Local non-profit proposes amphitheatre
for Vernon campus 

Aphitheatre IOCA proposed outdoor amphitheatre accommodating up to 5,500 people at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus could see large artistic and cultural events such as symphony orchestras and dance companies perform at a venue offering incredible views. Led by the non-profit Okanagan Summer Festival Society the proposed project was announced at a Greater Vernon Advisory Council meeting on Dec. 10.

With research in hand that speaks to the feasibility of the project, the Society has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the College’s Board of Governors that authorizes the Society to continue work on developing the idea. The expectation is that the Society would be wholly responsible for building and operating the facility on the College’s property in Coldstream under a long-term lease. In addition to the cultural events, the venue would be a space that would suit some of the College’s purposes.

The amphitheatre would take advantage of campus topography; notably a coulee that has not figured into long-term development plans for the institution. The next steps will be consultations within the broader community and stakeholder groups.
Visit for more information or login to College Matters.

Students’ presentation earns Enactus $1,000

Enactus ChangeUpThree Enactus Okanagan College students were voted into a third place finish by the community at the Okanagan Changemakers second ChangeUP Pitch event for the social enterprise initiatives the group undertakes throughout the year. Business students Aaron Corriolan, Lexi Keen, and Cooper Simson walked away with a $1,000 prize that will be put towards key Enactus projects and operating costs, such as for InnSpire soap sales.

This is the first time in its 10-year history that Enactus students were able to pitch to a live audience in their own community which was a terrific opportunity for those within the region to hear about the important work Enactus does. The Dec. 3 event took place in Kelowna with hundreds of guests in attendance. Helping the group succeed was the morale-boosting and voting support from a number of Business faculty and many familiar alumni faces in the audience.

The students were in good company at the competition with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Clubhouse Childcare, Metro Moving, Shoe Bank Canada, and Soil Mate also presenting.

As the students said in their pitch: “When you invest in Enactus, you invest in the Changemakers of tomorrow.”

The Joyce Foundation gift creates trades bursaries

Joyce Foundation ThanksA $250,000 donation from The Joyce Foundation will open doors to education for scores of current and future students at Okanagan College. The generous gift will be used to create entrance bursaries and augment existing financial aid for students in the College’s Trades and Apprenticeship programs.

As one of the largest donations ever received by Okanagan College for bursaries and student support, the funds will help create at least $50,000 in entrance bursaries for students demonstrating financial need (10 awards valued at $5,000 each). Additional entrance bursaries and funding for literacy and numeracy tutoring for trades students will be made available throughout 2016 and 2017.

Students are encouraged to apply starting in January through the Financial Aid & Awards website.

“We are very excited to see young people use these entrance awards as a catalyst for change in their lives,” says Kathy Butler, Executive Director of the Okanagan College Foundation. “And for our existing students in need of support, the impact will be just as profound – for some, it can mean the difference between staying in school or not.”

The Joyce Foundation provides access to education for children and youth with significant financial need or who are facing other socio-economic barriers to success. Showing gratitude to The Joyce Foundation Trades students, instructors, and College employees gathered to offer words of thanks in this video.

Read the press release here for more details.

New Winter/Spring Continuing Studies brochure 

CS Winter Spring 2015The new Continuing Studies brochure is now available – view the brochure online here. Why not grab your favourite caffeinated beverage and take a moment to browse what’s inside?
Find out more about Continuing Studies offerings here.
Feel free to share the link to the online brochure with your friends and family. You might just spark a New Year’s resolution to launch a new career, grow a business or explore a new passion project this January.

College students’ Stash Bash raises funds for
BC Cancer Foundation

OBSA Stash BashOkanagan College’s Business Students’ Association (OBSA) got behind the moustache cause this November to host the fourth annual Stash Bash. The group, in collaboration with Family Photos Kelowna, raised $2,250 in support of the BC Cancer Foundation in Kelowna benefiting prostate cancer research and treatment in our community.

More than 150 stash supporters attended this year’s student-led fundraising event, which was held on Nov. 14 at the Habitat Bar, and featured a performance from the local band Wild Son.

