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Sweet success for College with chocolate launch
College to host panel discussion on Collective Impact movement
Lecturer to uncover Mysteries of the Mind
Business grad reaps rewards of well-rounded College experience
Alumnus comes home to OC for student-produced concerts
Home of Tomorrow demonstrates energy efficiency
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Sweet success for College with chocolate launch
Okanagan College Media Release

Chocolate Launch Jan 2017Okanagan College hosted an especially sweet reception on Monday and became the first post-secondary institution outside of Europe to create its very own chocolate recipes, under the name Okanagan College Artisan Chocolate.

At a tasting event on campus, the College introduced Okanagan Noir, a 69.8 per cent smooth dark chocolate with intense cocoa flavor and a fruity finish. It also unveiled a signature milk chocolate, Kalamalka Karamel—a solid milk chocolate with a high cocoa content (45.1 per cent) with sweet notes of caramel and a smooth honey finish. Both the chocolates were showcased in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes at the launch event.  

The exclusive milk and dark chocolate recipes were created by Chef Danny Capadouca and Chef Bernard Casavant in the summer of 2016 when the pair traveled to France to the Or Noir
TMII tasting laboratories of Cacao Barry, a chocolate company founded in 1842. Capadouca is the head instructor for the College’s Pastry Arts program and is well known in the industry for his expertise in chocolate and pastry. Casavant is a renowned chef and Okanagan College’s culinary manager.

“It has been incredibly rewarding to see this project come together, says Capadouca. “Having our own unique recipes will add a huge amount of value to the Pastry Arts program and will benefit our students. The support we’ve received from Cacao Barry and the team there has been unreal. I’m very proud of our products and would put them up against any good quality chocolate in the marketplace.”

Capadouca and Casavant spent nearly a week in France creating the custom blend of cocoa masses that are the heart of the chocolate recipes. The darker Okanagan Noir features a blend of beans from Tanzania, Cuba and Mexico.

“Chefs Capadouca and Casavant did an incredible job on these two recipes,” says Mark Pennington, Regional Sales Manager Western Canada for Cacao Barry. “I was very impressed by their process and of course by the end result. Okanagan College is breaking gastronomic ground in North America as the first institution of its kind to have its very own recipes.

“It’s a very rare achievement—the College is only the second culinary college in the world to have made their own chocolate.”

The chocolate will be used by students in the Pastry Arts and Culinary Arts programs at Okanagan College. Initially, it will also be available for purchase in the College’s cafeteria on Fridays at the Kelowna campus.

“I take a lot of personal pride in the contributions our students and instructors make in our communities and today’s launch of Okanagan College Artisan Chocolate is no exception,” says Jim Hamilton, president of Okanagan College. “The students’ expertise and the quality of the food they produce is outstanding. None of that would be possible without exceptional instruction and leadership, which is something our chefs bring to the classroom daily.”


College to host panel discussion on Collective Impact movement
Okanagan College Media Release

It is becoming more widely understood that collaboration is the key to creating value and accelerating change in communities. Gone are the days when organizations worked in silos to address complex social issues. This collective impact model offers a framework for achieving social change at a community level and an upcoming panel discussion hosted by Okanagan College will help unravel the complexities of collective impact.

The College’s Scotiabank Centre for Non Profit Excellence will host the free panel discussion on Thursday, Jan. 26 from 2 – 5 p.m. in the atrium of Okanagan College.

Panelists, Kevin McCort from Vancouver Foundation, Laurence East of Metro Community, and Ellen Boelcke from Kelowna Community Resources will be sharing their experiences and informing attendees about collaborative initiatives in the community.

“The panel will provide an opportunity for engaged individuals in Kelowna to gather and discuss some key issues in our community and formulate ideas about how we would like to see change take place,” explains Dr. Sheilagh Seaton from Okanagan College’s School of Business. “Collective impact has becomes such a hot topic in the Okanagan and we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to bring individuals together to share information and best practices.”

Okanagan College’s Scotiabank Centre for Non Profit Excellence offers workshops and creates resources to assist non-profit organizations.

For more information about the event and for free tickets for the Collective Impact and Collaboration Panel please visit


Lecturer to uncover Mysteries of the Mind
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College will host Dr. Tomas Veloz, an interdisciplinary researcher with a background in Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science, for an afternoon lecture series entitled Mysteries of the Mind: Quantum Perspectives in Cognitive Science for Learning Environments.Tomas Veloz Jan 2017

Veloz is the director of the Systemics department at the Instituto de Filosofia y Ciencias de la Complejidad, Santiago, Chile, and a post-doctoral researcher at the Free University of Brussels. His research focuses on the application of the mathematical formalism of quantum theory to generalize probabilistic theories of rationality and cognition.

“We are thrilled to be hosting Dr. Veloz at Okanagan College,” said Dr. Norah Bowman, College professor of English and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. “His recent work on quantum physics and cognition can teach those of us in teaching, literature, arts and the humanities new ways of thinking. It’s a creative and stimulating field.”

The lecture takes place on Wednesday, Jan. 18 from 12 -1 p.m. in the lecture theatre. The free event is presented by Okanagan College’s Institute for Learning and Teaching.


Business grad reaps rewards of well-rounded College experience
Okanagan College Media Release


Hannah Griffin Jan 2017When setting off to pursue a career change, business student Hannah Griffin was surprised by the opportunities that came knocking during College.

Griffin thought she would have to wait to finish a diploma before embarking on a new career path, but a series of opportunities to enhance her education presented themselves the minute she became an Okanagan College business student.  

Griffin will be one of 369 students who will receive credentials at the College’s first convocation ceremony of 2017 this Saturday and will graduate with a Post-Baccalaureate diploma in Accounting from the Okanagan College School of Business.

While still in the first semester of the business program, Griffin was offered a position as a financial administrator with local tech success Vineyard Networks and jumped at the chance.

“Working during my studies has taken me longer to complete my diploma, but it was a win-win,” she explains. “I took distance courses part-time and gained experience in private and public accounting while being able to support my daughter.”

Born and raised in West Kelowna, Griffin completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at UBC Okanagan. While making a living as an artist, the economic recession hit and she sought out a more stable career. The reputation of the College’s School of Business enticed her to enrol in the two-year Post-Baccalaureate diploma program in 2011.

Following the sale of Vineyard Networks and subsequent relocation of the company’s accounting office in 2015, Griffin took the opportunity to accelerate her education by continuing at the College on a full-time basis.

“One of the highlights of the program was the accessibility of my professors,” she says. “I knew I could go to anyone in the department and they would happily take the time to help me and answer questions.”

With the encouragement of her professors, she stepped outside of her comfort zone and joined the School of Business’s debate team and Enactus Okanagan College, where she co-founded CANsave, a financial literacy program for elementary school students.  

Her involvement in the two groups brought about regional and national travel and industry networking opportunities. In January 2016, Griffin competed at the finals of the prestigious Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (I.C.B.C.) at Queen’s University in Kingston and in May 2016 she flew to Toronto for the Enactus National Competition, where CANsave earned the title of Canada’s second-best Financial Literacy program.

When Griffin completed her studies in August, a connection from one of the College’s networking events led to a full-time position as an articling student at Crowe MacKay. She is concurrently pursuing her CPA designation.

On Saturday, Griffin’s three-year-old daughter Lucia will watch her don a cap and gown to receive her diploma.

“Balancing my education with providing the best life for Lucia has been a challenge, but also very rewarding.” says Griffin. “She will be able to look at me and see what a single mom is – a hardworking woman who can give back to others and be ambitious in chasing her dreams.”

Winter Convocation is the first of the College’s seven convocation ceremonies that take place this year. Students from all four campuses will cross the stage at the Kelowna campus to receive their credentials. The College will confer 60 bachelor’s degrees, 17 associate degrees, 191 diplomas and 101 certificates.

The morning ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14 and will stream live on the College’s Facebook page. 

In 2016, Okanagan College graduated more than 2,100 students from its programs.

