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Records 1 to 4 of 14
Construction craft worker program provides stepping stone onto the jobsite for Aboriginal students
Okanagan College Media Release

Twelve students from bands throughout B.C. and across Western Canada recently completed the first level of a unique collaborative apprenticeship program designed to support Aboriginal learners looking to advance their careers in the construction sector.Jay Darwin Charleyboy Feb 2016

In March 2015, Okanagan College launched a new Construction Craft Worker two-level apprenticeship program. Last November, the College created an intake tailored specifically for Aboriginal students.

“The College is committed to working with local bands, First Nations, and Métis across our region to create access and offer new training opportunities to meet the need for skilled workers among their members,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.

“This course was launched to help Indigenous students broaden their experience and gain the jobsite skills that employers are looking for,” says Hamilton. “We collaborated closely with the local bands and worked with the students to identify what kind of added support would help them be successful.”

Most of the students in the class are from the Westbank First Nation (WFN) and Adams Lake Indian Band (ALIB), with a few from bands and communities outside the region.

“Aboriginal students who complete the Construction Craft Worker program are opening a door to jobs that support their families and communities,” says Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson. “Workers are needed in the Okanagan to fill the skills gap in sectors such as construction, and Aboriginal workers from this program are fulfilling that need.”

In addition to the WFN and ALIB, the College partnered with agencies throughout the province to break down barriers for students. The Aboriginal Community Based Training Partnerships (ACBTP) Program provided tuition and books, tools, lunches, safety gear and transportation. CIBC provided motel accommodation and living support for out-of-town students. The bands, the Aboriginal Skills, Employment and Training Services (ASETS) and the Okanagan Training and Development Council (OTDC) provided meal allowances; OTDC also sponsored the apprentices.

“This type of training is so beneficial for our young people and our community as a whole,” said Adams Lake Indian Band Chief Robin Billy, who spoke at the class’s completion ceremony in West Kelowna on Feb. 19. “We need workers who are well trained and have the skills necessary to build our houses, schools, roads, and other vital infrastructure.” 

For Jay Darwin Charleyboy, a member of the Ulkatcho First Nation, completing Level 1 of the program achieved two goals. It brought him one step closer to his dream of becoming a Red Seal-certified tradesperson. It also gave the single father of three a chance to demonstrate to his daughters the importance of lifelong learning.

“One of the reasons I enrolled was to show my children that we should always strive to better ourselves in life,” says Charleyboy, who moved from the community near Williams Lake to the Okanagan. “I plan to continue on to Level 2 of the program, complete my apprenticeship, and keep building a better life for myself and my daughters.”

Charleyboy said that the College’s respect toward Aboriginal culture was evident in the class.

“Being able to train with other Aboriginal students, in an all-Aboriginal setting, was a great benefit. We held smudge ceremonies and there was an Aboriginal Classroom Mentor to assist us. The way the program was structured really brought us together as a group.”

Construction Craft Workers play an important role on every job site in the province, from set-up to clean up. They install utility piping, place concrete, construct roads, perform underground work, and assist skilled tradespeople such as Carpenters, Bricklayers, Cement Finishers, and Heavy Equipment Operators.

The B.C. government has projected there will be call for nearly 12,000 construction trade workers by 2018. More information about the Construction Craft Worker program is available at
Kelowna Hyundai and Buy Direct Truck Centre keep trades campaign rolling
Okanagan College Media Release

Kelowna Hyundai Feb 2016Two local automotive dealerships have made a major donation to Okanagan College to help drive home the message that with more vehicles on the road, the valley will continue to need a greater number of skilled automotive service technicians in the coming years.

Kelowna Hyundai and Buy Direct Truck Centre have together donated $20,000 to the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign in support of the new Trades Training Complex at the College’s Kelowna campus.

“We believe it is important to give back to our community, and for that reason we are very proud to support Okanagan College in building for the future with its new Trades Training Complex,” said John Kot,
owner of Kelowna Hyundai & Buy Direct Truck Centre.

