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Sunny skies, great turnout for 11th Annual Youth Exhibition Powwow at Okanagan College
College to host 11th Annual Youth Exhibition Powwow
Okanagan College, Mohawk College seek joint aerospace opportunities
Is your brain feeling FIT? College introduces lecture series to spark curiosity and dialogue
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Sunny skies, great turnout for 11th Annual Youth Exhibition Powwow at Okanagan College

powwow2019 flagsThe 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.

  • View a photo gallery of the event here.
  • View recorded livestream of portions of the event here.
College to host 11th Annual Youth Exhibition Powwow
Okanagan College Media Release

Powwow 19The 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 havent 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 Colleges 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 Colleges 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.

Okanagan College, Mohawk College seek joint aerospace opportunities

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 oc mou signing 450px

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


Is your brain feeling FIT? College introduces lecture series to spark curiosity and dialogue
Okanagan College Media Release

Emma LindResearching 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


End of summer social celebrates co-op students and employers
Okanagan College Media Release

Coop Student of the Year 2019For fourth-year Okanagan College student Connor McCormack, the past eight months spent at accounting firm MNP have affirmed his career choice in more ways than one. So much so that his time in the downtown Kelowna office earned him Okanagan College’s Co-op Student of the Year award recently.

MNP, known for its accounting and business consulting, took McCormack on as a co-op student earlier this year. As part of his Bachelor of Business Administration degree, he opted for a semester of applied learning with the goal of gaining tangible experience in his field. Time spent at MNP meant he could expand his skills and learn more about the industry.

“My co-op experience 100 per cent confirmed that accounting is for me,” he says. “Not only did it solidify the career choices I’m planning to make, but it also gave me valuable insight into the lifestyle and what to expect from the work life balance and routine.”

McCormack was one of many students and employers celebrated at the End of Summer Social, put on by the Student, Graduate and Co-op Employment Centre. Employer of the Year was awarded to the Regional District of the North Okanagan (RDNO).

Both the Student of the Year and Employer of the Year recipients are elected: students nominate their employer and employers nominate students. The basis for nomination consists of those who have gone above and beyond, done outstanding work in their field and fueled a successful and welcoming environment.

Working at MNP, McCormack faced a steep learning curve, but quickly applied a methodical approach to his work. With a foundation of knowledge from classes in financial accounting, management and marketing taken at the College, he gained ground quickly. He learned the ins and outs of corporate files, tax returns, and letter drafting for clients all while being coached by MNP’s on-site performance coaches.

Winning the award came as a “bit of a shock,” says Connor.

“It means a lot to me to win this award. It instills a lot of confidence in my abilities that my efforts were recognized.”

Faye Craven, MNP’s Human Capital Coordinator says that “Connor exceeded all expectations with outstanding performance both technically and in soft skills.”

RDNO has employed Okanagan College students for many years and consistently delivers a supportive environment to explore and address environmental issues that relate to their career aspirations.Coop Employer of the Year 2019

“We value our partnership with Okanagan College,” says Stephen Banmen, RDNO’s General Manager of Finance. “We have subsequently hired a number of our co-op students based on their performance, work ethic and quality education and will continue to do so in the future.”

For students, co-op presents them with a unique opportunity to step outside the classroom and experience work from a relevant perspective. For employers, the gain can be exponential in training young employees, bringing fresh insight to a workplace and potentially hiring students once their term is over.

Co-op at Okanagan College is a mandatory part of the Food, Wine and Tourism programs, including the current Culinary Arts and Pastry Arts programs as well as the new Tourism Management Diploma program. It is optional for all other eligible programs, however, the Okanagan School of Business and Technology departments have the greatest number of participants. Since 2014, 531 students have successfully completed 929 co-op terms, with a near 100 per cent completion rate.

“We hope this event showed the value of taking part in a co-op, and that the time spent in a work-integrated learning environment is invaluable,” says Alison Beaumont of the College’s Student, Graduate and Co-op Employment office.

“These partnerships enable our students to enhance their education in ways that complement their time in the classroom. It’s a win-win for everyone.”


OC Speaker Series explores wild and wonderful facts of the world and beyond
Okanagan College Media Release

What does Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination sparked the First World War, have to do with the Okanagan?Franz Ferdinand Aug 2019

Why does the Milky Way have a spiral structure?

What does psychology teach us we should say to a friend in need?

The answers to these questions and more are only a free lecture away, at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus.

The OC Speaker Series returns this September, with a lineup of experts and authorities who will offer free presentations on a variety of topics, from the arts, software engineering, geology, historical preservation, ecological protection, to history and astronomy. Several Okanagan College instructors are also part of this fall’s lineup.

