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Master carver and artist Darren McKenzie is once again setting up shop at Okanagan College with the goal of ingraining in students his passion for carving while also sharing his Indigenous knowledge and culture.
Beginners flocked to McKenzie's initial classes offered this spring, and the course is back and expanded by popular demand with sessions starting on Oct. 12.
"The first three sections went really well. All the classes were full, and we had a lot of positive feedback, suggestions on how to improve and a lot of students have said they wanted to come back and do more,” says McKenzie.
Indigenous Wood Carving will include basic carving techniques for those just starting out, as well as more challenging projects that may also include self-study.
"Once you learn to carve, then the sky's the limit. If a student has an idea for what they want to do, then I am happy to walk them through it," he says. "There's no need to have previous artistic knowledge or Indigenous carving experience."
The new Indigenous Wood Carving course will feature more power tools, shortcuts and secret tricks of the art form, as McKenzie walks students through a full project to completion.
"Normally I prep everything because it saves time. People expect to show up and start carving. But with this course, I'm going to show them more about layout, take them through the journey the long way, from start to finish," he explains.
Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, McKenzie is a Cree Métis artist who first embraced art in high school under the mentorship of well-known Prairie artist, Wilf Perreault. He developed skills as an illustrator and painter, and then studied commercial art in college, Indian Art History at the University of Regina, followed by illustration and sculpture at the Ontario College of Art. McKenzie moved to Vancouver where he began learning to carve wood under Salish artist Gerry Sheena in 1993, before attending the Gitanmaax School of Northwest Coast Indian Art and Design. It was at the Hazelton, B.C., school where he completed an intensive and culturally engrossing four-year apprenticeship under master carver Ken Mowatt.
The student has now become the master, and one keen to share his art form. McKenzie wants to ensure the course is inclusive to all – whether they have carving skills or not, or are new to Indigenous culture and knowledge. "It gets more voices out there and more people involved," he says.
The course runs two weekends in October on Friday nights and during the day on Saturdays and Sundays, from Oct. 12 - 28. Space is limited. Information is available at okanagan.bc.ca/indigenouscarving.
A group of construction industry leaders are the latest to step up to support the Okanagan’s greenest child care centre.
The Canadian Home Builders' Association (CHBA) South Okanagan is helping build up the Okanagan College Foundation’s fundraising efforts with a $5,000 gift to Little Learners Academy on the Penticton campus of Okanagan College.
“The College is a wonderful asset to the community in providing skills and training that benefit our local workforce,” says Sarah Taylor, Executive Officer of CHBA South Okanagan. “We are really proud to be a part of the growth and expansion of the campus over the years.”
In addition to this contribution, CHBA South Okanagan also played a role in the last expansion of the Penticton campus with a gift to the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence, which opened in 2011.
Seeing the benefit the Centre of Excellence has had on the community, as well the impact of the student awards CHBA South Okanagan supports, motivated the non-profit organization to invest in the most recent campus project.
“We are thankful for the support from CHBA South Okanagan, who not only see the value in the work of the College but also understand and support our sustainability goals,” says Eric Corneau, Okanagan College Regional Dean, South Okanagan-Similkameen.
As the first Passive House child care centre in Canada, Little Learners has already received accolades for its achievements in sustainable construction techniques (including making a list of the greenest new buildings in Canada for 2018), something Taylor sees as a bigger trend industry-wide.
“In the near future, we’ll be hearing a lot more about energy efficient techniques and how to take better care of the environment in the way we construct buildings,” she explains. “The design and construction of Little Learners embraces those concepts in a way that is truly ahead of its time.”
Two CHBA South Okanagan members have also been involved with the new child care centre from the start. Landform Architecture was the architect and Ritchie Custom Homes was the contractor.
For more information on the innovative centre, or to contribute to the Bright from the Start - Building for the Future campaign, visit okanagan.bc.ca/give.