Watch the ceremony live on


Alumnus comes home to OC for student-produced concerts
Okanagan College Media Release

Up and coming country music star Ben Klick will be bringing his high-energy, guitar-slinging country music back to his alma mater for an evening of country music entertainment, as part of a two-night concert series early in the new year.Ben Klick Jan 2017

Nominated at both the Okanagan Arts Awards, and British Columbia Country Music Association Awards, the West Kelowna native will be headlining the “North of Nashville” concert evening on Jan. 13 at Okanagan College. Country music enthusiasts will recognize his music from radio play, as well as from various festivals and events in the region.

Klick’s performance is part of a two-concert package that is being produced by students from the College’s Audio Engineering and Music Production certificate program: a program that Klick graduated from in 2015.

The second concert (Jan. 14) will see the Bjorn Kriel Trio (featuring Tim Hirtz) take the stage for “Here Comes Treble,” presenting a modern twist on classical jazz sounds. This youthful and entertaining group has developed a strong following in the local live music scene due to their lively shows.

These evenings form part of the live sound module of the AEMP program at Okanagan College, which trains students to work in various technical positions such as recording arts, music, theatre, concerts, broadcasting, video and film. Both concerts will help to raise funds for bursaries for future students to attend the AEMP program.

“It’s more than just a course about audio,” says current student Owen Moore. “It’s a course about developing your essential skills, your confidence, and self-discovery; realizing that you have the skill set to take control of your life and make a difference in an area that you are passionate about. To have someone like Ben Klick, who graduated from the AEMP program, come back to the College to share his music with us shows as that we can achieve success too.”

Shows start at 7 p.m. and are in the lecture theatre at the Kelowna campus on KLO Road. Tickets for the two-hour shows are available at the door for only $15 (students $10 with valid student ID). 


Home of Tomorrow demonstrates energy efficiency
Okanagan College Media Release

Wilden Living Lab Jan 2017Recent EnerGuide testing has shown the Home of Tomorrow, one of two homes that make up the Wilden Living Lab project, to be 52 per cent more energy efficient than a standard home constructed to today’s building code.  

The Home of Today and the Home of Tomorrow ­– two houses constructed side-by-side in the popular Wilden neighbourhood ­­– are part of a real-world study on sustainable homebuilding that compares the energy usage patterns of identical structures built with different energy-efficient technologies.

The pioneering initiative is collaborative three-year learning and research project by Wilden developer Blenk Development Corp., AuthenTech Homes, UBC Okanagan, Okanagan College and FortisBC.

Following the completion of construction of both homes in early November, the Living Lab partners enlisted an energy evaluation company to analyze the performance of each home based on the Government of Canada’s EnerGuide standard ratings for new homes.

Gilles Lesage, operations manager of Total Home Solutions, conducted the testing on insulation levels, airtightness, windows and door types and space and hot water heating systems. The Home of Tomorrow achieved an exceptional EnerGuide rating of 47 gigajoules (GJ) per year and greenhouse gas emissions of only 0.3 tonnes per year in the energy audit. In comparison, the Home of Today, which was built to current building code standards, has a rating of 110 GJ/year and GHG emissions of 3.0 tonnes/year.

Lesage attributes the efficiency rating to the sustainable construction of the Home of Tomorrow.

“This project shows the impact that’s made when homes are built with efficiency in mind right from the planning stage,” says Danielle Wensink, director, energy conservation and management for FortisBC. “We believe it’s well worth supporting forward-thinking projects like this that advance energy-efficient construction in the region.”

The Home of Tomorrow was built with several advanced, energy-efficient components that exceed current building code requirements, including geothermal heating and cooling, a heat pump water heater, triple glazed windows and an insulated concrete form foundation. The Home of Today was built to the current B.C. Building Code specifications, allowing it to act as a baseline comparison to the Home of Tomorrow.

The Wilden Living Lab project is also unique in that it has integrated students from both post-secondary institutions for hands-on participation.

Students from Okanagan College’s Sustainable Construction Management and Residential Construction programs worked with local builder AuthenTech Homes on the construction of the homes and implementing the latest sustainable technologies.

“Working with the latest green building materials on these homes was very valuable for our students,” says Angus Wood, Okanagan College program instructor. “And seeing the EnerGuide results will affirm for them the benefits of new technology and techniques they employed in this project.”

The two Wilden Living Lab homes mark the College’s 49th and 50th community projects as part of their Homes for Learning program.

In Spring 2017, the homes will start their collection of real life data, when they will be sold at market value. The residents who move in will have their consumption monitored on the meters and sensors installed throughout the equipment in the homes. Researchers from UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering will spend the next three years analyzing and comparing the collected data from the homes to learn how sustainable building technologies can influence energy consumption.

“The Wilden Living Lab will provide real life energy consumption data over the next three years and help us understand and compare the conventional and advanced local construction practices and energy efficient appliances, and its relationship to energy bills,” explains UBC Okanagan associate professor Dr. Shahria Alam, who is leading the monitoring effort.

“The initial test on the home of tomorrow has already proven its energy efficiency. The model being developed from the generated data will be also capable of selecting the most energy efficient components and their various combinations for residential construction.”

The findings from UBC will be published on the Wilden Living Lab website.

FortisBC will be offering open houses to the public in Feb. 2017.

The project has been named a finalist in four categories of the annual Tommie Awards, organized by the Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA) Okanagan chapter. The winners will be announced at the Tommie Awards Gold Gala on Jan. 28.

More information about the project is available at


Back to school not just for fall, College offers winter intake

If a new educational path or career goal are part of your plans for 2017, Okanagan College offers a range of programs that start early in the new year.

The school offers a variety of courses, at its campuses in Salmon Arm, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton, with winter 2017 intakes in a range of subject matters for degree, diploma and certificate programs. 

From business administration to commercial aviation, from office assistant to recreation vehicle service technician, there is a wide range of programs that start early in the winter semester.

Registration is also open for a variety of university studies courses. The College offers two-year arts diploma programs in subject areas such as criminal and social justice, environmental studies, international development and communications, culture and journalism studies.

Select arts and sciences, business and office administration and continuing studies programs are also available via distance education.

The College also delivers winter intakes of Pre-Apprenticeship programs for some of B.C.’s most in-demand trades, including aircraft maintenance engineering (structures), welding and residential construction. 

For those looking to upgrade their education, all four campuses offer January intakes for their adult academic and career preparation foundational programs.

The Continuing Studies department provides hundreds of general interest, professional development and certificate courses.

Winter intake dates vary by program, with most courses commencing in January.

Online applications and a full listing of programs available at each campus can be found at

OC Campus Run 2017

Okanagan College Media Release – Dec. 30, 2016

Set a new goal for 2017 with Okanagan College Campus Run

Just in time for New Year’s resolutions, early bird registration is open to the public for the College’s 2017 Half Marathon, 10 K and Relay Race, taking place on Sun. April 9 in Kelowna.

Each year a mixture of runners – from amateur to elite – lace up at the KLO Road campus of the College to challenge themselves on the popular flat and fast course.

Now in its 15th year, the not-for-profit race raises scholarship funds to support College students involved in recreation and athletics.

Richard Dueck“I’m really happy that we’ve been able to grow this race over the years and to improve the experience for runners,” says Christine Ulmer, Race Director. “We now have a 10 K distance for those who prefer a shorter distance and of course our relay gives groups of people the opportunity to participate together. The fact that all of our proceeds go to support OC students is really the icing on the cake.”

The Half Marathon is a 21.1 K fast course, taking runners from campus along the flat Abbott corridor, through the downtown waterfront with a turn-around atop the first hill on Knox Mountain. Runners will then enjoy lakeside views as they make their way back through City Park to Gyro Beach and cross the finish line back at the KLO campus.

The 10 K is a flat out and back following the same first and last portions of the half marathon course but with a turn-around in City Park.

The Relay Race covers the same half marathon route and allows up to five runners to participate in segments of approximately 4 K each. The Relay is a great option for new runners, corporate challenge teams and those looking for a shorter distance.