Skilled technicians play a vital role in our industry, and we are so pleased that this gift will assist the next generation of automotive technicians training at the College.”

The new three-story Trades Training tower along KLO Road will open to students later this spring.

“Whenever a local employer chooses to give back to the College, it sends a message to our students that the valley’s industry believes in the high quality of training being offered here,” says Steve Moores, Okanagan College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “The generous help of these two dealerships is greatly appreciated and builds on incredible support from the automotive sector over the past year-and-a-half.”

A completely renovated automotive shop is now in operation, along with brand-new classroom spaces geared up for training the automotive tradespeople of tomorrow. Support from auto dealers has been critical to the renovation of this space, notes Dennis Gabelhouse, Chair of the Bright Horizons campaign.

“Since our campaign launched in the fall of 2014, support from individuals, families, and businesses in the automotive sector has been remarkable,” says Gabelhouse. “More than $780,000 of our $7-million goal has come from this sector, to date. This donation is yet another example of a local employer looking to help the next wave of students put their education in gear.”

The new facilities at B.C.’s second largest trades training institution are coming on stream at a crucial time for students and employers.

Between now and 2024, it is projected that there will be job openings for more than 10,750 tradespeople in the Okanagan, including more than 1,100 automotive service technicians. In this same time period, openings are expected for more than 160,000 tradespeople province-wide.

When completed, the $33-million, 10,000 sq. metre renovation and expansion project will see decades old shops updated to match the same level of sustainable construction found within the new complex. An overall goal of achieving the coveted LEED Platinum certification has been set.

The provincial government has committed $28 million to the project. The Okanagan College Foundation is aiming to raise an additional $7 million, which includes $5 million for capital construction and $2 million to support students and programming.
To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit  
College on your mind? Upcoming Vernon campus information sessions to demystify starting post-secondary this fall
Okanagan College Media Release

Visions of post-secondary education are exciting for those graduating high school and individuals considering a career change. But with the dreams comes an overwhelming amount of choices, questions, and decisions as well.

On Wednesday March 2, Okanagan College’s Vernon campus will host an evening of information sessions aimed towards helping Grade 11 and 12 students, their parents, and those considering further studies to navigate the options and the process on the path to post-secondary.

The evening will start at 6 p.m. with the Freshmen 15 session in the Lecture Theatre where attendees will hear from Okanagan College recruiters about the 15 things that all students should know before starting post-secondary. Topics covered will include: College schedules, the difference between registering and applying, university transfers, student loans, amongst others.

At 7 p.m. two program-specific sessions will be offered: Arts and Science programs will be discussed in the Lecture Theatre, meanwhile the Business programs session will be held in room E102/103. Instructors, current students, and alumni will be on hand to answer questions and provide a glimpse into how each program can lead to a variety of exciting careers.

Adam McCaffrey Feb 2016When 21-year-old Vernon resident Adam McCaffrey, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration degree at the College, was considering his post-secondary education options three years ago, the lure of being able to gain a quality and recognized education close to home made the choice easy.

“The accessibility and convenience of the campus being a few minutes from home was great,” says McCaffrey. “If you’re living in Vernon, starting school here makes sense: there won’t be expensive moving expenses and it’s comforting to stay in your community.

“Even more important, is how much value I get as a student at the College: the affordable tuition, experienced instructors, small class sizes and the flexibility for transfer program credits to other campuses and institutions. It’s a winning combination.”

Michele Hoover, who grew up in Salmon Arm and is a resident of Armstrong, echoes McCaffrey’s feelings. The 35-year-old decided to return to school after working in the oil and gas industry in Calgary so she could gain new training to apply for the jobs she really wanted. She is in the first year of an Associate of Science degree at the College.Michele Hoover Feb 2016

“The campus is close by, it’s small and not intimidating,” she says. “At first I was nervous to go back to school. But the campus is so diverse, and my peers in class have inspired me to keep going on the path of continual learning.”

