Recognition inspires award winners – nominate someone excellent today

Employee ExcellenceConsult some past winners of Okanagan College’s Employee Excellence Awards, and they’ll tell you how encouraged they were by the recognition.

Biology Professor Laurie Donovan, now retired, was recognized last year with the President’s Award.

“At a time when certain scoundrels are being nominated for Nobel Prizes, it is easy to become quite cynical about awards in general,” says Donovan. “However, when colleagues you respect and admire and former students, all of whom deserve recognition, take time to recognize your efforts, it is both humbling and an honour.”

Mathematics professor Bryan Penfound won the Strong Start Award in 2018. “Moving from the prairies to the Okanagan was a life-changing event for me. Receiving that phone call stating that I had been nominated for the Strong Start Award left me not only shocked, but feeling very proud of my work at the College. It's an amazing feeling to know that you have the trust and support of your colleagues, especially in those first few years of a new position.”

OC's Human Resources team and colleagues helping to organize and judge the 2019 Employee Excellence Awards are hoping the insights of Laurie, Bryan and Danny Capadouca (winner of the Key Directions Award in 2017) will inspire more entries for the nine categories of the award program.

“I was pleasantly surprised and honoured to be recognized by my peers for the Employee Excellence Awards,” recalls Pastry Arts Instructor Capadouca. “It was in my third year of teaching when I was nominated for my award and I was feeling really good about my curriculum and the rapport I had with my students. However, being recognized by my peers meant a lot to me and made me feel a bit more confident in my job. The award still means a lot to me to this day.”

The deadline for award entries is March 15. Categories are:

More information can be found at

OC Enactus teams on the road to nationals

Enactus 2019 team - CMNeither freezing temperatures nor strong competition from some of the top business schools in the west could stop Okanagan College Business students as they cruised to four podium finishes at Enactus Western Canada Regionals over the weekend. 

During a competition in which no other school was victorious in more than one competition, OC took the top spot in three challenges – the CWB Financial Education Challenge, the Scotiabank Environmental Challenge and the TD Entrepreneurship Challenge. The College also notched a runner-up showing in the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge. The College faced teams from 20 other institutions – more than 400 students participated in total – during the two-day event, which took place from Feb. 28 – March 1 in Calgary.

“We couldn’t be prouder of our students and faculty advisors on their success at Regionals,” says William Gillett, Dean of the School of Business. “Success at these competitions goes beyond skillful performance on the stage as presenters, it more so depends on students’ abilities to devise, launch, lead and adapt projects in our communities that have a tangible positive impact. And it is that wave of positive impact our students are contributing to through Enactus projects, and other efforts beyond the classroom, that is truly inspiring for all of us at the School of Business.”

“The teams have proved that achieving big goals is made possible through hard work, dedication and commitment,” says Enactus OC Co-President Macy Burke, who was part of the winning Environmental Challenge, or “green,” team.

“Over the last several months, the students worked endlessly to perfect their scripts and presentations which became apparent in our results. I am truly honoured to co-lead such an incredible group of kind, smart, and like-minded individuals. The endless support from our faculty advisors, school administration, community partners, donors and alumni is what makes our team so powerful, and for that we couldn’t be more grateful. With the National Exposition just around the corner, we’re now motivated to work even harder to achieve our next big goals.”

The three winning regionals teams from the College punched their tickets to the Enactus National competition that will be held May 7-9 in Vancouver.

“Once again, Enactus OC delivered an exceptional performance highlighting four community projects they have been involved in. Their dedication and leadership are awe-inspiring and the support we get from our OC administration, community partners, donors and alumni really sets us apart. We are very proud to bring home such great results and are looking forward to Nationals in May,” said OSB professor Dr. Kyleen Myrah, one of the team’s faculty advisors.