For Richard (RJ) Dueck, president of the Kelowna Running Club, the race holds a special place in his heart. The first half marathon he participated in was the 2010 OC Campus Run. He has been back every year since and finds the race is an ideal gauge of fitness for anyone to kick-off their post-winter goals.

“I love the timing of this race because it’s the first local opportunity in spring to plug in and test where my fitness is at for the half marathon distance.

“This event is great for every type of runner,” Dueck says. “The course and mechanics of the race are done really well and the medals and the snacks in particular are fantastic.”

Following their finish, runners can join the festivities in the College’s Centre for Learning for delicious food, door prizes and the awards ceremony. Prize money is awarded to the top three finishers in the male and female division of the half marathon.

Those who are not runners, but are interested in joining in on the energy and enthusiasm of the event are invited to be race volunteers. No experience is necessary.
To register, find out more about the course or to view entry fee deadlines, visit:
To volunteer, contact Michelle Lowry at 250-762-5445 ext. 4649 or at
Race quick facts:
Start time: 8 a.m. (10 K) and 8:15 a.m. (half marathon and relay)
Early Bird fees, until Feb. 12 at midnight: $40 (10 K) and $55 (half marathon)
Relay team fees: $125 (until April 4)
Follow the Facebook page for updates, training tips and photos

Textbook lesson in savings

Okanagan College Media Release - Dec. 28, 2016

Online texts saving Okanagan College students money  

Okanagan College students are saving big with an innovative provincial program that gives access to free textbooks.

book RyanRyan McAllister, a second-year environmental studies student at the College, has already felt the positive impacts from using open textbooks in four of his courses.

“The biggest perk of open textbooks are the cost-savings - saving money as a student will always come first,” he says.  

Okanagan College ranked third in open textbook adoptions out of 31 participating post-secondary institutions in BCcampus’s 2015-16 Annual Review of their Open Textbook Project. (Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Camosun College ranked first and second, respectively.)

BCcampus’s Open Textbook Project, an online repository of open educational resources (OERs), allows students and educators to use textbooks at no cost under a Creative Commons license. It currently has more than 170 books on a wide range of common post-secondary course subjects ­– everything from social science and business to trades and adult literacy upgrading courses.

“Okanagan College is committed on a number of fronts to minimizing barriers to post-secondary education,” explains Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “It’s encouraging to see our professors supporting the Open Textbook Project and helping students save on the cost of their education.”

“The speed at which you can move through an online text to search or reference a specific topic and the ability to access your text anywhere without having to carry a book is great,” adds McAllister. “I find I spend more time reading further into the subject matter when using the online format.”

Dr. Arthur Gill Green, a geography professor at the College, has been an advocate of OER since 2010 when he discovered three of his students sharing a textbook because they couldn’t each afford to purchase one. Green became involved with the Open Textbook project in 2012 and doesn’t just teach with the materials, he creates them. In 2014, he co-wrote British Columbia in a Global Context, which is published and available in the online repository.

BCcampus reports that since 2012, 1,260 Okanagan College students have saved more than $190,000 across 76 different course sections where faculty and instructors have adopted an open textbook to replace a primary textbook or educational resource that must be purchased.

Since the launch of the project in 2012, more than 22,000 B.C. students have used Open Textbook for a savings of more than $2 million. BCcampus projects that Open Textbook will save students more than $800,000 in the 2016-17 academic year.

“Students are responding really well to open textbooks on multiple levels,” explains Green. “They appreciate the cost savings and the freedom of not having to rely on a heavy book that becomes out of date as soon as they purchase it. The biggest benefit is the ability for students and faculty to work together to actively create materials that further student knowledge linking to educational and occupational outcomes.”

Green’s support of the Open Textbook project hasn’t gone unnoticed. He was named one of BCcampus’ provincial Faculty Fellows for 2016-17. He is one of two B.C. educators named as an International OER Research Fellow with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, an American grant-making foundation that has been a longtime supporter of OER.

The Open Textbook Project is the only one of its kind in Canada. Though in its infancy, it has major support from the Province and is now receiving international backing. Open Textbook is funded by an operating grant from the Ministry of Advanced Education and recently received a $525,000 per annum grant from the Hewlett Foundation to expand its operations.

OERs are peer-reviewed to maintain quality standards and offer the added benefit of allowing for collaboration among educators and students. Open Textbook content can be edited and updated instantly and students can view the resources in various online or printable formats.

Because they are openly licensed, OERs can be used and re-purposed by others. This allows for adaptation to a specific course and enables access to students with learning challenges.

For more information on the Open Textbook Project visit


Transfer Scholarship

Okanagan College Media Release – December 27, 2016

Scholarship brings nursing goal closer to realization

Teresa Oyer is determined to become a nurse and a recent grant from the Irving K. Barber British Columbia Scholarship Society is just fuel for her tenacity.

Student nurse Teresa OyerOyer, a mother of four grown children and grandmother to five, is in her third year of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program that began at Okanagan College and now has her attending UBC Okanagan. (Students complete two years at the College and then transfer to complete their two final years at UBCO).

Making the transfer between the two institutions meant Oyer, now in her early 50s, was eligible for one of the $5,000 transfer scholarships that the Irving K. Barber Scholarship Society gives out annually. In 2016, the Society gave out 109 awards, totaling $545,000.

Five Okanagan College students, including Oyer, received the scholarships and proceeded to UBC.

It was a significant contribution for Oyer, who admits she has a full plate between responsibilities of family, helping care for grandkids, volunteering with the Central Okanagan Search and Rescue and with the City of Kelowna access programs, and her studies.

“I have always been a caring person, and I have always wanted to be a RN. My mom was a nurse. In high school in Kamloops I was a candy striper at Royal Inland Hospital. At Halloween, as a child, I would always dress up as a nurse. I’ve been a health care provider for many years – I love teaching, advocating and caring for others.”

Her journey toward her goal wasn’t as straightforward as it might be for some just-out-of-high-school nursing students. She began at the College taking some of her pre-requisites in the school’s Adult Academic Career Preparation department. From English and biology, she took a foray into university arts courses at the College, including psychology and anthropology.

“I was always a good student, but I was not sure how I would do as a mature student,” she confides. “But my professors were great. They inspired confidence and I felt they recognized that my life experiences could contribute to the classroom.”

As she engaged in the nursing program, she found the small class sizes and quality of instruction reinforced what she had heard about the program’s reputation. As she entered her second year, that reputation was bolstered in her mind.

“In September last year (2015), I was diagnosed with and treated for lymphoma. I was even more determined that nothing was stopping me from accomplishing my dream. I have always believed that stumbling blocks can be used as stepping stones to success. This belief was followed with encouragement from the nursing staff, instructors and my family.

“My whole goal when I’m finished my studies is to ‘pay it forward.’ I hope to have my Master’s degree before I’m 60 and I am thinking about becoming a nursing teacher someday.”

She is grateful to the Irving K. Barber B.C. Scholarship Society for its support, and has advice for fellow students: “take the time to find out what financial aid is available to you – do the research and apply.”

(Okanagan College has a website dedicated to financial aid for students, that makes researching sources of funding easy, and allows for online applications – visit


New year to bring new basketball teams to Okanagan College

A partnership between Okanagan College and the Kelowna College Basketball Society will see the College offer women’s and men’s collegiate teams in 2017.

OC basketball signingThe partners signed an agreement on Tuesday that will create capacity for two new teams who will compete under the Okanagan College Coyotes athletic brand. The teams will begin their first season with a strong exhibition schedule and will be working toward inclusion in the PAC-WEST.

Longtime Okanagan basketball coach Dino Gini will be the head coach of the men’s team as well as an assistant on the women’s team. The women’s head coach will be announced shortly. Doug Sperling will be an assistant with the men’s program and Chris Oddy will be responsible for recruiting and development, along with Jamie Boreham and Gene Wolverton. Altogether, the coaching staff has more than 85 years of coaching experience and are looking forward to filling a void that has been evident in the region.

