Sweet success for College with chocolate launch

Chocolate launch

Okanagan College hosted an especially sweet reception on Monday and became the first post-secondary institution outside of Europe to create its very own chocolate recipes, under the name Okanagan College Artisan Chocolate.

At a tasting event on campus, the College unveiled the two chocolate recipes - Okanagan Noir, a 69.8 per cent smooth dark chocolate with intense cocoa flavor and a fruity finish and Kalamalka Karamel—a solid milk chocolate with a high cocoa content (45.1 per cent) with sweet notes of caramel and a smooth honey finish. The exclusive milk and dark chocolate recipes were created by Chef Danny Capadouca and Chef Bernard Casavant in the summer of 2016 when the pair traveled to France to the Or Noir tasting laboratories of Cacao Barry, a chocolate company founded in 1842.

“Chefs Capadouca and Casavant did an incredible job on these two recipes,” says Mark Pennington, Regional Sales Manager Western Canada for Cacao Barry. “I was very impressed by their process and of course by the end result. Okanagan College is breaking gastronomic ground in North America as the first institution of its kind to have its very own recipes.

“It’s a very rare achievement—the College is only the second culinary college in the world to have made their own chocolate.”

The chocolate will be used by students in the Pastry Arts and Culinary Arts programs at Okanagan College. Initially, it will also be available for purchase in the College’s cafeteria on Fridays at the Kelowna campus.

View the video by Global Okanagan to see all of the creative chocolate creations made with Okanagan College Artisan Chocolate at the event.

First graduates of 2017 

jan 2017 convocationOn Jan. 14, 369 Okanagan College students from Arts, Business, Science, Engineering Technologies, Computer Science, Culinary Arts, and Health and Social Development programs received their credentials. 

Winter Convocation was the first of the College’s seven convocation ceremonies that will take place this year. The College conferred 60 bachelor’s degrees, 17 associate degrees, 191 diplomas and 101 certificates.

The event was live-streamed on the College's Facebook page and is available to view on the Convocation and Commencement webpage

Business grad reaps rewards of well-rounded College experience

Hannah GriffinWhen setting off to pursue a career change, business student Hannah Griffin was surprised by the opportunities that came knocking during College.

Griffin thought she would have to wait to finish a diploma before embarking on a new career path, but a series of opportunities to enhance her education presented themselves the minute she became an Okanagan College business student.  

While still in the first semester of the business program, Griffin was offered a position as a financial administrator with local tech success Vineyard Networks and jumped at the chance.

“Working during my studies has taken me longer to complete my diploma, but it was a win-win,” she explains. “I took distance courses part-time and gained experience in private and public accounting while being able to support my daughter.”

Following the sale of Vineyard Networks and subsequent relocation of the company’s accounting office in 2015, Griffin took the opportunity to accelerate her education by continuing at the College on a full-time basis.

When Griffin completed her studies in August, a connection from one of the College’s networking events led to a full-time position as an articling student at Crowe MacKay. She is concurrently pursuing her CPA designation.

Griffin was one of the 369 students who received credentials at the College’s first convocation ceremony of 2017 on Jan. 24 and graduated with a Post-Baccalaureate diploma in Accounting from the Okanagan College School of Business.

Read the full story here.

College to host panel discussion on Collective Impact movement

As it becomes more widely understood that collaboration is the key to creating value and accelerating change in communities, organizations are moving away from silo mentality and towards a collective impact model that offers a framework for achieving social change at a community level.

The College’s Scotiabank Centre for Non Profit Excellence will host a free panel discussion to help unravel the complexities of collective impact on Thursday, Jan. 26 from 2 - 5 p.m. in the atrium of Okanagan College’s Centre for Learning at the Kelowna campus.

Panelists Kevin McCort from the Vancouver Foundation, Laurence East of Metro Community, and Ellen Boelcke from Kelowna Community Resources will be sharing their experiences and informing attendees about collaborative initiatives in the community.

“The panel will provide an opportunity for engaged individuals in Kelowna to gather and discuss some key issues in our community and formulate ideas about how we would like to see change take place,” explains Dr. Sheilagh Seaton from Okanagan College’s School of Business. “Collective impact has becomes such a hot topic in the Okanagan and we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to bring individuals together to share information and best practices.”

Okanagan College’s Scotiabank Centre for Non Profit Excellence offers workshops and creates resources to assist non-profit organizations.

For more information about the event and for free tickets for the Collective Impact and Collaboration Panel please click here.

