Students win big with accessible tourism pitch

The Winning PitchA junior team of four Okanagan College School of Business students have captured the regional title at The Winning Pitch competition for their innovative concept to expand accessible tourism opportunities in the Thompson Okanagan.

The Winning Pitch is a post-secondary student case competition presented by go2HR, British Columbia’s tourism human resources association. The competition was held at the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Summit in Osoyoos and tasked teams to develop an idea of a new tourism service that supports the development of accessible tourism opportunities in the province.

Second-year students Bryan Cresswell, Celina Matte, Emily Pilon and Zackery Plaxton made up the junior team entered by Okanagan College. They presented to a packed audience of local tourism stakeholders and judges on their winning idea, AccessFest – a seasonally inspired series of festivals for those with accessibility requirements.

The competition required students to build a full business plan and seek feedback from real community stakeholders.

The team’s pitch focused on four seasonal festivals in four different locations across B.C. Opportunities to spotlight everything from fully accessible restaurants and hotels to ski resorts and wineries were part of the pitch. Each festival would also feature the various areas’ unique aspects of culture and tourism to develop unique visitor experiences that are more accessible and inclusive.

The team will now go on to represent the Thompson Okanagan region at the provincial finals in February at the 2019 BC Tourism Industry Conference in Vancouver. Teams will present to a panel of judges and an audience of more than 1,000 conference attendees.

Read the full story here

OC community raises $12,000 for students

giving tues mm recapThanks to the generosity of the Okanagan College community more than $12,000 was raised to support students and new facilities on Giving Tuesday.

This was the first year Okanagan College participated in Giving Tuesday, a global day dedicated to giving and volunteering taking place each year after Black Friday. In honour of the day, the Okanagan College Foundation ran a series of short profiles recognizing and celebrating staff and faculty who give back. The Foundation also hosted a number of events to engage staff on the Kelowna campus.

“We can’t thank the Okanagan College community enough for their support,” says Kathy Butler, Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director. “Participation from staff, faculty and our larger community shows that caring really does start here.”

Some of the funds raised will go toward the new Health Sciences Centre, currently under construction on the Kelowna campus. A number of other gifts were directed to student scholarships and support.

“I have been here for 18 years and I’m grateful to come to work every day. I feel very fortunate and now it is my turn to give back,” says Angelika March, Assistant to the Regional Dean Kelowna campus, who participated in the giving campaign.

The Okanagan College Foundation would like to give special thanks to the different departments for contributing with in-kind support:

  • Food Services for providing cookies and coffee

  • Carpentry Trades & Gateway to Trades for Youth program for providing Christmas ornaments

  • Okanagan College Alumni Association for providing the wine prizes

  • OCSU Kelowna for hosting a Food Pantry collection bin

More health-care training in Vernon

An extra intake of Okanagan College’s Health Care Assistant (HCA) program is scheduled for February, giving students in the North Okanagan direct access to training for one of the most in-demand positions in B.C.

The College received $66,000 in one-time funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training to support delivery of the program in Vernon, which will also enhance access for residents of nearby Armstrong, Enderby, Salmon Arm and Sicamous.

According to WorkBC, health care assistants have been identified as a priority occupation for the B.C. Ministry of Health. Average employment growth rates in this field are forecasted at 13 per cent to 2022, with no sign of slowing down. This demand is anticipated to increase even more after the Government of B.C. announced funding to increase staffing levels in residential care homes for seniors, which aims to fund more than 900 health care assistants by 2021.

The HCA program is also being offered as a dual credit opportunity with School District 22.

An information night for people to learn more about the HCA program will be held on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 6 p.m. in Room D343 of the Vernon campus, 7000 College Way.

Read the full story here.

Grants help Enactus OC build momentum

Telus grant_1028Enactus Okanagan College's ball is not only rolling, but gaining significant momentum in 2019, thanks to the support of three grants from community organizations.

The student organization, supported by Okanagan School of Business, received a $6,000 grant from the TELUS Thompson Okanagan Community Board this month for the Accelerate Youth program. Enactus partnered with School District 23 and Westside Learning Centre to teach at-risk youth practical life skills like budgeting, banking and more. The grant will support program expansion to include Kelowna youth in the new year.

The student group received an additional $2,500 from the Co-operators Youth Mental Health Accelerator grant for the work the students are doing with the Journey Home initiative, Youth Advocates for Housing group. The project will involve art as a way of expression, education and healing, working in collaboration with youth who have lived or are living experiences with homelessness.

The Central Okanagan Foundation for Youth and United Way Gennext also awarded Enactus OC with $2,000 for the Silver Surfers program, which helps older generations learn technology skills to combat isolation.


College amasses significant funding for applied research

Seven applied research projects at Okanagan College have secured federal funding as of November 2018.

