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Salmon Arm man upgrades to a new career
OC’s Computer Information Systems degree answers employer and graduate needs
Coyotes ready to hit it out of the park
Talented, experienced professors bring amazing array of arts courses to Vernon campus
College professor’s research unlocks key to Okanagan’s future prosperity
Spies, double agents and fugitives take over Okanagan College
Okanagan College contributes more than half a billion to regional economy
Krysko named Entrepreneur-in-Residence
Provincial investment means quicker start to electrical future
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Records 1 to 4 of 12
Salmon Arm man upgrades to a new career

Okanagan College offered Mike Pogson an opportunity to retrain for a rewarding career in health care at a price he couldn’t refuse.
 
Pogson, who lives in Salmon Arm, completed nine upgrading courses to qualify for entry into the practical nursing diploma program in 2011. The upgrading courses were tuition-free.
 
“When I found out I could get the prerequisites to get into the nursing program for free, it made going back to school a much more affordable option,” he says.
 
Okanagan College’s Foundation programs offer tuition-free upgrading in a variety of subjects including biology, chemistry, computer studies, English, mathematics and social studies, as well preparation for the General Education Development (GED) high-school equivalency test and B.C. Adult Graduation Diploma.
 
In 2011, Pogson was working in the residential construction industry as a finish carpenter but the market crashed and the jobs had started to dry up. That’s when he decided to go back to school.
 
“With the population aging practical nurses are in high demand and I knew the work would suit my personality,” he says.
 
Not long after Pogson graduated with his Practical Nursing diploma and passed his licensing exam, he landed a job as a licensed Practical Nurse at Mount Ida Mews, a 72-bed complex care community located in Salmon Arm.
 
“I love what I do now,” says Pogson. “Working with seniors is so rewarding. It was worth the time it took to go back to school.”
 
“So many people don’t have the prerequisites to enter the programs they want and think that’s the end to their career dreams,” says Dan Chetner, Instructor and Adult Basic Education coordinator at Okanagan College.
 
“When they discover they can upgrade at the College, a whole new world of possibilities open up to them,” he says. “We get students coming from all situations: those who had difficulty in high school, those who didn’t take the credits they need to get into the program they now want to do, and those who want to retool their existing careers.”
 
“My experience with Okanagan College’s Foundation program was so positive,” says Pogson. “The instructors were great because they got to know me, cared about what my goals were and supported me while I worked toward those goals.”
 
“We hear a lot about the coming skills shortage and many people may feel the opportunity is closed to them because they don’t have the prerequisites to access the education or training that will open the door to the career they want to pursue. The upgrading programs we offer may be a solution to that dilemma,” says Chetner.
 
It’s not too late to apply for classes starting in September. To find out more visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/upgradetoday.

OC’s Computer Information Systems degree answers employer and graduate needs

Chris KlukaChoosing the Bachelor of Computer Information Systems degree program at Okanagan College was a no-brainer for Chris Kluka – and it has been a decision that paid off in spades with career opportunities.

Kluka had taken post-secondary studies at other Canadian institutions, but the credential and education he received didn’t fully meet his needs or expectations.

“I’m interested in infrastructure and systems management,” says Kluka, who is now an IT Systems Infrastructure Architect at Daemon Defense Systems Inc. in Winnipeg.

“I looked at programs across the country and chose Okanagan College. The other program I took and others I looked at had the wrong focus. They were focused on Programming or Computer Science. I wanted a program focused on IT systems implementation and management,” he says.

With the benefit of the College giving him transfer credits for much of his post-secondary education taken elsewhere, Kluka entered the Computer Information Systems (CIS) diploma program at Okanagan College. The CIS diploma is a two-year credential that ladders into the College’s four-year Bachelor of CIS degree. At the College, he was also able to integrate some courses from the Network and Telecommunications Engineering Technology program as electives.

