Record number at Connections 2016

Connections 2016 iocHundreds of Okanagan College employees from all regions will participate in Connections, the College’s 11th annual employee learning conference on Aug. 23 and 24.

The theme of this year’s conference is Building on our Strengths. More than 400 people registered this year, a record number for the event.

Over the course of the two days employees will take part in learning sessions on everything from cooking with inspired local ingredients to exploring Indigenous knowledge and culture. Workshops are focused on personal and professional development, from health and fitness to information technologies. New for 2016, Connections EXPO will give employees a chance to share their expertise and learn what their colleagues are passionate about when they are not at work; sessions cover dancing, roller derby, painting, music, studio woodworking, canoeing, and more.

Each day begins with President Jim Hamilton’s opening remarks that recap the year’s successes. The annual Connections video highlights the College’s new strategic plan and examines five key directions moving toward 2020. A live stream of Hamilton’s address and the Connections video can be viewed here on August 24 beginning at 9:30 a.m.  

At the conclusion of each day participants have the opportunity to relax and socialize with their peers while enjoying locally crafted beverages provided by Big Surf, Rider Cider, Okanagan Spirits and Little Engine Wines.

Morgan and Gakhal join Okanagan College board

Gloria Morgan IOCTwo new members, both with impressive track records for community service, have been appointed to the Okanagan College Board of Governors.

Gloria Morgan, former Chief of the Splats’in Indian Band (2001 to 2005), has been appointed for two years, while Vernon lawyer Riminder Gakhal, an Associate at Davidson Pringle LLP in Vernon, will serve until Dec. 31, 2017.

Gakhal also serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Vernon and District Immigrant Services. She is also a director of the Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Services Agencies, a province-wide association working with more than 70 member agencies which serve immigrants and work to build culturally-inclusive communities.

Riminder GakhalMorgan has been an RCMP officer, a criminal defence lawyer and a Crown Prosecutor. She was the President of the Enderby and District Chamber of Commerce, and member of the RCMP’s E Division Aboriginal Advisory Committee, and served on the board of the Provincial Community Co-ordination for Women’s Safety. She was recently appointed to the BC Patient Safety and Quality Council and serves on the BC Patient Care and Quality Review Board. She was the recipient of the Community Leader Awards – Community Builder award 2016, North Okanagan.

“I know that both Gloria and Riminder will add to the strengths of our current board,” says Connie Denesiuk, Chair of the Okanagan College Board of Governors. “Their experience, enthusiasm and energy will be welcome.”

Read on in the press release.

Comba and Stewart receive Alumni Association’s top honours

stewart iocEmbodying Okanagan College’s mission to transform lives and communities, two outstanding alumni are being recognized by the Okanagan College Alumni Association (OCAA) for their contributions to the College and the communities in which they live.  

Heather Stewart, a sought-after organizational development consultant and founder of Sage Transitions, will receive this year’s OCAA Distinguished Alumni Award. The award recognizes excellence in the areas of leadership, the environment, business or industry, public or community service, the arts, and/or support for Okanagan College.

comba ioc 2016Sarah Comba will receive the OCAA Young Alumni Award, which recognizes extraordinary contributions of an alumnus who is under the age of 35. Comba earned a Business Administration Diploma in 2007. While in her second year of studies at the College, Comba partnered with the Alumni Association to launch the Pay it Forward campaign, which invited the College community to contribute useful items – clothing, food, toiletries – for the Kelowna Gospel Mission, Inn from the Cold, and other local organizations serving those in need in the community. More than a decade later, the campaign she founded is still going strong.

“Heather and Sarah have each focused a great deal of their time, expertise and energy into making Okanagan College and their community an even better place,” says Kara Kazimer, President of the Board, Okanagan College Alumni Association. “On behalf of my fellow OCAA board members, I commend both of this year’s award recipients on their accomplishments and the high bar they have set for our future OC alumni.”

Comba and Stewart’s accomplishments will be honoured at the OCAA awards ceremony and reception at the College’s Kelowna campus on Sept. 13, 2016. For more information about the awards and previous recipients, please visit Read the full story in the press release.

College announces second intake of Construction Craft Worker Aboriginal Bridging program 

CCWAB image iocAmid strong demand for construction trades workers across the province, Okanagan College is offering a second intake of a unique program designed to help Aboriginal students get on the fast-track to employment in the sector.

Last spring, the College launched its Red Seal Construction Craft Worker apprenticeship program. In November, the College collaborated with the province and local bands and First Nations to develop an intake customized specifically for Aboriginal students. Twelve First Nation and Metis students, aged 20-56, completed the program.

Next month, the College, in partnership with BC Hydro, will offer a new intake of the program, Construction Craft Worker Aboriginal Bridging (CCWAB). Delivered at Westbank First Nation (WFN) and the College’s Kelowna campus, this hands-on program will cover a variety of topics, from trades math to carpentry skills to workforce training certifications. The program is tuition-free and includes work boots, bus passes, group study sessions, cultural activities, volunteer work experience and job search skills to remove potential barriers and support success.
“Working with, and learning from, the Indigenous community is one of the key directions in Okanagan College’s new strategic plan,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “This course is an example of ongoing collaboration with our local bands and First Nation communities, employers and the province to provide training that is responsive to the needs of industry and highly supportive for our Indigenous learners.”