“Exceptional instructors choose the Penticton campus as home because of their passion for teaching and the opportunity to foster connections with students. Many professors are active in research infusing classroom lectures with innovation,” says Eric Corneau, Regional Dean South Okanagan Similkameen. “The Penticton campus has an active and inclusive learning environment, and the community is invited to fill the seats in pursuit of answers to today’s burning questions.”
The series includes:
  • Sept. 9 – The Arts: Elite Pursuit or Community Builder? by Rosemary Thomson from the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra
  • Sept. 16 – Formal Methods and Software Engineering for Deep Learning, by Dr. Youry Khmelevsky
  • Sept. 23 – Saying the Right Thing: What can the science of clinical counselling teach us about helping a friend through a difficult time? by Allan Clarke
  • Sept. 30 – Geology of the South Okanagan: A virtual field trip, by Dr. Todd Redding
  • Oct. 7 – Prospects for China-Taiwan Reunification, by Dr. Shao-Kang Chu
  • Oct. 21 – Reconnecting: Building Human Connection in a Technological Era, Part 2, by Stenya LeClair
  • Oct. 28 – What To Do When Old Meets The New? Historic Preservation the Italian Way, by Dr. Antonella De Michelis
  • Nov. 4 – screening of the film Artifishal: The Road to Extinction is Paved with Good Intentions
  • Nov. 18 – Franz Ferdinand and the Okanagan Connection, by Dr. Maurice Williams
  • Nov. 25 – Sockeye Salmon Reintroduction and Recovery in the Okanagan Basin, by Ryan Benson
  • Dec. 2 – The Spiral Structure of the Milky Way, by Dr. Trey V. Wenger

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


Scotiabank investment in Non-Profit Centre of Excellence yields valuable online resources
Okanagan College Media Release

Scotiabank Centre NPE Aug 2019A partnership between Scotiabank and professors and students from Okanagan College’s School of Business has led to development of a series of free online courses that can help Canadian non-profit agencies with their professional development and training needs.

The Scotiabank Centre for Non-Profit Excellence, launched and supported with funding from Scotiabank and developed by Okanagan College faculty and students, has an online portal of research and training resources that are available to non-profit organizations and their staff and volunteers.

“This is the conclusion of five years of work, conducted by students and led by faculty, that began with a gap analysis of the training and education needs of the non-profit sector,” explains Business Professor and Faculty Researcher Dr. Sheilagh Seaton. “In short, we began by ascertaining what would be most beneficial for non-profits to aid their quest for improvements. Then we developed curriculum, and now we have put the courses online.”

The launch of these research studies and learning resources was celebrated earlier this month at a launch that drew representatives of several non-profits to the College.

The training courses cover everything from fundraising to fraud, from project management to servant leadership.

Mike Greer, the Executive Director of Elevation Outdoors, was one of the people able to attend some of the early in-person training offered by the Scotiabank Centre for Non-Profit Excellence.

“Being able to hear from experienced professionals on wide range topics from strategic planning and project management to financial management, all at no cost and without having to travel out of town, is an amazing knowledge and capacity building opportunity for us and other non-profits in our community,” says Greer.

The development of courses and the research underpinning the curriculum also offered Okanagan College students a valuable work-integrated learning experience.

“It really helped me build some valuable personal skills,” says Carly Suddard. “It provided me a broader appreciation of the non-profit sector and all it entails, as well as the many viable career options.”

She worked on a project that focused on helping non-profits understand and implement impact reporting. It also proved a valuable networking experience. Through the project, she met the CEO of BrainTrust Canada, where she now works as marketing and events co-ordinator.

“Through our workshops and via client road testing we’ve ensured these online courses are addressing that skills gap that was the foundation of the program” explains Business Professor and Faculty Researcher Dr. Kyleen Myrah.

Scotiabank donated $200,000 in funding to support five years of the program, which offered several workshops for area non-profits.

“The value of that investment will be repaid many times over as non-profits can rely on the training resources that have been developed,” says Seaton. “I can’t give enough credit to Scotiabank, my fellow professors and the students involved. Their devotion to the Centre has produced something that should have national impact on the sustainability of the non-profit sector.”

And the appreciation is two-way:

“I found the work I did to be truly rewarding,” explains Maliki Suppin, one of the students involved with the project. “Applying the knowledge I have learned in the classroom to a tool that will help non-profit organizations has been a great way to gain hands-on experience. I was lucky enough to work with professors who guided me through this process. The experience I have gained during this project is invaluable and something I deeply appreciate.”

The nine courses are available online through
. They are:
  • Collaboration and Collective Impact
  • Financial Management
  • Fraud
  • Impact Reporting
  • Project Management
  • Servant Leadership
  • Social Enterprise
  • Strategic Plan Implementation
  • Fundraising


Your next chapter Starts Here
Okanagan College Media Release

September marks the start of another school year at Okanagan College where over 2,000 students young and mature will begin a new chapter in their life.

Two years ago, that was Alli Macdonald, now an OC alumna who started her Bachelor of Science degree through the Associate of Science degree program.Alli Macdonald August 2019

“I was unsure of what program I wanted to go into until the end of Grade 12,” says Macdonald. “I decided I wanted to complete a degree in science, but I hadn’t taken any chemistry classes in high school and I soon realized I could not enroll in many of my first year classes without it.”

Okanagan College offers a supportive and nurturing environment for those who wish to advance their education, grow their professional development, find a new career path, or take upgrading courses through OC’s Adult Academic and Career Preparation program.

The tuition-free upgrading courses allow students to take high school classes they may not have taken or need a higher mark in. Luckily for Macdonald, she was able to take both Chemistry 11 and 12 while also taking some of her first year science courses.

“It was great because I didn’t feel like I had to take a year off to upgrade, I could do them both simultaneously,” adds Macdonald.

“I am planning on attending UBCO in order to complete my Bachelor of Science degree with a major in chemistry and plan to pursue a career in forensic science.”