Between diploma and degree, Kluka found work with a Kelowna-based company, FormaShape, where he started as a junior network administrator. Eight months later he was IT Manager. Then he came back for his degree.

After graduation, it was a return to Manitoba, where career opportunities have been unfolding. For the past two years, he has been with Daemon Defense Systems Inc. and the contracts the company has secured have afforded him considerable experience in a variety of environments.

“I’ve been leading architecture design and deployment in projects such as the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, network redevelopment in the Winnipeg Convention Centre and the Investors Group Field, home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Those three projects alone represent 6,300 network drops and $20 million worth of servers and storage architecture. I have designed and implemented the IT systems architecture for three of the largest projects in the province in the last two years. ”

The College’s degree program has a solid reputation among employers, explains Department Chair Rick Gee. Demand for graduates may also partially explain the high ratings given the program by students in independent surveys conducted by the Provincial government. A review of five years of graduate data shows a 94 per cent employment rate, average annual earnings of $56,000 and 91 per cent of surveyed students reporting they were satisfied or very satisfied with their education.

“There will be continued demand for diploma and degree graduates from our programs,” says Gee. “Our lives are becoming increasingly dependent on information systems, and that bodes well for the people who can understand and manage them.”

For more information on the degree or diploma programs in Computer Information Systems, visit okanagan.bc.ca/bcis.

Coyotes ready to hit it out of the park

Okanagan College BaseballExpectations are high this year for the Okanagan College Coyotes baseball team as players report for the team’s seventh season on Sept. 1.

Last season, the Coyotes made it all the way to the Canadian College Baseball Conference Championships but fell to Lethbridge’s Prairie Baseball Academy Dawgs in dramatic fashion, 8 - 7.

Head coach Geoff White is optimistic about the team’s prospects for the upcoming year.

“We have a good group,” says White. “We have many strong returning players and a promising group of freshmen. I have high expectations this season.”

After participating in some social events during Orientation week, the team play starts on Sept. 6, with three inter-squad games at Elks Stadium over the course of the weekend. This will be the first chance White has to see his first year players in action. 

“We have a busy fall schedule, which will give us lots of time on the field. It’s a long season but everything we do is preparation for those CCBC championships in May,” says White.

The Coyotes first series against another team begins on Sept. 13 at 2:30 p.m. when they face the Langley Blaze at Elks Stadium at Richter St. and Recreation Avenue in Kelowna.

Tickets for the Coyotes home games are available at the gate for $5.

For the Fall schedule and player lineup, visit www.okanagancollegebaseball.ca.

Photo credit: Greystoke Photography

 

Talented, experienced professors bring amazing array of arts courses to Vernon campus
Okanagan College Media Release

Award-winning instructors, published poets, experienced editors and publishers, as well as archeologists, geographers, sociologists and political scientists are among those instructors who are bringing an array of interesting and applied university arts courses to Okanagan College’s Vernon’s campus this year.

“There are tremendous talents who teach here,” explains Jane Lister, the College’s Regional Dean for the North Okanagan. “And they are committed to providing students a great learning experience that can’t be matched in larger schools.”

An example of the talent is author and freelance editor and writer Jeremy Lanaway, whose role with publishing company Pearson Longman’s Canadian, UK, and Asian subsidiaries has led him to author, co-author, and edit more than 70 English language teaching textbooks. Lanaway is teaching ENGL 209: Studies in Professional Editing this fall. 

“It is part of the very strong cadre of courses we offer in Vernon that emphasize applied theoretical and creative practice,” says Lister.

Other examples of that emphasis on English and writing include prize-winning poet Kevin McPherson teaching ENGL 150: Poetry and Drama and Kerry Gilbert (another published poet) offering ENGL 116: Introduction to Creative Writing classes. 

A seven-time national award-winner for book design, Jason Dewinetz, offers a course in Applied Publishing Skills this fall. A core of the Diploma in Writing and Publishing, the course (FINA/ENGL 170) introduces students to the use of state-of-the-art publishing and design software, as well as hands-on experience with quality letter presses. 