Learn more about this unique opportunity in the press release.


OC and Toyota Technical College celebrate 25-year collaboration spanning oceans and cultures

toyots studentsIn 1991 the first students from Toyota Technical College arrived at Okanagan College to participate in a summer program of collision repair training and learning English. It ignited the curiosity of students and revved up a relationship still going strong 25 years later.

Last week, a record 110 students from the Japanese institution completed the program, bringing the total to more than 1,000 participants since it began in 1992. On Friday, Aug. 19, Toyota Technical College President Kazunori Ikeyama joined President Jim Hamilton in congratulating students and reflecting on the program’s transformative impact.

“It is a program and a partnership that means a great deal to both institutions,” said Ikeyama.

“What started out as an educational partnership has become, in many ways, so much more,” explained Hamilton. “The cross-cultural exchange that takes place has enriched our campus community tremendously over the years. The more than 1,000 students and the many teachers who have come here to learn about Canadian culture have been, and will continue to be, our honoured guests, friends, learners, and teachers.”

Video from the event can be found here. Coverage from Global News can be viewed here. Read more in the press release.

Ten years of sharing his passion for photography

Tom Cooper ioc 2016A decade after teaching his first photography course at Okanagan College, award-winning professional photographer Tom Cooper says he is still advancing his craft, thanks to students.

An instructor in Okanagan College’s Continuing Studies and Corporate Training department, Cooper remains as excited as ever about helping photography enthusiasts get the most out of their cameras and learn the nuances of composition.

“Photography is a lifelong interest for me that persists,” he says. “Teaching at Okanagan College for the past 10 years has helped fuel that interest, as I watch a whole variety of different people discover things about photography and their cameras.

“I learn from students too – I end up probing the limits of my craft.”

Cooper’s Kelowna classes focus on digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera essentials, creative modes and advanced features and functions. Read his five essential skills for good photography in the press release.

Renowned Foundational scholar visits Okanagan College

Berni Aquilina iocBerni Aquilina, Head Teacher of Foundational Skills  (Adult Basic Education) from West/Mudgee Australia recently visited Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm campus. Aquilina is on a Canadian research tour after being awarded Australia’s NSW Premier’s Teacher Samsung Technology in Rural and Remote Schools Scholarship.

Aquilina met with Tracy Riley, fundamental English instructor and coordinator for Adult Basic Education at the Salmon Arm campus. Both Riley and Aquilina specialize in delivering community based literacy programs in remote and rural areas.

Aquilina is interested in exploring delivery of foundation skills to remote Aboriginal learners using technology and in culturally appropriate ways. The Salmon Arm campus was one of several investigative stops for Aquilina on her Western Canada tour this summer. Read more about Aquilina’s work and her visit to Okanagan College in her blog.

Education uncorks wine industry opportunity

Ryan Fipke Aug 2016Ryan Fipke spends much of his time enthusiastically showcasing Okanagan wine to visitors from all over the world. He is also a passionate advocate of the importance of education for industry professionals, and those looking to step into careers in the valley’s bustling wine industry.

As tasting room supervisor and sales co-ordinator for Tantalus Vineyards, Fipke has already witnessed tremendous growth in the region during his time in the industry and only sees more growth on the horizon. Recently, the B.C., Quebec and Ontario governments announced they would make interprovincial sales easier by removing trade barriers. He notes that education for industry professionals will be a critical factor if the Okanagan is to continue growing its reputation – both across Canada and internationally – as a producer of world-class wines.

Having completed three of the wine industry certificate programs Okanagan College offers: Wine Sales, Viticulture, and Winery Assistant, Fipke is quick to point out the advantage gained by wearing many hats in the industry.

“The practicums are one of the best things about the programs,” says Fipke. “It’s where you get the hands-on experience and where you get to learn from the experts.”

Read Fipke’s story in the press release.

August 23, 2016, Vol. 11, Issue 11


Summer hours end Sept. 2

A reminder to all employees that summers hours will end on Friday, Sept. 2.  Regular hours will resume on Sept. 6.

Library closure - Aug 31

All Okanagan College Libraries will be closed on Wednesday, Aug. 31, for Library Services' annual in-service meeting.

Volunteers still needed for Kelowna campus orientation - Sept. 6.

Employees are invited to volunteer at the Kelowna campus orientation event on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. There are numerous spots/duties that need to be filled:
• Parking lot volunteers to direct students to the event – approximately 8:30 – 9:30 a.m.
• Floaters for the afternoon lunch/activities – between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (will be assigned depending on need and times available)
• Volunteers for the welcome/information tables in the afternoon – approximately 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. .

Volunteers will receive a free lunch. For more information or to sign-up online, click here.

OCAA announces new alumni wine partnerships

The Okanagan College Alumni Association is pleased to announce new wine partnerships with St. Hubertus Estate Winery and Indigenous World Wines.