“We are incredibly excited about this new partnership with Okanagan College,” says Gini. “We are situated in a hotbed of basketball in the province and we have a number of players who are talented enough to play beyond their high school careers. The College is growing every year and offers such great programming that it was a natural fit to add a second athletic team to OC.”

Okanagan College also has a baseball team that is in its ninth season of competition in the Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC). It operates under a similar partnership between the College and the Kelowna College Baseball Society.

“We are looking forward to working with the society to provide a great athletic opportunity for our students,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “We don’t have the kind of athletic team model that allows us to fund intercollegiate sports but through our experience with the baseball team, we have found a way to support the team and provide opportunities for students who have aspirations to be collegiate-level athletes. It’s a great example of working with our community to offer an expanded student experience.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the Society will cover all operating costs associated with the teams.

“We are grateful for the support of Okanagan College to help us see this vision through to reality,” says Gini. “We’re excited to bring the varsity spirit to the hallways of the College and to build upon the OC Coyotes athletic profile.”


Unstumpable students code their way to second in Canada at 24-hour global hackathon
Okanagan College Media Release

For Okanagan College’s Kevin Hall, Brody Travis and Martin Wallace, you can’t stump the Unstumpable. The three computer science students placed second out of 74 teams nationally and an impressive 125th
of 2,200 teams globally at the IEEEXtreme 10th annual student programming competition.OC IEEE Students Unstumpable Dec 2016

Earlier this fall, Unstumpable, along with four other teams of the College’s computer science students, battled sleep deprivation and students around the world in the 24-hour virtual coding competition put on by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), which is the world’s largest association of technical professionals.

The contest - which transpires simultaneously worldwide - challenges teams of students to work collaboratively to solve a series of programming problems that are released over the duration of a day.

The four other Okanagan College teams placed 22, 25, 46 and 52 in Canada.

“We had a strategy going in as to how we would approach each question and we communicated well as a team,” explains Hall. “We started off strong and were in the top 15 worldwide after the first few questions, but the lack of sleep definitely impacted our problem-solving abilities.”

Unstumpable also put in hours of training in their spare time with professors Ken Chidlow, Jim Nastos and Youry Khmelevsky, who coached them and proctored the competition on campus.

“Participating in a competition like this is very rewarding for the students,” says Khmelevsky, Chair of the College’s Computer Science department and Chair, Okanagan Subsection of IEEE. “They can practically apply their skills, which shows them the immediate implications of their studies in the industry, in research and in competitions such as IEEEXtreme.”

To be eligible to participate in IEEEXtreme, students must be a member of an IEEE student branch. Okanagan College’s IEEE Student Branch, established in 2015, is part of the larger IEEE Okanagan Subsection, which currently has 50 active student members and 74 non-student members. The Subsection recently won Outstanding Small Technical Chapter and Khmelevsky was awarded Outstanding Volunteer at the 2016 AGM.

IEEE is the world’s leading professional association for the advancement of technology and has more than 400,000 members in 190 countries.

The College’s IEEE student branch grew out of a response to the increasing number of Computer Science students and the thriving tech industry in the Okanagan. The branch provides learning opportunities and financial support for competitions such as IEEEXtreme, which are an important practical application of their studies.

“These sorts of coding competitions help to equip students with the skills, languages, and processes to enter the fastest growing sector in the Okanagan,” explains Raghwa Gopal, CEO of Accelerate Okanagan. “Okanagan College plays an important role in the community by helping to respond to the talent shortage by offering technical training, structured curriculum, and opportunities to complete project work with local companies."

Work demand is high in the Okanagan’s $1.3B technology industry, which is growing at 15 per cent per year, according to Gopal. Accelerate Okanagan’s job board has about 75 open jobs at technology enabled companies available at any given time. Though Wallace, Hall and Travis are second-year students, they all have held or are holding part-time jobs in Kelowna’s tech industry.

“It’s great because at the College you have the skills learning,” says Wallace. “At work, you have the business side of learning. You can see the full picture.”  

More information and a complete listing of the competition results can be found on the College’s Computer Science department’s website: or by visiting


Nursing students’ caring contributions yield warmth for the winter
Okanagan College Media Release


Pay it Forward 2016Boxes of donated warm clothing that have been jamming the halls where Okanagan College’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program lives are on their way to making a difference for Kelowna’s disadvantaged.

The first- and second-year students who sit on the BSN’s Global Health committee – a civically-minded, student-led initiative for social equity – were looking to launch a holiday coat drive for those in need when they found the perfect campaign already on campus.

The BSN students joined up with the Pay it Forward campaign, an annual giving drive started by a former College student and run by the College’s Alumni Association. Each year several holiday-wrapped donation boxes are placed around the Kelowna campus for donations of blankets, clothing or unused toiletries to go to three local non-profits – Inn from the Cold, the Kelowna Women’s Shelter and Kelowna Gospel Mission.  

Over the past month, the group of 10 student representatives on the Global Health committee have been spreading the Pay it Forward message to their peers and encouraging them to participate.

For them, community advocacy is an important part of the nursing program and there was appeal in the broad spectrum of people in the Okanagan that are reached by the campaign.

“We knew there would be a positive response from our classmates because we had run successful projects before, including a food drive,” says Christie Kneller, a BSN student and a representative on the volunteer committee. “But we didn’t expect this much!”

In 2007, Sarah Comba, an Okanagan College business student, began Pay it Forward after an experience she had volunteering at the Gospel Mission.

“I offered an elderly client two pairs of socks, but they insisted on only taking one pair and giving the other pair to someone else in need,” she explains. “The spirit of selflessness ­– that one small action could make a big difference for someone else – is what ignited the Pay it Forward campaign.”

Following graduation, Comba has continued to partner with the College’s Alumni Association to run the campaign, which is now in its 11th year. She returns to campus each year to help coordinate the event and even takes a day off from her job to hand-sort the donations alongside volunteers from the community and the College. This year the volunteers included a student from the BSN program. 

The 2016 campaign wrapped up at noon on Dec. 2. Volunteers packed and delivered six truckloads full of donations to the non-profit organizations. The contributions from the BSN students accounted for 15 per cent of this year’s overall donations, which collectively come from the generosity of the College’s students, employees, alumni, and external community members who have heard about the drive.

The department was impressed with the spirit and the momentum of the campaign, says Monique Powell, BSN program chair.

“We weren’t surprised they took the initiative, because volunteering and advocating for the community are embedded in their program,” she explains. “The students really take a lot of pride and responsibility in participating in all aspects of their volunteering. For them to lead this effort among their peers, to manage it and to go out and do it – above and beyond their intensive school workload – is incredible.”

The BSN students donate their time to many campus initiatives, including Canadian Blood Services drives and they formed the largest volunteer group at the College’s Half Marathon last year. They plan to kick-off a drive next term to put together and give out care packages to those in need. 


College business students to battle the best at Queen’s University
Okanagan College Media Release


Eight students from Okanagan College’s School of Business will be spending their winter break preparing to compete in the final round of Canada’s oldest and most prestigious case competition, Queen’s University’s Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (I.C.B.C.).Adrianna Knuth Dec 2016

For 21-year-old Adrianna Knuth, being selected to compete on the Human Resources team along with Madison Blancher was a huge honour and after being named one of the top six teams in the preliminary round, the duo aren’t planning on just showing up at Queen’s for the competition: they are heading to Kingston to win.

“I’m feeling very confident about the competition and I’m so excited to represent Okanagan College,” says Knuth. “I think that we will come out on top because the professors here give us a lot of applied knowledge so as a student body we are really well prepared for real life application, which positions us very well in case competitions.”

After a challenging preliminary round, Okanagan College teams made the finals in four categories. Knuth and Blancher will compete in Human Resources and will be coached by professor Roger Wheeler. The College will send an Accounting team made up of Kyla Wiseman and Kirstin Pitzoff, coached by Adrian Fontenla, as well as a team in the category of Management Information Systems made up of Anthony Peterson and Jared Hubner, coached by professor Glen Coulthard. 

The fourth team to compete will be named shortly and will present in the debate category. I.C.B.C. does not offer a preliminary competition in debate but ranks the top performing schools in the other seven categories and selects finalists based on the cumulative placing of all the competing teams.