She adds that the resources available on campus have been a great asset, whether it’s career counseling, campus yoga, the library, or the new track. “But the real differentiator is the amazing instructors, who really care and have made themselves available to answer questions. This has helped me do as well as I have thus far.”

For more information about the March 2 Vernon campus information sessions visit No pre-registration is required to attend, and parking will be free that evening.
OC Board raises tuition two per cent
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College will be increasing its tuition for domestic and international students by two per cent in the coming year.

The decision was reached by the College’s Board of Governors on Tuesday, and follows policy set by the provincial government which limits fee increases to that amount.

For a university transfer arts student taking a full load of lecture courses, the increase will amount to approximately $64.26 per year, rising to $3,277.26.

For a student taking a six-month (24 week) electrical foundation program, tuition would increase by $50.72 to $2,586.56.

OC introduces tuition for upgrading but help is at hand for students
Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College is implementing tuition fees for domestic students taking upgrading courses, but government and college financial aid will mean many of those students won’t be out of pocket to pay.

The decision comes in the wake of a 2014 change in provincial direction to charge fees for upgrading and ESL at post-secondary institutions. The College’s Board of Governors decided Tuesday to implement the tuition fee schedule for domestic Adult Basic Education (ABE) and English as a Second Language (ESL) programs. Okanagan College is among the last B.C. institutions to do so.

Accompanying the tuition fee schedule, though, the Board also chose to implement a College bursary program that will supplement the province’s Adult Upgrading Grant (AUG). As a result, students taking fundamental and intermediate level ABE and ESL courses can get their tuition covered if they apply for the financial aid. Students taking advanced and provincial level ABE and ESL courses will still be eligible for financial aid but income thresholds will come into play.

The tuition fees will come into effect in May. Domestic students taking any level of ABE or ESL courses between May and September will be eligible for full tuition support, and the income thresholds for students taking advanced and provincial level courses will come into effect for the fall semester.

The move to implement tuition fees comes in the wake of a provincial policy shift and elimination of grants from the province to post-secondary institutions in the province to offset ABE and ESL tuition. In Okanagan College’s case, that grant reduction totalled $765,000 annually.

“We are doing what we can to minimize barriers for students who need upgrading courses,” explains Roy Daykin, the College’s Vice President of Finance and Administration. “While the College needs the tuition revenue from these programs to offset the loss of provincial grants, we also respect the need to give students access to the courses they require to move ahead in their career and education plans.”

Cost of the courses varies according to the number of instructional hours involved. Tuition for an 80-hour course over a semester would be $400. A maximum tuition has been established - $1,600 per semester for a full-time student, as per provincial policy.

Daykin notes that as part of the decision to charge tuition for ABE and ESL, the College will allocate some of the funds to the bursary program to support students who require financial help with tuition. Students will have to apply for provincial grant funds before being considered for the College bursary program. The College will also be hiring additional financial aid officers who will help affected ABE and ESL students apply for provincial or College grants.

Full details will be communicated to prospective students and the general public in the months ahead.

In the 2014-15 academic year, 1,638 domestic students took ABE courses at Okanagan College. Eighty-one domestic students took ESL courses in the same period.

Solar Fair shines a light on positive change
Okanagan College Media Release

A new society, with a host of supporters, is hoping to shine a light on solar energy at a day-long fair being organized for March 12 in Penticton.

First Things First Okanagan was launched two years ago and became a registered society recently. It was formed to engage the public in a dialogue about climate change and to promote action to reduce society’s carbon footprint.

One of the first of the society’s undertakings is Solar Fair: A Symposium on Solar Energy, that will take place March 12 at Okanagan College’s Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation.

The College joins Berry and Smith Trucking, the Penticton Indian Band, Terrateck, Swiss Solar and Penticton Whole Foods as sponsors of the event.

“Our goal is to showcase what is possible and to give people a reason to think about alternative energy sources,” explains Jim Beattie, one of the principals of First Things First Penticton. “It’s not enough to talk about the impact of climate change, we need to be thinking about what we can do about it in a proactive manner.”