Proceeds from the sale of the wines through the alumni office will help support programming that includes student bursaries and the Alumni mentorship series.

Click here to view the new alumni wine varietals. To place an order, please email Bobbie-Jo Koutsantonis and be sure to identify the desired varietal(s) and quantities. Remember to include the room number where you would like the wine delivered. Orders typically take approximately five business days to process and invoices will be sent to you directly.

Penticton campus: September roadwork advisory

Resurfacing along Highway 97 starting at the Duncan Ave. West intersection in Penticton will begin on Sept. 6. Please be advised the roadwork may cause disruptions and delays when accessing the Penticton campus and when driving to the campus from Summerland or north (Kelowna). The project is expected to be completed in November. Instructors and students may need to leave a little more time for travel.

Family Award application deadline for Fall

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 Sept. 1 - Dec. 31, 2016. 

Full award criteria and the application form can be found in myOkanagan under “OC Express – Forms." Click on “Foundation," or click here to download the application form. 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 Sept. 30, 2016. 

For more information, email the Financial Aid and Awards Office or call 250-862-5419.
NOTE: There is no longer a requirement to acquire an additional email from HR to confirm relationship to applicant and verification that the employee is a continuing (regular) employee of Okanagan College.

Kelowna campus walking paths map online

Whether you have 10 minutes or an hour, OC has a walking path for you. Click here for an online map of walking paths on and around the Kelowna campus. Coming soon: a stationary outdoor fitness equipment will be located in the corner of C Building across the back from the Fitness Facility. Updates will be posted here when the outdoor fitness area opens.

Employee and Family Assistance program August newsletter and webinar

The August 2016 edition of the Employee and Family Assistance program newsletter can be viewed here. The topic for the month is Communicating with Teenagers. On August 31, Mary Roncarelli will lead a webinar entitled Managing the Menopause Middle, sharing perspectives and support for women. Click here to register for the webinar.


Kelowna campus employee summer BBQ

Aug. 25 – The summer BBQ has been rescheduled to Thursday, Aug. 25 in the courtyard. Employees are invited to drop in for cold drinks, delicious burgers, games of bocce, and great prizes to be won. Burgers will be ready at 4 p.m. Your $10 ticket entitles you to a burger and a beverage. 

Tickets can be purchased from the following social committee members:
 Lynda Dreaper (HR)
, Gerry Borne (Co-op)
,  Carlyn Young (Reg Office)
, and Katerina Hay (Alumni).

Celebrate Science Literacy Week

Sept. 19 - 25 – Discover the world of science with a display of science books, periodicals, databases, and DVDs which will be on display at each of the four Okanagan College Campus Libraries from Sept. 19 - 25. As part of national Science Literary Week, this event promotes public awareness of science and highlights resources available. Visit the Library webpage or your campus Library for more information about displays and events at each campus Library.


The 25 year collaboration between Okanagan College and Toyota Technical College which offers Collision Repair and English training opportunities for students of the Japanese institution was covered by Global News, Collision Repair Magazine, Castanet, and KelownaNow.

The inspiring story of two Okanagan College business students who earned prestigious international scholarships from the Irving K. Barber British Columbia Scholarship Society was shared by the Capital News.

Professional photographer and dedicated Okanagan College instructor Tom Cooper’s milestone of 10 years teaching was highlighted in the Aug. 13 edition of Okanagan Saturday.

Cloverdale Paint’s generous donation of $50,000 worth of product over five years to Okanagan College was heralded to readers throughout the region thanks to the Vernon Morning Star and The Daily Courier.

The College’s announcement of a second intake of the Construction Craft Worker Aboriginal Bridging Program (CCWAB) was shared by on Aug. 19.

September enrolments at UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College were discussed in a piece by on Aug. 19.

News that local chef and OC instructor Mark Filatow will be competing in the Canadian Culinary Championships in February made The Capital News on Aug. 10.

MP Richard Cannings, 2008 Honorary Fellow of Okanagan College, was featured in an Aug. 10 article by The Oyosoos Times. Cannings discussed a number of issues impacting residents of his South Okanagan riding, including the province’s direction on a new national park reserve.

Former Okanagan College instructor and current Summerland city councillor Toni Boot is putting her name forward a provincial candidate for the New Democratic Party, as told by The Summerland Review on Aug. 18.

The appointment of Gloria Morgan and Riminder Gakhal to the Okanagan College Board of Governors made the pages of The Vernon Morning Star and The Daily Courier.

OC Alumnus Ryan Fipke was profiled in The Capital News and Castanet for his success in parlaying education into opportunity in the wine industry.

Rising Canadian country music star and Okanagan College alumnus Ben Klick was profiled by KelownaNow for his recent success as a finalist in a prestigious mentorship program from Canada’s Walk of Fame.

Okanagan College Education Assistant program graduate Cindy Strinholm's work as an EA in School District #83 was showcased in the pages of The Salmon Arm Observer on August 17.


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

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 Sept. 6, 2016.