In order to advance to the final round, Okanagan College teams competed against 32 post-secondary institutions from around the world.

“Queen’s I.C.B.C. competition is known to be the pre-eminent business case event in Canada and has growing recognition internationally,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “Once again our students are representing our institution extremely well and affirming that they are among the best in the country, if not the world.”

The finals will take place in Kingston from Jan. 19-21 and will include competitors from the University of Toronto, University of Vermont, Queen’s, McGill, and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, to name a few.

At the finals, students will be given five hours to review a complex business case within their designated field and prepare a 15-minute presentation for the judging panel, which is comprised of Queen’s professors and senior management professionals from Canada’s largest corporations. No electronic resources are allowed, however, teams can use all the textbooks they had the foresight to bring with them.

Knuth and Blancher plan on spending the better part of their winter break and the early weeks of their January semester preparing for the finals. With a full course load, the extra hours might prove to be challenging for some students but Knuth has a history of taking on challenges and coming out on top.

She is currently in the final year of the Bachelor of Business Administration Honours program. She is scheduled to graduate in June with her honours degree with a major in human resources, a minor in communications, as well as a diploma in management—and she will have completed all of this in just three years.

After Knuth graduates she plans on working in human resources and then eventually running her own company. CEO is a title she sees in her future and given her work ethic and drive, her ambitions of becoming part of an executive team don’t seem far from her reach.

For now, Knuth has her sights set on a first-place finish at I.C.B.C. and would be honoured to bring home the title to Okanagan College. 


Okanagan College student overcomes creative block to win Three-hour Short Story Contest
Okanagan College Media Release

The title “This Time” is an appropriate name for a winning story, considering Okanagan College’s Three-hour Short Story Contest is all about time ­– 180 minutes precisely.

Presented by the English department, the seventh annual contest took place on Saturday, Nov. 5 across all four College campuses. Writers were up against the clock with only three hours to create and edit an original short story while incorporating a secret phrase revealed at the competition’s start. This year’s phrase was “under the weather.”

Four regional authors (one per campus) were named the winners of the 2016 contest:

Pip Dryden Dec 2016“This Time” by Pip Dryden (OC – Kelowna)

“Splat” by Daniel Greene (OC – Penticton)

“About Otters” by Adam Lauze (OC – Salmon Arm)

“Dinner Dive” by Mirka Yargeau (OC – Vernon)

The regional winners were awarded a $250 tuition credit and one overall winner received an additional $250 tuition credit and will have their story published in limited fine-press edition by Kalamalka Press.

For Pip Dryden, a second-year Associate of Arts student at the Kelowna Campus, entering the contest was a way to overcome her creative block and be motivated in a fun environment.

“The only thing I had in my brain when I started writing was the first line of the story,” says Dryden. “I tried to not be too formulaic and the story just sort of built itself around that.”

Not only did Dryden find her inspiration to start writing again, her story “This Time” was chosen as the overall winner out of 22 stories submitted across the four campuses.

“Pip’s story stood out to the judges because of her character development and consistent use of metaphor,” explains Dr. Shona Harrison, Okanagan College English professor and a contest judge. “We look for a strong story structure and relatable, believable characters that drive the plot and captivate the reader.”

Harrison and fellow Okanagan College English professors Kerry Gilbert, Hannah Ball, Jeremy Lanaway, Frances Greenslade and Jeremy Beaulne organized the event and judged the anonymous entries.

“All of the stories were varied in topic and tone, but they all demonstrated playfulness, creativity, deftness of expression and an immediacy inspired by writing a complete, self-sustained narrative in real-time," adds Lanaway.  

For Daniel Greene, an Associate of Arts student and the 2015 overall winner, participating in the contest and having his story published was fulfilling on multiple levels.

“The biggest benefit was the recognition and affirmation of my skills as a writer. That was the first writing contest I had ever won and it has encouraged me to continue writing.”

Greene entered again this year and won the regional award for Penticton.

The free contest takes place every fall and is open to Okanagan College students and high school students in Grades 11 and 12.

Winning stories can be read online at


OC business students’ plan yields a trip to Victoria

Okanagan College Media Release

Four Okanagan College business students will be representing the interior at a B.C. Tourism Industry Conference competition in February, thanks to a victory at a regional competition this week in Kamloops that involved developing a full business plan for a luxury biking tour company.OC business students tourism

Adrian Lemiski, Nicolas Gallant, Brooks Hewko and Merissa Hucul spent about 60 hours, with help from coaches Laura Thurnheer and Blair Baldwin (both professors in the Okanagan College School of Business), developing the plan for Pioneer Adventure. The fictitious company serves the Columbia and Western Rail Trail from Castlegar to Midway and the Kettle Valley Rail trail from Midway to Osoyoos.

One of the objectives of the plan was to promote rural economic development.

The students’ plan was submitted to four private-sector judges last Monday and they met with the judges privately on Thursday.

Afterward they had to present their plan to an audience of about 150 people, who were able to vote on their phones as part of the competition. The voting counted for 10 per cent of the students’ mark, while the presentation counted for another 30 per cent. Sixty per cent of the mark was based on the business plan itself.

“There is an incredible amount of work involved in preparing for this case competition,” explains Baldwin. “It’s almost as much work as a full semester’s course, but it provides the students a chance to test their knowledge and ideas against the expertise of private sector experts.”

“Stressful? A little,” admits Lemiski, “but definitely a great learning experience. The whole team really coalesced and we came up with a solid plan. And now we need to continue our prep for the provincial competition.”

The Tourism Industry Case competition is sponsored by Go2HR, an industry organization that promotes tourism careers, helps with labour market information and analysis and provides training and certification.

The four OC students will travel to Victoria in February to compete against regional winners from Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, the Kootenays and from Northern B.C.


BSN bridging program recognized by CASN
Okanagan College Media Release

Kirby Wildeman isn’t sure yet if she will work in one of the region’s growing, dynamic hospitals, nurse elsewhere in Canada, or care for patients on the other side of the globe. But new national recognition for one of Okanagan College’s nursing programs has her feeling good about her decision to stay in the Okanagan for her training.Kirby Wildeman Nov 2016

“I feel like I am in a great place to start my career,” says Wildeman, who is completing her first year of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree bridging program at Okanagan College. “Between the College and UBC, there are so many opportunities for hands-on training in local hospitals. As a student, you feel very dialed into the industry from the beginning.”

The bridging program is a conduit that allows students to complete the first two years of the four-year BSN degree at the College before transitioning to UBC Okanagan to complete the final two years. Graduates earn a BSN degree from UBC.

“You get to start off in the College setting with small class sizes and lots of one-on-one instruction, which makes for a smooth transition out of high school. And then there is the excitement of knowing you are stepping into another really well-respected nursing school,” explains Wildeman.

Wildeman began her studies at the College in fall of last year. Next September, she will make the move to UBC to finish off her degree. She will do so with the knowledge that both programs were recently accredited by the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN), a national independent body which conducts rigorous evaluation of nursing schools across the country.

“Having an independent review of our program is valuable,” explains Yvonne Moritz, Dean Science, Technology and Health for Okanagan College. “It is a tremendous learning opportunity. It gives us the chance to see how we compare to national standards, and to better understand our strengths and opportunities for improvement.

“And as a relatively new program, we are with pleased the accreditation, and by the positive feedback that we received from CASN. That feedback, will guide the continuous improvement of the program.”

The Okanagan College BSN program years 1 and 2 is also approved by the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia (CRNBC), the body that oversees regulation of registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and licensed graduate nurses in B.C.

The accreditation by CASN is another feather in the cap for the program, explains Moritz, and one that will hopefully continue to strengthen the reputation of the OC-UBCO collaborative partnership in the minds of students and prospective students.

“It gives our students confidence and affirms for them that we meet not only provincial but national benchmarks, the highest standards,” says Moritz.

Since the bridging program launched in 2011, 95 students have completed Years 1 and 2 at the College.

