College's child care centre sets a first in sustainability

Child care centre - first in sustainabilityThe new Little Learners Academy, located at the Penticton campus, became Canada’s first Passive House certified child care centre, earning the sought-after designation in November at the NetPositive Symposium hosted by Passive House Canada in Vancouver.

The project was also recently recognized locally with news it had been named a Silver Finalist for the 2018 Tommie Awards in the category of Best Environmental Initiative in Construction (Residential or Commercial).

"Sustainability is one of Okanagan College's core values and building the first Passive House child care centre in Canada is a milestone to celebrate," says Jim Hamilton, President. "We are pleased to be part of creating an innovative space for the next generation of learners and take pride in continuing to be a leader in green building practices."

Watch a video by Global News here and read the media release here.

Distinguished Alumnus Ben Klick to headline weekend of concerts

Ben KlickOkanagan College is kicking off the new year with a weekend of musical entertainment featuring some of Kelowna’s local talent, including alumnus and award-winning country musician Ben Klick.

Klick and the supporting act Under the Rocks will perform on Saturday Jan. 13 as part one of a two-part concert series put on by the College’s Audio Engineering and Music Production students. The night before Klick’s performance, two popular opening acts – My Dudes and Fated Sons – will hit the stage for the aptly titled Rock, Paper, Scissors, ROCK! concert. Also performing is headliner Rosebone, a local duo who bring a modern twist to a vintage sound.

The student-organized concerts raise funds for bursaries for future AEMP students to attend the program and serve as curricula for one of the modules of the certificate program.

Read the full story here.

College student benefits from high-profile scholarship

Jake Tourand 2017Merritt’s Jake Tourand was one of 163 post-secondary students in B.C. to receive a scholarship from the Irving. K. Barber Scholarship Society, which awarded $5,000 to each student to help ease the cost of transferring to another institution to complete their degree.

“This scholarship has made for an easy transition to a new school and new city,” says Tourand, who recently completed two years at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology and is now attending OC. “I was juggling two jobs while going to school and because of the award I didn’t feel the stress to find a job the moment I moved to Kelowna – I can focus more on school for once.”

Jake is working towards his Bachelor of Business Administration degree specializing in Human Resources Management. Upon graduation, he is looking forward to a career working with Indigenous people in a human resources or community-facing role.

Read the full story here.

Chefs and culinary students help prepare for a flavourful Christmas

Chef Bernard CasavantCulinary Manager Chef Bernard Casavant, Chef Mike Barillaro and 14 culinary arts students put their talents and training to work this holiday season as they helped prepare 25 turkeys for a community Christmas dinner. 

When OC alumnus Chef Adam Relvas approached the College two years ago to help prepare Christmas dinner for the community, the chefs saw it as a perfect opportunity to give the first-year hot kitchen class an education in preparing the popular holiday-time bird.

"There's nothing like giving students real-life training especially for an amazing cause like this," says Casavant. "You should have seen the students' eyes when Chef Mike and I wheeled out the cart with the 25 turkeys on it."

The dinner was hosted by Victory Life Church, who donated 25 turkeys, at the Parkinson Recreational Centre and has been running for 14 years. Thanks to a team of volunteers, the community dinner welcomed over 500 people between two Christmas day seatings.

Read the full story here.

Students win prestigious scholarship to study abroad

Grace Oswald - 2017Third-year business students Grace Oswald and Kira Johnson are among 29 students in British Columbia that are fulfilling their dreams of studying abroad thanks to the Irving K. Barber Premier’s International Scholarship which awards students between $6,000 and $10,000.

Oswald is currently preparing to embark on an exchange program to Finland later this month where she will study for six months at Jyväskylän University of Applied Science. The scholarship money is helping her realize a future in the tourism industry working in Provincial or National Parks.

Kira Johnson - 2017

“I knew this was the right career path for me and I think one of the best ways to truly understand tourism is to become a tourist yourself – which is why I wanted to study abroad so badly,” says Oswald, who was awarded $7,500.

Johnson was awarded the maximum scholarship amount of $10,000 and is currently completing her third year of study in Germany at the Berlin School of Economics and Law. She aspires to work as an International Coordinator for a school district or post-secondary institution.

Read the full story here.


Hannah Stanley wins 8th annual 3-Hour Short Story contest

Hannah Stanley - 3-hour short story winnerMore than 30 budding writers from across the valley put their writing skills to the test in the College’s 3-Hour Short Story contest and second-year arts student Hannah Stanley has been declared the overall winner for her original story, “The Best Years of Our Lives.”