Results at a glance:

Entrepreneurship Challenge team

Tega Ovie, Jacob Pushor, Isaac Hossmann and Sveta Pasko

Coach: Kyleen Myrah and Lynn Sparling

1st place (Regional Champion) 

Environmental (Green) Challenge team

Abby Lagerquist, Karsten Ensz, Mitchell Vanlerberg and Macy Burke

Coach: Andrew Klingel

1st place (Regional Champion)

Financial Education Challenge (Financial Literacy) team

Mitchell Folk, Iris Pham, Carmen Larder and Michelle Brouwer

Coaches: Devin Rubadeau and Laura Hetherington

1st place (Regional Champion)

Youth Empowerment team

Nathan Ziebart, Arya Guler, Tyson Thomlinson and Christopher Wadey

Coaches: Shei Seaton and Dean Warner

2nd Place (Regional Runner-up)

Stay tuned for the full story on this week.

OC Board re-elects Chair, Vice Chair

Board chair-2Two prominent First Nations leaders have been re-elected to their positions as Chair and Vice Chair of the Okanagan College Board of Governors.

Chris Derickson, a councillor with the Westbank First Nation and a five-year veteran of the Board, was elected at the Board’s January meeting as chair. Gloria Morgan, a former Chief of the Splatsin Indian Band and an Enderby resident, was elected as vice chair.

Derickson is a partner in Alderhill Planning Inc., which works with government and First Nations communities and lectures at the Simon Fraser University Beedie School of Business and is on faculty with the Native Nations Institute at the University of Arizona. He has served on the Westbank First Nation Council since 2012. He was named one of Business in Vancouver’s Top 40 under 40 individuals in 2017.

Morgan was a Chief of the Splatsin Indian Band from 2001 to 2005 and has been an RCMP officer, a general practice lawyer as well as 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. In November, she was appointed to the board of the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust (SIDIT).

Morgan has been on the Board of Governors since 2016.

She was the recipient of the Community Leader Awards - Community Builder award 2016, North Okanagan.

Other members of the Okanagan College Board of Governors are Shelley Cook, Juliette Cunningham, Blake Edwards, Charity Gerbrandt, Tina Lee, Robert McGowan, Christopher Newitt, David Porteous, Devin Rubadeau, Shakti Shekhar Singh and Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.

The announcement was covered in the Business Examiner, Vernon Morning Star, Penticton Western News and Okanagan Weekend.

A tale of tree planters and taping: why the College matters

tree planting cmFeb. 26 marked B.C. Colleges Day. Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton wrote this letter on the important role colleges play in society.

Across Canada, there are hundreds of tree planters who have reason to be thankful for Okanagan College and the research of one of its therapy assistant program professors, Darrel Skinner.

And while the tree-planters might not know – and may not even care about such things – Feb. 26 marked B.C. Colleges Day, proclaimed by the provincial government and celebrated in Victoria at the Legislature.

Where does tree-planting intersect with provincial proclamations? At the point where Colleges contribute to the economic, cultural and social fabric of this province and country.

Darrell’s story is a great example of how Okanagan College and the other colleges of Canada contribute in ways that might go generally unrecognized.

Read the full letter online.

OC tech training program inspires high school students

Gateway to Tech - CMPenticton high school students are pulling back the curtain on their everyday devices, learning how technologies work thanks to a new Okanagan College program.

Funded by the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, the Gateway to Technology pilot project is equipping 16 students in grades 10 – 12 with an enhanced understanding of how various technologies function.

“This generation was born and raised in tech. Their dream job will include innovations that we haven’t yet thought of. Tech today is all around us. It’s in our phones, electric cars and it runs the networks that get the latest clothes to your door from anywhere in the world,” says Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.

“There are not many high school programs out there right now that give much exposure to these technical topics,” says Troy Berg, Professor of Network and Telecommunications Engineering Technology at Okanagan College. “With the creation of this course, we’re looking to inspire students to consider educational opportunities in the technical fields by giving them exposure now.”

Read the full release online, or check out coverage by Global News, Penticton Herald and Castanet.

OC, UBCO researchers explore how to better support migrant workers

Amy Cohen research - CMFrom urban farms to rural orchards and countless settings in between, a team of UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College researchers have spent three years and hundreds of hours speaking with migrant workers and their families about the challenges they face.

The project recently received a $147,000 grant from the Vancouver Foundation to ensure their work can continue to bear fruit in raising awareness, and bringing positive change for some of B.C.’s most vulnerable workers.