According to the BC Council on Admissions and Transfer studies, 88 per cent of college students do better academically than their university counterparts by starting at a college and transferring to another institution to finish a degree.

“It’s so nice that I was able to begin my post-secondary education so close to home and the small class sizes really allowed for a sense of community within your program and the entire campus. I feel like it will make my transition to university much easier.”

Applications for fall 2020 and many winter 2021 programs open Oct. 1. There are still spaces in some programs that start this fall, and many programs offer January intakes.

The College recently launched a new tool to help students more easily explore programs starting soon at OC campuses. Would-be students can learn more at


Pedalling goodness: OC alumnus inspired to undertake cross-continent fundraiser
Okanagan College Media Release

Would you ride your bike across the continental United States?

Nick Pelletier August 2019For Okanagan College alumnus and triathlete Nick Pelletier, the answer is an instant yes.

This isn’t just any ride though. The 5,977-kilometre journey is a fundraising effort to help build a school in a developing country.

It all started at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus in the fall of 2018 where Pelletier was enrolled in a social entrepreneurship business class. Tasked with looking at case studies from the class text, he read the story of Adam Braun, founder of the non-profit organization Pencils of Promise. The gears started turning as he read about the forming of the non-profit and how Braun left a stable career to pursue his life’s calling.

“I knew there was a pretty powerful connection there,” says Dr. Kyleen Myrah, Okanagan School of Business professor. “But what I didn’t realize was the connection to the book and the cause for him.”

Growing up playing sports, the athletically-inclined Pelletier resonated with Braun, who had also led a childhood filled with athletic activities before turning his passion into a career at the age of 25. Pelletier grew up competing in baseball and football, but run-ins with concussions led him to lower impact sports, and subsequently his bike. Reading about Braun’s catalyst moment, Pelletier felt compelled to do something with his natural gifts.

The idea was there: if he could use his athletic talent for good, why not do it to raise funds for a cause? Pelletier reached out to Myrah early in the spring of 2019 as the idea of riding across the states took shape, and Myrah reciprocated support.

The concept for the ride is simple, but the task at hand is seemingly long and arduous. However, in the midst of training for the ITU World Triathlon Age Group Grand Final in Switzerland all summer, Pelletier sees it as the best kind of challenge and something to look forward to after the competition.

“This will be more about me getting out there and enjoying the ride,” he says.

Pelletier will soon return to Canada for a brief period of time before heading out again in early September to begin his journey.

The ride starts in San Francisco, California, and Pelletier aims to ride an average of 160 kilometres each day, ending in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. His end date is flexible, but finishing by the end of October is the ultimate goal. Riding unsupported with his gear in panniers, he plans to camp and stay at hostels and is open to couch surfing as well, trying to keep operational costs low.

“My family is also scattered throughout the states so if something happens I have help if I need it,” he says.

While the ride and all funds are going towards a new school overseas, the impact here at home is not lost, and is something Myrah hopes people will recognize as Nick rides from town to town.

“The importance of education is key here,” says Myrah. “The systemic issues of poverty, the underlying root cause often comes back to education. We can lift communities out of poverty and that’s a very powerful message.

“How privileged are people here that have access to education that we often take for granted?”

The cycle of learning comes full circle when Nick steps back into the classroom this November to speak to this year’s social entrepreneurship class. The ride will be over, but the possibility of inspiration is only just beginning.

“Someone came into my class and provided that point of connection,” he says. “It showed me someone who really cared and was living out a vision and it provided us with so much value and insight.”

Aiming to do the same as those before him, Pelletier hopes he can connect with current students in carrying the vision of Pencils of Promise forward, as they will have read the same textbook. There is also potential to tie in his own fundraising effort with initiatives that students may want to start.

Myrah adds that this is what the social entrepreneurship program is all about, the emergence and implementation of an idea, and in this case, from class to pavement.

“The whole idea is to see where this learning will take you in whatever form it is at some point. We want to become more active citizens and know our responsibility. Everyone has something to contribute, you just have to figure out what that is,” says Myrah.

“Maybe you can connect two people, or make somebody else aware of a need in our community, and often it’s our social connections that are just as valuable as what we donate financially.”

You can support Nick by spreading the word in person or over social media, and following his journey as he departs in early September. Visit his website at
 or go directly to his fundraising page at Live updates will be provided throughout the ride.


Atrophy selected for John Lent Poetry and Prose Award
Okanagan College Media Release

A nation-wide poetry competition has found a winner right here in the Okanagan.

Kalamalka Press, based out of Okanagan College’s Vernon campus, announced that Erin Scott’s manuscript, entitled
Atrophy, has been selected as the John Lent Poetry/Prose Award winner for 2019.Erin Scott August 2019

“There's a gorgeous weight to
Atrophy and at the same it's marked by such a sharp self-awareness – in this way all of its voices/sounds strike us as sweetly human,” says judges Jake Kennedy, an OC instructor, and Vernon-based novelist and poet Laisha Rosnau.

“The music of the manuscript is never forced or ironic — and the narrative of the poem itself has an undeniable urgency. We think this is beautiful work and we’re thrilled to select it for the John Lent Poetry and Prose Award.”

meditates on time and loss, while reflecting on the sacredness of landscapes. The judges also remarked that Scott’s work explores core themes found in the work of John Lent – the competition’s namesake and founding member of Kalamalka Press, who taught creative writing and literature courses at Okanagan College for 26 years.