“Our strengths in university arts go well beyond English,” notes Lister. Amy Cohen infuses her introductory anthropology courses with the passion and engagement that she brings to her community work in and around the Okanagan. Cohen’s principal research has concentrated on the intersection of the law, citizenship and race. 

Brad Clements – a name familiar to many who have been following the efforts to acquire the CN Rail right-of-way for a park – brings his industry experience to the classroom as he teaches the Principles of Micro-Economics.

Craig McLuckie, Associate Dean of Arts and Foundational Programs, returns to the classroom with ENGL 213: British Literature, an examination of Polish, Irish, English and Scottish writing from three genres; a timely course as the UK/GB sees independence votes in its constituent nations. McLuckie is also the author and editor of several books that examine the intersection of culture, community and politics.

“The list of instructors who bring their research and applied experience to the classroom is long. From psychology, to communications, to political science and geography, sociology, Spanish, history, French, philosophy and environmental and indigenous studies – we have many courses that will interest students, whether they are intent on getting a liberal arts degree or just pursuing knowledge for its own sake,” says Lister.

The best way to learn about what is being offered is to visit the campus or www.okanagan.bc.ca/vernonarts2014, she notes. There is still opportunity to apply to attend Okanagan College this fall. If you only want to take a course for interest’s sake, you can register to audit courses (which means you can experience the joy of learning with no grades!)
College professor’s research unlocks key to Okanagan’s future prosperity
Okanagan College Media Release

Extensive research conducted by the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society, the British Columbia Wine Institute and Okanagan College’s School of Business has uncovered what motivates wine visitors to come to this region and the secret to ensuring they return.

This is especially important given the Okanagan’s increasing profile on the global wine stage. A July poll of readers of the U.S.’s largest circulating newspaper, USA Today, found the Okanagan was the #2 wine destination in the world, second only to Alentejo, Portugal.

“Using interviews with 900 visitors to the Winter, Spring and Fall Okanagan Wine Festivals in 2012 and early 2013, we looked specifically at what impact wine-related events and festivals had on their desire to come to the region,” says leader of the research project Dr. Blair Baldwin, Okanagan College School of Business Professor and Okanagan Wine Festivals Society General Manager.

Baldwin and his team discovered that the greatest influence on visitor motivation was event and festivals execution—meaning not just the presence of those events but also the experience guests had while there. 

“You may sell out your event or win an award for your wine but if you haven’t devoted enough resources to ensuring a seamless experience, such as having prominent directional signage, good traffic flow to your wine shop, enough tasting room servers, and ample parking, visitors won’t return. And they won’t recommend it to their friends either,” says Baldwin.

Baldwin was invited to present these groundbreaking findings at the prestigious Academy of Wine Business Research conference at the University of Geisenheim in Germany earlier this summer. 

“The critical knowledge gained from this primary research will add so much value to the industry,” says Jonathan Rouse, Okanagan College’s Director of Food, Wine and Tourism

“This was a rare opportunity to promote Okanagan College and our region’s exceptional wineries, events and festivals to an international audience,” says Rouse. “There were 125 delegates from 28 wine regions including the Okanagan, Niagara, Sonoma, Napa, Marlborough, Adelaide, Bordeaux, Champagne, Oregon and Tuscany at this conference.”

The research project was part of a larger body of research originally conducted by the same group in the fall of 2013 that looked at the economic impact of wine tourism to the Okanagan. See www.thewinefestivals.com/blog for more details.
Spies, double agents and fugitives take over Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

Dive right into the world of espionage and intrigue at Okanagan College this fall. English professor Dr. Matt Kavanagh will take students on a journey through some of the most riveting 20th century British spy novels ever written in ENGL 213 (Studies in British Literature) which focuses on spies, double agents, and fugitive authors.  

“Even though the genre gets its start at the beginning of the 20th century, the subject matter is very contemporary: declining geopolitical power, betrayal, and terrorism,” says Kavanagh. 

