Indigenous Task Force moving forward

Bill Cohen IOCA project manager and committee members have been selected for the Indigenous Task Force that will work to develop an Indigenization plan outlining ways in which the College can better engage with, and learn from, the Indigenous communities we serve.

Dr. Bill Cohen, an Okanagan-Syilx educator who has taught Indigenous Studies at the Kelowna, Salmon Arm, and Vernon campuses, will be the project manager for the task force. He will be assisted by Jennifer Leason, a highly regarded Anishinabek scholar and PhD candidate who teaches Women’s Studies at the College and who recently piloted a new course on Canadian Indigenous women's experiences and perspectives, Indigenous Feminism, Oppression and Resistance.

“The Okanagan College Indigenization Task Force is comprised of very capable and qualified employees from diverse backgrounds who are well suited to develop an Indigenization strategy for a respectful, inclusive, innovative, and sustaining Okanagan College community in accord with the Strategic Plan,” says Cohen.

“I am very excited about the launch of the Task Force and grateful that Bill Cohen and Jennifer Leason have agreed to help move this important initiative forward,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “With their assistance and the leadership of co-chairs Ann Marie McKinnon and James Coble, the task force will help chart our way forward from success at student recruitment and support to a form of Indigenization that will enrich all of us.”

A full list of committee members is available here. More information will follow in a press release this week.

Provincial funding creates new seats in trades; culinary eligible for grants

AVED Trades Announcement April 29 16The Hon. Andrew Wilkinson, Minister of Advanced Education, was at Okanagan College in Kelowna on Friday, April 29 to announce new funding for additional seats in trades.

The $281,000 in funding will establish 148 new seats, including 80 in carpentry, 16 in plumbing, 36 in level 2 professional cook and 16 in welding.

Students looking to pursue training in cook, chef and baker programs are also now eligible to apply for the B.C. Access Grant, which provides up to $16,400 in non-repayable grant and loan reduction funding. The province recently added culinary programs to its list of in-demand trades in B.C. According to the 2024 Market Outlet, bakers, chefs and cooks are among the top 25 jobs requiring college or apprenticeship training.
Follow this link to learn more about the grants and eligible programs. Watch coverage from Global News here.

Hawley’s debut novel wins BC Book Award

Alix Hawley IOCThe awards keep rolling in for Dr. Alix Hawley’s debut novel, All True Not a Lie in It. Hawley’s work was awarded the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize at the BC Book Prizes Gala held on Saturday, April 29 at Government House in Victoria.

The 2015 novel transports readers back in time to follow the adventures of American pioneer Daniel Boone, who attempted to settle Kentucky and was captured by the Shawnee. Told in the present tense and evoking an intimate portrait of Boone not before seen, Hawley’s novel has garnered national praise. In May 2015, it received the First Novel Award.

"I've been so surprised and thrilled by the book's success,” said Hawley. “Winning a B.C. award feels especially good. There are so many brilliant writers in the community, so this support is heartening."

Hawley’s short story collection, The Old Familiar, won the 2014 Canada Writes Bloodlines competition. The Kelowna resident and Okanagan College professor is currently at work on her second novel.

Read more about this latest accolade for Hawley here.

Industry, community support helps College welcome students to new Trades Training Complex

Trades Welcome Event April 2016Hundreds of staff and students attended a welcome event for the new Trades Training Complex in Kelowna on Thursday, April 28, and support from industry and the community added to the warm welcome.

Coast Wholesale Appliances Inc. joined the growing list of local businesses that have donated funding or equipment to enhance student spaces in the new building. The company donated microwaves to power up kitchenette stations in trades and also handed out a tool credit to assist a carpentry student in purchasing new tools.

“We are very proud and excited to contribute to the student experience at Okanagan College,” says Robert Siddon, General Manager for Coast Wholesale Appliances in Kelowna. “The trades are connected to our business, and so many others in the Okanagan, and so having a world-class training facility here benefits us all.”

Construction on the building completed at the end of March. Over the past month, more than 700 students training at satellite campuses on Acland and Penno Rd. transitioned to the new complex. Last Thursday’s welcome event was an opportunity for students and employees to tour and learn more about Okanagan College’s newest sustainable building. Finishing touches will be made on the building over the summer and an official grand opening is being planned for the fall.