OC employees can reduce travel costs with new online tool

An OC Travel Committee was formed in Fall 2016 to facilitate OC joining the BC Public Post-Secondary Purchasing Consortium. The goals were to consolidate College travel costs to realize savings, create a unique customized online booking site, and access agent booked services tailored to the needs of post-secondary institutions. 

UNIGLOBE One Travel has been chosen to provide Okanagan College with travel management services effective Jan. 18, 2017. UNIGLOBE was selected as the designated travel partner by the Consortium based on service, savings opportunities, technology efficiencies and traveler support. 

Okanagan College and UNIGLOBE One Travel have worked through a detailed implementation plan to ensure a smooth transition. A training session open to all employees will take place on Feb. 1 from 10 – 11 a.m. in room T115B (Trades board room). Seating is limited; please RSVP to Judy Zachary if you plan to attend. Online training will also be available; links to access this option will follow. 

As of Jan. 18, travelers and travel arrangers will have access to make self-service bookings using the Concur Online Booking tool by first creating a profile at and then logging on the Concur Solutions website. Travelers and arrangers will also have access to a team of designated senior travel counselors who can provide full service support with travel booking needs.

For step-by-step booking procedures and other information, login to MyOkanagan, click on the Employee tab, scroll down to OC Express – Forms and click on the Supply Management Services dropdown to access the forms. Read more about UNIGLOBE’s features and services here.

Let’s Talk at Okanagan College

The annual Bell Let’s Talk day, an initiative spearheaded by Canada’s Summer and Winter Olympic champion, Clara Hughes, takes place on Jan. 25. Dedicated to moving mental health forward in Canada, Bell Let’s Talk promotes awareness and action with a strategy built on four key pillars: fighting the stigma, improving access to care, supporting world-class research, and leading by example in workplace mental health.  

Canadian statistics show that illnesses relating to mental health are the number one cause of disability claims in Canada and that one in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem. If you live with people, work with people, talk to people or see people, you will connect with someone who is struggling with their mental health. 

Here at Okanagan College, 40 per cent of our extended sick leave claims relate to mental illness and the average time loss for each event is 40 days and rising.  And while the impact on the workplace of that lost time is significant, it pales in comparison to the knowledge that too many of our colleagues are struggling, often in silence.

Developed in partnership with Dr. Heather Stuart, the Bell Canada Mental Health and Anti-stigma Research Chair at Queen’s University, the Bell Let’s Talk initiative encourages individuals to text, call, tweet, Instagram post, Facebook and Snapchat about mental illness and rewards those who do by donating five cents towards mental health initiatives for every interaction that occurs on January 25, 2017. So far, Bell has donated over $79 million.

If you or someone you know has questions about mental illness or are struggling with it, there are resources available. Talk to your doctor, family, friends, colleagues, supervisor, union representatives or HR Advisor and find ways to get the help you or your colleague needs. 

As part of its suite of benefit packages, Okanagan College provides an Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) through Optum Canada which can be found here to those employees who are eligible for Health and Welfare benefits.  To access the service, the system asks you for a username/access code which for all employees is: “healthy.”  You can also contact them at 1-800-663-9099. Services are completely confidential and free of charge and include:

  • Confidential counselling
  • Nutritional coaching
  • Health coaching
  • Financial, Legal and Debt Management consultations
  • Work/Life advisory and information services
  • Online health and wellness resources

On January 25, please get involved and Let’s Talk!


Musical ChairsLent Fraser Wall Trio and Andrew Smith in concert 

For the first time, the diverse talents of four artists - musicians Neil Fraser, John Lent, Andrew Smith and Shelby Wall – will come together with the sounds of folk, rhythm, blues and jazz to Okanagan College’s Vernon campus for their concert Musical Chairs.

“We love it when another musician comes along and changes our vision of a song, or pushes it in another direction,” says singer John Lent, who is also a former Regional Dean of Okanagan College. “We are playing more to surprise ourselves now, and, hopefully, delight our audiences that way. From this point of view, we see our performances as part of a larger project now, a project that involves more musicians and more explorations of musical lineage.”

Musical Chairs takes place in the lecture theatre of Okanagan College’s Vernon campus at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 27. Tickets for the concert are $20 and can be purchased at The Bean Scene in Vernon, or at the door. 

Wheeler champions good corporate citizens

Nature's FareIn the classroom, Okanagan College School of Business professor Roger Wheeler encourages his students to think about how they can make a positive impact on society through the use of sustainable management practices. Out in the community, he is always on the lookout for businesses that are leaders in sustainability.

An organization he lauded recently is Nature’s Fare Markets, which he nominated for the Public Health Association of BC (PHABC)’s Healthy Corporate Citizen Award. The Vernon-based company was recognized with the award on Jan. 16.