“Fantasy figures like James Bond are meant to embody a sense of national virility at a time when Britain’s sense of its place in the world was very much in question. Then there are organization-men like George Smiley who orchestrate intrigue from their desks in anonymous institutional settings. Most interesting are the traitors who spy against their own country and serve as scapegoats whose betrayal ‘explains’ Britain’s keenly felt sense of diminishment amidst a broad sense of decline,” he says.

Beyond Ian Fleming and John Le Carré, this class examines modernist classics by Joseph Conrad and Elizabeth Bowen as well as contemporary work by John Banville and Salman Rushdie (who has written a memoir of his time spent living on the run from Islamic fundamentalists in Joseph Anton).

ENGL 213 is just one of several unique English courses being offered at Okanagan College this fall. 

Another is ENGL 204 (Applied English Studies), a course that puts students in the role of editor at an actual literary publication, Ryga: A Journal of Provocations. A companion course, ENGL 205, runs in the Winter term.

“From content creation to layout, students use the analytical and writing skills they have learned in their previous English classes and master the applied skills they need to create, design and publish a magazine,” says English professor Corinna Chong.

“Applied English Studies will not only appeal to arts students, but also to students interested in communications, marketing and business, as they will have the opportunity to run a real publishing company.”

While the fall term is fast approaching, Okanagan College is still accepting applications for enrolment. Go to www.okanagan.bc.ca/becomeastudent for details.
Okanagan College contributes more than half a billion to regional economy
Okanagan College Media Release

BannisterClint Bannister knows it’s hard to put an exact price on the value of a post-secondary education, but he is confident there is a very real return on the investment.
 
The 31-year-old Okanagan College graduate and civil engineering design technologist at Urban Systems in Kelowna is one example of the thousands of Okanagan College graduates whose impact on the regional economy exceeds half a billion dollars annually. Provincially, the impact comes closer to a billion dollars.
 
A recent economic impact study undertaken by Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. (EMSI) found that in 2012-13 Okanagan College and its students added $542 million to the regional economy. It pegged the institution’s provincial impact at $915 million.
 
Before entering Okanagan College, Bannister worked in sales. These days he spends most of his professional life designing highways and municipal roads; it was his investment in a college diploma that has prepared him for a long and rewarding career.
 
“Before I took the Civil Engineering Technology program at Okanagan College, I didn’t realize having a skilled education was so important to lifelong career success,” said Bannister. “I am excited to work for a great company doing something that really matters to the community.”
 
The study also found that Okanagan College students like Bannister, who were active in the regional workforce over the course of one year, collectively contributed $446 million in higher earnings and increased employer productivity.
 
In addition, Okanagan College’s operations and the spending from out-of-region students added $96 million to the economy.
 
Bannister completed his engineering technology diploma in 2011 and was hired within a month of graduation. Originally from North Vancouver, he chose to stay in the Okanagan and is among an increasing group of Okanagan College grads who provide a 12.7 per cent return to B.C. taxpayers on their investment in post-secondary education.
 
infographic9The positive effect of Okanagan College runs much deeper than added income. On a provincial scale, Okanagan College grads in the workforce save the provincial social safety net an estimated $16 million annually through reduced crime rates, lower unemployment rates and improved health. In short, graduates like Bannister are more productive and reduce the strain on social services.
 
The payoff doesn’t just impact taxpayers. Students who complete a college credential receive a huge return on that investment as well. EMSI’s estimate suggests that there is a 51 per cent lifetime earnings bump attributable to a two-year diploma over someone who has only a high school credential – it is worth an additional $346,800 over their estimated working lifetime.
 
For someone with a degree, such as Okanagan College’s Bachelor of Business Administration or Bachelor of Computer Information Systems, the estimated increase in working lifetime earnings compared to a high-school credential holder is 80 per cent or an additional $544,000.
 