More information is available in the press release.


Rick Gee to be honoured for distinguished service

rick gee smallLongtime former employee Rick Gee will receive Okanagan College’s Distinguished Service award at the Summer Convocation ceremony on June 29 in Kelowna in recognition of the contributions he made during his 30-year career.

Gee, former Chair of Okanagan College’s Education Council and longtime professor of Computer Science, has left an indelible mark on the institution’s curriculum and program development after dedicating more than three decades to supporting students and enhancing academic standards.

President Jim Hamilton, whose career with the College began just five year prior to Gee’s, recalls him as a cornerstone of the institution.

“Rick’s contribution to Okanagan College has been immense,” says Hamilton. “His name was synonymous with Education Council and in that role he became the keeper of educational quality in programming. He has done much to build the institution’s reputation for academic excellence.”

Gee joined the College on July 26, 1985 as a College Professor of Computer Science. Throughout his tenure at the College he served as department chair on three separate occasions, contributing 17 years altogether in the role.
He was elected to the College’s Education Council, the body that is responsible for setting curriculum content, academic standards and policies, eventually becoming Chair in 2008.

Gee was responsible for the development of two degree programs during his time at Okanagan College and Okanagan University College, the Bachelor of Computer Information Systems and the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. He was also the 2013 recipient of the Career Achievement award at the College’s Employee Excellence recognition ceremony.

With 30 years of experiences to reflect upon, Gee says his most memorable moments at the College occurred in the classroom.

“My favourite part was the teaching,” says Gee. “Seeing the light bulbs go on is something that brought me a lot of joy. I also worked with some very interesting and intelligent people over the years.”

Follow this link to read the complete press release

Foundation VP Raghwa Gopal is Kelowna’s Man of the Year

Raghwa Gopal IOCIt was a birthday to remember for Okanagan College Foundation Vice President at Large Raghwa Gopal. On April 27 (his 58th birthday) he received the B.C. Community Achievement Award from the B.C. Achievement Foundation and the Fred Macklin Man of the Year Award at the City of Kelowna's annual Civic and Community Awards.

Both awards recognize extraordinary volunteer efforts and community engagement. Gopal is well known for his volunteer work to advance entrepreneurship, literacy and access to education in the Okanagan. He has been actively involved with Okanagan College for more than a decade, alongside Project Literacy and a host of other community projects.

In addition to his work with the Foundation, Gopal has provided extensive mentorship to Okanagan College students, including serving as a member of the advisory committee for the Bachelor of Computer Information Systems degree program and as the 2012 Entrepreneur-in-Residence in the Okanagan School of Business. In 2014, he was named an Honorary Fellow.

Cheer on the OC Coyotes at the CCBC Championship

Coyotes logo IOCThe Okanagan College Coyotes have wrapped their road trips for the 2016 season. The team sits in third place in the league with a 12-12 record, after going 1-3 against the University of Calgary Dinos and the Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack over the weekend.

Next up for the Coyotes is their last home stand. They will face off against the VIBI Mariners and TRU Wolfpack this coming weekend and then will be hosting the CCBC Championship, which runs from May 11-14, all at Elks Stadium.

Championship Tournament passes can be purchased online here. Follow the Coyotes on Twitter (@YotesBaseball) and Facebook (Okanagan College Baseball) for news and updates.

May 3, 2016, Vol. 11, Issue 3


Employees to be recognized at awards ceremony Wednesday

Okanagan College invites all employees to attend the fifth annual Employee Excellence Awards to recognize the achievements of 19 individuals and five teams who were selected as finalists. 

The ceremony will be held on Wednesday, May 4 at 2:45 p.m. at the Kelowna campus in the Centre for Learning. The finalists in each of the eight categories represent a broad array of positions and come from all four of the College’s regions. Each has contributed to the College community in significant ways. Finalists were selected from 32 nomination packages reviewed by two selection committees. Learn more about Employee Excellence Awards here.

Volunteer for Convocation 2016

This June, Okanagan College will celebrate its graduating students at five Convocation ceremonies. Volunteers are needed to assist in two different roles, as event ushers and individuals are needed to help prepare refreshments for the reception. Please contact Michelle Lowry by email or at local 4649 if you would like to volunteer, noting the ceremony you are available for.