“I woke up in the morning feeling very uninspired and I went into the contest without any prior story ideas,” says Stanley. “It actually wasn’t until the clock started and I heard the mystery phrase that I found inspiration and knew what I was going to write about.”

The 180-minute timed contest challenges authors to integrate a mystery phrase, revealed at the start of the competition, into their stories. This year’s phrase, “frozen fish sticks,” immediately gave Stanley an image from her childhood of eating fish sticks and ketchup straight off the table, without a plate.

Her winning story is loosely based on her childhood experiences and is told from a child’s perspective about what life was like one year when, unknown to Stanley, her mother was experiencing depression.

Read the full story here.

Bree Cawley receives major support to help run Girls Club

Bree Cawley - Girls ClubWhen OC employee Bree Cawley launched Girls Club, a socially inclusive club for girls with neurological or developmental differences, she had no idea it would grab the attention and $9,000 of financial support from TELUS. 

“The foundation of the group is based on the belief that all children wish to connect and form meaningful relationships with others,” says Cawley, Girls Club Chapter Director. “We welcome girls of all abilities, levels of independence and ages and host fun meetups where girls enjoy theme parties, arts and crafts, cookie decorating, music and just hanging out – we also have scheduled activities and outings within the community.”

Girls Club is driven by the mantra – “We are: Inclusivity, Friendship & Fun” – and was started by two moms with a dream to see their daughters form friendships with other girls. The first Girls Club was opened in the Lower Mainland in February 2017 by Cawley’s friend and fellow mom who happens to have a daughter diagnosed with autism. Cawley, who has a daughter with a brain disorder, opened Girls Club last summer in the Okanagan.

“Up until now we have been 100 per cent self-funded,” says Cawley. “With the TELUS Community Board Grant we can move forward with expanding the club and connecting with families who have girls who could benefit from attending our meetups.”

For more information on Girls Club, visit or email Cawley directly at

Amy Modahl hits the stage to catch liars in the act

Amy Modahl performanceCommunications professor Amy Modahl is taking to the stage in the upcoming Living Things International Arts Festival on Jan. 18, 19 and 20 from 2 – 6 p.m. in the FINA Gallery at the UBCO campus in hopes of catching liars in her interactive performance and exhibition, Liar! Liar!

Modahl will be performing as Officer Aj Dahl of AmCor Incorporated Deception Detection Services alongside Lethbridge artist Corinne Thiessen as Officer Cload Idia. The duo purport to accurately detect lies in participants through their patented drawing interrogation methods by examining subjects' meta-communicative functions. They offer an interpretive analysis through a series of advanced contour drawing techniques, eye movement tracking lines and subjective diagrams of the face.

Most recently, Modahl and Thiessen performed Liar! Liar! at Soo Visual Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota as part of their larger AmCor drawing and audio exhibition which overwhelms visitors with an audio installation of directives while comically interrogating and drawing them to uncover lies and to quite seriously question state propaganda and surveillance.

For more information on Living Things Festival click here. If you’d like to see other projects Modahl is up to, click here.

Photo credit: Nicole Kelly Westman, Director, Stride Gallery.

Holiday hampers help students in need

Holiday Hampers 2017For the 23rd year in a row, the Penticton campus helped provide holiday hampers for students in need this Christmas and it was another year of high demand. The holiday hamper project is led by Counsellor Sarah Lefebure and Librarian Eva Gavaris and helped 26 students and their families this year.

Hampers included a gift for each person in the household, holiday treats and a grocery gift card. The project is a true labour of love that relies on the generosity and engagement of the campus community. Donations came from a variety of sources including students, employees and the OCSU.

“We couldn’t have made this year work without volunteers, donations and funds that we raised during campus events in the Fall that were organized by Surandar Dasanjh and Marcy Trotter,” says Gavaris. “Our wrapping team also deserves a special thanks for wrapping 106 presents in under two hours!”

Mary Kiviste helping local literacy

Mary Kiviste - Writing Out LoudMary Kiviste works in the Volunteer Literary Tutoring Program at the Penticton campus and has helped lead the charge that sees Okanagan College continuously partner with Literacy Now organizations in the South Okanagan and is currently bringing forth a program called Writing Out Loud.

Kiviste helps orchestrate Writing Out Loud, a program that meets once a week over a six-week period where adults can write and read (reading aloud is optional) to improve literacy. She helped connect the College with other organizations including Literacy Now, Discovery House, South Okanagan Women in Need, Wellness Centre, School District #67, Boys and Girls Clubs, Pregnancy Support Group, Desert Sun, Brain Injury Society and Ooknakane Friendship Centre.