From creating voice-enabled technology, to examining wine purchase decisions to modular housing innovations, applied research projects at the College are conducted for industry and community partners throughout the Okanagan region. Funding was obtained from the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Successful grant applications include:

  • Brad Oliver (Trades), David Williams (Electronic Engineering Technology) and Peter Janele partnered with High Croft Off Grid Farm and The Handmade Shoppe: Innovation in Hydroponics and Greenhouses to Support Sustainable Agriculture, NSERC Innovation Enhancement Grant of $200,000 over two years;

  • Julie Dias (Biology) partnered with Kelowna Medical Massage: Homecare Tracker for Massage Therapy, NSERC Engage Grant for $24,960 over six months;

  • Beverlie Dietze (Learning and Applied Research) partnered with New Monaco Ltd.: Can Natural Outdoor Play Landscapes be Designed Successfully for Large Scale Developments and Their Associated Public Parkland?, SSHRC Applied Research and Development Grant, $91,924 over two years;

  • Beverlie Dietze (Learning and Applied Research) partnered with Waterplay Solutions Corp.: How Do Water Play Activity Towers Support Children’s Play and Development?, NSERC Engage Grant, $24,930 over six months;

  • Lee Cartier and Svan Lembke (Business) partnered with the B.C. Wine Institute: Understanding Generational Differences Towards Wine Purchases, SSHRC Applied Research and Development Grant, $42,685 over one year;

  • Jordan Perrey (Information Technology) partnered with The Fig Bistro: Voice Enabled Technologies for Supporting Small Business Growth, NSERC Engage Grant, $24,960 over six months;

  • Lukas Skulmoski and Brad Oliver (Trades) partnered with Catalyst Land Development: Examining Quick Access Connection Models for Service Utilities to Support a Plug-in Housing Unit Concept, NSERC Applied Research and Development Grant, $50,999 over one year.

  • Peter Janele (Trades) partnered with Livingstone MCS: Panel Connection System for Modular Composite Structures, NSERC Engage Grant, $24,850.

“Applied Research provides valuable experiential learning opportunities for our students, fostering connections with our industry and community partners as we work to provide solutions that have real impact right here in our region. The outcomes of these projects have the potential to be replicated across the country and benefit many other institutions, businesses and communities,” notes Dr. Andrew Hay, the College’s Vice President Education. “On behalf of Okanagan College, I applaud all of our employees and students for becoming engaged in applied research, helping to realize the College’s mission to transform lives and communities.”

Revelstoke welcomes new Campus Manager

MYD-Instructors-Danielle TigheOkanagan College’s Revelstoke Centre welcomed its new Campus Manager, Danielle Tighe, on Nov. 14.

Tighe recently moved to the Shuswap area from Red Deer, Alta., and brings significant experience working in the post-secondary sector. Tighe joined OC after working with the Facilities and Sustainability department and Marketing and Sustainability department at Olds College. She previously worked as a lab technician and research technician for MacEwan University’s Biology department in Edmonton.

Tighe holds a Bachelor of Science degree from MacEwan University in the environmental ecology stream with a business minor. While completing her degree, she also achieved a diploma in Nutrition and Food Sciences and a Management Certificate from Red Deer College. Tighe is currently working towards her MBA through Thompson Rivers University.

In her spare time, Tighe is often found studying or spending time with her husband and six-month-old girl. She is looking forward to exploring Revelstoke and its many biking and hiking trails.

New Corporate Training Specialist joins CS

Zach WebsterContinuing Studies and Corporate Training welcomed a new Corporate Training Specialist, Zachary Webster, on Oct. 17.

Webster has been working in Continuing Education at Olds College in Alberta, for the past five years. While there, he handled programming for courses such as agribusiness, horticulture and fibre arts, both open enrolment and corporate training options.

Webster has a Bachelor of Arts from UBC Okanagan and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Okanagan College. While a student at the College, he also worked with Lee Cartier and Dr. Barry McGillivray as a Teaching Assistant and Research Assistant. 

He enjoys spending time with friends and family, reading, as well as the range of outdoor activities the Okanagan has to offer.

Instructor chosen as NNPBC feature nurse

cathy-farrow-nurseprofileHealth Care Assistant program instructor Cathy Farrow was recently profiled by the Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of B.C. (NNPBC), a professional body representing all nursing professions in the province.

In the profession since 1982, Farrow was selected as the feature nurse for her involvement in nursing organizations in various capacities, both as a volunteer and for professional interest.

Read the full profile online.

Student podcasts give voice to gender issues

Emily Walker_9854Two students cranked up the volume on a creative assignment in their Gender, Justice, Resistance class with Dr. Norah Bowman this term.

Bowman asked her GSWS 201 class to produce and edit a podcast on a topic that reflects ongoing current issues of justice, oppression, rights and/or liberation.

