and affordable childcare continues to be a need in the South Okanagan Similkameen,” explains Tanya Behardien, Executive Director of the Penticton and District Community Resources Society. “We know that many families struggle to find something that meets their unique needs. We are pleased to be in partnership with Okanagan College in examining the needs of shift workers and students who are parents.”

The discussions about a daycare are preliminary and will be dependent upon establishing need and a business case, Lomas stresses. “This is very much a first step. We need to quantify and understand the demand before we can go any further.”
IELTS testing Nov. 1 at College
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College will be hosting IELTS (the International English Language Testing System) testing Nov. 1, and a course to prepare students for the exam will start Sept. 16.

There are two versions of the IELTS, academic and general. The academic version is used for entrance into post-secondary institutions and the general is used for work or immigration purposes. While both versions have the same listening and speaking sections, they have different reading and writing sections. The general version is one of the measures that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will accept as part of an immigrant’s application for citizenship.

Currently, CIC requires that people between 18 and 54 prove they have adequate knowledge of English or French in order to apply for citizenship. While there are a number of ways to demonstrate those language skills (including successful completion of a post-secondary credential program), one of the acceptable ways involves IELTS scores.

The test is offered at the College in conjunction with Global Village Vancouver, a 25-year-old English language school in Vancouver that administers IELTS in Canada. (To register for one of the exams or to learn more, go to

The preparatory course being offered by the College is Intensive Academic English for IELTS, a 10-hour-a-week course focused on development of language skills assessed by IELTS. The program runs three evenings a week.

The course goes beyond simple exam practice. Rather, it develops the micro skills that IELTS assesses including topic-relevant vocabulary and academic and general reading and writing tasks typical to IELTS. To find out more about the course, email

IELTS is not only used by CIC, it is also one of the standards used by many academic institutions (including Okanagan College) for admission to various programs. More than 20 years old, it is used by 8,000 organizations and last year, more than two million IELTS tests were administered. It is offered at 900 test centres in more than 130 countries.