Scott is a poet and performer living and working in the traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx-Okanagan people in Kelowna. Her work has appeared in
Ricepaper Magazine, at InspiraTO Festival, Living Things Festival, and is forthcoming in subTerrain Magazine. She holds a Master in Fine Arts from UBC, works extensively in the community arts sector in the Okanagan, and is mother to two daughters.


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
. For information on Okanagan College’s Writing and Publishing Diploma program, visit


OC student shares culture internationally
Okanagan College Media Release

Dawna Hearl August 2019It was Dawna Hearl’s first time out of B.C. and only the second time she had flown on an airplane when she landed in Okayama, Japan this summer.

Hearl, an Associate of Arts student from Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm campus spent two weeks in Japan as part of the summer intensive program offered through the College’s mobility grant.

During these two exciting and challenging weeks, Hearl attended courses, explored the city, discovered local culture and established networks with people from around the world.

“Going to Japan has been a lifelong dream of mine,” says Hearl. “It was such an incredible experience. I learned a lot about the Japanese culture and even a bit of their language. What made it so special to me though, was being able to share my culture with them as well.”

Hearl, a Malahat First Nation from the Cowichan Valley, wanted to take a piece of her culture with her to Japan to share with the new people she was about to meet. Adrian Lewis, one of the cultural interpreters at the Quaaout Lodge where she works, made her two handmade hand drums to take with her.

“Hand drums are sacred across all Nations and represent the heartbeat of Mother Earth,” says Hearl. “They are considered to still contain the spirit of the animal and the wood they are made out of and represent the center of everything.”

Hearl gave out the hand drums as gifts to her teachers in Japan on Aboriginal Day.

“It’s so special to me because they can continue to share my culture with others, even after I’ve left,” adds Hearl.

Three other OC students joined Hearl at Kibi International University, a private university located in the city of Takahashi. Rich in history and tradition, Takahashi is nestled on a sheltered hillside overlooking the Takahashi River and the Bicchu Matsuyama castle.

"Everything was so pretty,” says Hearl. “We were so busy fitting everything we could into the two weeks that we were there. They took us to art museums and we got to dress up in kimonos. We were so spoiled - there was always so much food.”

“It brings tears to my eyes speaking about it, and about Dawna and how much this trip changed her,” says Caroline Chartier, Aboriginal Planner at the Salmon Arm campus.

“She has so much depth to her, so much respect to her culture and wanting to continue to share it with people. Her personality is much larger than it was, she was very quiet when she first came here. She’s such a good student, one of the best, and has worked so hard to come out of her shell. This trip really added to that.”

OC students can enrich their education with numerous study abroad opportunities at one of the College’s 23 partner institutions in 16 countries around the world.

“It really was a trip of a lifetime,” says Hearl. “I’m so grateful to OC for the opportunity to do this.”

Hearl is one of more than 1,800 Aboriginal students who attend Okanagan College.


Diverse experience distills choice for beverage centre manager

Okanagan College Media Release

Wes PetersonWes 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

Local Enactus initiative launches into third year
Okanagan College Media Release

Good things come in threes, and after two successful years, Okanagan College’s Enactus team is ready to launch Accelerate Youth into a third year of growth this fall.

Designed by Enactus students and led by third-year business administration student Jessica Egyed, the Accelerate Youth project teaches practical life skills in the areas of financial and nutritional literacy to students within the alternative school system. Piloted at the Westside Learning Centre in the fall of 2017, the program saw rapid growth after eager students jumped at the chance to learn new skills.Accelerate Youth Aug 2019

Receiving a $6,000 grant from the TELUS Thompson Okanagan Community Board in the fall of 2018 provided the Enactus team with the funds necessary to expand in their second year at two additional locations, Central School and the Rutland Learning Centre.

In response to enrolment jumping from 25 students in the pilot to 72 students across all three locations, the Accelerate Youth volunteer team also grew from four to 17 volunteers. Over the past year alone, they put in over 1,000 hours and facilitated 50 in-class sessions.

“The impact our team has been able to have in the lives of the students has been amazing and extremely rewarding,” says Egyed. “As the students realized what Accelerate Youth was teaching them was relevant to the challenges they face day to day, they really embraced the program.”

As the program grows, so does the curriculum, enhanced this past year to include a comprehensive budgeting project, career preparation, social responsibility and project management elements. A continued partnership with a local non-profit organization, Start Fresh, provides students with hands-on opportunities to enhance culinary knowledge and skills and a new partnership with CIBC sees representatives lend their expertise on everyday banking.

At Central School, the curriculum focused primarily on social responsibility and project management. Students learned the importance of how simple actions can have a lasting impact in their communities. Accelerate Youth’s team guided the students through the process of planning and executing an event to raise funds for a beneficiary of their choice. Their event, “Shout Out for Youth” raised a total of $790 for the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs’ Youth Shelter. The shelter is a voluntary resource for youth ages 13-18 that are homeless or at risk of homelessness and have no safe alternatives. The connection between the Accelerate Youth program and shelter is also a personal one; several of the students participating have accessed the shelter in the past.

“When young people lead an initiative that benefits young people they set an example for all of us to follow,” says Sarah MacKinnon, Youth Housing Director of the Okanagan Boys and Girls Club. “It takes a village to house a child and we are thrilled that the students who participated in this project are part of our village.”