“When I was working in sales my salary was up and down week-to-week and it was stressful not being able to count on a set paycheque,” said Bannister. “I also didn’t see a lot of prospects for the future. It’s so worth getting a practical education because a job like the one I have now is so much more rewarding and more lucrative over the long term.”
 
“The results of this study confirm that there is a significant return on the investment in post-secondary education for graduates, taxpayers and our regional economy,” explained Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “The economic impact is important to acknowledge but so is the value education yields for students and the wellbeing of our communities.”
 
“I chose the College because it’s local, the program is a good mix of technical and academic experience and it’s very highly regarded in the engineering industry,” said Bannister. “The co-op program was instrumental in preparing me for work and helped me apply fundamental knowledge to real world experiences."

Krysko named Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Club Penguin co-founder brings expertise to Okanagan College’s School of Business
 
One of the region’s entrepreneurial success stories is going to be adding to his curricula vitae with a new and challenging assignment for the coming year: Dave Krysko has just accepted the role of Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Okanagan College.
 
Krysko was one of the founders of Club Penguin, an Okanagan success story that attracted the attention of Walt Disney Company and which now employs hundreds of people.
 
Dave KryskoKrysko’s role as Entrepreneur-in-Residence will be to offer occasional guest lectures, provide one-on-one and group mentoring and generally encourage students with his story as an entrepreneur.
 
“I’m really looking forward to this,” says Krysko, whose CV includes musician, marketing, running his own agency, and developing Club Penguin with two partners: Lane Merrifield and Lance Priebe. “This is an opportunity to share expertise and insights that have been developed through my career, and a chance to rub elbows with and learn from the leaders of tomorrow. I’ve been very impressed by the quality of students and graduates coming out of the College’s business program and am excited to be part of it.”
 
Krysko will be replacing Raghwa Ghopal, another renowned Okanagan businessman, as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence. Others who have fulfilled that role included Mel Kotler, founder and owner of Fabricland, Bill Redmond, founder of HRI, Ed Hall, founder of Regency Retirement Resorts and partner in Canadian Adult Communities and Doug Manning, founder and former president of Bridges. (Kotler died in 2012.)
 
“We have indeed been fortunate to have such distinguished individuals provide another facet of the educational experience to our students,” notes Barry McGillivray, the Associate Dean of the College’s School of Business. “Dave is yet another example of the value we place on the connection we have to the communities we serve.”
 
Krysko worked with Club Penguin for three years after the Disney purchase, leaving in 2010 as Senior Vice President to start Davara Enterprises, which he characterizes as an agency focused on developing a wide range of culture-making enterprises. He is also a longtime philanthropist supporting humanitarian work in Canada, Mexico and Romania. With his wife Donara, he co-founded the Karis Support Society focused on helping women struggling with addictions as well as the Krysko Family Foundation, and with his Club Penguin partners, the New Horizon Foundation: a charitable organization committed to improving the lives of children and families around the world.
 

Provincial investment means quicker start to electrical future
Okanagan College Media Release

Andrew Broadbent is one of the Okanagan’s would-be tradespeople who is benefitting from the Province’s decision to fund an Andrew Broadbent Aug 2014additional 203 trades-focused seats at Okanagan College this year.

The 17-year-old Summerland resident is scheduled to start his electrical foundation program in September at the College’s Penticton campus, and he has his eyes on the growing number of jobs in the trades and the opportunity for a lucrative career that those present.

“I’m excited about being able to take the program this year instead of having to wait,” says Broadbent. “It’s good news.”

Broadbent acknowledges that part of his motivation for taking the program is what he’s heard about the coming skills shortage and the opportunities that major projects will create. Going north to advance his career may factor into his plans after he has finished his foundation program and proceeds through the apprenticeship path.

The Provincial Government revealed Thursday that Okanagan College was getting the additional seats in a number of program areas, part of a larger commitment to create more than 1,400 new foundation and apprenticeship seats at the College and 13 other public post-secondary institutions. It is part of the provincial Skills for Jobs Blueprint initiative aimed at increasing access and reducing waitlists for trades critical to the Liquefied Natural Gas industry and other sectors.

