Areas of Study
Connect with Us
Financial Aid & Awards
Alumni and Friends
In Case of Emergency
News and Events
Print this Page
Report an Error on this Page
The Annual Youth Exhibition Powwow once again drew a big crowd to Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus today. Hundreds of OC students and staff, dancers, drummers, elders and Indigenous community members and guests, gathered to enjoy the Powwow and mark 11 years of celebrating Indigenous culture through the event.
Dancers and accompanying drummers from across the B.C. interior performed in a variety of dance categories including grass, fancy, chicken, jingle and traditional. This year, more than 800 students from various private, band and public schools were invited to attend the exhibition.
College and community members once again carried in flags during the Grand Entry, followed by Chiefs, Princesses, Elders, Powwow organizers and dancers. Elder Grouse Barnes of the Westbank First Nation provided the traditional welcome. Elder Richard Jackson Jr. of the Lower Nicola Indian Band reprised his role as Master of Ceremony, a role he’s held for the past 11 years, as did long-time Arena Director Noel Furgeson of the Canoe Creek First Nation.
The crowd also heard from Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton, Director of Student Services for Okanagan College James Coble, Lauren Terbasket of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band and Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society Executive Director Edna Terbasket, who in 2017 was named an Honorary Fellow of Okanagan College.
The Annual Youth Exhibition Powwow returns to Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus on Thursday for its 11th year in celebration of Indigenous culture.
The Powwow is a high-energy, family-friendly event that draws participants from across the B.C. interior. Dancers and accompanying drummers perform in a variety of dance categories including grass, fancy, chicken, jingle and traditional.
The Powwow begins at 9 a.m. with a Grand Entry during which College and community members will carry in flags followed by Chiefs, Princesses, Elders, Powwow organizers and dancers. The Grand Entry also includes a moment of honour for veterans. This year, Elder Grouse Barnes of the Westbank First Nation will give the traditional welcome.
“One of our key directions at Okanagan College is working with and learning from the Indigenous community,” says College President Jim Hamilton. “The Powwow supports Indigenization at the College and continues to be one of the most meaningful and well-attended events we have to celebrate Indigenous knowledge and culture on campus.”
Last year approximately 1,000 students, faculty and staff along with members of the general public took part. This year, more than 800 students from various private, band and public schools from across the interior have been invited to attend the exhibition.
“The Powwow is an excellent way to introduce students to the traditional knowledge and ways of doing of the Indigenous peoples of our region and a way to support and engage the community with Indigenous culture,” says Jewell Gillies, Aboriginal Transition Program Advisor.
“We continue to add to the educational component and the local school districts see this as a great opportunity for students. We are excited to welcome those who haven’t experienced a Powwow before.”
Elder Richard Jackson Jr. of the Lower Nicola Indian Band will reprise his role as Master of Ceremony and Arena Director, a role he’s held for the past 11 years. This year, he will also be joined by various traditional dancers who will take time at intervals to explain the meaning behind various aspects of the Powwow and the history and origin of dance styles, for those who haven’t attended before.
Those who attended last year will spot a very special fixture on the field, back for its second year – an Eagle Feather Staff.
At last year’s Powwow, Elder Jackson and Noel Ferguson of the Canoe Creek Frist Nation and Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society presented Okanagan College with the Staff to recognize the College’s continued efforts to embrace Indigenous culture and support of the educational journey of Indigenous learners.
The Eagle Staff lead the processional at each of the College’s graduation ceremonies this year and will continue to be present at major events.
Powwow attendees will be treated to a tasty lunch prepared by Deli City and can enjoy shopping at the many vendors on location selling jewelry, artwork, soaps, moccasins, jams, lotions and more. Additionally, there will be a 50/50 and a raffle draw available with proceeds going to financial awards for Indigenous students at OC.
The College has one of the fastest growing rates of Aboriginal student participation of any post-secondary institution in B.C. In 2018, the College provided educational programming to more than 1,800 Aboriginal students.
The festivities run from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19 in the Kelowna campus courtyard. Attendance is free and open to the public.
For those who cannot attend, portions of the event will be livestreamed on the College’s Facebook page.