While the Solar Fair is aimed at the public, it has another important audience in sight: municipal leaders.

“Our local governments can be among the most effective in helping change direction and influencing individual behaviour,” says Beattie. “We are inviting mayors, councillors, rural representatives, chief administrative officers and planners to our fair and have arranged Josha MacNab of the Pembina Institute to give a special keynote address focused on the municipal audience.”

MacNab has consulted with communities on ways to reduce their carbon footprint. She attended and has written about the recent Paris Climate Change Talks. MacNab will also give a second keynote address for the public.

“This is a good way to use what we have been able to accomplish at the College to help showcase the opportunities that are at hand for individuals and local governments,” explains Donna Lomas, the College’s Regional Dean for the South Okanagan and Similkameen.

The Solar Fair runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Penticton campus of the College. It is free and open to the public. Opening ceremonies will take place at 9 a.m. The fair will include:
  • seminars by experts on solar equipment and installation, building design, energy management, community solar arrays and the wider field of green technologies;
  • a panel discussion on the practical aspects of solar installations, including cost/benefit analysis;
  • tours and a seminar led by staff and students of the world-leading Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence building at the Penticton campus;
  • displays by solar installation companies;
  • testimonials from businesses and citizens who have installed solar systems;
  • display of the Okanagan College student-built solar house;
  • presentation by staff and students of the groundbreaking, three-year Sustainable Construction Management Program;
  • displays by climate change and alternate energy advocacy groups.

Poutine and Pinot – a pairing as perfect as business students and Dairy Farmers
Okanagan College Media Release

Four Okanagan College School of Business students sparked an idea to bring Canadiana flair to the wildly popular Okanagan Wine Festivals Signature Events by pairing B.C.’s stellar pinot wines with the iconic poutine. Tickets to the upcoming Feb. 20 Poutine and Pinot event sold out within 14 days of launching its digital marketing campaign.Tim Allgaier Feb 2016

As part of their Events Management and Marketing course, College students Tim Allgaier, an international exchange student from Germany, alongside his peers Yuan Wang from China, Patrick Martin from Ottawa, and Nick Naylor from Calgary worked with client Dairy Farmers of Canada to creatively come up with the concept and develop a business plan for activation.

“It was exciting to start the semester with a real-life business project,” says 26-year-old Allgaier, who was on exchange in Kelowna for the Fall 2015 semester. “As a student, to work with a real client who wants to invest real money and time into an event that you are creating is an entirely different learning experience.”

Under the guidance of Business Professor Dr. Blair Baldwin, who is also the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society General Manager, the students’ idea came to fruition.

“Poutine and Pinot is a first across Canada and demonstrates both student creativity and consumer interest in supporting local. I am delighted that students tested their imaginative skills and then built a sound business plan,” says Baldwin. “It is encouraging to see how partnering our students with industry helps generate innovative ideas. The progressive thinking resonates and the public was quick to pick up on it. ”

Over the course of the semester, the project ran parallel to the course curriculum allowing a unique applied-learning example to in-class content. Students conversed with their peers, also working on varied industry projects, to share best practices, trouble-shoot challenges, and receive positive reinforcement for ingenious ideas.

“The collaboration was reflective of what students must expect in a job environment upon graduation, where projects have a number of moving pieces and players,” adds Baldwin. “Using our creative skills to solve problems is the key to a knowledge based services economy.”

“We didn’t just start writing a business plan and then hand it in,” says Allgaier. “I learned a lot about working in teams, how much details matter in a business idea, and the common rules of business. What the project was really about was turning an idea into reality.”

He adds that it was humbling to learn the event sold out so quickly. “It feels so good to learn that something like that is possible if you put in the careful thinking and hard work.”