Okanagan College will be getting
  • 18 steam / pipefitter foundation seats
  • 49 welder foundation seats
  • 30 heavy equipment operator foundation seats
  • 86 electrical foundation seats
  • 20 heavy-duty equipment mechanic foundation seats.

“These are all areas where there is significant demand, and we welcome the extra investment in the trades,” says Steven Moores, Okanagan College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “In some instances, we’ve already made decisions about where and when the programs will be offered. In other instances, we are still discussing the best location and timing of the new intakes associated with the additional seats.”

“Sometimes we lose track of the personal impact of decisions like this,” says Moores. “Andrew is just one of the people who are going to benefit from the investment. There are employers who are eager to see more trained people come out of our institutions who will be pleased with this news as well.”

The seats (and associated $928,000 funding) announced this week will add an additional eight per cent capacity to the 2,498 Okanagan College trades seats already funded by the Industry Training Authority.

Okanagan College is in the midst of a $33-million expansion and renovation of its Trades Training Complex in Kelowna. The project, supported with $28-million of provincial funding, is expected to be complete by early 2016.


Two Okanagan College students help local tech company gain a competitive edge
Okanagan College Media Release

Youry K July 2014An Okanagan College professor has been awarded a federal research grant that will help a growing Kelowna gaming company and provide three students valuable experience in Kelowna’s competitive tech market.

Currently two students Trevor Alstad and Riley Dunkin, in the Bachelor of Computer Information Systems program, have already started working on the project studying ways to monitor and optimize the game services of Kelowna-based technology company WTFast. They are working under the direction of project supervisor and Okanagan College Computer Science professor Dr. Youry Khmelevsky.

The research is being funded through a College and Community Program Innovation grant of $24,990 from Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). It is the first NSERC grant the College has received.

“The grant will subsidize the first step in the design, construction and testing of a new layer of game server software, which will take six months,” says Dr. Khmelevsky.

“When technology companies have a bottleneck in service they usually add servers to compensate, but adding extra hardware to the pool is not always optimal because they unnecessarily consume power, human resources and money,” he says.

To help solve this problem, Alstad and Dunkin will be studying how to improve performance between gamers’ workstations and WTFast’s game server clusters without adding costly infrastructure.

“It’s one thing to learn something in class but another when you have to apply it in a live scenario, and fix problems in real time. It takes what I’ve learned to a whole other level,” says Alstad.

This project is just another example of the College commitment to industry-relevant applied learning.

“Applied Research and innovation continues to be an important element for students and employees at Okanagan College regularly,” says Okanagan College’s Vice President of Education, Andrew Hay.

“Whether our students are involved in projects with local companies or our employees gaining external funds to assist with product and business development, Okanagan College is committed to aiding innovation and helping local industry. This is one of the many ways that the College helps create more career opportunities in the Okanagan,” he says.

WTFast CEO Robert Bartlett agrees.

“We always seize the opportunity to partner with the College because these projects help us develop local talent, hopefully hire them after graduation, and ultimately build the tech industry in the Okanagan,” says Bartlett.

“The resulting software will make it much easier for WTFast’s customers to combine and optimize resources from different providers and will be a great marketing opportunity for both WTFast, and the College’s Bachelor of Computer Information Systems degree program,” says Dr. Khmelevsky.
Vin-dulge at the Okanagan’s ultimate wine-food pairing course
Okanagan College Media Release

Wondering what food to serve with that Pinotage you picked up last weekend? Looking to plan your own wine tasting event this fall? ASensory Lab July 2014 new food and wine learning experience offers an unparalleled opportunity for enthusiasts to explore the bounty of the Okanagan Valley. 

The three-day program, called the Okanagan Wine and Food Intensive, runs from Friday, August 1, to Sunday, August 3, at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus.