“It feels good knowing the program is accredited, especially from an employability standpoint, looking ahead to the future,” notes Wildeman.

She and her classmates have reason to be optimistic about their job prospects. According to B.C. government statistics, the province will need 25,000 nurses by 2022.

And while she may not have a final destination in mind for that future, the Kelowna student (who hails from Abbotsford) is excited about the flexibility offered by her chosen field.

“I would love to work locally, but the possibilities are endless in nursing. It’s a great feeling to know that my education can take me anywhere.”


Provincial funding brings daycare partnership to College’s Penticton campus
Okanagan College Media Release

Penticton Daycare Announcement Nov 2016Penticton will soon have a new $1.2-million daycare facility, thanks to a $500,000 child care major capital grant from the B.C. government and support from Okanagan College and some of its students.

Ground was broken at the Penticton campus today for the daycare facility by Penticton MLA Dan Ashton (representing Minister of Child and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux), Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton, Penticton and District Community Resources Society (PDCRS) Executive Director Tanya Behardien and Okanagan College Regional Dean Donna Lomas.

When the daycare is complete in mid-2017, it will be operated by PDCRS.

“This is great news for the local families,” says Ashton. “Adding 64 new child care spaces for Penticton-area families who need them demonstrates our government’s commitment to building stronger, healthier communities throughout the province.”

“There is definitely a need for this capacity,” explains Behardien, whose organization operates eight child care programs in the region, including three centres in Penticton. The PDCRS has more than 40 years of experience in early childhood programming and is celebrating its 50th anniversary as an organization this year.

“The new child care centre will benefit the community, but is also a major benefit to our students and staff,” explains Hamilton. “The survey that was part of the business case for the daycare clearly identified the need for this. We also know that even when our campus is less busy in the summer months, there will be demand for the daycare because of the increase in activity in the tourism and hospitality sector.”

The daycare will be located at the northern end of the campus, with access from Timmins Street.

Lomas, who is retiring in the next month, sees the daycare as a legacy project that fits into the College’s well-deserved reputation for partnerships, service to students and the community. It will also continue the College’s growing reputation for leadership in sustainable building.

The 372-square-metre (4,000 sq. ft.) daycare facility is being constructed to Passive House Design with the goal of being built to net-zero energy and LEED Platinum standards.

“This will be another example of how sustainable building technologies can be incorporated into comfortable learning and care space,” says Lomas.

In 2016, the campus’s Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence was recognized as the greenest building in Canada’s university and college environment. The design of the daycare has been aided by students from the College’s Sustainable Construction Management Technology program, and students from the College’s Residential Construction program will help with the construction of the facility, which starts in February 2017.


Scholarship for Selkirk College student makes move to Okanagan College easier
Okanagan College Media Release

Sawyer Thor-Larsen was having a stressful week, unsure of the finances that would allow her to transfer colleges, when she received one of those emails that completely changed her day and put a new spin on her school year.Sawyer Thor-Larsen Nov 2016

Thor-Larsen learned she was one of about 100 recipients of a $5,000 Transfer Scholarship from the Irving K. Barber B.C. Scholarship Society. She didn’t realize at the time that the honour would prove to be much more than a just financial reward.

The Society offers transfer scholarships to students who have completed one year or more at a public post-secondary institution in BC and are transferring to another degree-granting institution to complete their studies. Thor-Larsen completed a Business Administration Diploma and a year of general studies at Selkirk College before transferring to Okanagan College’s School of Business in September.

The $5,000 awards are granted on the basis of academic merit and involvement in their school or community. In addition to her good grades, Thor-Larsen was also actively involved in her community and volunteered for the Castlegar Minor Soccer Association, Relay for Life and Selkirk College.

“With the scholarship I don’t have to take out a student loan; it took off a lot of the financial burden,” says Thor-Larsen. The scholarship funds also allowed her the financial freedom to take a research assistant position for Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism over the summer.

“It was really nice to be able to do something I enjoyed and not have to worry about money for school,” explains Thor-Larsen. The position challenged her to step beyond her comfort zone and talk to business owners in the community, a skill she has already been applying in her classes at the College. “I’m more comfortable actively participating in class discussions and less nervous in presentations.”

Thor-Larsen completed her non-business electives before transferring to Okanagan College, allowing her the freedom to explore a greater range of courses than were available to her in Castlegar. Okanagan College’s Human Resources Management courses have piqued her interest and she is now considering declaring it as her degree specialization and pursuing workforce experience in the industry.

The Irving K. Barber B.C. Scholarship Society was developed in 2004 to help students obtain degrees while studying closer to home longer and at less cost. The Society’s namesake, Irving K. Barber, was a prominent entrepreneur in B.C.’s forestry industry. Known as an advocate of public education, Barber credited his own successes to a second chance he was given to pursue education and receive a post-secondary degree.

The Society continues to champion that legacy and has awarded over $13 million in awards and scholarships to thousands of B.C. students since 2006. In addition to transfer scholarships, international scholarships and aboriginal awards are given annually.

Thor-Larsen first heard about the scholarship opportunity from her older sister, Samantha, who was also a recipient of an Irving K. Barber Transfer Scholarship. Their mother encouraged Sawyer to apply after her sister’s positive experience. Samantha graduated from Okanagan College’s School of Business in Jan. 2014 with a Bachelor of Business Administration, specializing in marketing.

“Okanagan College students have often received transfer scholarships and moved on to other degree-granting post secondary institutions,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton, who is also a Director of the Irving K. Barber B.C. Scholarship Society. “That is still the case, but it is great when we see students like Samantha and Sawyer come to us from other B.C. institutions to complete their education. I know that is what Ike Barber was hoping to support when he set up this scholarship.”

Thor-Larsen has been enjoying the switch to Okanagan College and the perks of living in a larger city centre haven’t compromised a sense of community at school. “I like that the teachers actually care about what you are doing. My favourite thing is they know you by name.”

Thor-Larsen will graduate in Dec. 2017 with a Bachelor of Business Administration and plans to go on to law school.

She admits that the scholarship application can be intimidating, but encourages other eligible students to apply.

“Definitely do it,” she says. “It looks like a lot of work, but it is worth it.”

The Irving K. Barber BC Scholarship Society also awarded transfer scholarships to Okanagan College students Duncan Gordon MacGregor, Teresa Oyer, Kelsi Layne Taron, Adia Van Buren, and Alisha Wozny. These six students transferred to complete their degrees at the University of British Columbia.

For more information on Irving K. Barber scholarship and 2016 recipients visit

The next deadline for scholarship applicants is early 2017.


FortisBC donation fuels new lab, teaching tools at Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

Fortis support OC1 Nov 2016Support from FortisBC is powering up a cutting-edge new space at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus, helping the College deliver training for a number of B.C.’s most in-demand trades.

A $50,000 donation from FortisBC assisted in the construction and outfitting of a new natural gas lab, located in the plumbing shop of the renovated and expanded Kelowna Trades Complex that officially opened last month. An additional $25,000 gift from the company will also help the College enhance the delivery of curriculum for construction carpenters and technologists in the Sustainable Construction Management Technology program.

“FortisBC sees giving back as an important part of our efforts to create a sustainable future for British Columbians,” explains Barry Smithson, Director Operations, FortisBC. “This partnership is a great fit for FortisBC, as Okanagan College trains students that could one day become our employees.”

The new lab will be utilized by students across the piping trades, and will allow the College to deliver all four levels of its new Steamfitter/Pipefitter apprenticeship program. Demand is mounting for Steamfitter/Pipefitters in B.C. (more than 1,100 openings are projected over the next eight years), and the arrival of LNG projects could spell even greater need. The first class of students recently completed Level 1 and the first offering of Level 2 began on Oct. 3.

“We are deeply grateful to FortisBC for this generous support,” says Steve Moores, the College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “This donation is already having a direct impact on students. The new lab provides us with a state-of-the-art space to deliver the latest training.”Fortis support OC3 Nov 2016

Over the past five years alone, Okanagan College has trained more than 1,200 Foundation and Apprenticeship students in the Plumbing/Pipefitting and Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic programs.