The 100 ticket-holders who had the foresight to sign up early will feast on seven gourmet poutines created by Hotel Eldorado Chef Vince Van Wieringen. A brie and apricot turkey demi-glace, a pork belly with cherry veal demi-glace, and a smoked salmon with Bearnaise are just some of the options that will entice the taste buds. Each will be expertly paired with a series of British Columbia pinot varietals including Sparkling Pinot, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Auxerrois, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Blanc Icewine. The event is sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada and McCain Foods.

To learn more, visit
College and Westbank First Nation sign MOU, commit to deeper partnership
Okanagan College Media Release

WFN_OC MOU Feb 2016Just weeks after rolling out its new Strategic Plan, Okanagan College took a significant step toward one of its key directions by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with its partners in the Westbank First Nation (WFN).

The MOU was signed on Monday, Feb. 1 during the WFN’s regular Council meeting.

Chief Robert Louie and Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton were signatories on behalf of their organizations, which have a long history of partnership in educational and training programs, as well as cultural events.

“Okanagan College and Westbank First Nation have been working together for decades,” said Hamilton. “Both of our organizations signed the
Colleges and Institutes Canada national Indigenous Education Protocol earlier this fall and it seemed like the time was right to embrace the spirit of that document and commit more formally to developing opportunities for a deeper collaboration with this very important partner.”

The College has one of the fastest growing rates of Aboriginal student participation of any institution in the sector. In 2015 the College delivered educational programming to 1,500 Aboriginal students.

“This MOU builds upon the strong relationship we currently have with Okanagan College,” says Chief Robert Louie. “It will further enhance First Nation cultural influences and assist us in building future capacity as a self-governing Nation. We look forward to the opportunities it will bring both Westbank First Nation and Okanagan College.”

Included in the MOU is a commitment by both organizations to work together on projects and programs that will increase access to post-secondary education and build professional capacity. Okanagan College has also committed to support WFN students in their success in post-secondary.

Working With, and Learning From, the Indigenous Community is one of the five key directions for the College, as outlined in its new Strategic Plan. Okanagan College is committing to developing an indigenization plan for the institution, which will enhance ties with Indigenous partners, strengthen support services for learners, and increase opportunities for the College community to learn from Indigenous knowledge and culture. 

Partnership makes it possible to pursue degree in Law Enforcement Studies
Okanagan College Media Release

Interested in a degree in Law Enforcement Studies?

The Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) and Okanagan College are teaming up to offer two information sessions in Penticton on Feb. 24 that will outline student options for the baccalaureate program.

In 2015, the two public post-secondary institutions announced a partnership that will see the degree program offered at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus. Students can take the College’s two-year Criminal and Social Justice program and then ladder into the third year of the JIBC’s Bachelor of Law Enforcement Studies (BLES) degree program, offered in Penticton. The first intake into the third year of the BLES will be in September, 2016.

The first information session is at 1 p.m. on Feb. 24, while a second session will be held at 5:30 p.m.

“There is a great deal of excitement about this option, not just among current and prospective students of our Criminal and Social Justice Diploma program, but also among many of the alumni of the program,” explains Donna Lomas, Okanagan College’s Regional Dean for the South Okanagan Similkameen.

“Given the development of the prison in Oliver, and the ongoing human resource needs of various agencies across the country, this degree program is a good choice for those whose goal is a career in law enforcement,” explains Shaun Machesny, JIBC’s Co-ordinator for the Bachelor of Law Enforcement Studies.

The option of laddering into the degree program is open to other students who have completed undergraduate diplomas, but those students should consult the JIBC calendar or education advisors.

“A good place to start would be at the information sessions,” explains Machesny.

To register, or for more information about the sessions, call 250 492-4305 or visit For more information about the program
Builder of the year helping College build for the future
Okanagan College Media Release

A local homebuilder recently named Builder of the Year in the Okanagan says supporting young people entering the trades will be crucial to maintaining the valley’s reputation for offering well-built homes.Les Bellamy Feb 2016

Bellamy Homes has donated $30,000 toward the new Trades Training Complex at Okanagan College. The company’s donation will support the construction of a new social/study area for students in the renovated and expanded facilities at the College’s Kelowna campus.