“You never beat cancer, but it’s comforting to know that there is research being done,” said Roger Hulstein, OBSA President. “For myself, and the OBSA team, it felt great to know we can contribute to helping improve treatment for patients. If everyone does a little bit, it helps.”

He adds that hosting a concert benefit for attendees to enjoy an evening of music is a fun way to get people to donate, rather than just asking for the funds.

Read the press release to learn more about the successful event.

Annual robot competition held at College

Robocup 2015The 10th annual Western Canada RoboCup Junior competition held at the Kelowna campus on Dec. 11 saw 45 teams from 13 elementary and high schools compete in the all-day robotics event hosted by the College’s Electronic Engineering Technology department.

Inspiring Grade 5 to 12 students in the fields of computer programming and engineering skills, students built homemade robots that were able to play soccer, rescue a pop-can victim, and dance to the beat.

Online Middle School SD23 swept first place finishes in the rescue challenge primary and secondary divisions. In the soccer challenge, Kelowna’s St. Joseph Elementary took home the three podium finishes in the primary division, while Lovbot Education won in the secondary category. Dancing their way into first place with their robots in the dance challenge was Lake Country’s Davidson Road Elementary. The top teams in each event qualify to compete in the World RoboCup in Germany this summer.

Student-crafted cabinets installed at Vernon fire hall

FD Vernon CabinetsCustom cabinets made by students and instructors in Okanagan College’s entry-level carpentry/joinery class earlier this year have now been installed in Vernon’s Predator Ridge fire hall.

Julia Braun was one of the 12 foundation program students who took a leading role in the hands-on curriculum project. “It gave us a real life perspective and understanding of what it will be like doing this kind of work out in the real world,” she said. “It’s really cool to be involved in a community project because you feel more invested in your work and it increases the value of a project.”

For the Fire Department, Vernon Fire Chief Keith Green noted that the beautiful new cabinets are great for the members and help make the new fire hall that much more functional.

New Carpentry tool crib made possible
with donor's support

CLAC DonationThe College’s carpentry shop got a boost with the support of one of Canada’s largest national independent unions, the CLAC. Giving the College $30,000, the gift helped with the upgrades to the carpentry shop, which include the addition of the new tool crib, along with a new paint spray booth and a new dust extraction system.

Students in the Carpentry and RV Service Tech programs will use the tools. They will get to learn and practice their trade in a newly renovated shop that is far more modern and efficient. The location of the new tool crib makes it more accessible to students from their outside work spaces.

Read the press release to learn more about the donation and the ongoing Trades Complex construction.


Catherine Siermacheski joins Student Services

Catherine S student servicesCatherine Siermacheski will be stepping into her new role at Okanagan College as Executive Assistant to Student Services Director James Coble starting on Jan. 4, 2016. Catherine will be replacing Jasmine McGee who is going on maternity leave starting in January.

Catherine was previously with Aboriginal Access and Services, where she helped plan this year’s PowWow. She has an Interdisciplinary PhD from UBC Okanagan and a MA in First Nations Studies from the University of Northern BC. Starting in January she can be reached at local 4943.

Chef’s ice sculpture adds “frosty” element to campus

Ice CarvingReturning from an ice-carving bootcamp in Cleveland, Ohio, Culinary Arts instructor Chef Mike Barillaro showed off his refined skills with a beautiful stag ice sculpture on display outside Infusions Restaurant. The below freezing temperatures helped ensure the carving withstood the test of time for a few days and added a festive element as the campus gears up for the holiday season.

An ice-sculptor hobbyist for more than 30 years, Barillaro first learned ice carving when he was an apprentice and witnessed ice sculptures gracing ornate hotel buffets. The bootcamp he attended allowed him to fine-tune his technique and included learning to use templates for greater detail in the carvings and fusing ice pieces together. While in Ohio he carved a seven-foot tall antelope and an intricate octopus.

Hoping to pass along his passion for the chilly and creative artwork, he invited his students to witness the carving of the Kelowna sculpture that took two hours of careful chainsaw and die grinder handiwork.