“What better way to spend the long weekend than visiting wineries, meeting wine producers and learning about wine making, viticulture, cooking, and wine and food pairing with Okanagan’s top industry experts,” says Okanagan College’s Director of Food, Wine and Tourism, Jonathan Rouse.

Each day starts and ends at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus. Daily fieldtrips and transportation on a private Grape Escapes tour company bus, seasonal Okanagan lunches, and sensory wine and food education sessions are all included in the Okanagan Wine and Food Intensive learning experience. 

“Everyone from wine and food novices to passionate oenophiles will enjoy this course,” says Erin Korpisto, Wine Studies Instructor at Okanagan College and one of the hosts of the Wine and Food Intensive.

"
It promises to be a fun-filled exploration of the Okanagan wine region and a rare chance to interact with the region’s top wine and food producers in an intimate setting.”

Joining Korpisto as instructors for the weekend are Okanagan wine experts French-trained Viticulturist Penelope Roche, and Chef, Sommelier and Winemaker Jay Drysdale. 

The course runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day leaving participants the evening to explore the multitude of restaurants and events taking place at area wineries and restaurants at their leisure.

At the end of the weekend, participants will receive a Certificate of Completion and handbook of tip sheets, tasting notes and recipes to supplement their wine-food pairing experience at home.

The cost for the three-day Okanagan Wine and Food Intensive is $630. For more details and to register, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/fwtcourses or call 1-866-510-8899.
Distinguished Chef joins College’s Culinary Arts department

Chef Bernard Casavant

Chef Bernard Casavant, one of the country’s best-known chefs, has joined Okanagan College as the institution’s Culinary Manager.

Casavant’s reputation spreads beyond the kitchen – he has also been a major force for improvement in the hospitality industry during his career, and in promoting the farm-to-table movement in the Okanagan and throughout B.C.

“The addition of Chef Bernard to help lead our team of talented professionals signals the importance of the culinary arts to our educational mix,” explains Jonathan Rouse, the Director of Wine, Food and Tourism at Okanagan College. “He brings tremendous expertise, energy and enthusiasm to the role that will help inspire many more chefs who will serve the industry well.”

Casavant has been at the forefront of improving the standards of the hospitality industry throughout his career. In 1986, he was one of the first chefs in Canada to earn Chef de Cuisine Certification (CCC). In 1991, he became the first West Coast-born and trained chef to represent Canada in the prestigious Bocuse D'Or Competition, France, and currently serves as president of the Okanagan Chefs Association.

“I see this as an opportunity to have an influence on how we train tomorrow’s great chefs,” says Casavant. “Okanagan College is developing a solid reputation for chef training and is also importantly taking the lessons of the locavore movement to heart, which we will endeavour to support through our culinary department.”

“There is significant talent in the instructional cadre at the College and I am eager to work alongside the chefs as we help further build the region’s renown as a food and wine destination – not just for tourists and residents, but for aspiring chefs as well. As a region, we are poised to achieve greatness,” he says.

Casavant is a member of the British Columbia Restaurant Hall of Fame. He has held directorships on with the British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association, Industry Training Authority, and the BC Culinary Tourism Society. He graduated at the top of his class from the culinary arts program at Malaspina College in 1976 and was later honoured as a Distinguished Alumni in 2012 by the institution, which has since become Vancouver Island University. His devotion to local food and connections to farmers stretches from the mid 1980s, and is evident in the fact that he was a founding member of Exclusively BC, Farm Folk, City Folk, and a director of Whistler’s Farmers Market.

“Chef Bernard’s passion and influence has been instrumental in changing the image of the Okanagan to one of a true culinary destination,” says colleague and Okanagan College Chef Instructor Geoffrey Couper. “The list of chefs he has influenced is long and distinguished and the opportunity to join that list by attending the culinary arts programs at Okanagan College will definitely be a deciding factor for future students as they consider their educational options.”