“Organizations that walk the walk when it comes to sustainability contribute to the health and development of our communities,” explains Wheeler. “Nature’s Fare is a great example of a local organization with a strong sustainability track record.”

Wheeler sits on the board for PHABC, a voluntary, non-profit, non-government, member driven organization that provides leadership to promote health, well-being and social equity.

“I dedicate many volunteer hours to PHABC because the organization’s mission aligns with my personal and academic interests in business sustainability. The health of people and communities is a key social element of sustainability, and my goal is to help more businesses integrate social, environmental, and economic goals.”

Read the full story in the media release issued by Nature’s Fare

Schneider to retire in August

Heather SchneiderHeather Schneider, Regional Dean Central Okanagan, will be retiring from Okanagan College in August 2017.

Heather joined Okanagan College in March of 2006. In her more than 11 years here, Heather has participated in projects which saw the expansion of many programs and services. The $28-million Centre for Learning was constructed on her watch, as was the $33-million Trades building construction and expansion project. Heather also served Okanagan College by taking on interim roles, whenever asked. 

Heather was seconded to the role of Acting Dean, Science, Technology and Health from May 2010 to October 2011 and from July 2011 to December 2012, she assumed additional duties as the Acting Director, Continuing Studies. In Kelowna Heather has been a driving force behind staff team-building activities like the annual bocce tournament, Fall Classic Putting Competition, the staff Winter Carnival, and so many more. 

The College will begin a search for Heather’s replacement in the coming weeks.

Laura Eagen announces retirement

After a career spanning more than three decades of work in the IT field, the last five of which have been at Okanagan College, Laura Eagen, Director of IT Services has announced her plans to retire on April 29, 2017. 

“Laura’s leadership at Okanagan College will certainly be missed,” said Roy Daykin, Vice President of Employee and Corporate Services. “She has done a tremendous amount of work to move the College’s IT agenda forward and has positioned the College well for continued success.”

Laura and her husband Mike intend to spend most of the year enjoying the fabulous weather and activities the Okanagan offers and will spend a few months each year travelling in Europe and New Zealand.

Registrar’s Office welcomes Gail Brown

Gail Brown

The Registrar’s Office welcomed a new face to the management team on Jan. 3, 2017. Gail Brown joins the office as the Enrolment Services Manager.

Gail comes to the College with a vast background in leadership/development of clinical programs and human resource recruitment in the field of health care.

“After 30 years in health care, I decided to explore a career change that would enable me to use my leadership and program management skills. I chose Okanagan College because I have great respect for higher education and consider myself a lifelong learner,” she says.

Gail already had a strong connection to the College. She was once a student, earning her Diploma in Nursing. Gail also holds an MBA from Athabasca University.

Breitsprecher to retire

Louise Breitsprecher, Buyer, Facilities and Business Services is retiring from Okanagan College.
Louise leaves behind a legacy of 20 years of service to the College as a valued member of Facilities and Business Services. Louise has held various roles through her employment at Okanagan College. She is best known for her significant contributions of procurement for furniture, equipment and specialized programming spaces.
"Louise has had many accomplishments throughout her years of service," says Brad Piontek, Manager of Procurement and Business Services. "We will miss her dedicated contributions providing guidance and advice towards furniture and special projects throughout the regions.”
Louise’s last day at the College will be Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017. Please join Facilities and Business Services in wishing Louise farewell and best wishes on her new adventure.

January 24, 2017, Vol. 11, Issue 21


Connections 2017: be a session leader, submit your idea 

Connections 2017, Okanagan College’s annual conference for employees by employees, will take place on Aug. 22 and 23.

The organizing committee is looking for employees to lead interesting and informative sessions that will enlighten their colleagues. Sessions are to be 50 to 55 minutes in length and should be both interactive and engaging. If you are interested in presenting a session, you can register online or for more information please contact Kerry Rempel

12 days left for Employee Excellence Awards nominations 

There are only 12 days left to submit nominations for the Employee Excellence Awards. Until midnight, Friday, Feb. 3, you can nominate a fellow employee who has contributed in significant and meaningful ways to the College community.

For more information visit the Employee Excellence Awards Website.

OC Family Award apps due Jan. 31

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 March 31, 2017.

Full award criteria and the application form can be found in myOkanagan under "OC Express – Forms," and then 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 Jan. 31, 2017. For more information, email Financial Aid and Awards 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.