Kiviste is retiring in April and is currently working to ensure Writing Out Loud continues after leaving the College. Until her retirement, she continues to mentor College professors and foster community relationships to raise literary awareness and provide a bridge for adults hesitant to ask for help with reading and writing. 

Check out the Writing Out Loud poster here.

January 9, 2018, Vol. 12, Issue 1


Emergency procedures in the classroom

Emergency procedure posters have been posted in every classroom at the Kelowna campus, in high visibility areas (often near the door or light switch). Posters include emergency contact numbers (250 862 5401 from any cell phone, or 6699 from any campus phone) the steps to take if you need First Aid, what to do if you experience a fire, lethal threat, power outage, hazardous material exposure or gas leak, building flood, or if you need to evacuate the building.

Please review the poster with your classes during the first few days of each semester so everyone is familiar with the proper procedures. It is also recommended that students and employees program the emergency number into their cell phones for quick access.

Family Award application deadline is Jan. 31

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

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. 

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 employee of the College.

For more information, contact the Financial Aid and Awards Office at or 250-862-5419.

Nominations open for 2018 Employee Excellence Awards

It’s that time of the year again – nominations for the 2018 Employee Excellence Awards are now open. Please take the time to recognize those you work with who have made a difference to you, to students or the institution.

You can nominate employees in any one of nine categories:

  • Career achievement
  • Continuous improvement
  • Key directions
  • Leadership
  • Scholarly & creative activity
  • Service excellence
  • Strong start
  • Teaching excellence
  • President’s award

Nominations close at midnight on Friday, March 2. Award category details and nomination forms are available here.

Volunteer and “Do Some Good”

Want to help your community and build your resume at the same time? Consider volunteering - and one of the best ways to find out what opportunities there are and track how you are contributing to a better community is through Do Some Good. To find out more, visit

January is health and well-being month

The monthly employee and family assistance program (EFAP) newsletter from LifeWorks is available online here. The January edition focuses on health and well-being and provides tips for cultivating and maintaining physical and emotional health. Lifeworks is also featuring resources to promote workplace wellness and personal health, including mind-body tools like mindfulness to boost productivity. Visit Lifeworks online or call LifeWorks any time, 24/7, for well-being tips and support at 1-888-307-0590.

College and Municipal Pension Plan workshops

There are still spots available in the member education workshops for OC employees enrolled in the College Pension Plan (CPP) and Municipal Pension Plan (MPP). New members can choose to enrol in an eLearning course. Employees with questions about being a plan member, returning from parental leave, getting divorced, transferring service or choosing a pension option can find answers in upcoming workshops:

  • Making the Most of Your Pension is a two-hour workshop that can help you maximize your pension by understanding how the decisions you make throughout your career affect your pension when you retire
  • Approaching Retirement is a two-hour workshop designed to help you understand the important decisions you need to make about your pension and make the transition easier

Space in each workshop is limited to 35 seats. Register early to access the date(s) of your choice. CPP members can register for the workshops online at > click Your pension > Pension basics or Planning for retirement. MPP members can register for at > click Your pension > Pension basics or Planning for retirement.

New and potential members

  • Getting to Know Your Pension is a 15-minute eLearning course that will introduce the value and benefits of plan membership.

To register, CPP members can visit > click Your pension > Pension basics. MPP members can register at > click Your pension > Pension basics.


Applied Competencies: A Learning Caravan

Jan. 23 – PDK Okanagan invites Okanagan educators to a fun, interactive and informative evening of exploring core competencies. Among the speakers are Okanagan College Communications Professors Jillian Garrett and Michael Saad who will present: Managing Culturally Diverse Classrooms: Department of Communications Innovation Fund Project. The event will be held in the Trades Complex Atrium, Kelowna campus from 5 - 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 23. Register online for $5 or $10 at the door (cash only). Learn more and get tickets here. Download the poster here.

Learn web conference essentials

Jan. 17 – Come learn about how to teach using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, Okanagan College’s web conferencing tool. Explore the user interface, learn how to communicate, share content, record sessions and review best practices. You are encouraged to attend remotely. If preferred, B130 on the Kelowna campus will be set up for group collaboration. The next session will take place on Jan. 17 from 10 a.m. - noon. Email Ross McKerlich for the link to join remotely or if you are planning to attend in B130. A USB headset is required to participate.