Opening this spring, the new complex will accommodate more than 2,600 students, many of whom will study the trades that go into building homes, from carpentry to welding.

“I think it’s very important as industry leaders that we support and encourage young people getting into trades careers however we can,” says Les Bellamy, CEO and Owner of Bellamy Homes Inc. “To maintain the quality and craftsmanship that goes into building our homes and communities, the valley needs skilled tradespeople and the College is a key supplier of that workforce.”

The Kelowna-based c
ompany took home Builder of the Year, one of the top honours given out by the Canadian Home Builders Association at the 2016 Tommie Awards on January 30.

“We are very fortunate to have home builders in our surrounding communities who are committed to excellence,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “We share that commitment and are honoured to have a local leader like Bellamy Homes working with us to enhance the learning environment for the next wave of skilled workers who will keep this important industry strong in the Okanagan and throughout BC.”

According to Bellamy, the College’s vision for elevating trades in the Okanagan was one of the factors that inspired him to support the expansion project.

“We have been serving the Kelowna area as home designers and builders for more than 20 years now, and can certainly attest to the value of formal training,” explains Bellamy.

“Looking forward to the next 20 years, the thousands of men and women who will train here are the ones who are going to be building our homes. We are proud to be a part of this project and a part of the future of the Okanagan.”

Okanagan College is currently B.C.’s second largest trades training institution.

When doors open this spring, the $33-million renovated and expanded complex will feature cutting-edge shops and classrooms, along with additional student study spaces such as the area supported by Bellamy Homes.

The provincial government has committed $28-million to the project. The Okanagan College Foundation launched the $7-million Bright Horizons Building for Skills Campaign in October 2014 to raise an additional $5-million for capital construction and $2-million for program and student support.

The valley’s home builders have contributed more than $500,000 to date, towards an overall goal of $1 million from this sector.

“Our local builders, just like our local automotive dealers, have stepped up in a big way throughout this campaign,” says Kathy Butler, Executive Director of the Okanagan College Foundation. “Education truly is the foundation for a better future. It means so much to students to see employers investing in their futures, and so we hope that builders throughout the Okanagan will be inspired to help us finish strong and finish the job.”

More information about the campaign and opportunities to get involved is available at
Patchwork Farms harvests a successful year
Okanagan College Media Release

It might be the middle of winter but the work goes on for Patchwork Farms.

Located at the Vernon campus of Okanagan College, Patchwork Farms is a community collective farm offering meaningful activities that foster personal growth, strengthen the local food system and enhance appreciation for land, food, health and community.

Patchwork Farms has recently reported on its 2015 activities and the numbers are impressive. 1,665 pounds of produce was grown and harvested by volunteers and program participants and included a wide variety of berries, vegetables, herbs, and fruits. More than 535 people participated in the farm as volunteers, in various food programs and as attendees at events.

Much of the produce that was grown came from seeds from the Kalamalka Seed Library (located at Okanagan College). The library collection grew this year to over 125 different heirloom seeds.

Integral to the success of Patchwork Farms was a new irrigation system. Thanks to the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) grant program, Okanagan College was able to support Patchwork Farms with the design and implementation of an updated irrigation system including new moisture sensor equipment that allowed the farm to save water, demonstrate best practices, and train farm personnel and volunteers on water conservation methods.

“The OBWB’s Water Conservation and Quality Improvement grant has been a huge help with respect to the irrigation issues faced by the farm and we are very appreciative of their assistance,” says Karen Truesdale, Project Co-ordinator with Kindale Developmental Association.

“The infrastructure provided by Okanagan College is key to making this community farm a success.”

Throughout the cold winter months, Patchwork Farms will be working with the College and its seed library and the Food Action Society of the North Okanagan to bring new food programming, new crops, and more water conservation to the farm in 2016.