The Enactus team regularly competes in regional and national expositions, and recently earned a second place finish in the Youth Empowerment category at the Enactus Canada Regional Exposition for the impact of Accelerate Youth. These competitions provide opportunities for Enactus teams from across the country to showcase the impact of projects to panels of business professionals. The team hopes to continue building on their success as they anticipate more growth this fall

For more information on Accelerate Youth or Enactus Okanagan College, contact Enactus OC President, Jacob Pushor


Students encouraged to take the leap as business program launches at College’s Revelstoke centre
Okanagan College Media Release

Carolyn Gibson July 2019_2Carolyn Gibson and her family moved west for the mountains, but it was the business landscape that connected her closely to the Revelstoke community.

The long-time Okanagan College instructor says there are plenty of prospects for budding entrepreneurs and business people looking for four-season opportunities in Revelstoke – and now couldn’t be a better time to take the leap.

The next generation of managers and entrepreneurs will learn the skills needed to succeed in business this fall, when the Tourism Management Diploma kicks off at the Revelstoke centre.

“Management studies are so valuable, because it creates an understanding of what a manager role involves, but also the importance of those small tasks and actions, the little things, that can impact the overall operation,” she says. “The tourism management piece is understanding that your actions impact somebody’s experience.”

Gibson’s family owns and operates Revy Outdoors and The Pines B&B. Those are her visible enterprises in addition to business consulting in the region as well as mentorship/coaching work for Startup Revelstoke.

“We’re not a resort town, we’re a mountain community,” she says. “My family is focused on tourism, but we have all these different industries here that make it a diverse community.”

“What’s amazing is that we have such support from a networking perspective, but also a philosophy where a lot of people in town want to support other local entrepreneurs. It’s a great place,” she says. “Through Startup Revelstoke, I am running into people with a range of ideas in different industries.”

Gibson has been a long-time Continuing Studies instructor, offering Leadership Essentials classes in the Shuswap for many years, in addition to offering advising services to Queen’s University on its Master of Business Administration program. This fall, she will be teaching a Computer Basics course, building critical skills for business students to navigate a tech-savvy world.

“Being able to take your idea and get it down on paper in a logical way that people can read and understand it is vital. Are you familiar with online templates to help you save time? Do you know how to use a PowerPoint to quickly tell potential investors what your business idea is about? You’re going to need to be able to track financials using Excel,” she says.

And while technology can provide solutions, she explains, it is still critical for students to understand the concept behind its use. “Google Forms are emerging and can be very useful. The templates are there, but how do you use them? Getting the most out of those forms and technology is so important.”

Students in TMD will cover a broad array of business topics like accounting, financial management, marketing and digital applications. The program also serves as a two-year diploma in business, which students can use to ladder into additional studies at Okanagan College for the Bachelor of Business Administration Degree.

There are a few spaces available in the program. For information, visit
 or call 250-832-2126, ext. 8259.


Tom Foord’s plane donated to Okanagan College

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.

Group shot of Foord family and OC representativesTom 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.



New bursaries make Health Care Assistant program accessible to all

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.

HCAGlenmoreLodgeThe 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.”



New College camp introduces girls to carpentry

Okanagan College Media Release

Malaika Dutta 2019A 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

More information about the College’s Women in Trades Training program is available at

UBC and Okanagan College create green construction centre


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.

GCRTC July 2019Professor
Shahria Alam, with UBCOs School of Engineering, has been appointed the first director of UBCs newest research and training centre. Ashley Lubyk from Okanagan Colleges 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.”

GCRTC will generate and expand knowledge in the areas of green (environment-friendly) constructionincluding 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 Colleges 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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

centre has already launched a speaker series. More information can be found



Gladys Fraser named new Chair of Okanagan College Foundation
Okanagan College Media Release

Thirty years of experience working with Okanagan College will serve Gladys Fraser well as she takes on the role of Chair with the Okanagan College Foundation Board of Directors.Gladys Fraser July 2019

Fraser began hiring Okanagan College graduates in the 1990s in her role as branch manager of Scotiabank in Kelowna. Impressed by the quality of the graduates, she began collaborating with the College further, including helping write the curriculum for banking and customer service and teaching a Continuing Studies course on exam preparation.

She joined the Okanagan College Foundation Board four years ago, to support its fundraising efforts for student scholarships, bursaries and capital projects.

“I’m delighted to be named Chair of the Foundation Board as I believe in the work the College is doing for students and our economy,” says Fraser.

“The College creates great opportunities for people to get a world-class education and not have to travel outside of the valley.”

Fraser’s passion for education also has her serving as the President of the District Parent Advisory Committee in School District 22. Her community involvement spans a variety of sectors, including previously serving as President of the North Okanagan Hospice Society, Leadership Chair with the United Way Southern Interior B.C., and the Vice-President of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.

“Gladys brings a passion for the transformative power of education and a depth of governance experience which will guide the Foundation during this time of renewal and growth,” says Helen Jackman, Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director.

“This is an exciting time for the Foundation, as we work with the community to enhance Okanagan College’s campuses and our students. I’m looking forward to working with Gladys as we lead the Foundation together.”

Fraser takes over the leadership position during the early stages of a new fundraising campaign for a Health Sciences Centre on the Kelowna campus. According to Fraser, the College fills an important gap in providing skills training, including health-care practitioners to serve the region.