Led by Susana Caxaj, assistant professor in the school of nursing at UBC’s Okanagan campus and Amy Cohen, professor of anthropology based out of Okanagan College’s Vernon campus, the project will use the new funding to delve further into the unique and evolving struggles faced by workers.

“We set out to better understand and shed light on the challenges faced by workers and by organizations in our communities that are trying to help,” explains Cohen. “We also looked at the gaps that exist in the support systems and polices that allow this very far-reaching systemic social justice issue to persist.”

“We’ve taken a participatory action approach, meaning that it was critical to us that all the stakeholders – from the workers as well as the agencies that can support workers – were all involved at every step.”

Read the full story online, or check out coverage in the Capital News and Daily Courier.

Olympic athletes, sports mentors gear up to inspire girls in Penticton

Kikkan Randall-2 - CMThe need for speed should not be defined by gender.

Approximately 100 girls between eight and 13 years will be descending on the Penticton campus of Okanagan College on March 10 to take part in Fast and Female, a free event celebrating female participation in sport and exercise.

Okanagan College Human Kinetics professor Louise Blais says a visit by U.S. Olympic athlete Kikkan Randall to her sports psychology class last fall sparked the idea of bringing the College’s human kinetics curriculum to the community, by connecting female students with the Olympian, local leaders and sports mentors.

“What we teach in human kinetics is about physical activity and health, and a lot of our courses recognize gender differences in these activities,” Blais explains, adding that studies have shown participation numbers of teenage girls in sports decline at a rate six times that of boys at the same age. “Coaches, teachers and other athletes have the opportunity to have an effect on those participation numbers. As they coach females, our goal is that our students will learn the value of life-long exercise for themselves but also other females in their lives."

Read the full story online.

MQN Award sets foundation for next generation

MQN Award - CMFor students stepping into trades training at Okanagan College, several new bursaries established by MQN Architecture and Interior Design will help provide a solid foundation.

The MQN Architecture and Interior Design Awards for Vernon Trades will provide two annual $750 bursaries for any student entering a trades foundation program. A $1,000 bursary will be awarded annually to a woman entering a trades foundation program.

“We believe in mentoring and teaching the next generation of designers and trades people. When looking at how we could do more, we decided providing financial support was the missing piece,” says Dora Anderson, a partner at MQN. “Had we not been given a hand up or support when starting out in our careers, who knows, we may not be here today.”

Read the full story online.


Carpentry alumnus hangs national banner

Lukas Pfob banner - CMLukas Pfob, OC carpentry alumnus, returned to the Kelowna campus on March 1 to hang a banner commemorating his second-place finish at the 2018 Skills Canada national championships.

Pfob was joined by Carpentry instructor Trevor Feddersen and praised in front of the crowd gathered for the Skills BC Regional Championships.

“Back in high school, my teacher suggested I should compete in Skills BC because he saw I had a knack for woodworking – but I was very, very nervous. I’ve never been the type of person who enjoyed the spotlight or anything like that. I took a chance and came to Okanagan College for the regional competition, and after that, I found it so exciting and wanted to continue,” Pfob recalls. “For me, one of the biggest things was self-confidence. It really helped with the ability to work under pressure, because in regular work, you have a deadline. So even under pressure, you really need to know your safety, all your tools and what you are doing. It really helped me get prepared for the regular world of work.”

Skills BC Regionals is a trades and technology competition that tests the skills and knowledge of junior and high school students, college trades students, and apprentices.

Pfob was presented the Skills Canada silver banner, which was then hung up in the carpentry shop to inspire future students. He offered the following advice to Skills BC competitors: “Stay humble, and don’t tell people about your skills – show them.”

The Skills BC competition also received coverage in the Kelowna Daily Courier and Castanet.

Students capture silver at Winning Pitch

Winning Pitch - CM

A team of second-year Okanagan School of Business students took home the silver medal at a recent competition in BC for pitching a way to make festivals more accessible.

Now in its third year, go2HR’s Winning Pitch is a competition held at the British Columbia Tourism Industry Conference where post-secondary students pitch business plans to develop a local tourism activity. This year the teams were asked to develop a new product or service that supports the development of accessible tourism opportunities in their region.