As part of the $50,000 donation, FortisBC contributed equipment for the lab – including state-of-the-art gas meters – and stepped in to assist local company Kal West Mechanical with the installation. The installation provided a chance for hands-on learning for Okanagan College students.

Tammy Rudrum is one of those students. A recent graduate of the Sheet Metal Foundation program and the Women in Trades Training program, Rudrum and about a dozen of her classmates helped put in furnaces which will serve as training tools in the new lab.

“I definitely learned some great practical skills that you can’t get from a book,” says Rudrum. “Hands-on experience is better. Everyone's furnace units are different, so it was interesting to see how things can be adapted.”

On top of the $50,000 for the new lab, FortisBC’s additional donation of $25,000 will soon generate further hands-on training opportunities for students.

Among other teaching tools, the funds will allow the College to purchase two calibrated blower doors to be used for training and testing. The doors demonstrate to students how different wall assemblies and construction techniques can reduce energy consumption by preventing air leakage. The resources will benefit students in the Carpentry and Sustainable Construction Management Technology programs.

“It is very positive for our students to see a major employer like FortisBC investing in their education,” explains Moores. “It shows them the industry need is real. It validates their choice to learn here and to pursue a career in the trades.”

Okanagan College’s new Trades Complex opened its doors to students in April and was officially opened by Premier Christy Clark and Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson on Sept. 22.

The three-year renovation and expansion project began with a $28-million investment from the province and has also seen strong support from donors in the community. 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 at


Craft beer revolution on tap at Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

Martin Lewis Bad Tattoo Nov 2016Martin Lewis knows that exploring craft beers at a festival or brewery can be an intimidating experience, and he has the tools to help beer lovers, from novice to veteran, navigate those hoppy waters.

Lewis, co-owner of Penticton's Bad Tattoo Brewing, will be leading Beer Appreciation – an evening of craft beer tastings and beer education offered by Okanagan College. Delivering basic beer knowledge, the course is designed to help students make the best of any beer tasting experience – in particular, at festivals.

The tastings will take place on Thursday, Nov. 17 from 6 to 9 p.m. in the B.C. Wine Information Society Sensory Centre, a state-of-the-art classroom-style laboratory at the College’s Penticton campus. The facility was created for the sensory discovery and evaluation of wine and food and opened in 2014. This will be the second beer course offered in the Centre by Okanagan College and the first craft beer appreciation course.

“The lab is a great venue for people to come in and learn something about the food and beverage culture that is going on in the Okanagan,” says Lewis. “It’s a phenomenal facility in an easy, central location.”

Lewis, a Red Seal chef, will pair the beer tastings with festival-inspired culinary creations he prepares in the Centre’s kitchen. Participants will explore diverse styles of beers and gain an understanding of their palate range and preferences. The course will also delve into new and emerging beer trends, such as barrel-aged beers, beers with innovative ingredients and ancient beer styles coming back into popularity.

Known for its wine education programming, the College recognized the growing interest in craft brewing in the region and the popularity of local events, such as Fest of Ale.

“Our programming reflects what the community expresses an interest in,” says Dr. Dennis Silvestrone, Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Development. “Our Viticulture and Wine Program was a response to the region’s thriving wine industry, and now our Beer Appreciation course acknowledges the growing enthusiasm for beer literacy in the Okanagan. And given the number of beer and wine experts on hand in the valley, it was very important to us to engage top caliber instruction for these programs.”

The industry has seen significant growth across the Pacific Northwest in the last decade. Many local restaurants and private liquor stores have jumped on the trend, offering more diverse beer selections from smaller, independent breweries.

According to Ken Beattie, Executive Director of the BC Craft Brewers Guild, the industry is undergoing unprecedented growth.

“In 2013, there were less than 50 craft breweries in the province. We now have over 125 breweries in 60 different communities that employ over 4500 people directly.”

The Okanagan now boasts 15 craft breweries, including four in Penticton. Lewis believes the industry is just gaining momentum and we can expect to see more breweries pop up in the region.

“The craft beer culture offers a tremendous amount of choice and flavours,” he says. “There is a tremendous energy in the industry and a camaraderie between brewers and the customers."

Lewis believes the course will yield for students a much more robust experience at future festivals or tastings.

“It’s easy to go to a beer festival and just stick your glass out,” he says. “After taking the course, students will be able to ask informed questions, relate concepts and understand how brewing applications affect flavour.”

Registration for Beer Appreciation is now open. Cost is $96 plus GST. Seating is limited. To register, call 250-492-4305 or visit Visit for more information.


Valley First steps in with $50,000 donation to help teach financial literacy in elementary schools
Okanagan College Media Release


CANsave, a financial literacy program designed in 2015 by college students for primary school students has caught the attention of teachers throughout British Columbia, and Valley First is stepping up to lend its support.CANSave Nov 2016

A supporter of CANsave since its pilot program launched in 2015, Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union, initially pledged $25,000 to the program for the 2016 school year. However, upon seeing the immediate success and the overwhelming teacher demand for the program, the local credit union has doubled its support to $50,000 to help Enactus Okanagan College students expand the program to more BC schools.

In addition to this financial support, Valley First will be lending its expertise in the field, and staff will be volunteering as guest instructors in some of the local classrooms. Aimed at teaching primary school students critical lessons about debt and the importance of saving money, and giving to charity, CANsave offers students the opportunity to experience financial responsibility firsthand.

“This is an incredible commitment,” says Abbey Jones, a fourth-year Okanagan College Business Administration student, who is also one of the leaders of the CANsave program. “Valley First has been with us every step of the way since we launched our pilot program last year. Their latest donation will allow us to take CANsave out to all the teachers and schools who have expressed an interest in the program. This is a phenomenal opportunity for us to expand the program and enable more kids to learn about financial literacy.”

“We’ve all heard about the importance of teaching kids at a young age about money in order to set them up for financial success in the future,” explains Susan Ewanick, president of Valley First. “Our team at Valley First fully believes in the benefits of starting young and it’s been so rewarding to see the tremendous outcomes CANsave has achieved in one short year. The rapid pace at which BC teachers are adopting the program has been nothing short of amazing. We’re very proud to partner with the volunteers of Enactus and have the opportunity to help young people develop their financial savvy.”

The positive evaluation of the program is echoed by Kelsey Dawson, one of the teachers who experienced CANsave in her Grade 3 classroom last year. “It had a real impact on the students,” says Dawson. “It’s learning that will stick with them through their lives and it’s provided a good base in understanding personal and household finances. It also gave them a sense of what it means to think about others in the community.”

With help from Valley First and from the Central Okanagan Foundation, the Enactus OC students established a website over the summer that introduced the CANsave program to approximately 40 Central Okanagan teachers just before school recommenced this fall.

The response from the teachers was overwhelming. “Within three days, we were already exceeding the 40 classes we had planned. Somewhere between 10 and 15 of them are from outside the College region, extending into the Kootenays and Northern B.C.,” explains Devin Rubadeau, an OC Business Administration professor who has served as a mentor to the Enactus OC students involved in the project. “Now we are projecting that CANsave will be in 100 or more Central Okanagan classes this year.”

There’s no better time for the Valley First commitment, notes Rubadeau – November is officially financial literacy month.

CANsave was introduced into classrooms in School District 23, in 2015, and was created in response to changes in the BC Ministry of Education Curriculum that came into effect September 2016. The program includes lessons on topics young adults wished they had learned early on, including the advantages of having a savings account, critical lessons about debt, and the importance of saving money for themselves and for those in need. Teaching fundamental financial lessons through the use of a simulated economy, CANsave allows primary school students the opportunity to experience first-hand financial responsibility.

During the curriculum development period for Grade 3 students, the Enactus team worked closely with teachers and community partners to ensure learning objectives could successfully be met in the classroom. In the spring of 2016, two Grade 1 teachers modified the curriculum to suit younger grades and ran the program twice in their classrooms with great success. The end results are the CANsave Early Primary and CANsave Late Primary programs. For more information about CANsave, visit


Mother and daughter team up to teach OC program focused on Aboriginal support
Okanagan College Media Release


Experience, knowledge, passion and family will be the fuel that drives a new Aboriginal Community Support Worker program being offered by Okanagan College.