A common connection with the aerospace industry and opportunities to co-operate and collaborate on programs and research have led two of Canada’s colleges to sign a memorandum of understanding that signals their intent to work together on new training and research initiatives that will benefit a growing industry.
Mohawk College, in Hamilton, ON, and Okanagan College in B.C.’s Southern Interior, have signed an MoU that outlines a new joint commitment that could see cross-Canada opportunities for training, internships and cooperative education, as well as collaborative applied research and potential new programs.
Okanagan College offers Aircraft Maintenance Structures Technician and Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (AME) programs out of its Kelowna Aerospace Campus at the Kelowna Airport, as well as AME Maintenance training out of its Vernon Aerospace Campus. Mohawk similarly trains students in Aircraft Technician Maintenance, Aircraft Technician Structures and Avionics Technician programs, soon to be offered in a new training hub at Hamilton International Airport.
Both colleges conduct applied research. Notably, both colleges also have strong multi-faceted partnerships with KF Aerospace, a leading provider of aircraft maintenance and modifications in Canada. KF Aerospace has operations in Kelowna and Hamilton. OC has conducted aspects of its AME training in KF’s leading-edge hangars. Scores of graduates from both colleges have gone on to work for the company as technicians and engineers.
“Mohawk College has had a growing commitment to the Canadian aerospace industry for years, with new credentials and a new state-of-the-art training centre both coming soon. Okanagan College has been a leader in aerospace training in British Columbia. It makes great sense for our colleges to find innovative ways to work together for the benefit our students, our programs and our industry partners.”
– Paul Armstrong, VP Academic, Mohawk College
“We know there is both a global need for highly skilled aerospace professionals and an ever-growing call for applied research and innovation across the aerospace industry. Collaboration between OC and Mohawk College will help us pursue and advance joint applied research opportunities that will open doors to innovative learning and teaching opportunities for our students and faculty. It will also benefit our industry partners like KF Aerospace and others who are so supportive of hands-on training and research opportunities in this field.”
– Andrew Hay, VP Education, Okanagan College
“It’s great to see two forward-thinking Colleges like Mohawk and OC working together to create these types of research and training opportunities that align and support our needs in industry. As an employer, we couldn’t be happier to see partnerships like this that advance aerospace training and innovative thinking about the needs of today and the future.”
– Grant Stevens, VP Corporate Services, KF Aerospace
Researching fatphobia, one of the up-and-coming subfields of feminist studies, Emma Lind uncovered an avalanche of material about the oppression and social shaming of people who are fat.
Lind, an Okanagan College instructor, is one of the experts sharing their research and knowledge by bringing provocative and challenging topics to a new series at the College. Her research spans topics such as body image, weight stigma in pregnancy care and queer women’s identities and she has worked on digital story telling projects with ReˑVision, The Centre for Art and Social Justice at the University of Guelph.
Fat is Not a Four-Letter Word, the course that Lind will lead, is part of the Fascinating Intellectual Topics series that begins this fall at Okanagan College. The series is comprised of two-day sessions that cover a range of subjects sharing a central theme of global citizenship.
“This area of fatphobia has had significant academic interest recently,” says Lind. “It’s something that people have rarely been given the opportunity to name. Learners will engage with provocative ideas and come away with a deeper understanding of how body image is embedded into the broader systems of power. The session will disrupt common assumptions about fat bodies and offer permission to question the messages everyone receives about their bodies.”
Lind’s course will take place Sept. 24 – Oct 1 on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Topics covered in the FIT series range from timely local concerns such as homelessness and urbanization in the Kelowna area to broader discussions on the impacts of climate change and diversity and inclusion. The 11 courses in the series were developed by professors and community experts, who partnered with the College with the goal of creating healthy dialogue and making a difference in the community.
“We want to bring important conversations to our community in a way that offers new perspectives to interested learners,” explains Dr. Dennis Silvestrone, Director of Continuing Studies at Okanagan College. “While society seems to be experiencing a hardening of perspectives, we want to create space for individuals to learn more about timely topics and share their views.”
“Learning is a healthy activity,” says Silvestrone. “The FIT series brings together a community of learners. Not only will we be learning, but the information shared can also contribute to tolerance and developing a more civil society.”
