Finalists named for 8th annual Ryga Award

rygaThe George Ryga Society and Okanagan College have announced the shortlist for the eighth annual George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature.

The son of poor Ukrainian immigrants, George Ryga settled in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, where he was known as a feisty playwright committed to social justice in works like The Ecstasy of Rita Joe (1969).

The Ryga Award celebrates his legacy by searching for an outstanding work of literary and social value by a B.C. writer. The 2011 competition marks the expansion of the shortlist from three books to five due to a record number of submissions -- 57 in all.

“It’s a happy problem for us,” said Matt Kavanagh, chair of the Department of English at the College. “There are a number of worthy titles, which prompted a lively debate at our shortlisting meeting. The finalists range from a harrowing examination of human trafficking in Canada to a close study of B.C.’s iconic Cowichan sweater, which reveals how Aboriginal women have woven themselves into the fabric of our nation.”

The shortlist was announced on July 27 -- Ryga’s birthday. This year’s finalists are:

•    Gabor Gasztonyi’s A Room in the City (Anvil Press)
•    Sylvia Olsen’s Working with Wool: A Coast Salish Legacy and the Cowichan Sweater (Sono Nis Press)
•    Benjamin Perrin’s Invisible Chains (Penguin)
•    John Vaillant’s The Tiger (Knopf Canada)
•    Richard Wagamese’s One Story, One Song (Douglas & McIntyre)

The winner of the 2011 Ryga Award will be announced at a gala presentation on Oct. 1 held at the Centre Stage Theatre in Summerland, B.C. Andrew Steeves of Gaspereau Press (publisher of Johanna Skibsrud’s Giller Prize-winning novel The Sentimentalists) will serve as the judge.

This year's award evening will showcase “Portrait of a Lady: A Tribute to Margaret Laurence” featuring Dorian Kohl in her acclaimed performance as heroine Hagar Shipley, based on George Ryga's seminal adaptation of Laurence's classic novel The Stone Angel with dramaturgy by Michael Cook.

Tickets for the 8th Annual George Ryga Award evening and this special performance of "Portrait of a Lady" are $20 and available at Martin's Flowers in Summerland (250-494-5432), The Dragon's Den in Penticton (250-492-3011), the Okanagan College Bookstore (250-862-5622) or at the door.

The Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature is made possible by support from B.C. Bookworld, CBC Radio One (Kelowna) and Okanagan College.

NSERC accreditation opens opportunities for grant applications

coeNews of Okanagan College’s acceptance by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) has opened the door to a wide range of funding opportunities for the College, as it is now eligible to apply for NSERC grants.

With the completion of Penticton's Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation, Okanagan College has established its reputation in the area of clean technologies and green buildings. 
Okanagan College is considering applying for a NSERC Partnership Workshops Program grant to fund two daylong workshops to build new collaborations and strategies in the area of next generation green buildings and associated clean technologies.

The grant is worth a maximum of $25,000 and the workshop must include both academic and industrial partners. The hope is to hold the event in Vancouver and Penticton in the fall.

Employees are encouraged to become engaged in this process from the very beginning – anyone interested in participating can contact Douglas MacLeod, Associate Dean of Science, Technology and Health.

Busey creates buzz around Centre of Excellence

shellOne of Canada's best-known advocates of smarter, more energy-efficient construction is convinced Okanagan College's latest project is advancing the green building agenda.

Shell Busey, who has become an iconic radio and television personality over several decades of broadcasting, visited the College's $28-million Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation with his wife Frankie recently and was more than impressed: he was excited by the integration of energy-saving technologies and B.C. products and innovation.

"It is remarkable," said Busey, who was a key part of developing and promoting B.C. Hydro's Power Smart program in the 1990s. "People who tour the building will leave knowing that we can build comfortable, attractive structures that save energy. With imagination, foresight and determination we can change the places we live and work in."

Busey was impressed with how the building uses the power of the sun to generate electricity and provide light, and with the solar chimneys and geothermal systems that help heat and cool the facility. "It's also encouraging to see B.C. wood and B.C. innovations play such a key role in the structure," he said.