Holly and Tina Marie Nov 2016Tina-Marie Christian and her daughter Holly Dalgleish, both of the Syilx Nation (Okanagan) and members of the Splatsin First Nation (Enderby) will be collaborating to teach a new certificate program being offered at Okanagan College this fall.

The Aboriginal Community Support Worker Certificate (ACSW) is a full-time program that will be taught at the College’s Salmon Arm Campus beginning in late November this year. This program will see students immerse themselves in a five-month course that includes 375 hours of course work and a 70-hour practicum component that focuses on indigenous help.

With a Master’s degree in Organizational Management and a Bachelor’s degree in adult education, Christian brings a strong blend of experiences in community and personal development from her more than 35 years working in education, staff development, health and wellness within Aboriginal organizations. Dalgleish, who holds a Master’s in Clinical Social Work and has worked as a Child Protection Social Worker as well as youth counsellor and Family Support Worker, also has strong ties to the Aboriginal community in the Okanagan.

The women have been instrumental in bringing this new certificate program to fruition. They have been active members of the program’s curriculum development team, ensuring that the focus is targeted and has pervasive Indigenous content.

“The courses in this program will provide students with a holistic approach to Aboriginal community support, helping to prepare them for entry-level positions in a variety of fields,” explains Dalgleish. “It is designed to become part of the pathway to further studies such as the Human Service Work diploma, or a degree in Social Work while providing a foundation for community service work.”

“We are excited to be a part of this College initiative that will help to strengthen our Indigenous communities. Programs such as the ACSW program empower individuals to create a new future and an opportunity to contribute to the needs of their community,” notes Christian. “The certificate is ideal for students who have a strong compassion for helping individuals and families and will give them the core training required by community support workers.”

Students will finish the program with a practicum at a local community-based organization that works with Aboriginal individuals and families.

Students interested in finding out more about this program (which is eligible for student loans) are encouraged to contact:


Chefs and Grandmothers come together to support African AIDS caregivers
Okanagan College Media Release

On Saturday, Nov. 19, Okanagan residents have an opportunity to explore some great cuisine prepared by Junior Chefs of Okanagan College and to support African children orphaned by AIDS.

Kelowna Grandmothers for Africa and the Okanagan Chefs Association are hosting the second annual evening of Discover Africa’s Culture and Cuisine in the Atrium of the Centre for Learning at Okanagan College’s Kelowna Campus.

“This is a tremendous chance to taste the unique African inspired dishes prepared by the Culinary Arts students under the mentorship of distinguished Chefs of the Chef’s Association,” explains Doug Fraser of Kelowna Grandmothers for Africa.

The volunteer, non-profit organization of grandmothers and “grandothers” supports African grandmothers, in communities affected by the AIDS pandemic, as they care for the vulnerable children in their care. The group’s goal is to increase awareness and raise funds to help nurture and raise a healthy self-sufficient next generation.

The Stephen Lewis Foundation and the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign provide targeted and accountable support for African grandmothers and orphans through healthcare, education initiatives and self-sufficiency programs such as microcredit grants and human rights support.

Last year this event showcasing African food and culture was a huge success, says Fraser.

“The Junior Chefs creations delighted our guests. People have been asking when the tickets are available for this year’s event.”

They’re $75, available now in limited numbers, and can be purchased by visiting

“This (Discover Africa’s Culture and Cuisine) gives our students a real opportunity to explore a different food culture and stretch their culinary imaginations,” explains Okanagan College Chef instructor Reinhard Foerderer. “It also gives them the satisfaction of putting their talents to work for a worthy community initiative.”

Part of the proceeds for the evening go to the Okanagan Chefs Association to provide further educational opportunities for the community’s junior chefs.

Fraser notes that a host of area businesses and organizations have thrown their support behind the event, including the Jane Hoffman Group of Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty, Alison Oxtoby of Entrust Law, Baptist Housing, Brenda Fischer of Edward Jones, Expedia CruiseShipCenters, Gorman Bros., Kelowna Mercedes-Benz, Vineyard Developments and Voyager RV.

Those in attendance on Nov. 19 will be entertained by the Nankama African Drum and Dance Group and will be able to participate in silent and live auctions.

Kelowna Grandmothers for Africa supports the Stephen Lewis Foundation and since the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign began in June 2006, grandmother groups across Canada have grown to 250 involving 10,000 Grandmothers and more than $25 million has been raised.

As many as 15 million children have been orphaned by AIDS. Grandmothers bury their own adult children and step in to care for the orphaned children and other children who have no other resource.

If you would like to help, donations can be made to the Stephen Lewis Foundation.


College Health Care Assistant program accredited by CACHWR
Okanagan College Media Release


Tuesday, Oct. 18, marked Health Care Assistant Day in B.C. – a day for acknowledging the hard work and dedication of the province’s frontline care providers. It was a day that held special meaning for Stephanie Shuttleworth, a Kelowna resident who is poised to graduate from the College’s Health Care Assistant (HCA) certificate program early next year.

HCA Students Oct 2016 - Britt Rider, Stephanie ShuttlesworthFor Shuttleworth, walking across the stage will mean the chance to finally step into a career in health care she has dreamed about for years.

“I volunteered in hospitals a lot when I was younger, so this is a career I’ve always wanted,” explains Shuttleworth. “A number of my friends completed the program and got jobs right away, so I felt confident it was the right choice for my future.”

In addition to the strong job prospects, students like Shuttleworth have another reason to feel good about their choice to invest in an education in health care at Okanagan College. The HCA program recently received the highest accreditation possible by the province.   

Earlier this year, the College’s HCA program received a full five-year recognition status from the BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry (CACHWR), the provincial body that oversees registration of HCAs in B.C.  

“The program already has a great reputation and so it feels good as a student knowing that we have this feather in our cap when we’re approaching employers,” notes Shuttleworth.

While registration with CACHWR is not mandatory for HCAs working in the private sector, registration is required for any HCA wishing to work in a public health care setting in B.C. It also gives graduates a competitive edge, says Angela Godler, Chair of the HCA program at the College.

“The registry itself is fairly new and this is the first time they have conducted a full examination of our program,” explains Godler. “We are very proud, although not entirely surprised, to receive the highest level of accreditation, given our close adherence to provincially-approved curriculum, our experienced instructors and our close consultation with industry. We are constantly speaking with local employers to stay attuned to their needs, and to trends in the field.”

And with an aging population and many current HCAs approaching retirement age, it is a field in need of replenishment. The B.C. Skills for Jobs Blueprint, released in 2014, listed Health Care Assistants as one of the top priority health professions in need of new workers over the next decade.HCA Olivia Glockner and Cathy Farrow Oct 2016

“When choosing a program, it is very important to complete a recognized HCA program so that you can be registered to work as an HCA in B.C.,” says Godler. “This accreditation will make the registration process smooth for our graduates, so they can start working as soon as possible—great news for them given the demand for HCAs right now.”

The HCA program at Okanagan College is 25 weeks in length and includes a combination of theory classes and an eight-week clinical practicum, covering areas of complex care, home support/assisted living and dementia care, and acute care.

The program seems to be working for Okanagan College students.

According to recent B.C. Student Outcomes data, 92 per cent of graduates reported the program was very useful in getting a job, while 97 per cent were in the labour force making an average hourly wage of $19. 

Last year, one of the College’s HCA graduates was honoured by W. Brett Wilson, well-known Canadian entrepreneur, philanthropist and “Dragon Emeritus” from the CBC show Dragons' Den, for a project that saw her delivering art and music therapy to residents in complex care situations. Penticton’s Catherine Links was awarded the inaugural W. Brett Wilson Prize, a scholarship launched in Wilson’s name for Okanagan College students after the philanthropist gave a talk at College’s Kelowna campus in January 2015.

More information about the HCA program at Okanagan College is available at