To see the full lineup of course offerings, dates and times, and to register, visit okanagan.bc.ca/fit.
Talks are 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Lecture Theatre (PL 107) of the Ashnola Building. The Okanagan College Penticton campus is located at 583 Duncan Ave. Admission is by donation, with proceeds going to support students in need.
Event information is available at https://ocspeakersseries.weebly.com/.
The national competition drew dozens of entries from poets in the early stages of their writing careers. Ben Rawluk’s untitled manuscript was named first runner-up, and honourable mentions went to Dale Tracy’s The Mystery of the Ornament and Jermy Stewart’s from East Beach.
Kalamalka Press supports Okanagan College’s Writing and Publishing Diploma program, providing students with practical, hands-on experience designing, setting and producing letterpress-printed chapbooks, broadsheets and posters.
Kalamalka Press has published books of poetry, fiction, and literary criticism, while, more recently, it has focused on letterpress-printed, hand-bound limited editions. Recent authors include Ariel Gordon, Nikki Sheppy, Lindsay Cahill and Angeline Schellenberg.
For information about Kalamalka Press, visit www.kalamalkapress.ca. For information on Okanagan College’s Writing and Publishing Diploma program, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/writingpublishing.
Okanagan College Media Release
Wes Peterson knows he has a challenging task in front of him.
He has been hired as manager of the recently-announced British Columbia Beverage Technology Access Centre (BCBTAC), which is scheduled to open its doors for service in Penticton this fall.
“The plan for the BCBTAC has been well laid out,” says Peterson, who brings with him experience in owning and operating a successful and growing brewery in Seattle. “The challenge will be in bringing it to life as envisioned, acquiring and setting up the equipment, and developing the processes and policies that will guide the technology access centre.”
The BCBTAC, which will be headquartered in Penticton, is an Okanagan College initiative that is supported by five years of funding, totaling $1.75 million, from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. It is also supported by the College and by industry as well.
Peterson is the centre’s first employee. The BCBTAC’s mission is to provide technical, analytical and business services to small- and medium-sized distilleries, cideries, breweries and wineries, focusing first on the businesses in the Okanagan, Shuswap and Similkameen region. It will draw on expertise resident at Okanagan College and elsewhere to help those businesses grow.
Peterson has significant executive experience, having worked with Expedia in Europe as a vice-president, and with Air Canada as Branch Financial Officer. Since 2011 he has co-owned Odin Brewing Company in Seattle. Peterson was educated as a Cytogenetics Technologist at BCIT, has a Bachelor of Science in Genetics from UBC, and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Calgary in Finance and New Venture Development.
“Wes’ management experience with customer-focused enterprises, his background as a technologist, and his approach and leadership with a successful craft brewery in an intensely competitive environment commended him for this role,” explains Dr. Andrew Hay, Okanagan College’s Vice President Education.
The BCBTAC is the second technology access centre in British Columbia. The other is in Victoria, at Camosun College. The network of technology access centres across Canada is funded by the federal government, and are focused on addressing the applied research and innovation needs of local companies.
When Okanagan College’s successful application for a TAC was announced in June, there were 19 craft cideries, 219 wineries, 16 craft distilleries and 24 craft breweries within the College’s catchment area, which stretches from Revelstoke to the U.S. border.
For more information on BCBTAC, visit www.bcbtac.ca.
A plane representing a lifelong passion for flying from one of Vernon’s most successful entrepreneurs will find new wings as a training tool at Okanagan College.
Robert Foord along with family members, donated Tom Foord’s plane to the College’s Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME) program during a small ceremony at its Vernon Aerospace campus today.
Tom was the co-founder of Kal Tire, which grew from a small tire shop in Vernon to an international business.
“My dad loved flying and he loved this community,” says Robert, Kal Tire President and one of Tom’s five children.
“He also put enormous value on education and hands-on training and would be proud that his plane has been donated to the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer students for that very purpose.”
The keys to the Cessna 210G – Centurion plane were turned over to Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton and Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director Helen Jackman.
Hamilton thanked the Foord family and explained how the aircraft will provide new training opportunities while inspiring students.