“A new Health Sciences Centre is part of the renewal at the College that is so critical as our current health building is more than 50 years old,” she says.

“In the Centre, students will learn in labs and simulation spaces that mimic today’s health-care settings. Our entire region will benefit from having a modern training centre.”

Fraser succeeds Sharron Simpson, who served as President since 2017, and as a Board Director since 2013. Fraser says she is following great leadership, as Simpson oversaw the Foundation during four capital projects and a time of extensive growth at the College.

Current Board Directors Kimberly Gilhooly (Vernon) and Alan Sanderson (Kelowna) were elected Vice-Chairs of the Okanagan College Foundation.

Gilhooly has leadership experience in community development and facility management, having helped oversee the operations of three new facilities. She also has extensive background in leading non-profit sport organizations, having started a national women’s coaching program for Coaching Association of Canada and founding Pacificsport Okanagan, which helps lead athlete, coach, and community sport services in the valley.

Sanderson is currently a partner with BDO Canada and previously a partner of Sanderson & Company Chartered Accountants. Sanderson is actively engaged in the community and philanthropy in the Okanagan, having supported numerous charities and philanthropic projects.

More information about the Foundation’s current Board, mission, and projects is available at


OC’s Vernon campus flies Syilx flag permanently
Okanagan College Media Release

Vernon ONA Flag Raising July 2019A Syilx Okanagan Nation flag has found a permanent home at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus, after a historic ceremony today.

Representatives of the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA), Okanagan Indian Band and Okanagan College gathered today for a flag raising ceremony recognizing the traditional unceded territories of the Syilx (Okanagan) people.

“We are very pleased that Okanagan College has chosen to recognize our people and our legacy through this important and permanent symbol,” says Okanagan Indian Band Councillor Allan Louis. “For centuries our people have thrived in the area. And for many decades we have weathered injustices that have taken a huge toll on our nation. It is gestures like this event today that help move us all toward a more equitable and mutually beneficial relationship.”

“Okanagan College values and respects Indigenous culture and ways of knowing. Today’s flag raising is a symbolic gesture, as well as an incremental step toward Indigenization and authentic partnership that can enrich the education of learners,” says Chris Derickson, Okanagan College Board of Governors Chair.

Today’s flag raising is the second ceremony recognizing Indigenous peoples in whose lands the College resides; last month, the College raised a permanent ONA flag at the Kelowna campus.

“Indigenization is about learning more about Indigenous knowledge, people and place, and it starts by acknowledging the Syilx Okanagan people on whose traditional territory we live, learn, work and play,” said Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Every day moving forward, our students, staff and community will see this flag and feel inspired by this symbol of respect and reconciliation.”Grand Chief Dr. Stewart Phillip July 2019

Dignitaries spoke about the relationship between the College and the ONA. Elder Pauline Archachan opened the ceremony with a blessing. Amber Cardenas sang The Okanagan Song as the flag was raised by Okanagan Indian Band students Michael Ochoa and Tallin Gregoire.

The Okanagan Nation Alliance flag features animals, water and the landscape significant to the area, as a representation of Syilx Okanagan people’s understanding of living in reciprocity and harmony with the natural world.

The flag builds on the Indigenous physical presence at the Vernon campus, which includes the Kalamalka Garden – green space containing indigenous food plants from the Okanagan territory, as well as other native species that are significant to Indigenous people of the region.


New technology training program at OC set to expand
Okanagan College Media Release

A new program at Okanagan College is helping high school students understand how current technology will shape their careers.

Funded by the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, the Gateway to Technology program provided 13 School District 67 students in Grades 10 – 12 with an enhanced understanding of how various technologies function.

The pilot program, which included students from Penticton Secondary School and Princess Margaret Secondary School, wrapped up at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus on Thursday, June 20.Wilcox and Moore July 2019

“Code seemed like magic,” says Tealya Wilcox, who graduated from Penticton Secondary School last month. “But our instructors explained how things work during lectures and we have the chance to apply what we learn in hands-on sessions. While this may not be key to the heavy mechanic training I hope to pursue, having the skills to understand technology and its many applications is important.”

The diversity of the program is what piqued Erik Moore’s interest. “I think an understanding of how technology works, from hardware to programming, will be useful to me and my classmates as we’re looking for jobs,” says Moore, who also recently graduated from Penticton Secondary School. “In the future, I may pursue specific technical training to supplement my chosen area of study in economics.”

“We have had a wide range of students in the program and the common theme throughout is their enthusiasm for technology,” says Trevor Knowlton, Career and Apprentice Coordinator for SD67. “It has been great to partner with Okanagan College to provide this Tech Gateway program for our students. Showing them the many different career opportunities that are available to them with these skills has been a huge success.”

With the initial success, Okanagan College has been working with other school districts to set up similar training. The next cohort is scheduled to begin in Vernon this September, with plans for School Districts 23, 53 and 83 in the works for February 2020.

Gateway to Technology programming will be one of the electives offered within each school district and students will receive credits towards graduation.

“The opportunity to teach the students in the Gateway to Technology program has been truly rewarding,” says Troy Berg, Professor of Network and Telecommunications Engineering Technology at Okanagan College. “The students have been exposed to a fascinating variety of technologies and concepts, and it has been exhilarating to see them find excitement and passion in areas they can use to create a vast range of dynamic and fulfilling career opportunities for themselves in the years to come.”