Celebrating Michael Douglas’ retirement

After a long-time career with Okanagan College, Human Service Work instructor Michael Douglas has announced he will be retiring. In celebration of his career achievements and contributions, all employees are invited to an evening reception on Jan. 16, 2016, from 7 p.m. to midnight at the Mission Hall (4409 Lakeshore Road, Kelowna). Live band Feet First will perform, pub-style food will be served, and a cash bar for charity will be available.

Tickets to the event are $20 and need to be purchased by Jan. 2. View this poster for more information.

OC team does the Santa Shuffle

Santa Shuffle 2015Eight brave souls didn’t let a little wind and rain discourage them from being part of Team OC in the Santa Shuffle on Dec. 5. This was the sixth year for the group of College participants and a record year for the event with 350 registered runners. The Santa Shuffle is an annual event in Kelowna organized by the Salvation Army consisting of a 5km walk or run, as well as a 1k Elf walk. All donations go to feed local families at Christmas.

The runners included Margaret Johnson, Michele McCready, Michelle Walker, Markus Heinrichs, Drew Petrie, Tammy Richardson, Mark Scorah and Michelle Lowry. Anyone interested in lacing up and joining next year can contact Michelle Walker.

Professors’ published book demystifies
the born criminal

Myth Born CriminalThe culmination of five years of research and putting pen to paper, Okanagan College’s Criminology Professor Dr. Jarkko Jalava and Psychology Professor Dr. Stephanie Griffiths have co-authored alongside SFU professor Michael Maraun the analytical and research based book “The Myth of the Born Criminal.”

The book is considered one of the first comprehensive critiques of the idea that psychopathy, as it relates to criminals such as serial killers, is a biologically based condition. Rather, the authors theorize and present compelling evidence that the attribution of a brain disorder to psychopathic criminals is a way to provide comfort to a society desperately trying to understand the mystery of such evil criminals.

Since the publication of the book, Jalava and Griffiths have also published two articles on psychopathy and moral/criminal responsibility. Jalava also presented a talk of the same title on Dec. 7 as part of the Penticton Speakers Series.

Employees bring Christmas joy to a student in need

Santa's helpers 2015A second-year Okanagan College student in Kelowna, who is a single mother, is able to provide a Christmas to her three young daughters this year thanks to a little help from Santa’s helpers in the Advancement & Alumni, Ancillary Business Services, and Facilities Management departments. The group of employees supported the family who was identified by Financial Aid & Awards as being in need.

The challenge of being a student with a family to support on your own is stressful enough during the semester, but it is made even more so during the holidays. Making things even more difficult, the student’s car, and everything in it including the car seats, was stolen last month. The elves in the P-Building were so happy to be able to provide some extra support to make this student and her children’s Christmas a little brighter.

Exploring housing and Kelowna’s aging population

Heather Brown, Okanagan College Admissions Assistant, recently had a peer-reviewed article published by the Journal of Rural and Community Development. The article, "Aging-in-Place in a Mid-size Canadian City: A Case Study of the Housing Experiences of Seniors in Kelowna’s Housing Market” focuses on the main housing barriers seniors face, their coping strategies, and the benefits of aging-in-place.

Dec. 15, 2015, Vol. 10, Issue 19

College 2015 Holiday closure

Okanagan College will be closed to the public during the holiday season beginning Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015 at 3 p.m., and will re-open on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016. Employees can login to myOkanagan to review the holiday schedule.

Future of Half Marathon reliant on new committee members

Each year since 2003 Okanagan College, and formerly OUC, has hosted a 21.1 km half marathon. The not-for-profit event connects runners with the College community and raises money for student bursaries.

After 13 years of delivering an outstanding experience for participants, the future of the race is uncertain due to a lack of new membership on the organizing committee.

“The race was initiated by a small group of dedicated employees who were running enthusiasts and they worked really hard to develop the event,” explained race director Christine Ulmer. “After many years of service, the original committee members have stepped down to free up some of their volunteer hours and to allow for others to get involved. The organizing group has become too small to sustain the event and we are seeking new members to keep this great race going.”

The race takes place on a Sunday in early April and all aspects are organized by the employee-based committee. Help is needed with everything from planning and logistics to volunteer coordination and working with the City of Kelowna and other partners.

Anyone interested in joining the committee or finding out more about the volunteer role and what it entails is encouraged to contact Christine by Dec. 18, 2015.

