Vernon Trades Training Centre officially opens

Vernon Trades Training House openingA class of Plumbing and Piping Foundation trades students were the first to step through the doors of the newly completed Trades Training Centre at the Vernon campus at 7 a.m. this morning. A few hours later, they helped to officially open the space where they will hone their trade.

The Hon. Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training and Stephen Fuhr, Member of Parliament for Kelowna - Lake Country, joined OC President Jim Hamilton and other College officials, donors, industry and community members, students and alumni in a ribbon cutting ceremony at noon on Aug. 7.

The new 1,250 square-metre (13,450 square-foot) centre will accommodate about 150 students per year in Carpentry, Welding, Electrical, Plumbing and Piping, and Women in Trades programs. The centre will also bring trades students back to campus who were previously training at leased facilities near the Vernon airport. It has been constructed to meet the minimum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standard, building on the college’s commitment to delivering highly sustainable facilities.

In opening the new facility, President Hamilton acknowledged the depth of government, industry and community support which helped make the building a reality. The Province of B.C. provided $2.88 million and the Government of Canada provided $2.66 million toward the $6.2 million total project cost. The Okanagan College Foundation has raised nearly $1 million to cover the $673,000 capital construction cost, as well as provide support for students and programming. 

“This building is an expression of so much of what Okanagan College is about – expanding access to the highest quality training, opening doors to new, rewarding careers, educating the skilled workers needed to close the skills gap in the province, meeting employer needs, and building facilities that push the envelope for sustainable construction,” said Hamilton. “Thanks to the support of the federal and provincial governments and the remarkable generosity of our community and industry partners, this new facility will help train the students who will literally build our communities.”

Watch the recorded livestream of the ceremony on the College's Facebook page, view the photo gallery on Flickr and read more in the media release.

Four new Board members for Okanagan College

New Board MembersThe College’s Board of Governors welcomed four new members in July who each bring diverse examples of community involvement.

David Porteous, Juliette Cunningham, Shelly Cook and Tina Lee have been appointed to the College’s Board by the provincial government for one-year terms that began at the end of July.

Lee is an experienced communications and strategy professional from Penticton whose human rights and development work has spanned six continents and has ranged from influencing United Nations activity to developing municipal community engagement processes. 

Cunningham is a current City of Vernon Councillor, Vice-Chair of the Regional District of the North Okanagan, Vice-Chair of the Okanagan Basin Water Board as well as a business owner. She also has an extensive history of working with non-profit Boards such as the Women’s Centre, Junction Literacy, People Place, Museum and the Early Years Council.

Porteous is an employee group benefits consultant and writes for a quarterly senior’s magazine on health and benefits issues. He co-founded McIver-Porteous Insurance Services Ltd. In the 1980s and was president of Working Enterprises Insurance Services Ltd. He also started Canadian Administrative Underwriting Services Inc. and Working Enterprises Consulting & Benefits Services Ltd.

Cook is an Okanagan College alumnus and has more than 20 years’ experience working with disadvantaged populations in institutional and community-based settings in BC and Ontario. She has a Master's Degree in Human and Social Development from the University of Victoria and is currently completing her PhD in Community, Culture and Global Studies at the University of British Columbia - Okanagan. Before pursuing her doctoral studies, Cook was Executive Director of John Howard Society in Kelowna for 11 years. In 2017, Cook received a national award for innovation and urban sustainability (Dr. Alex Aylett Scholarship) related to her community-based research efforts. She was the candidate for the BC NDP- Kelowna-West in the 2017 General Election and the 2018 By-election.

Read on in the media release.


Thorpe awards help students step into College this fall

Thorpe awardMeghan Stayberg is only 18, but she’s already hosted multiple charity fundraisers, developed a leadership training program and holds a black belt in taekwondo. Her achievements and community involvement recently earned her new recognition – a $2,500 award towards her first year at Okanagan College. 

Stayberg is one of six students in the South Okanagan to receive a Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends scholarship. The annual awards are given to high school students who demonstrate good grades while contributing to their communities.