Busey made the Centre of Excellence and Penticton his first stops after relinquishing his behind-the-mic role at the Corus Radio Network's Home Discovery Show, which is broadcast across Western Canada and into Ontario. He's anticipating some heart surgery and then will return to create an ongoing series of informational and educational pre-recorded radio and video training programs, which will be made available for network radio and the Internet.

"I'll definitely be talking about the Centre of Excellence," said Busey. "It deserves the international attention it's getting and we need to get the message out that this type of construction is not only possible, but practical."

For more about Shell Busey, visit:


Hawley featured in ninth annual A Verse to Summer

AlixCBC listeners had the opportunity to hear creative poetry at work when English professor Alix Hawley delivered her latest poem in the A Verse to Summer series. With help from Jake Kennedy and Marion Barschel, Alix delivered her poem, The parrot, better called the dragon, to CBC listener Jill, who provided the theme for the poem.

This year’s series is based on the sounds of summer and after hearing the screeching call of two large macaw parrots in the woods, CBC radio listener Jill asked Alix to write a poem about the unexpected summer noise.

In an attempt to keep Alix on her toes, Jake Kennedy and Kevin McPherson added two constraints to her assignment: to write the piece as a cento (a poem which is composed of verses, lines or passages from other authors) and mesostic poem (which includes a vertical phrase within the horizontal text.) Follow this link to listen to Alix read her poem with help from Marion and Jake.

Also featured on last week's A Verse to Summer was College of the Rockies English professor Angie Abdou. Angie was tasked with writing a Flarf (a style of poem that is derived from the Internet - also known as Google word art.) Jake Kennedy and Kevin McPherson challenged Angie to write her poem about hot tubs using only language found on a Google search. Follow this link to listen to Angie's Hot Tub Flarf.

Don’t forget to tune into CBC Radio this Friday morning to listen as Jason Dewinetz delivers his summer sound poem. Jake challenged Jason to write the original piece using onomatopoeia and must be recognizably a children’s rhyme. 

Follow this link to listen as Jake assigns Jason with his poetry challenge for the week.

RoboBros continue to make headlines

Pat Bulmer, City Editor of the Kelowna Daily Courier, focused his editorial this weekend on the achievements of Vernon brothers Nelson and Hudson Schier, who recently won the world RoboCup Junior challenge in Turkey. Bulmer points to the RoboBros achievements as evidence of the Okanagan’s bright future in the international high-tech sector.

Bulmer also mentioned Okanagan College Electronic Engineering Technology instructor Nadir Ould-Khessal – Nadir brought the RoboCup competition to Okanagan College five years ago. Bulmer and Nadir agree that competition such as RoboCup set the stage for dynamic career and educational opportunities for students when they are exposed to high tech at a young age.

If you missed the Public Affairs press release about the RoboBros big win, follow this link. Interested in reading the editorial? Find it here.

Dahl meets the mark in lake swim

Psychology professor Leora Dahl recently achieved a personal goal when she took part in the historic Across the Lake Swim, held in Lake Okanagan in mid July. Leora set a goal of completing the open water 2.1 km swim in 35 minutes. Good conditions and strong swimming helped her beat that goal - she finished the swim in 32:26.

August 2, 2011 Vol. 5 Issue 9


Life Skills Coach training comes to Vernon

The YWCA Toronto Life Skills Coach Certificate Training program is coming to Vernon and is being hosted by Continuing Studies in Vernon. Life Skills coach training is for group leaders who work in social services, career counselling, education, mental health, human resources, rehabilitation, or as consultants and trainers.

A Life Skills coach facilitates adult learning and behaviour changes by practicing problem solving behaviours in a group environment through the use of experiential tools and techniques.

In this course, participants will: 

Discover their individual learning style

Learn an adult education lesson plan template

Practice giving and receiving feedback on presentation skills

Learn the six-step problem-solving strategy

Understand the stages of group development

Discuss adaptations to different client-group needs

Increase confidence as leaders

The course costs $875 and runs from Oct. 17-21. Registration must be received by September 16. Follow this link for more information about the program and how to register.

50/50 winner announced

Congratulations to Kathryn Neilsen from Culinary Arts at the Kelowna campus, who has won the Friday July 29, 2011 payday draw for $530. All Okanagan College employees are eligible to participate in the Okanagan College Foundation 50/50 Staff Lottery.