Save the date for RIPE

May 8 – The Research and Innovation Partnerships Expo (RIPE) returns to Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus on Tuesday, May 8. Join this all-day event showcasing applied research projects, resources and opportunities at Okanagan College featuring OC researchers, community/industry partners and guest speakers. For more information about participating, please contact Learning and Applied Research.


Beverlie Dietze, Director of Applied Learning and Research, presented at the Visioning and Leading Outdoor Play in Alberta Symposium at Lethbridge College which caught the attention of the Lethbridge Herald, Global News and CTV News Calgary.

The College’s Little Learners Academy located at the Penticton campus earned the sought-after designation of Canada’s first Passive House certified child care centre. Penticton Western News, The Okanagan Weekend and Global News helped bring the news to the masses.

Third-year business students Grace Oswald and Kira Johnson were among 29 students in B.C. to receive a prestigious scholarship to help them study abroad and Castanet, The Okanagan Weekend and InfoTel News helped share their stories.

OC student Jake Tourand and former student Lindsay Booth are two of 163 post-secondary students in B.C. to receive a $5,000 scholarship for students transferring to another institution to complete their degrees. InfoTel News shared their story.

Chef Bernard Casavant, Chef Mike Barillaro and 14 culinary arts students caught the attention of the Capital News, The Okanagan Weekend and the Lake Country Calendar for their efforts in preparing 25 turkeys for a community Christmas dinner.

The Vernon Morning Star took note of the Coldstream Women’s Institute’s recent community support for Okanagan College students by establishing a $1,500 scholarship to help women attending the College achieve their educational goals.

Local award-winning country musician and alumnus Ben Klick is performing at the College’s student-organized weekend concert and the Daily Courier and Lake Country Calendar spread the word.

The Daily Courier profiled first-year student and Kelowna Chiefs right winger Myles Mattila who was named one of Kelowna’s Top Forty Under 40 for his work raising awareness for mental illness while pursuing competitive hockey and a business degree at the College.

Second-year Associate of Arts student Hannah Stanley was declared the overall winner in the College’s 8th annual 3-Hour Short Story contest and her story piqued the interest of many news outlets including the Daily CourierInfoTel News, The Herald and Morning Star.

The Okanagan College Coyotes women’s basketball team played their final home game of the season last weekend and Kelowna Capital News, the Daily Courier and KelownaNow caught up with Coach Dino Gini about the team’s inaugural season.

Third-year finance student Jayden Harrington and partner Caitlyn welcomed Kelowna's first New Year's baby. The Capital News and Daily Courier helped tell the story of the birth.

Maxine Dehart's column in the Capital News announced the retirement of long-time College employee, Heather Banham.

Okanagan College's Richard McAdam caught the attention of the Okanagan Weekend after dressing up as fictional character Luke Skywalker from the Star Wars franchise for the recently released film, "Star Wars: The Last Jedi."

The upcoming Gold Medal Plates Canadian Culinary Championship held at Okanagan College has received a lot of media attention from the Capital News and was mentioned twice in the Okanagan Weekend who announced the event and discussed the lineup of competing chefs.

The Vernon Morning Star shared news about 457 indigenous students across B.C., including four College students who received a $5,000 Aboriginal Student Award courtesy of the Irving K. Barber B.C. Scholarship Society. 

The Okanagan Weekend announced Eric Corneau, Regional Dean at the Penticton campus, was present at the first OC Speakers Series talk of 2018, Jan 8.

Three new part-time viticulture courses at the College started this month at the Penticton campus and the Okanagan Weekend caught up with Jonathan Rouse, Director of Food, Wine and Tourism to chat.

Brianne Niznikowski, Adult Literacy Program Co-ordinator at OC, is appealing to the Osoyoos community in search for adult tutors to help with their literacy program and the Osoyoos Times helped share the news.

Chef Rod Butters, an OC Honorary Fellow, was recently named the Canadian winner for Best Local Cookbook by the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards for his cookbook "The Okanagan Table: The Art of Everyday Home Cooking." The Capital News and Okanagan Weekend dove into the finer details of the chef and the cookbook.

The Daily Courier caught up with Raghwa Gopal, an Okanagan College Honorary Fellow (2014) and CEO of Accelerate Okanagan, to discuss the booming technology industry. Gopal attributes several contributing factors to the boom including Okanagan College.

Okanagan College Honorary Fellow (2008) MP Richard Cannings made the Osoyoos Times headlines for his decision to support a forestry industry bill.


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 January 23, 2018.