“Rick and Yasmin Thorpe are making an incredible difference for students by lightening their financial loads,” says Kathy Butler, executive director of the Okanagan College Foundation. “The Thorpe’s contributions to the College and student’s lives are significant and we’re grateful for their continued support.”

Helping young people is meaningful for Rick and Yasmin Thorpe, who have been giving scholarships to students at OC and UBC Okanagan for more than a decade. In total, the Thorpes have awarded 59 scholarships with a value of $127,250 to Okanagan College students.

Click here to read the full story.

Public invited to learn about Aboriginal Community Support Worker program

Alice GeorgeFor Alice George, the Aboriginal Community Support Worker (ACSW) program bridged her current career with her desire to help people. 

On Tuesday, Aug. 14, the community will get the chance to learn about the ACSW program during an information session held at 10 a.m. in room E105 at the Vernon campus. 

“The program gave me a better understanding of Indigenous history and current issues facing Indigenous communities today. If you’re willing to dig deeper and become self-aware of your own biases and values, you can really build on your professional skills. That is when the work becomes more interesting,” says George.

Dr. Dennis Silvestrone, Okanagan College’s Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Training, says the program is the product of extensive consultation with Indigenous communities throughout B.C.’s Interior.

“The growing need for social and community support workers with a deeper knowledge of the specific challenges facing Indigenous individuals and families prompted us to respond to this training need,” Silvestrone explains.

For more information, read the news release.

Aug. 7, 2018, Vol. 12, Issue 15


Mental Health First Aid training opportunity

Want to learn how to support student wellness? This two-day training course is an official program of the Mental Health Commission of Canada and Mental Health First Aid and is being offered to Okanagan College employees for free. The workshop is designed to give participants the skills to help someone who is in emotional distress or experiencing a mental health crisis.

Choose from two dates and two locations (Oct. 2-3 at the Kelowna campus or Oct. 23-24 at the CMHA Vernon Branch). For more information about this training opportunity, click here. 

IT scheduled maintenance – Aug. 11

IT has regular scheduled maintenance from 9 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, Aug. 11 that will cause a disruption in service for Banner and Banner related services. If you have any questions about the system downtime, please contact Jillian Stamp at extension 4638. 

OC Orientation volunteers needed

Orientation is just around the corner and is in need of a few volunteers at the Kelowna campus on Sept.4. The event welcomes more than 1,500 new students to OC and there are several opportunities to get involved and start building connections with incoming students. Volunteers are treated to a free lunch and sample beverages from local breweries and cideries during the afternoon Taste the Okanagan event. Click here to learn about how you can help and to sign up as a volunteer.

Call for volunteers

BrainTrust Canada is searching for two First Aid certified volunteers in support of their Pihl Paddle for Prevention Stand Up Paddleboard fundraiser on Sunday, Aug. 12. The event is held at Rotary Beach from 8:45 a.m. – 1 p.m. and volunteers will be fed throughout the event. Click here to sign up as a volunteer.

Family Award Fall application open

Applications are being accepted for the next round of the Okanagan College Family Award, designed for immediate family members of continuing (regular) College employees. This round of applications is for programs or terms starting between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31 and deadline for applications is Sept. 30.

Click here to download full award criteria and 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. For more information, please contact the Financial Aid and Awards office (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.

Bake Shop hours

Bake Shop is held every Friday at 1 p.m. at Infusions however during the first three weeks of August Bake Shop will be held on Thursdays instead. Join us at 1 p.m. in Infusions on Aug. 9 and 16 for delicious goods.

Summertime food services at Kelowna campus

Coffee shops

  • Fezziwig’s is open Mon-Thu from 7:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Friday from 7:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • DeBeans is open Mon-Fri from 8 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Food trucks return during the week from 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. (approximately)


  • Open Tue-Fri for lunch from 2 – 4 p.m. and dinner from 5 – 7 p.m. View menus here.
  • Will be closed Sept. 25-28 for curriculum purposes

The cafeteria is closed for the summer.