While many students demonstrated understanding on how gender roles influence resistance movements and located interlocking oppressions and resistances, Bowman says two students — Emily Walker and Lacy Petersen — provided novel analysis and insight in their podcasts.

"Their assignments are passionate, smart and unique. I am especially excited to hear students engaging with complex theory in a way that is directly related to their own social environment,” describes Bowman. "Podcasts are such a great medium for students to hone their critical thinking voice."

Walker developed two podcasts: an analysis of gender issues in rap, as well as an intersectional feminist remix of a rap song (note: podcast features some explicit language). Petersen’s podcast is a feminist analysis of the Netflix show Sabrina.

"I definitely enjoyed the process. I feel it gave us a chance to demonstrate our learning through a creative outlet. It followed similar guidelines to an essay, with the added luxury of being able to use voice clips as direct quotes,” says Walker.

For Petersen, the assignment opened up new ways of expressing learning.

"Podcasts seemed to inspire very interesting and unique ideas in myself and the other students in my class. And I think that having access to knowledge in forms other than written papers is so important and could do a lot to encourage more people to pursue college in the future,” Petersen explains.

OC Business students earn spots to compete against Canada's best

Queens ICBC_0242This January, Okanagan College Business students will once again travel to Queen’s University to compete against teams from the country’s best business schools vying for top honours in the Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (I.C.B.C.). 

Finalists were recently announced for this year’s I.C.B.C Competition, which each year sees students from the country’s best business schools represented. Eight competitive events are held over Jan. 17-19. Competing finalists are given five hours to prepare and present their solutions to a panel of judges, comprised of industry leaders and sponsor representatives. At the Final Banquet, the top three teams of each competitive event are announced.

There were more 120 submissions in the preliminary (qualifying) round. Okanagan College has had one of its best results ever – making the final weekend in the following competitions:

  • Human Resources: Jennifer Van Aller, Mindy Strugnell, Roger Wheeler (coach) and Bob Groves (coach)
  • Ethics: Ryan Buchanan, Jason Greaves and Dr. Barry McGillivray (coach)
  • Accounting: Rowan Nevard, Derek Monsen, Adrian Fontenla (coach) and Mary Ann Knoll (coach), with assistance from Randy Newton 
  • Debate: Mitchell Folk, Mark Fellhauer and Devin Rubadeau (coach)

“Nearing graduation, I’m approaching this competition as the culmination of four years of applied knowledge, practice and mentorship. We have a great HR program at the College and experiences like this, supported by outstanding professors, have given me a lot of confidence to step out into my field,” said Mindy Strugnell, fourth-year Bachelor of Business Administration degree program, HR specialty.

Learn more about the competition on the I.C.B.C. website. Stay tuned for full results in January. 

Dec. 11, 2018, Vol. 12, Issue 24


2019-20 Budget Town Hall meetings

All Okanagan College employees are invited to attend a Town Hall meeting regarding the 2019-20 budget.

Curtis Morcom, Vice President Employee and Corporate Services, will provide an update on the OC budget for the upcoming fiscal year and staff will have the opportunity to ask questions regarding the budget information presented. The College’s budget will be presented to the Board of Governors for consideration at the end of March 2019.

The final session is scheduled for the Kelowna campus on Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 10 a.m. (Infusions Restaurant). Coffee and cookies will be provided.

Sessions have already been held in Salmon Arm, Vernon and Penticton.

New channel developed for staff and student input on OC Board policies up for review

The Okanagan College Board of Governors has directed College administration to post Board policies under development for review in a space online where students and staff can access them and provide feedback.

Follow this link to read the new policy called Policy Approval Authority – Board, Education Council and President.

The first policy up for review using this process is the 2007 President Selection Policy which has been identified as requiring an update. To review and comment on the revised policy, please click here to be directed to the Moodle page. Once you have signed in, enter “review” as the enrolment key. Please provide your comments on the feedback form on or before January 23, 2019. No personal identification is required to submit feedback on the policy. Accordingly, you will not receive a response regarding your comments.

Holiday season closure dates

A reminder that Okanagan College will be closed to the public during the holiday season beginning Monday, Dec. 24, 2018, at 3 p.m., and will re-open on Wednesday Jan. 2, 2019. Please find the 2018-19 holiday season closure schedule here.

The 2019-20 holiday season closure and 2019 summer hours schedule has also been released. The College will be closed to the public beginning Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019 at 3 p.m., and will re-open on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020. View the full schedule here.

Cross-Cultural Awareness presentation – save the date

You’re invited to save the date for the next upcoming three presentations as part of the Cross-Cultural Awareness events. On Jan. 30, students will present on China; Philippines on Feb. 27; and Jamaica on March 27. All presentations are delivered by international students on their respective country’s culture and educational systems.

Click here to view the upcoming event posters.