“Our concept, AccessFest, was a series of four seasonally inspired festivals designed around people with accessibility requirements that utilized the shoulder seasons of unique British Columbian destinations, and focused on bringing long-haul destination tourists to our province,” explains Plaxton. “After our presentation, people were asking us when we planned on actually doing the idea, and even though the concept was hypothetical, it was pretty neat to have people truly believe the idea is possible.”

Plaxton along with teammates Emily Pilon, Bryan Cresswell, and Celina Matte won the Regional Competition in November, earning the opportunity to compete against three other Regional finalists, fourth-year students from Vancouver Island University, BCIT, and College of the Rockies.

“We are particularly proud of these four second-year students as they competed against fourth-year students with more experience, knowledge and training in front of the largest audience in my experience,” notes Blair Baldwin, Okanagan School of Business professor who coached the team alongside Professor Alan Rice.

Mechanical engineering student crowned pasta master

James Dessert bridge - CMOkanagan College student James Dessert took home the grand prize of $1,500 for his spaghetti creation at the 36th annual Spaghetti Bridge Building Contest held at the Kelowna campus March 1.

Dessert is currently enrolled in his first year of Mechanical Engineering Technology diploma at the College and credits the Spaghetti Bridge Building Contest for helping to shape his educational goals.

“I’ve always had fun building these bridges year after year and it definitely got me interested in engineering,” he says.

Dessert got his start in the Spaghetti Bridge Building Contest six years ago and is no stranger to the stage. He netted his initial first place finish in 2014, three second place finishes in 2018, 2017 and 2016 and a third-place finish in 2015.

Read the full story online, or read coverage by Global News, Okanagan Weekend, Vernon Morning Star, Salmon Arm Observer and Castanet. The Capital News, Daily Courier and Salmon Arm Observer promoted the event in advance.

Lecture explores quantum mechanics

Sarah Burke - CMThe Physics and Astronomy department is hosting a special lecture as part of the 2019 Canadian Association of Physicists Lecture Series. Dr. Sarah Burke, UBC professor, will present No Small Feat: Using Quantum Mechanics to See Atoms, Molecules, and Electrons at Surfaces on Tuesday, March 12.

Quantum mechanics often seems an elusive and abstract concept of physics, but it also underpins many of the materials properties that are central to current and future technologies. Burke will introduce how scanning tunneling microscopy uses a quantum effect – tunneling – to image the electrons and their energetic landscape in a variety of materials, while describing the winding path research often takes.

The lecture will be held at 7:30 p.m. on March 12 in Room E103 of the Kelowna campus.

Admission is free.

OC Speaker Series lands in Kelowna

Christine Patton - CMThere are leaders, and there are those who lead. Do you know the difference, and which one are you? These are among the questions that will be explored by author and performance coach Christine Patton when she kicks off the OC Speakers Series in Kelowna this month.

After spending fifteen years as a litigation lawyer and deputy judge in Ontario, Patton now puts her time and expertise to work helping athletes, businesses and individuals perform their best.

Patton’s talk will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13 at the Kelowna Downtown Branch of the Okanagan Regional Library at 1380 Ellis St. Admission is free, but space is limited so please register in advance on Eventbrite.

Donations of non-perishable food or hygiene products will be gratefully accepted to help Okanagan College students in need as part of The Pantry food bank project at the Kelowna campus coordinated by the Okanagan College Students’ Union.

Country artist hosts Music Fest MS

MusicFest MS - CMCountry artist and OC alumnus Ben Klick is hosting a benefit concert at the Kelowna Community Theatre called Music Fest MS on May 5 for a cause close to his heart.

Klick, a resident of West Kelowna, was inspired to organize Music Fest MS after his father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. MS is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system that can affect vision, balance and co-ordination, mobility, energy, memory, and mood amongst other symptoms.

“My family has always been super close. Once we got the news, I knew I had to do something to help. So I made a few calls to some friends within the community in the Okanagan and the Canadian country music industry with an idea, and everyone I asked was ready to help in whatever way they could,” Klick says.