The program covers two main components – information technology essentials and an introduction to coding and web development. It is led by Berg and Sarah Foss, computer science instructor, both of Okanagan College, and combines lectures with hands-on lab learning opportunities.

“We know technology plays a significant role in our lives and that will only continue to grow in the future,” explains Dr. Dennis Silvestrone, Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Training at Okanagan College. “With the completion of the pilot program, we’re exploring opportunities to continue opening doors for more students to become aware of the possibilities for careers and education in the world of technology. If the project builds or heightens a passion for this type of work, it will have been successful.”


Go-kart camp lets girls test-drive a career in the trades
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College’s go-kart camp for girls is revving its engines again this year during the College’s popular CampOC summer camps.

Girls Can Go-Kart Too! is a camp that not only offers girls in Grades 4-6 a chance to sit in the driver’s seat, but also gives them hands-on training that could steer them towards a career in trades.Skyla Golbey GoKart July 2019

The camp was created in 2018 by the College and the Industry Training Authority (ITA), who provided funding both last year and this year to help bring the project to life.

“This camp is a great opportunity for young women to learn and directly apply useful skills in a fun environment,” says Shelley Gray, CEO of ITA. “It’s a hugely enjoyable program for the young women, who we hope will become the skilled trades people of the future.”

This week 14 girls stepped into the automotive shop at the Kelowna campus, tackling everything from designing their go-karts to working on small engines, changing the oil, patching and replacing tires, testing and fixing brakes, and installing ignition kill switches – all under the watchful eye of OC Red Seal endorsed trades instructors.

“Last year I saw the girls racing the go-karts in the parking lot and it looked like a lot of fun, so I decided to try it this year,” says Skyla Golbey, a Grade 6 student. “I haven’t built one before but my uncle builds cars so I’ve been around them a lot. We’ve been learning about all the tools and how an engine works.”

Golbey agreed that knowing how to change a tire will be useful and that the highlight of the week will be “racing the karts, making sure they actually work, and getting dirty.”

While the camp was designed to help girls build their skills in the shop, connecting them with mentors is another priority.

“There was incredible interest in the pilot project,” explains Nancy Darling, Program Administrator for the College’s Women in Trades Training program (WITT). “The girls gain automotive knowledge and build confidence; they learn new skills that they will carry with them after the week is finished and they also made a few new friends.”

The camp wraps up today where the girls will take part in a friendly race around a race track that they built, followed by a BBQ with their parents, instructors and officials from the College. The race starts at 12:30 p.m. at Okanagan College Kelowna campus.

“This camp is a great opportunity for young girls to experience what the skilled trades are all about,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “It’s great to see how excited they are to get into the shop. We hope their experience at the College sparks an interest that leads them to think about the many career possibilities open to them.”

CampOC is in its 15th year in Kelowna and offers a variety of camps each summer for students in Grades 2-12.

For more information on CampOC visit

More information about the College’s Women in Trades Training program is available at


Students get head start with Thorpe and Friends Scholarships
Okanagan College Media Release

With three older siblings already attending post-secondary, Miya Stel is grateful to receive a $2,500 scholarship to help her attend Okanagan College this fall.

She is one of three Penticton high-school students who received a Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends Scholarship during a special ceremony June 26.
 Thorpe Scholarship June 2019

“It means a lot to be chosen for this award and it’s going to make my education more affordable,” says Stel, who graduated from Penticton Secondary School and will be pursuing a Criminal and Social Justice diploma.

“Okanagan College was my first choice and I’m super grateful I was awarded the opportunity to stay at home.”

Joining Stel in receiving scholarships are Maximus Mandaione from Princess Margaret Secondary School and Emily Caruso from Penticton Secondary School.

The main criteria for the annual awards is that the students demonstrate good grades and contribute to their communities.

For Stel, this meant hosting bake sales with the funds supporting a clean water and sanitation project in Haiti, as well as raising money to support the introduction of a new recycling and composting program at her school.

Seventeen-year-old Mandaione volunteers with several programs which enriched his life when he was younger: the Young at Art program run by the Penticton Art Gallery and the Salvation Army’s Fresh from the Farm program. The farm program sees children learn how to can and preserve fruits and vegetables for residents in need.

“It’s rewarding to see the work I do in the community is being recognized in this way,” says Mandaione, adding the funds are a relief and will help him pay for a four-year business degree at the College.

Helping young people is meaningful for the Thorpes, who have a long history of championing education in the region, having supported students at Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan for 13 years.

“These young students are our future,” says Rick. “We are very pleased to support them and we wish them all the best in their careers.”

Yasmin notes, “Our scholarships give students a springboard to help them reach their goals and also assist in reducing their costs for post-secondary education.”

Since 2006, the Thorpes have awarded 65 awards totalling $139,250 to South Okanagan College students.

“The contributions of Rick and Yasmin Thorpe to students in the South Okanagan are exceptional,” says Helen Jackman, Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director.

“They’ve opened doors for students who might not otherwise be able to attend school and recognized students for getting involved and improving their communities. We are deeply grateful for their continued support of students at the College.”


Therapist Assistant program helps mature student get moving on her career
Okanagan College Media Release

Katie Woznow June 2019Katie Woznow always knew she wanted to further her education and apply for her master’s degree in occupational therapy. But when the time came to apply, she didn’t feel quite ready to make that commitment, and instead found a program that could get her into the same working environment much sooner.

