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College to host, compete in Young Chefs challenge

Okanagan College Media Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joint survey seeks daycare input
Okanagan College Media Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Powwow 2013Always a highlight of the fall season, the sixth annual Youth Exhibition Powwow at Okanagan College boasts some new features this year, making it the most culturally rich event to date.

In addition to the First Nation’s singing, drumming, dancing and colourful regalia that takes over the courtyard of Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus on Sept. 18, there will also be a traditional meal of bannock and deer stew offered to all guests and participants. 

“The sharing of food is an integral part of our traditions,” says Okanagan College’s Aboriginal Access and Services Coordinator, Anthony Isaac. “The elders coming to campus and blessing the food really highlights how important it is to the whole celebration.” 

The serving of the meal has been made possible thanks to generous donations from the community, including Urban Harvest, SunRype and the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society, along with campus supporters, including Culinary Arts Manager Chef Bernard Casavant and Indigenous Studies professor Bill Cohen, among many others.

“It’s been a real community effort,” says Isaac.

A new initiative aimed at helping students is also launching at this year’s event. A 50/50 draw is being held in conjunction with the Okanagan College Foundation. All the proceeds from the draw are earmarked for a new scholarship for Aboriginal students taking Adult Academic and Career Preparation programs at the College. 

Visitors will also get to enjoy craft vendors selling authentic Aboriginal artwork, carvings, and beadwork, including Dorothy Clough and Marsha King of First Nation Crafts, Barbara Patkiw of Native Bead Works, and Morning Dove Hall ixastcawt who makes jewelry from shells and antlers. 

In addition, more than 200 youth from private band schools across the Okanagan, including sənsísyustən House of Learning, Studio 9 Independent School of the Arts, Outma Sqilx'W Cultural School and OKIB K-7 Sqilxw Cultural Immersion School, have been invited to attend this year’s festivities. 

For the fifth time Richard Jackson brings his infectious energy as MC, Noel Ferguson reprises his role as ceremonial Whip Man – otherwise known as the arena director – and the invited drum troops are crowd-favourites Iron Mountain and Little Hawk.

“The powwow is a great chance to celebrate our youth, highlight the richness of who we are, and the strengths of our culture,” says Isaac. 

“The more we do to increase people’s understanding of our ways of knowing and doing, the more we create a sense of belonging for all of our learners.” 

The powwow festivities start at 10 a.m. and run to 2 p.m., but for those who can’t make it Okanagan College is streaming the event live at
Three area residents join College’s Board of Governors
Okanagan College Media Release

Three new members of Okanagan College’s Board of Governors will be bringing business and community perspectives to the table asChristopher Derickson Sept 2014 they begin their yearlong appointments.

Christopher Derickson, Susan Johal and Joe Maciel will serve on the Board of Governors for a one-year term ending July 31, 2015. They were appointed by the Provincial Government through Order-in-Council this summer.

Derickson serves on the Westbank First Nation Council and works as a consultant focused on strategic and community planning for First Nation governments and organizations.

Johal is the Office Manager for Kimmitt Wrzesniewski, a Kelowna law firm. She is an active community volunteer and has previously worked with the Okanagan Sikh Temple, the Ovarian Cancer Walk and Rutland Citizens Patrol. She’s also a member of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and a past director of the Boys and Girls Club. Johal is also an Okanagan College alumna, with an Accounting diploma and certification from a legal secretary program from Okanagan College.

Maciel is a Chartered Accountant and Financial Planner with a public practice that focuses on corporate year-end services to privately held corporations and tax services to businesses and individuals. His experience includes work with the Canada Revenue Agency’s audit division, Bombardier Capital’s Wholesale Finance division, as well as teaching at Okanagan University College in the areas of tax, Canadian business, management and financial accounting.

“We’re looking forward to Christopher, Susan and Joe joining us this fall,” says Board of Governors Chair Tom Styffe. “I am confident they will bring perspectives and experience that will benefit our deliberations.”

“I taught for three years at OUC in the early ‘90s,” says Maciel. “I’ve watched the business program and the institution evolve over the years. I’m excited to be part of the governance of an organization that has such a rich history in the region and I look forward to participating in decisions that will shape its course for the coming years.”

“As an alumna and someone who has lived my whole life here, I’ve relished watching Okanagan College change and develop,” says Johal. “I think there are great things ahead for the College and am happy to be a part of it.”

“There are many opportunities for partnerships right now, between schools and other organizations,” notes Derickson, who is following his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (2012, UBCO) with a Master’s of Business Administration at SFU. “This is a very exciting time to be involved in the governance of Okanagan College.” 

Three other College Board members have had their appointments extended: Charity Gerbrandt, Douglas Manning and Robert McGowan will serve additional two-year terms until July 2016.
JIBC and Okanagan College pledge greater cooperation

The following press release was issued by Justice Institute of British Colombia in conjunction with Okanagan College.