Klick will perform alongside Juno and Canadian Country Music Award Winner Jess Moskaluke. Presented by BMO, the benefit will support the MS Society of Canada, with all proceeds from ticket sales, silent auction, 50/50 draws and on-site donations.

Tickets are available online.

Red Dot Players do dinner theatre with Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice - CMOkanagan College’s own theatre troupe, the Red Dot Players, are celebrating their 10th production by bringing something special to the table: dinner theatre.

Kate Hamill’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride and Prejudice will run for three evenings, from March 14-16 (curtain goes up at 7:30 p.m.) along with a matinee performance at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 17.

For the March 14 and 15 performances, attendees can combine theatre with a gourmet meal at Infusions Restaurant at the Kelowna campus.

Tickets are $18 for adults and $15 for students and seniors and can be purchased online or at the door. Dinner theatre tickets must be purchased by March 10, and are $50 for adults, $47 for seniors and students. Read the full story online, and check out promotions in the Kelowna Capital News, Okanagan Weekend and Kelowna Now.

March 5, 2019, Vol. 12, Issue 29


Wanted: alumni award nominations

The Okanagan College Alumni Association is seeking nominations for the Distinguished and Young Alumni Awards. Alumni have local, national and international impact, and the alumni awards recognize those who demonstrate excellence in one or more of these areas: leadership, environment, business or industry, public or community service, the arts, and support for Okanagan College. Deadline for nominations is April 14. Details are available online.

Aboriginal recognition ceremony seeks volunteers

Aboriginal Services is seeking individuals who can assist with some or all of the 10th annual Aboriginal Student Recognition Ceremony happening Saturday, March 9 at the Kelowna campus. The event begins at noon with a photographer and coffee, the ceremony begins at 1 p.m. and goes until 3:30 p.m. at which point the feast will be served to guests. Setup begins at 10 a.m.

Those interested can contact Jewell Gillies, Aboriginal Transition Program Advisor, at 250-762-5445, ext. 4498 or by email.

College Pension Plan rates to increase April 1, 2019

As of April 1, 2019, contribution amounts for members and employers are going up 90 cents for every $1,000 of salary to strengthen the inflation adjustment account. A second increase to contribution amounts is anticipated later in the year. Please read the attached communique for further details.

Eating well for energy

Celebrate Nutrition Month by learning how to achieve a healthy and balanced diet. Discover which foods will give you a brain boost and an energy surge to get you through your day, and how nutrition can boost your cognitive function throughout your life. LifeWorks is here for you any time, day or night at 1-888-307-0590, or read the online feature.

Your health and safety responsibilities

On a worksite, everyone has varying levels of responsibility for workplace health and safety. As a worker, you play an important role in making sure you — and your fellow workers — stay healthy and safe on the job:

  • Be alert to hazards. Report them immediately to your supervisor or employer.
  • Follow safe work procedures and act safely in the workplace at all times.
  • Refuse to perform unsafe work.
  • Use the protective clothing, devices, and equipment provided. Be sure to wear them properly.
  • Co-operate with joint occupational health and safety committees, worker health and safety representatives, WorkSafeBC prevention officers, and anybody with health and safety duties.
  • Get treatment quickly should an injury happen on the job and tell the health care provider that the injury is work-related.
  • Follow the treatment advice of health-care providers.
  • Return to work safely after an injury by modifying your duties and not immediately starting with your full, regular responsibilities.
  • Never work under the influence of alcohol, drugs or any other substance, or if you're overly tired.

For details, visit WorkSafeBC’s website.

Fezziwigs closed March 8-12

Effective March 8, Fezziwigs will be closed on the Kelowna campus for upgrades. During the week, Fezziwigs will offer a limited coffee service directly across from their kiosk along the southeast wall of the CFL.


Win big with NCAA March Madness bracket pool

March 17 deadline – Want to test your powers of prediction and have a chance to win $1,000? The OC Coyotes basketball program has teamed up with the Okanagan College Foundation again to offer a March Madness bracket pool. Get tickets before March 17 to make your game predictions and choose the NCAA National Champion. All proceeds go to a scholarship or bursary fund for OC athletes.

Tickets cost $25 and include a Papa John's pizza card. They are available at the Foundation office, from any player or coach, or e-mail JoAnn Gini to make arrangements. BC Gaming License #103255; participants must be 19+ to play.