Travel season is here again

It’s important to understand the benefits of Emergency Travel Assistance for those covered by Manulife’s extended health care plan. Information regarding the processes and contact numbers that should be used in case an incident requires medical aid when traveling outside of Canada can be found here

Getting to Know Your Pension 

Both the College and Municipal pension plans have created an e-learning opportunity for newer employees called Getting to Know Your Pension.

Learn more about your College pension plan here and the Municipal Pension plan here.

Student Outcomes surveys are back

BC Stats, on behalf of Okanagan College, will be contacting former diploma, associate degree, certificate, and apprenticeship students to ask them about the quality of and satisfaction students have with their education, their employment outcomes, and how students financed their education.

The BC Student Outcomes program has been asking students about their education for almost 30 years. It is a collaborative venture between the Ministry of Advanced Education, the 25 public post-secondary education institutions, the Industry Training Authority, the BC Council on Admissions and Transfer, BC Stats, and the BC Registrar Association. The survey results are available to the public in an interactive dashboard. BC Stats is bound by the Statistics Act, and FIPPA, and is the managing agency for the program.

Anyone who wishes more information can contact Jan O’Brien, Manager of Institutional Research at Okanagan College and co-chair of the BC Student Outcomes Research Forum, by email or phone at 250-762-5445, local 4529.

Look and feel your best in January

January’s EFAP newsletter is focused on fitness and weight management. These two components are important in staying healthy and ensuring you look and feel your best. Download the pdf here.

2017 Optum Webinar Calendar released 

Our Employee and Family Assistance program (Optum) hosts subject matter experts every month for a live discussion covering a variety of topics. A 2017 Event Calendar is provided – clearly designating which days these events occur, which topics are covered, and with registration links for each. 

View the calendar here


Learning and Teaching Workshops

Workshops take place at the Kelowna Campus in room B 130, unless otherwise noted. For full course descriptions view the Winter 2017 Workshop Schedule. 

Jan. 24 – Microsoft OneNote, 11 a.m. - 12 p.m
Jan. 25 – Meetings That Don’t Suck, 12 - 1 p.m
Jan. 26 – Intercultural Communication, 12 - 1 p.m
Jan. 31 – HR Strategies - Recruitment and Retention, 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.  
Feb. 2 – Using Streaming Media in Your Teaching, 12 - 1:20 p.m.
Workshop takes place in L203.
Feb. 8 – Grow Coaching, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.  
Mar. 8 – Effective Use of Library Research Resources, 12 - 1 p.m.  

Please note that seating for these sessions is limited. Please register in advance by email.

Discover the woman behind Robert Burns

Jan. 25 – English professor Melanie Murray launches her second book Should Auld Acquaintance: Discovering the Woman Behind Robert Burns on Jan.25 – Robert Burns Day. Jean Armour, wife of the famous Scottish poet, comes to life in this lyrical and intimate depiction and asserts herself as more than a footnote in literary history. Murray traces the footsteps of Armour through the village of Mauchline to the Burns’s failed farm in Ellisland and finally to Dumfries.
The book launch takes place on Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. at Infusions Restaurant, Kelowna campus.

Listen to Murray’s interview about Should Auld Acquaintance on CBC Radio’s North by NorthWest here or read the full story here.

Speaker Series: Moving Past the Crisis

Jan. 30 – Kathryn Smith and Mike Mai visit the Penticton campus to discuss
harm reduction, options for treatment and what to do after an overdose in their talk “Addiction Treatment: Moving Past The Crisis." Kathryn Smith is a harm reduction nurse with Penticton & District Community Resources Society. Mike Mai is an addictions counsellor with the Pathways Addiction Resource Centre in Penticton. 

The talk takes place in the Penticton campus lecture theatre (PL107) at 7 p.m. Admission is by donation. More information on the 2017 Penticton Speaker Series can be found on their website.

Classics at the Classic

Jan. 30 – Now in its fifth season, the popular Classics at the Classic movie series returns to the Salmar Classic theatre in Salmon Arm. The not-for-profit series is part of the College’s second year university transfer course Studies in Reading Film. Two films on the theme of ‘It’s the end of the world’ will be screened – the 1927 classic Metropolis at 5 p.m. followed by Snowpiercer (2013) at 7:30 p.m. General admission for all films is $5.

Learn more about the event in the Castanet article.

Pub Night Employee Social

Feb. 2 – Okanagan College employees are invited to attend the first Social Committee event of the year: Pub Night at Mission Tap House from 4 - 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 2. Appetizers will be provided. No need to reserve, just show up between 4 - 6 p.m. View the event poster here.

