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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