Mileage logs and expense claim submission deadline

Financial Services is reminding all OC employees to submit any outstanding Mileage Logs and Meal Expense Claims as soon as possible. Financial Services are actively preparing for 2018’s T4’s Statement of Remuneration Paid and need to account for any Taxable Benefits that may result from these claims.

All Expense Claims for travel to Dec. 31, 2018 must be received in the Finance Department no later than Dec. 14, 2018 for processing.

Joint Occupational Health and Safety winter reminder

Did you know that winter tires or chains are required for most routes in British Columbia from Oct. 1 to March 31? For select highways, including mountain passes and rural routes in high snowfall areas, the date is extended until April 30 to account for early-spring snowfall. Motorists who are not compliant may be turned away from driving on specific roadways, and/or subject to a fine if they do not have appropriately rated winter tires on their vehicles, which should be marked with M+S or a snowflake/mountain symbol.

It is important to be aware that Highway 97 is a route that requires winter tires. When travelling, review winter driving hazards to identify risk factors related to driving, including poor weather and road conditions that may especially impact staff driving to other locations within the region and outside of the Okanagan Valley.

Routes are marked with regulatory signs posted on highways throughout the province, and can be viewed online.

Alumni wine orders for the holidays

The holiday season is upon us. Don't forget to place your alumni wine order before Dec. 14 to ensure you get wine in time for the holidays. To place an order, please contact Richard McAdam via email or phone, ext. 4772.

Connections survey

The Connections planning committee would like your feedback to help plan next year’s event. Employees can fill out the online survey to share suggestions and ideas for future Connections conferences.

Infusions Restaurant (Kelowna campus)

Reservations can now be made through OpenTable. View lunch and dinner menus online.

Hours Nov. 15 – June, 2019:

  • Lunch: Mon – Fri, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Dinner: Tues – Fri, 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.


Dec. 13 – Health Care Assistant Info Night at the Vernon campus. Learn about one of the most in-demand professions in B.C., and the six-month training program starting in February in Vernon. Session starts at 6 p.m. in Room D343.

Jan. 3-11 – Winter Kick Off runs at each campus, welcoming students back with orientation events and activities. For details, visit the Orientation website.

Jan. 12 – Winter Convocation ceremonies will be held in the CFL Atrium at the Kelowna campus. The 10 a.m. ceremony is for Arts & Foundational, Science, Technology and Health students, and at noon, the Business ceremony will be held.


The Culinary Arts program was mentioned in a Castanet story about the 15th annual Victory Church Christmas Dinner at Parkinson Recreation Centre. Students will prepare the turkey stuffing and gravy.

The Capital News and Daily Courier shared news that Okanagan School of Business Dean Bill Gillett and his wife Kathy announced a $20,000 gift on Giving Tuesday (Nov. 27) which will be used to establish two annual awards for business students who choose to study at one of OC’s international partnership institutions.

Student Gisèle Mafulu was profiled in the Salmon Arm Observer, as part of a series from the Shuswap Immigrant Services Society to introduce Canadian newcomers to the Salmon Arm community. Originally from the Congo, Mafulu arrived with her family to the Shuswap from South Africa in January 2017. Mafulu has a degree in economics, and is studying to obtain her Bachelor of Business Administration at the Salmon Arm campus.

Cost savings around e-textbook use was profiled in the Vernon Morning Star.

Okanagan College Faculty Association President Sharon Mansiere wrote a letter to the editor of the Vernon Morning Star and Kelowna Capital News, providing the union’s support of the postal strike.

Student, junior hockey player and mental health advocate Miles Mattila was profiled in the Daily CourierKelowna Capital News and Okanagan Weekend for awarding the first Mental Health Community Star from his peer-to-peer support organization.

The Vernon Morning Star and Castanet shared details on the special intake of the Health Care Assistant program at the College’s Vernon campus.

The Capital News gave four OC business students accolades for winning the regional title at The Winning Pitch competition for their innovative concept to improve accessible tourism in the province.

An Okanagan Weekend article identified that the local tech industry is helping to attract and retain Okanagan College students to the region.

The Vernon campus held a candlelight vigil to honour women who experience violence on Dec. 5 and the Vernon Morning Star shared event details in advance and covered the event.

Kelowna author Jack Whyte, who received an honorary doctorate in 2003, talks about his most recent release The Burning Stone in the Capital News.

The Kelowna Capital News and Daily Courier reported on additional lawsuits filed by former youth in care alleging Robert Riley Saunders, the former BC ministry social worker who held a contract term position in adult special education at the College, took money from joint bank accounts set up for the youth.

In a Castanet article, Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnik pointed to the new health sciences building currently under construction at the Kelowna campus as an example of projects underway in the region.

Richard Cannings, MP for South-Okanagan West Kootenay and 2008 Honorary Fellow, wrote a column in the Penticton Herald on expunging records of Canadians with criminal records for simple possession of cannabis.


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

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. 8, 2019.