“We know how important hands-on training is for students to solidify their learning and this plane will provide that. This Cessna also demonstrates to our students that the community supports their education. Tom Foord exemplified hard work, determination and community spirit. We hope his legacy of reaching for the sky inspires students,” says Hamilton.
“I want to express Okanagan College’s sincere gratitude to the Foord family for their continued support of trades training in the North Okanagan.”
In addition to the plane, Kal Tire donated $250,000 to Okanagan College’s Trades Training Centre in Vernon, which opened one year ago.
A decal in memory of Tom was placed on the plane and a plaque sharing his story will be on display in the training hangar.
Okanagan College Media Release
New bursaries established by BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA) will provide nearly a full scholarship for aspiring Health Care Assistants (HCA) at Okanagan College.
The non-profit that represents non-government operators of long-term care, assisted living and independent home care and support, is allotting $25,000 this year to set up eight student awards at the College valued at $3,125 each. The awards almost completely pay the tuition for the 6-month HCA Certificate program, which costs $3,300.
"Health-care assistants play a significant role in our health system by providing day-to-day care to seniors and people with disabilities," said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.
“These positions are in demand throughout the province and these bursaries will provide people with an opportunity to enter into a rewarding career that makes a real difference in peoples’ everyday lives."
In total, BCCPA is committing $100,000 to bursaries at post-secondary institutions across the province over the next three years.
The Okanagan College bursaries will give preference to Aboriginal students and anyone with past experience working or volunteering in health care.
“We want to attract more people to meaningful careers in seniors care,” says Aly Devji, BCCPA board chair.
“These bursaries will make it possible for anyone, regardless of financial ability, to become an HCA. We’re excited to be able to launch more people into rewarding careers working with seniors.”
The $25,000 gift will support Okanagan College’s $5-million fundraising campaign for a new Health Sciences Centre on its Kelowna campus. In addition to raising funds for the modern Centre, the fundraising campaign aims to create new student awards to encourage more people to enter high-demand health care careers.
BCCPA is deeply aware of the staffing shortages for health care professionals in the province, and especially the Okanagan. In 2018, BCCPA released a paper highlighting the issue called “The Perfect Storm: A Health Human Resource Crisis in Seniors Care.”
The paper outlines how an aging workforce, low-recruitment rates, high incidence of worker burnout and injury, funding challenges, and the increasing acuity level of seniors in care, are all factors that have contributed to create a perfect storm.
The report also recommends a number of solutions to address the issue, including attracting a younger generation of workers by providing tuition relief and bursaries for students.
“We’re very grateful to BC Care Providers for providing such significant support for students,” says Yvonne Moritz, Okanagan College Dean of Science, Technology and Health.
"Many mature students and single parents are attracted to the HCA program because of its short duration and the good paying jobs available, but for many, the cost of the program is a barrier. These awards will provide a significant stepping stone into a gratifying career.”
Teresa Wyman (right) knows first-hand the importance of awards for HCA students. Wyman, 51, was working at Superstore for 20 years when she decided to follow her passion for caregiving and enrol in the HCA program at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus.
Wyman took out student loans to pay for her tuition and received several student awards that helped her pay for the costs of the education. She says the new awards will go a long way in helping attract more students.
“I think it’s a great idea as there is a need among students in the program,” says Wyman, who adds she feels grateful to be following her dream.
“I go home on the weekend and can’t wait to go back to school on Monday. When I graduate I get to go out and help people, which is so nice.”
A fresh addition to Okanagan College’s inventory of summer camps is cultivating wood-be carpenters among girls aged nine to 12.
Carpentry Projects for Girls is a camp that offers girls a chance to be creative in the woodworking shop at the College’s Kelowna campus, and gives them an introduction to trades.
“I was in the go-kart camp a couple of weeks ago, and on the last day of camp, I told my parents I wanted to come back,” says Malaika Dutta, a nine-year-old participant. “I really liked the idea of learning how to build things. I’ve never made anything like this before, but now I’m starting to think about things that I can make at home.”
The camp is led by Red Seal endorsed trades instructors, and Women in Trades Training (WITT) mentors have been stopping in to lend a helping hand.