Information Technology Resources policy update

Recent updates were made to the Use of Information Technology Resources Policy. Employees can familiarize themselves with the most up to date policy version online. The policy that was updated was E.5.1.

Winter Convocation
volunteers needed 

Public Affairs is seeking volunteers for Winter Convocation on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 to serve as ushers at Convocation and assist with the reception thereafter. Volunteers are needed from 9:30 a.m. to approximately 1:30 p.m. (the ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m.). Please contact Michelle Lowry if available and interested.
Faculty who would like to attend the ceremony should advise Michelle in advance. If a regalia rental is required, please provide your height, highest awarded credential and which institution your credential is from.

Family Award applications:
deadline Jan. 21, 2016 

Applications are now being accepted for the next round of the Okanagan College Family Award, designed for immediate family members of continuing (regular) Okanagan College employees. This round of applications is for programs or terms starting between Jan. 1 and April 30, 2016.
Full award criteria and the application form can be found in myOkanagan under “OC Express – Forms,” and then click on “Foundation.” All applications must be date-stamped at the Student Services Administration office in Kelowna (or at the Campus Administration office in Penticton, Vernon or Salmon Arm) by Jan. 31, 2016. For more information, contact the Financial Aid and Awards Office by email or 250-862-5419.

Kelowna fitness facility closure

The Kelowna fitness facility will be closed for the holidays from Friday, Dec. 18 at 4:30 p.m., re-opening on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016.

College Pension Plan
changes for 2016 

A reminder that changes to the College Pension Plan will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016. These changes will affect the pension formula, early retirement reductions and contribution rates. For more information, visit the Modernizing the Plan webpage.

Two online purchase cost estimators will take into account the plan design changes. You can now use the Personalized Purchase Cost Estimator and the General Purchase Cost Estimator to calculate how much it will cost to purchase a period of service, such as an approved leave of absence, for dates after Jan. 1, 2016.

A single, simplified contribution rate will replace the current two-tiered contribution rates for members and employers. All members will pay a single contribution rate of 9.86 per cent on all their salary and employers will pay 9.96 per cent on all members’ salaries.

Health and wellness resources

The December edition of The Balance Sheet newsletter focuses on financial health and how to simplify things during the holidays to ease stress. An article highlights the importance of an emergency fund and tips on how to get one started. Another article proposes strategies on how to manage the demands of the holiday season to better enjoy the moments. 

Register here for the Wednesday, Dec. 16 informational webinar titled "Holiday Finances.”


Employee Winter Carnival

Dec. 23 – Employees are invited to celebrate the holidays with their peers during an afternoon Winter Carnival from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in the Centre for Learning at the Kelowna campus. Hot and cold appetizers will be served along with coffee, hot chocolate, and cold drinks. The afternoon reception, hosted by the Central Okanagan Regional Dean’s office, will replace the annual trades luncheon for 2015. Happy Holidays!

Coyotes Baseball fundraiser: Sportsnet’s Gregg Zaun

Jan. 14 - Join Sportsnet’s baseball and Blue Jays analyst Gregg Zaun for a fundraising event benefiting the Okanagan College Coyotes. Enjoy an evening of appetizers and beverages from The Canadian Brewhouse, a silent auction and a 50/50 draw. The event will be in the atrium of the Centre for Learning at the Kelowna campus starting at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $100 and available on the Coyotes website.


Media outlets throughout the Valley reported the announcement of a proposed amphitheatre at the Vernon campus spearheaded by the non-profit Okanagan Summer Festival Society. Read the Vernon Morning Star’s article Amphiteatre proposed for Kalamalka Lake hillside online. The article "Amphitheatre proposed at Vernon college campus" was published in both the Kelowna Daily Courier and the Penticton Herald on Dec. 11. Click on the links to read Castanet’s online article Amphitheatre proposed and watch the Global News Okanagan segment.

Things got techie at the Kelowna campus for the annual Western Canada RoboCup Junior competition. Both KelownaNow and Castanet shared the event details and photos of the young students and their robots online.