If you wish to sign up, registration forms are available from Tessa Derksen (Local 4774) in the Advancement & Alumni/Okanagan College Foundation office (located in P103, KLO Campus) or from Human Resources.


Aug. 4 - Parks Alive! Kelowna will host an acoustic indie band themed night in the courtyard of the Kelowna campus from 6 - 9 p.m. This fun family event will feature music by Alex and Ibriam, Aaron Gordon and Soul Remedy. Admission is free and donations are welcome. Details about the Parks Alive! summer program can be found online at or

Aug. 23-24 – Mark your calendar for Connections 2011. Register today for Okanagan College’s annual employee learning conference in Penticton. Haven’t had a chance to tour the new Centre of Excellence? Find out what all the international buzz is about and tour the new building. Learn about its sophisticated and innovative systems, design, and construction. Follow this link to learn more or register for Connections. Questions can be directed to Michelle Lowry.


Business professor Robert Wright was featured in the Kelowna Capital News when his article about how small businesses can gain an online presence was picked up. Read more in: Creating an online presence.

The Vernon Morning Star picked up a Public Affairs press release announcing Okanagan College’s NSERC accreditation. Read more in: Okanagan College granted research funding opportunity.

The Penticton Herald published an article featuring the technology incubator and innovation centre – Accelerate Okanagan – which is being housed in the new Centre of Excellence. Read more about the opportunities Accelerate Okanagan will create through its partnership with Okanagan College in: Incubator begins with Accelerate Okanagan.

A Public Affairs press release featuring Shell Busey’s recent trip to the Centre of Excellence was picked up by the Okanagan Saturday. Read more in: College centre wows green builder.

A recent win on the world robotics stage has earned the RoboBros some serious media coverage. Read more about the Vernon brothers who got their programming start at Okanagan College’s RoboCup in: Sweet victory for the Robo Bros., Vernon brothers winners at world robotics contest, and Robots dance rosy future.

Members of Okanagan College’s English department recently announced the shortlist of finalists for the Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature. Local coverage included: Ryga Award finalists named and Ryga Award finalists announced.

Home Hardware Building Centre recently donated $25,000 to the College’s Centre of Excellence in Penticton. Read more about how the donation will assist students in: Pro Builders on board.

The Okanagan College Coyotes starting pitcher, Corey Wood, had the opportunity to pitch a few innings at the World Baseball Challenge in Prince George. Corey played on Team Canada and helped carry the team to a fourth place finish. Read more about Corey's experience at the international event in: Former Riverite pitches for Team Canada.

In his Summerland Review column, Penticton MLA Bill Barisoff made mention of Okanagan College's Centre of Excellence as an example of a provincial achievement in building that complements the B.C. lumber industry in providing educational opportunities in sustainable building. Read more in: Efforts made to help firefighters.

A partnership between Okanagan College’s Residential Construction students and Agur Lake Camp has resulted in opportunities for people with disabilities to experience the wilderness in a barrier-free environment. Read more about the project in: Camp gets charge out of gift and Cabins constructed at Agur Lake.

Continuing Studies' Camp OC received media coverage last week for the wide variety of fun and educational programming its summer kids' camps provide throughout the region. Read more about the camps in: Intelligent fun at summer camp in the Okanagan.

Allan Coyle filled in for Jane Muskens, contributing a School’s In column while Jane was on vacation. Allan commented on recent media dialogue about the college vs. university debate. Read more in: Columnist incites debate on post-secondary investment.

A Public Affairs press release and photo featuring a recent graduate of the Home Inspection program was picked up in the Okanagan Saturday. Read more about Brad Gaynor’s experience in the program in: Home inspectors in demand.

News of Laura Thurnheer’s recent appointment to the B.C. Wine Authority Board made the pages of the Kelowna Capital News. Read more in: Local appointment.

The Vernon Morning Star published a photo of Okanagan College students as they held a bake sale to raise funds for earthquake and tsunami relief in Japan.


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

The next edition of INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE will be issued on Tuesday, Aug. 16, which happens to be the birthday of a few well known folks such as comedian Steve Carell, tv host George Stroumboulopoulos, director James Cameron, pop star Madonna, and B.C.’s very own Stockwell Day.