“I found the Therapist Assistant Diploma program, and thought it would be a great way to learn more about the role of other disciplines,” explains Woznow. “It also allowed me to work directly with clients and patients much sooner than I would have been able to.”

Okanagan College has been educating physio, occupational and recreation therapist assistants for over 25 years. The Therapist Assistant Diploma program (TAD) was one of the first of its kind in Canada to be nationally accredited.
It originally launched as a one-year certificate in 1990, transforming into a two-year diploma in 2005.

“I really enjoyed the variety of what we learned and the sense of community that the program offered,” says Woznow. “The instructors are amazing, always caring and there to support you when you need it. They have such an abundance of knowledge, and are so willing to share it with us that it made for such a valuable learning experience.”

TAD includes 18 weeks of practical experience in clinical settings, giving students an idea of the vast positions that await them post-graduation.

“Two of my placements were in acute care and it really showed me how fast-paced a hospital environment can be,” says Woznow. “There can be so much variety in the conditions you encounter that each day might be something new. It is also a really great place to practice and gain confidence in your skills because you are surrounded by other professionals that are often willing to help answer any questions you may have and offer different perspectives.”

In April, Woznow was awarded the Bonnie Thiessen Award. This award is determined by the graduating TAD class for a student they feel has consistently demonstrated a positive attitude, perseverance, and has fostered goodwill, respect and support among classmates.

“Katie thrives in environments where she is challenged to use and grow her knowledge and clinical skills, and interact with clients, families and team members,” says TAD Chair Jennifer Stephenson. “Her enthusiasm and commitment to the program could be seen by all of our instructors at OC. She is a wonderful ambassador for the Therapist Assistant program.”

“I really feel I have chosen a career that I can be excited for, and I no longer feel lost or unsure which is such a great feeling,” says Woznow.

Woznow was chosen to address the graduating class at tonight’s convocation. Tonight marks the final graduation ceremony for Okanagan College in 2019. By the end of the evening, the College will have sent out over 2,000 graduates into the world to embark on their next journey.

For more information on the Therapist Assistant Diploma visit


Students savour traditional flavours and practices on Indigenous Culinary Arts field trip
Okanagan College Media Release

Salmon fillets roast on stakes over an open fire while roe bubbles up in a steaming pot of vegetable and fish soup nearby. These are signs of a finished and ready-to-eat meal, yet indicate the start of something special cooking here at Okanagan College.Fish

On a field trip to the Westbank First Nation late last month, OC’s Indigenous Culinary Arts class had the opportunity to learn about the traditional Okanagan-Syilx style of cooking in a hands-on experience, hosted by Elders Pamela and Grouse Barnes. The gastronomic outing contained a variety of chopping, mixing and other culinary techniques all aimed at producing a final meal for the class to enjoy together.

The field trip to the Barnes’ property felt like home for many of them, despite the differences in style and practice.

“This has been quite the experience,” says Ruby Pahtayken, a student from the Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. “All of this is new to me. Back home, we don’t have the same fish, but this is how we uniformly cook it, over the open fire. Cooking like this in your own backyard and learning the teachings from our ancestors, our grandmothers and grandfathers, brings me back home.”

The field trip is an important ingredient of the brand new intake which launched this past March, as part of the broader Culinary Arts program offered at the College. With tradition at the heart of the new program, students follow the same curriculum to that of their counterparts in other intakes, but the flavour of Indigenous culture is heavily infused.

Walking with the students at each step in the process, the Barnes’ passion for teaching future generations lies in the sharing of knowledge, and in this case, hands-on learning. Together with family, they run Wildrose Native Traditions, where they lead field trips for students in the area, teaching about Indigenous culture.

“For me, it’s about sharing knowledge, sharing the stuff that we do,” Grouse explains. “We share because we know that the knowledge we share is like a calm pond. When you throw a pebble in the middle, the ripple affects not only students here, but whoever they’re going to teach: their kids, grandbabies, where they take this knowledge.”

Ruby Pahtayken June 2019Pahtayken adds that the gathering and foraging of plants serves as a metaphor for her returning home to Saskatchewan with new knowledge.

“What I can utilize and gather here in the field is similar to the gathering of information. I can take it back home to Saskatchewan and I can share it with my community.”

These values of applied learning are integral to the program, something Director of Food, Wine and Tourism at OC, Jonathan Rouse, says acknowledges the value of Indigenous culture in the area and within the food industry as well.

“The culinary world is still predicated on very historical European practices. We’re moving much farther than that,” he explains. “Here’s an opportunity for us to take local Indigenous values and practices and see how we can embed them into the curriculum and learn from that.

“The Okanagan is so rich and diverse; it’s really a classroom. It brings the whole food and culinary scene alive.”

The program is open to anyone, however, every student in the inaugural class is from a Canadian Indigenous background. The pilot is supported by the Industry Training Authority (ITA) and the Okanagan Training and Development Council (OTDC), which also plays a part in assisting students from the moment they enrol to the time they begin searching for a job.

As the pilot program continues, the Culinary Arts department will look to both current and prospective students to gauge the growth and progression of the program. With more field trips like this one planned for the future, prospective students can learn more about the Indigenous intake at