To learn more about Patchwork Farms and the Kalamalka Demonstration Garden, visit

Back to school for RV pros at Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

Carl HollmannCarl Hollmann is among those Okanagan College alumni who relish the close working relationship that his alma mater has with the Recreation Vehicle industry that has provided him with a fulfilling career.

Hollmann, who runs his own business in Nanaimo, B.C., was among 24 RV technicians gathered in early February at Okanagan College for industry-led training that familiarizes them with the most recent equipment and techniques used in the industry.

Most of them – like Hollmann – are Red Seal tradespeople and graduates of the College’s RV Service Technician program, which is the only one in the province.

The industry training was organized by the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of B.C. (RVDABC) and Okanagan College. Manufacturers and equipment suppliers came to the College’s Kelowna campus to provide the service techs with information about new technology.

“It was tremendous,” explains Hollmann, who has been a tech for 16 years. “Atwood Mobile Products was on hand Monday to show us and explain their new furnaces and water heaters. They have executed a complete redesign on their product line but it’s so fresh there are no service manuals yet, and tech support isn’t completely up to speed.”

“We run into the products in the RVs we service and this is the best way to bring yourself up to speed.”

Other manufacturers on hand included Dometic Corporation, Demco/Hijacker and Canadian Energy.

Hollmann, who has also done duty on occasion as an instructor at the College, is also a fervent advocate for the program and the career opportunities being an RV Service Tech affords.

“I’ve travelled around the world with it,” he says. “I went to Australia and worked for an RV dealership there. Inside two weeks I was shop foreman. They don’t have the kind of training program in Australia that we have here.”

He also used it when he went “snowbirding” to the southern U.S. – and ended up working for several months on inverters and solar panels for RVs.

The best part about being an RV Service Technician, though, says Hollmann is simple:

“It’s being able to fix your own everything.”

RV Service Techs get training in electrical systems, mechanics, plumbing, gas-fitting, construction, carpentry – it’s a collection of skills rolled into one apprenticeable trade, which has significant employer demand. Government statistics show that 95 per cent of Okanagan College’s RV Service Technician apprentices are employed.

“Many of the students who enrol in the RV program are surprised at how extensive the skill set they develop is,” says Cam McRobb, the chair of the College’s Motor Vehicle Trades Department. “The other thing – the really important thing – is that there is demand for trained technicians.”

“That demand, and the changing nature of the industry, is one of the reasons we work with Okanagan College to offer these professional development opportunities,” explains Joan Jackson, RVDABC’s Executive Director. “Our member companies have a vested interest in ensuring their technicians are as up-to-speed on new technologies and equipment as is possible. It’s part of their commitment to their customer base.”

Okanagan College will be offering a new intake of its 28-week foundation program in RV Service Technician in September 2016. For more information, you can call (250) 762-5445, ext. 4558 or email

A recipe for success: Canada’s best chefs pair up with Okanagan College students at Gold Medal Plates

Chantelle Eustache and Chef O'Flynn, GMP 2016Too many chefs in the kitchen is actually a good thing when it comes to the annual Canadian Culinary Championships’ Gold Medal Plates event, which takes place this weekend and includes more than 50 Okanagan College Culinary and Pastry Arts students who will provide support to 11 of the country’s most remarkable chefs.

“Experiencing Kelowna as a culinary epicentre with Canada’s best chefs descending on the city to battle it out is unique,” says Chef Bernard Casavant, Culinary Manager at Okanagan College and President of the Okanagan Chefs Association. “It’s a prime opportunity for the students to showcase the skills learned in class in a competition environment and allows them to network with some of Canada’s best chefs at a time when they are looking to launch their careers.”

Chantelle Eustache, who was a part of Chef Ryan O’Flynn’s gold-winning team at last year’s competition, echoes this.

“Getting to work beside these top chefs, rub shoulders with the industry’s best, it was over the top,” says the 32-year-old Okanagan Indian Band member from Vernon, who is now working at The Point Grill in Vancouver. She graduated from the College’s Culinary Arts program last June.