JIBC MOU SigningMemorandum of Understanding aims to expand opportunities to meet student, industry, business and community needs.

Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) and Okanagan College have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enhance educational and training opportunities for students at both institutions.

Under the MOU signed on September 5, 2014, JIBC and Okanagan College will explore opportunities to develop courses and programs that can be offered in partnership. Both institutions will also explore opportunities for students to transition effectively to programs at both institutions by developing transfer and prior learning assessment arrangements.

Opportunities under discussion include additional pathways for Okanagan College certificate and diploma graduates to enter into degree programs at JIBC, and joint activities to complement each institution’s programming to best meet the interests and needs of regional labour market demands.

Both institutions will also aim to share information and explore ways to work together to further each institution’s applied research endeavours.

Dr. Michel Tarko, JIBC President and CEO, said, “We have had a longstanding relationship with Okanagan College and this MOU aims to deepen and extend our partnership. We look forward to working together to expand the educational and training options for our students and support the employment needs in our province.”

“Formalizing our intention to work more collaboratively is an important step forward for both institutions,” said Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “There are natural pathways between our programming areas and a stronger partnership will result in greater access and opportunities for students in our region.”

About Justice Institute of British Columbia
Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) is Canada’s leading public safety educator. Our specialized programs lead to certificates, diplomas, bachelor’s degrees and graduate certificates in Policing, Investigations, Emergency Management, Firefighting, Paramedicine, Sheriffs, Corrections, Counselling, Leadership, Mediation, Conflict Resolution, and Driver Training. JIBC also provides customized contract training to domestic and international governments, agencies and organizations. Our approach to education emphasizes applied learning and realistic simulations, delivered by instructors who are experienced practitioners. Our students’ work makes communities safer, and helps people in need, throughout B.C., across Canada and around the world.

 About Okanagan College
Okanagan College is a public, post-secondary institution located in B.C.'s interior. With four campuses in Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon and Salmon Arm, as well as education centres in Oliver, Summerland, and Revelstoke, the College serves more than 20,000 learners annually throughout its region.

Okanagan College is a significant driving force in the regional economy. Partnerships with industry, community groups and other educational institutions enhance opportunities for citizens of the region served by the College and beyond, giving proof to the College's mission of transforming lives and communities.

Okanagan College students cross the country to pitch entrepreneurship
Okanagan College Media Release

A delegation of students from Okanagan College’s Enactus team traveled to Montreal recently to meet with top business executives,Enactus MRC Sept 2014 entrepreneurs and students from Quebec after making a lasting impression with one of the lead judges at Canada’s national Enactus competition. 

Michel Kelly-Gagnon is the president and CEO of the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) and also serves on the Board of the John Dobson Foundation. The well-known executive was selected as a judge for the national Enactus exposition, where he was first introduced to students from Okanagan College’s award-winning team.

“In April I had the distinct pleasure and honour of acting as a judge in the final round of the 2014 Enactus Canada National Exposition in Calgary,” said Kelly-Gagnon. “On that occasion, I heard great presentations from students from various universities about how they were making Canada and the world a better place, through entrepreneurial actions and a mentality of autonomy and self-reliance. 

“In my view, one of the best initiatives presented, if not the best, was the InStill Life project from the Enactus Okanagan College team.”

Kelly-Gagnon was so impressed with the student-led project, he invited the team members and their faculty mentors to make a presentation to his Board and Montreal university students, in the hope of bringing a similar program to Quebec. 

InStill Life is an Okanagan-born project that students from the College’s Enactus team have been building for the past six years. The project is led by Enactus team members who work with Grade 5 and 6 students through a series of 10 lesson plans, all with prescribed learning objectives. The elementary school students create micro-businesses that generate profits that are directed to people around the world through a micro-lending program. 

Throughout the course of the program, the youth learn about financial literacy, entrepreneurship, personal selling and micro lending.   

“I can tell you already that our objective is to facilitate the implementation this program, or a similar program, here in Quebec,” explained Kelly-Gagnon.

“Being identified as a leader in the Enactus network and having our InStill Life program showcased to the audience in Quebec is testament to the strength of our team and the incredible programs and community partners we work with on a daily basis,” said Dr. Kyleen Myrah, Enactus Okanagan College faculty advisor. “I am looking forward to the relationships we are creating to bring our impact to even greater levels across Canada.”

Enactus Okanagan College president Tom Arrowsmith was a part of the Okanagan College team that traveled to Montreal to present the project and said the experience has the potential to create a new partnership that could increase the project’s impact across the country.

“What a fantastic opportunity to present our InStill Life project to students, donors and business leaders in the Quebec region,” said Arrowsmith. “Our team is excited to see how this program can grow and expand both locally and across Canada.”
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

As part of the College's orientation events, the Coyotes will be attending a tailgate party at the Kelowna campus on Sept 11 at 6 p.m. It's a great chance to meet the team.

Photo credit: Greystoke Photography


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

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