SPOKE Literary Festival

Aug. 10-12 – The third annual Spoke Literary Festival is happening from Aug. 10-12 and the College’s Vernon campus will once again host a number of workshops during the festival including four writing workshops and two literary and social gatherings. Learn more, find speakers/presenters and register by July 31 on the website.


Aug. 21 – 22 - Don’t forget to register for Connections, the College’s 13th annual employee learning conference being held at the Vernon campus on Aug. 21 and 22. Online registration will be open until Aug. 12. View the workshop planner to see what is being offered and click here to register.

Planting the Seeds

Aug. 28-29 – Planting the Seeds is a two-day orientation event for new and continuing faculty members. The event is hosted at the Kelowna campus in the Centre for Learning building in room E107. Participants will engage in experiential activities, discussions and teaching strategies that are transferable to a variety of learning environments.

The workshop runs from 8:45 a.m. – 3:45 p.m. on both days and registration is required. Click here to download the workshop brochure which outlines daily schedules and learning outcomes. To register and for more information, please email Learning and Applied Research.

Building on Progress 2018

Sept. 13-14 - Okanagan College and the Global Empowerment Coalition of the Central Okanagan have partnered with the Global Climate Action Summit to host an affiliate event during the Summit. With a focus on two of the Summit themes of healthy energy systems and sustainable communities, this affiliate event will demonstrate progress by showcasing local projects addressing sustainable energy, building and infrastructure. 

The event will include an ongoing expo with exhibits from local business and organizations helping to achieve climate progress and building toward a more sustainable future. The event is open to the public. Click here for more information.

Pre-Powwow seminar

Sept. 18 – In advance of the Youth Exhibition Powwow on Thursday, Sept. 20 (see below), come out and learn the meaning behind Powwow dances, songs and protocols. Join Powwow MC Richard Jackson from 2 – 3 p.m. in the Pit in the Student Services Centre at the Kelowna campus to learn what to expect at the powwow and enjoy refreshments afterwards. No registration is required, please arrive for 2 p.m. sharp.

If you have any questions, please contact Jewell Gillies at extension 4498. For more information, visit

10th Annual Youth Exhibition Powwow

Sept. 20 – OC is proud to host its 10th Annual Youth Exhibition Powwow in the courtyard at the Kelowna campus on Thursday, Sept. 20. The Powwow begins at 9 a.m. and the closing ceremony takes place at 4 p.m. Year after year dancers and drummers from across the B.C. interior attend this non-competitive Powwow and draw in a crowd of more than 1,000 visitors.

Everyone is welcome to attend and experience one of the most visual celebrations of Aboriginal culture and dance. Craft vendors will also be on site.

For more event details including maps and etiquette guides, visit

Castanet shared College alumna Alice George’s story about becoming an Aboriginal Community Support Worker and the upcoming program information session at OC.

Four new board members joined Okanagan College’s Board of Governors. The Vernon Morning Star and the Kelowna Capital News talked about the new members and their individual community initiatives.

OC alumna (1985) Brenda Martens and sustainability consultant to OC construction projects and policy has been appointed to the Order of BC. The BC Government shared information about this year’s 14 recipients.

OC School of Business Professor Dr. Kyleen Myrah chatted with Real Business about what it takes to succeed as a business graduate.

Two filmmakers have honed in on the curiously high concentration of local writers residing in the North Okanagan and are filming a documentary on the subject called Why We Write. The filmmakers are working around Vernon’s upcoming SPOKE Literary Festival (Aug. 10-12) and caught up with Vernon-based author and OC English Professor Hannah Calder as part of their research; the Vernon Morning Star shared details.

The Kelowna Capital News and the Penticton Herald gave information about the annual Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends scholarship which is helping six students in the South Okanagan step into Okanagan College this fall.

OC Criminal and Social Justice alumna Pexildah Chilufya was profiled in a contributed article to Castanet. The article tells her experience of immigrating to Canada and gives advice to others considering immigrating to Canada.


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

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 Aug. 21, 2018.