Signature Speaker Series

March 20 – UBC researcher and associate professor Dr. Mariana Brussoni will discuss Rethinking Risk: Are children too safe for their own good? Research is mounting on the importance of giving kids more opportunities for risky play outdoors. Presentation starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Vernon campus. Tickets are $10 and available online.

Charlotte Kushner retirement pitstop

March 21 – After 32 years of service to Okanagan College, Charlotte Kushner is retiring. In an effort to make Charlotte feel nostalgic (and maybe change her mind about retiring), the Executive Office is organizing her going-away event as a “PitStop” at Infusions on Thursday, March 21 from 9:30-11 a.m. There won’t be a formal program, so stop by any time to share your memories, share some food and some laughs, and send Charlotte off with best wishes as she embarks on new adventures.

Lunch and learn series

March 28 – Cannabis in the Workplace. In this lunch and learn workshop sponsored by OC and Accelerate Okanagan, explore the impact of this cultural shift in the workplace. How have things changed? What are some of your rights as an employee? Find out during this short and informative workshop. Registration is available online.


The upcoming Indigenous-knowledge infused professional cook training received media interest from several outlets, including Academica, Okanagan Life Magazine, CBC, Daily Courier, Vernon Morning Star and Salmon Arm Observer.

The Tourism Management Diploma program to be piloted at the Revelstoke Centre, received coverage in Academica as well as the Revelstoke Mountaineer.

OC and Accelerate Okanagan’s new lunch and learn workshops received coverage in the Kelowna Capital News. The series is geared to entrepreneurs, business community members and those looking to develop new skills.

Carolyn Hawes and her team of students joined the Kelowna Gospel Mission’s eighth annual Strides to End Homelessness fundraiser, covered by the Salmon Arm Observer.

OSB Dean Bill Gillett was mentioned among the Board of Directors members to lead the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce starting at the end of March, as reported by Kelowna Now.

Castanet printed an opinion piece by OC alumna Andrea Thiessen, who completed her Certificate in Business Administration in January. Thiessen shared her inspiring story, and how her education and experience at OC helped transform her life.

The Gateway to Trades program graduation ceremony was profiled in the Kelowna Daily Courier.

The Daily Courier reported on the OC Coyotes men’s team emerging victorious Capilano to cap off the season. The Capital News offered a preview of the OC Coyotes’ debut at the PacWest regional basketball championships. The Peninsula News Review covered the tournament, which saw Okanagan College Coyotes women’s team drop a 75-50 decision against the Camosun Chargers in the quarter-final.

Graphic novelist David Wong, author of Escape to Gold Mountain, will discuss racism and diversity this week at the Revelstoke Centre. The event, presented by OC and Embrace BC, were profiled in the Revelstoke Review.

The Daily Courier previewed the OC Coyotes baseball team season opener in Vegas.

Vernon accountant and part-time OSB instructor Leigh Sindlinger has been honoured by the Chartered Professional Accountants of B.C. for helping children and youth with budgeting, saving money and managing credit. Sindlinger has won the Distinguished Service Award for helping youth up to Grade 12 grasp complicated financial literacy concepts like mortgages, investments and life-long financial health. Her recognition was covered in the Daily Courier and Okanagan Weekend.

Experience Works, a workplace skills program for ages 55, was profiled in the Salmon Arm Observer.

Capital News columnist Maxine DeHart included OC Business students’ bronze-medal performance at the Scotiabank Canadian Case Challenge at Vanier College in Montreal in her weekly Straight from DeHart column.

Word on the Lake Writers Festival, taking place May 10 to 12 at the Prestige Harbourfront Resort and Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm campus, was promoted in the Salmon Arm Observer

Okanagan College was front and centre in CHBA South Okanagan Home Show promotions last week, as Castanet used the OC booth as an example of exhibitors from the home and renovation industry. The OC booth showcased Trades and Apprenticeship Department, as well as women in trades.

The Capital News promoted the World Community Film Festival, which took place at the Kelowna campus last week.


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

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The next edition of INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE will be issued on March 19, 2019.