She recalls feeling nervous before meeting Chef O’Flynn for the first time, and the looming task ahead: creating 500 plates of a complex gastronomic dish, knowing there was a gold podium finish up for grabs.

“The first thing he said to us was to not let our nerves consume us, but to channel that energy into a focus, that helped a lot,” she says.

“Chef O’Flynn is a mentor to me. He spent a lot of time explaining the process about each step of the dish he had us create with him. He was a great teacher, even when he had a lot of pressure to win on him, he took the time for us.”

The admiration and respect that developed while working together clearly went both ways – O’Flynn specifically requested Eustache and another College chef who was a member of his winning team to join him this year as he prepares a four-course VIP dinner at Big White for 100 guests to kick-off the weekend’s festivities (an honour given to the defending champion).

Eustache is spending the days leading up to Thursday night’s reception to prep a menu boasting porcini panna cotta with Alba truffles, followed by a wild Canadian chowder with Coho salmon and boar, and a confit pork belly with black pudding crumble. The main course is pan-roasted King Cole duck breast with an Okanagan sherry sauce, and the menu’s finale will feature an intricate wine-poached Okanagan pear desert masterpiece.

For two days, starting Feb. 5, the College’s kitchens at the Kelowna campus will become a culinary battlefield with peeling, slicing, dicing, and searing taking place in preparation of the weekend’s events. The chefs prep their dishes at the College for Friday’s mystery wine pairing event at the Delta Grand Hotel and spend all of Saturday morning competing in the Black Box event at the College. The finale event is held Saturday evening at the Delta Grand Hotel.  

“Donating the use of our space is an industry contribution on behalf of the College, and facilitating our students’ involvement is an investment we make in their education,” says Casavant.

“Okanagan College provides a great space for the prep and their students are some of the best in the country,” says 2015 Gold Medal Plates winner O’Flynn. “In my opinion, I got the best two student chefs last year, of course I wanted them to join me again this year. I think that the College’s instructors’ experience and background has a lot to do with the quality training the students receive.”

With tickets sold out, those hungry to view the dynamic Black Box Challenge can catch the live feed online. A link will be released prior to the start of the competition at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning on Twitter: @GoldMedalPlates.

For more information on Gold Medal Plates events, visit

Acclaimed author Madeleine Thien to speak at the College
Okanagan College Media Release

UPDATE: Please note that this event has been cancelled due to illness.

Madeleine Thien Feb 2016Inspiring students and the public about the art of writing, Okanagan College’s Department of English is bringing one of B.C.’s prized authors to the Kelowna campus on Thursday, Feb. 4.

Award-winning author Madeleine Thien, of famed novels
Dogs at the Perimeter and Certainty and the short stories collection Simple Recipes, is recognized as an outspoken advocate for women and ethnic writers and for integrity in literary criticism and publishing. She also writes essays on diverse topics including female beauty, state surveillance, visual art, race, and literary politics.

“Thien is a master of the short story form and has gained national and international acclaim for the clarity, precision, and emotional depth of her writing,” said College English Professor Corinna Chong. “We are thrilled to be able to give students, aspiring writers, and lovers of literature the opportunity to meet her and to hear about her writing process.”

In addition to reading from her works, Thien will provide insights into her writing career followed by a question period and book signing. The College’s bookstore will be on hand for those wishing to purchase Thien’s works.

The long list of accolades Thien has received boasts the City of Vancouver Book Award, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and the First Novel Award. Most recently, her short story
The Wedding Cake was shortlisted for England’s Sunday Time EFG Private Bank Short Story Award, recognized as the richest prize in the world for a single short story.

Thien will be releasing a highly anticipated new novel in May,
Do Not Say We Have Nothing, about musicians studying Western classical music at the Shanghai Conservatory during the 1960s.

The free public event will be held this Thursday in room B112 at the College’s Kelowna campus from 7 to 9 p.m.

For more information about the author, visit