Programs offered at Okanagan College were highlighted in the Kelowna Capital News Education and Career Fair special insert. Read more about the Mobile Coding for Android and iOS course in Mobile coding career options. In Trades training at Okanagan College, opportunities for students are outlined including the Gateway to Trades and Women in Trades Training programs. A third article, Learning boundaries expanded, summarizes how opportunities beyond the classroom with competitions and conferences enrich the students’ learning experiences.

Donations to the Bright Horizons Building For Skills campaign continue to generate media headlines. CLAC’s $30,000 donation was captured in the Okanagan Sunday newspaper’s article Labour group’s gift helps college equip trades student, and also online by KelownaNow. Horizon Electric’s recent $100,000 gift to the College was also reported by the Okanagan Saturday with a published photo of the cheque presentation and a brief in Electric donation.

Meanwhile, the Okanagan Saturday noted that The Joyce Foundation contributed $250,000 to help trades students with bursaries and funding to pursue their studies in Thanks Joyce. Castanet shared a video of students saying thank you online and KelownaNow also published an online article about the new bursaries created.  

To help ensure students are aware about funding available for their trades training, an Okanagan College press release spread the word about the new LNG Canada Trades Training Fund. Online coverage included articles in Okanagan Life, KelownaNow, and a brief by business reporter Steve MacNaull in the Kelowna Daily Courier.

Prospective trades students from School District 22 toured the Tolko Lavington Division Plant as part of a glimpse into the Dual Credit-Trades Foundation program offered at Okanagan College. Read more in the Vernon Morning Star’s online article: Students explore career opportunities.

The Kelowna Capital News shared with its readers a recap of the ChangeUp event that saw Enactus students earn a third place finish, and a $1,000 prize, for their social initiatives in the community. Read more in: Social enterprises vie for prizes.

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, an OC alumnus, Okanagan College VP of Education Dr. Andrew Hay and Central Okanagan Regional Dean Heather Schneider were on hand to present City of Kelowna team jackets to 17 athletes and coaches who are heading to the International Children’s Winter Games in Austria this January. Read more in the Kelowna Daily Courier’s Champs Magazine article Team Kelowna.

The Okanagan Wine Festival paired up with WestJet to spread a little holiday cheer this season, providing 120 unsuspecting locals with wine and chocolate gift bags. The Kelowna Daily Courier article 120 random acts kindness quotes Okanagan College Business Professor Dr. Blair Baldwin, General Manger of the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society about the feel-good initiative.

In additional wine-fest news, Dr. Blair Baldwin provided commentary in the Business Examiner’s December issue about the Sun Peaks Winter Okanagan Wine Festival returning in January for its 18th year.

In Culinary Champs, the Okanagan Saturday shared a brief about the return of the Gold Medal Plates to the College's Kelowna campus in February.

Global News Okanagan shared the story of the Albetars, Syrian refugees welcomed in Summerland. Wife and mother Nadya Alsagher is taking a Fundamental English class in the AACP program in Penticton and working with a volunteer tutor in the Adult Literacy program at Okanagan College. 

The Kelowna Capital News shared details of the upcoming sports fundraiser with Sportsnet’s Gregg Zaun that will support the College’s Coyotes baseball team. Read more in Fundraiser to feature ex-Jay Gregg Zaun.

Okanagan College Enactus’ work with the Launch-a-preneur program was mentioned in the Business Examiner’s Community in Focus article about Salmon Arm.

Honorary Fellow Raghwa Gopal’s appointment as Accelerate Okanagan’s interim CEO was reported in the Business Examiner’s December article Accelerate Okanagan CEO resigns.

The generosity of Honorary Fellow Yasmin Thorpe and her husband Rick, both long-time supporters and donors to the College, were again noted in the Penticton Western News online for their contributions to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation.

The Osoyoos Times reported that Honorary Fellow and newly elected MP Richard Cannings has been assigned two critic portfolios as the NDP opposition: post secondary education and deputy critic for natural resources.


Do you have comments, questions or a submission for INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE? Please email Public Affairs c/o Axelle Bazett.

To ensure your submission is included, please send all details at least one day in advance of the newsletter’s publication.

The next edition of INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE will be issued on Jan. 12, 2016.