Whistle Stop Yoga

Feb. 23 – The Okanagan Rail Trail’s Whistle Stop Yoga series returns to Okanagan College. All levels welcome; please bring your own mat. Admission is by donation, with proceeds going to the Rail Trail. The 60-minute class will take place in the cafeteria at the Vernon campus at 5:45 p.m.

Okanagan College is only the second culinary college in the world and the first in North America to have its very own chocolate recipes, and the sweet news was brought to readers by the Daily CourierKelownaNowCastanet, and Capital News

Diners looking to sample the creative talents of Okanagan College’s Culinary Arts students can treat themselves to a unique menu crafted for the Dine Around Thompson Okanagan event. Infusions Restaurant at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus is open for dinner Wednesday-Friday and will offer a special $25 three-course tasting menu (or $45 with suggested local wine pairings) until Feb. 5. As an added perk for diners, Infusions is one of few restaurants in the Okanagan that does not charge corkage, so guests can bring their own BC VQA wine and have it opened at their table at no cost. Read more about Dine Around in KelownaNow and the Capital News

OC Audio Engineering and Music Production alumnus and rising country music star Ben Klick returned to his alma mater as part of a two-night concert series at the Kelowna campus on Jan. 13 and 14, as covered by and the Capital News

The Kelowna Daily Courier captured Okanagan College Trades students in action in the new Trades Complex at the Kelowna campus in January. Check out the images snapped in their photo gallery Training for trades

The first data out of the Wilden Living Lab project was recently shared by the Capital News, Energy Manager and Environmental Expert. OC Residential Construction Students assisted in the build of both the Home of Today and the Home of Tomorrow in the Wilden community in Kelowna, the latter home was found in an early energy efficiency test to be twice as energy efficient as its counterpart built to today’s building code.

OC Alumna Shawna McCrea was featured by Castanet on Jan. 20 as Volinspire’s volunteer of the week for her volunteer work and this now inspiring her daughter Kailey to follow in her footsteps.

Dine Around Thompson Okanagan kicked off at Okanagan College’s Centre for Learning in Kelowna on Jan. 17. The Daily Courier captured the event in their Jan. 19 image gallery and was featured on Castanet
Danika Peltzer, a graduate of Okanagan College’s Pastry Arts program was featured in the Creston Valley Advance for her business Luv at First Bite which serves up creative cupcakes and confectionary items.

Chilean researcher Tomas Veloz uncovered the Mysteries of the Mind in a free lecture at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus on Wednesday, January 18, as reported by The Kelowna Daily Courier and

Vernon’s Samantha Sewell, a graduate of Okanagan College’s Education Assistant certificate program, was named Miss Worldwide Teen Canada, as covered by the Vernon Morning Star.

The wintery beauty of the Salmon Arm campus was on full display in a video update by the Salmon Arm Observer which featured a flock of ducks out for a leisurely paddle in the nearby pond.  

In a Capital News story by Barry Gerding, MLA Norm Letnick noted the expansion of trades training capacity at Okanagan College was a positive sign that post-secondary institutions are responding to the changing job skill demands from employers in the manufacturing industry. 
Hannah Griffin was among the 369 graduates recognized at Winter Convocation Ceremony on Saturday, Jan. 14 at the Kelowna campus. Her heartwarming success story and others were brought to readers by a host of media including the Revelstoke Review,, Castanet, the Okanagan Saturday, and the Capital News

Giovanni Iannotta and his fellow graduates from OC's health care assistant program were interviewed for an article in the Okanagan Sunday on Jan. 15.  
Castanet also produced a video of highlights from the convocation ceremony. 
Okanagan College will once again be a host venue for the Canadian Culinary Championships taking place in Kelowna from Feb. 3-4, touted by Castanet as the Foodie event of the year. OC’s kitchen and cafeteria at the Kelowna campus will once again house the popular Black Box competition – an Iron Chef-style challenge. Participating chefs were featured in the Okanagan Saturday on Jan. 21. 

Olympian and OC alumna Kelsey Serwa shared her future plans with the Capital News after a recent injury and knee-surgery has left her off the slopes this season. 
The Salmon Arm Observer carried a story about Enactus member and Okanagan College business administration student Christina Schulz, at the Soup’s On! Event, which raised money for Second Harvest and the College’s Salmon Arm Enactus Club on Jan. 21.

Accelerate Okanagan CEO and Vice-President of the Okanagan College Foundation Raghwa Gopal spoke to the Okanagan Sunday on the growing tech industry in Kelowna. He believes tech will go from being third or fourth to being the top sector in driving Kelowna's economy in the next five to ten years. 


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

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 February 7, 2017.