  • Trades Commencement Fri, June 3 @ 6 p.m.
  • Spring Convocation Sat, June 4 @ 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
  • Vernon Convocation Mon, June 27 @ 4:30 p.m.
  • Summer Convocation Wed, June 29 @ 6 p.m.

For more information about Convocation, visit the website.

Register for Connections 2016

Registration is now open for Okanagan College’s annual employee conference. Connections is organized by employees for employees. It is about connecting face-to-face with colleagues from different departments and campuses, and celebrating the strengths and diversity of the people who work here through interactive, social activities and fun informative workshops.

You will hear from President Jim Hamilton about what's happening in and around Okanagan College and you will have a great opportunity to interact with your fellow colleagues. If you register here before May 15, you will be eligible to win one of two iPad Mini 2s.  

Connections will be held at the Kelowna campus again this year and you have the choice to attend on either Tuesday, August 23 or Wednesday, August 24.

Camp OC registration now open with new employee tuition waiver

Looking for children’s camp ideas this summer? Browse the great day-camps offered through Camp OC at the Kelowna, Penticton, and Vernon campuses.

College employees are able to register their children and grandchildren at a 10 per cent discount. New this year, on the Friday before a particular camp begins, employees can take advantage of a 50 per cent tuition waiver with certain criteria being met, including if a camp has reached minimum registration, but not yet met the maximum. Review the criteria to learn more (also found in myOkanagan under OC Express Forms).

This year, courses for Grade 10-12 students will also be offered at the Kelowna campus. Check out the website for more info.

Pension Plan Updates

Updates to the Pension Benefits Standards Act on September 30, 2015 allowed for modernization. Read more about the changes and how they may affect you and your College Pension Plan and Municipal Pension Plan.


Aboriginal Career Fair

May 5 - The 22nd Annual Aboriginal Career Fair is taking place on Thursday from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Kelowna campus. This unique event connects Aboriginal students with employers and post-secondary institutions. Exhibitor spots are still available. More information is available on the website.

Register for Roundabout Rally

Roundabout is a learning series co-sponsored by Learning & Teaching and IT Services. Workshops on various topics are offered throughout the year. Register today to attend the upcoming sessions.

Roundabout Rally is a series of learning events happening from May 9 – 19. The Rally will kick off on Monday, May 9 at 10 a.m. in Room E-102. The first session - "Encourage Collaboration" - will be led by a guest from Fair Chance Learning who will be presenting via Skype on two collaboration tools you can use with students: Microsoft OneNote and Sway. Sessions will cover a wide range of topics, with the overall goal of the 10-day event being to provide a collection of quality learning experiences that employees can apply directly to their job at the College. Register by email and check out the rest of the Roundabout schedule here.

American Physical Society Northwest Section Meeting

May 12-14 – Registration is open for the American Physical Society Northwest Conference 2016. Renowned speakers from colleges and universities across Canada will present on a range of out-of-this-world topics—from Astronomy and Space Physics to Cosmology, Relativity, and Gravity. Click here for more information and to register online.

Foundation's Charity Golf Tournament

May 26 – Volunteers are needed for the 25th Annual Okanagan College Foundation/Western Financial Group Charity Golf Tournament at the Okanagan Golf Club. Last year’s tournament and silent auction raised more than $48,000 to assist Okanagan College students through scholarships, bursaries, and program support.
If you would like to volunteer for a fun day on the course, or host your own OC program booth on the greens, contact Samantha Blandon via e-mail or at local 4774.

Be Well at Okanagan College Challenge

Athletics, Recreation & Student Life is hosting the Be Well at Okanagan College Challenge in May and June in Kelowna. Participate in a weekly 3+ km walk exploring local parks and trails along with health and wellness tips. Participants will receive a punch card, pedometer, giveaways, fitness tips, healthy recipes, myth busters and up to date health information.

Date: Wednesdays, May 25 - Jun. 22
(Last day Smoothie Party)
Time: 12 - 1 p.m.
Cost: $10 Staff, free for students
Signup online or stop by the Athletics & Rec Office A105 for more information.


The announcement of funding from the province for more seats in trades was picked up by many local media outlets on Friday and over the weekend, including Global News, and the April 30 editions of the The Capital News and The Daily Courier.