“It’s fantastic to have the girls in here this young,” says Mary-Jaye Salmon, Red Seal Endorsed Carpenter and WITT mentor of 11 years. “They’re smart and in tune with health and safety. It’s great to show them the possibilities they have for their future. Maybe they won’t end up making a career choice of trades, but it definitely shows them that they can, and maybe sparks another interest of theirs that they will go on to pursue.”
This week, the girls have been building a number of small pieces including bird-shaped doorstops and planters, and will work together building oversized, outdoor games such as Jenga, dice, and corn hole.
“This camp is a great addition to CampOC,” says OC President Jim Hamilton. “Our WITT program does a tremendous job of providing opportunities for women to pursue a successful career in the trades, and this camp allows us to introduce these same possibilities to the next generation.”
This pilot project was funded by the Government of Canada's Union Training and Innovation Program – Women in Construction Fund, delivered through Industry Training Authority (ITA).
“This camp puts the tools in girls’ hands, letting them be creative in a fun, safe, and educational setting,” says Shelley Gray, CEO of ITA. “They are able to explore their own skills and hopefully find their passion in the skilled trades.”
As the camp came to a close today, parents, ITA and OC staff joined the girls for a barbeque and an afternoon of playing the games they built.
With camps spanning from Revelstoke to the South Okanagan, CampOC offers a variety of camps each summer for students in Grades 2-12.
For more information on CampOC, visit campoc.ca.
More information about the College’s Women in Trades Training program is available at okanagan.bc.ca/witt.
A formal partnership between UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College has established a Green Construction Research and Training Centre (GCRTC) that will provide new research options and create hands-on practical training opportunities for students.
Professor Shahria Alam, with UBCO’s School of Engineering, has been appointed the first director of UBC’s newest research and training centre. Ashley Lubyk from Okanagan College’s Sustainable Construction Management Technology program has been appointed as the co-director for the centre.
“Our goal is to create a hub where innovation in green construction is fostered,” explains Alam. “We are already starting to develop shared capstone projects for our students and establishing a speaker series that focuses on green construction and smart energy use.”
The GCRTC will generate and expand knowledge in the areas of green (environment-friendly) construction—including materials, structural components and systems, and construction management. The objectives are to create civil infrastructure that is safe, durable, energy-efficient and affordable through innovative technologies, he explains. Industry collaborations are already underway with anticipated spin-off companies creating a community that supports self-sustainability and local economic development.
“This centre ties in extremely well with our institutional focus on sustainability,” notes Andrew Hay, Okanagan College’s vice-president, education. “We are looking forward to furthering our collaboration with professor Alam, his colleagues and UBC Okanagan to advance the green building agenda.”
Alam’s research focuses on smart materials and their structural applications in infrastructure including seismic rehabilitation of structures and performance-based design. He is the chair of the Engineering Mechanics and Materials Division of Canadian Society of Civil Engineering and an associate editor of the Journal Bridge Engineering.
With more than 200 peer-reviewed articles, Alam stresses the importance of continuing to grow this sector in the Okanagan and its potential for a national and global impact.
“This joint initiative with Okanagan College will equip our students and researchers with the tools necessary to continue to innovate in the areas of green construction with a focus on sustainability,” he adds.
In collaboration with various municipalities, provincial bodies, Infrastructure Canada, construction associations and a large team of faculty members (from a range of disciplines including structural engineering, materials science, robotics, mechanical and electrical engineering, management, environmental science, economics and sociology), the centre will seek to develop transformative, paradigm-changing research that will be strategically vital to the construction industry.
School of Engineering Executive Associate Dean Rehan Sadiq says the centre is well-positioned to address the needs of the construction industry.
“Bringing together the expertise of our research faculty along with our colleagues from Okanagan College, we are confident that the centre will have a long-lasting positive impact into the future,” he adds.
Both UBC and Okanagan College have existing trades and technology programs and projects related to design and construction of future buildings. According to Alam, the Green Construction Research & Training Centre will find synergies between the two institutions wherever possible.
“Sharing ideas and expertise will be at the forefront of our success moving forward,” says Alam.
The centre has already launched a speaker series. More information can be found at: ok-gcrtc.sites.olt.ubc.ca