Okanagan College trades students shone at the Skills Canada provincial competition in Abbotsford on April 13; their three gold, four silver, and four bronze medals earned coverage in The Capital News and Vernon Morning Star on April 27.

The Vancouver Sun and The Kelowna Daily Courier carried the story of Okanagan College Professor and Kelowna author Dr. Alix Hawley’s win of the coveted Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize at the BC Book Prizes Gala on April 30.

Shannon Linden’s column in the April 30 Okanagan Saturday brought some levity to the subject of time management and shared how a goal setting course at Okanagan College changed her outlook on productivity.

The topic of the proposed amphitheatre at the Vernon campus continued to garner the attention of letter-writers, with the Vernon Morning Star running a selection of letters on April 15, including one where the author said he had no faith in the testing that the Okanagan Summer Festival Society has proposed (There Goes the Neighborhood), to a missive from another area resident suggesting a referendum is required (Meeting Thoughts), to a response from the Summer Festival Society’s Diane Bond (In Response). There was also a letter from a resident who was “totally against the possibility that this project presents.” The issue also saw a letter from OC’s Board of Governors’ Chair, Connie Denesiuk, clarifying the College’s role in the proposal.

Coldstream residents opposed to the amphitheatre filled the Council Chambers April 25 to express their concerns and that prompted council – without an application to consider – to nonetheless decide to write a letter of opposition to the Okanagan College Board, the Ministry of Advanced Education and the area MLA. The story was reported by various media, including The Vernon Morning Star, and CBC Radio in separate interviews with Diane Bond and Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick.

In late April, the Coyotes traveled to Vancouver Island for a weekend joust that saw them split the four-game test, as reported by The Daily Courier and The Kelowna Capital News. The next weekend the team managed to win three of four games in Canadian College Baseball Conference contests in Kamloops, as reported by The Kelowna Capital News.

Predator Ridge’s annual promotional piece carried by The Kelowna Daily Courier included a profile of Jeremy Luypen, an award-winning alumnus of our Culinary Arts program and a frequent instructor.

The Vernon Morning Star carried an article written by Pleasant Valley Secondary’s Trades and Transitions Co-ordinator on April 20 that described the looming shortage of tradespeople in Canada and the opportunities that exist for students, pointing to Okanagan College specifically.

A name familiar to many at Okanagan College was in the news in late April: Raghwa Gopal was named Kelowna’s Man of the Year, a fact reported by The Kelowna Daily Courier. The same day, the newspaper was able to report that he was also being honoured with a B.C. Community Achievement Award. The Capital News reported Gopal’s municipal honor on April 29 and the provincial achievement in the same issue.

Another friend of Okanagan College, Harry McWatters, was found on the pages of Okanagan Saturday when it was announced that three wineries he is associated with – Time, McWatters Collection and Evolve – will move into the former PenMar movie theatres in downtown Penticton.

The 19th annual RV Lifestyle Seminar at Okanagan College is shaping up to be a success this year, in part thanks to publicity afforded by Forever Young magazine in its April issue. The seminar runs June 24-27.

Some of the folks who started long ago at OUC and are now working for UBC Okanagan were honoured recently when the university honoured its 25- and 30-year service employees. The Daily Courier reported the acknowledgement in its April 27 edition.

Speaking of colleagues, former regional dean John Lent is part of the renowned Fraser/Lent/Wall trio who were playing at the Grateful Fed last week, as noted by The Kelowna Capital News.

OC’s Vernon campus was the host location for the Community Future’s Enterprize Challenge, which dominated a substantial part of a page in The Vernon Morning Star on April 17. The winner, by the way, was Farm Bound, a company owner by Jaye Coward.

Getting rid of old electronics isn’t always easy, but 1-800-GOT-JUNK and the College combined to make it easier for some Kelowna residents in April, a fact noted by The Daily Courier in its April 22 edition.

The Rotary Clubs of Kelowna have always been big supporters of good causes, including a few at Okanagan College. Rotary Governor Vern Nielsen noted one of those good causes in the April 27 edition of The Daily Courier, when he reported how two Rotary Clubs – the Okanagan Mission and the Ogopogo Club – helped to obtain a district grant to help fund a Trades Literacy Centre at OC that will be located in the new Trades Training Complex.


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

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The next edition of INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE will be issued on May 17, 2016.