A new collaboration between Okanagan College and Brock University is opening doors for those looking to teach trades and technology.
The Trades and Technology Teacher Education (TTTE) program will come online this September. The program will offer existing high school teachers a means to specialize in trades and technology, while also giving tradespeople and technology professionals a chance to add instructional training to their toolkit.
“The beauty of the TTTE program is that it opens up convenient pathways to teaching trades and technology for people from many different backgrounds,” notes Steve Moores, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship at Okanagan College.
The program is comprised of online courses in communications, digital media, educational pedagogies, curriculum design and evaluation, conflict management, math for trades and technology, electronics, robotics, drafting and design. Summer sessions at the College’s Kelowna campus will help students gain practical shop experience, safety training, and knowledge of applied pedagogies.
Each student’s path through the program will depend on their previous education and training.
Secondary school teachers can complete the TTTE Certificate and qualify to teach carpentry, electrical, metalwork, heavy mechanics, power mechanics, auto mechanics, robotics, electronics, drafting and design.
Tradespersons with a Red Seal and industry experience can complete the TTTE Diploma and apply to instruct trades programs in their industry. Okanagan College will accept the TTTE Diploma as qualifying training for OC trades instructors with a Red Seal and industry experience.
Students pursuing the TTTE Certificate will enroll with the College, while those looking to complete the Diploma will register with both OC and Brock University. Students who complete the Diploma may then apply the credits toward the three-year online Brock University Bachelor of Education in Adult Education.
“We’re excited to work with Okanagan College,” says Robert McGray, Associate Professor and Program Director of the Adult Education programs in Brock University’s Faculty of Education. “We share OC’s commitment to equipping educators with the skills and knowledge they need, whether they’re new educators of adults or experienced teachers in high schools.”
Providing students entering the program from different fields with just the right blend of instructional and hands-on trades training was one of the challenges of bringing the TTTE program to life. Collaboration proved to be the solution.
“We wanted to ensure students could access training that is convenient for their lives and busy schedules – hence the online component – while also making sure those students get the hands-on skills they’ll need to be successful teaching a wide array of tools, techniques and technologies,” explains Moores. “Tapping into Brock University’s adult education teacher training curriculum provided the perfect means to augment the trades and technology training students will receive in person at OC.”
The TTTE program isn’t just for those looking to teach adults. A pending partnership between the College and UBC Okanagan School of Education is also expected to create a new pathway for students looking to teach trades and technology at the high school level. The College consulted with school districts in the region both to gauge the need for the training, as well as identify the means of delivery that would work best for teachers. Local educators are already showing interest in the program.
“We’re seeing applications and fielding questions from students from a variety of different backgrounds and industries – including a number of local secondary school teachers,” explains Sara Cousins, the program’s administrator. “We’re looking forward to working with them all and our hope is that the program will provide a new and welcome means of professional development for teachers and tradespeople alike.” More information about the program is available at okanagan.bc.ca/ttte.
How do you count crushed cans crammed into a cube?
An applied research project by Okanagan College could crack open a solution to the tongue-twisting challenge and offer serious savings for the recycling industry for years to come.
Interior Recycling contacted Okanagan College last year, seeking local expertise to solve an expensive inventory problem. Currently, the Vernon recycling facility measures the quantity of aluminum cans that it processes based on weight; however, owner Jay Aarsen estimates this method comes with a significant margin of error.
"Auditing loads and can counts is a challenge, because we work on a ratio that factors so many cans per pound. But there's a big variation in that because of the liquids inside, and in winter, it would be heavy when the liquid froze. The only way to audit a load would be to count it by hand, which would be very time consuming," Aarsen explains.
Factor in the 12 to 14 million cans travelling through the depot's doors each year, and that ratio significantly impacts the company’s bottom line.
Luke Skulmoski, an OC trades instructor and licensed electrician, obtained a Canadian Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Engage Grant to research, design, develop and install a system for counting aluminum cans more accurately.
He researched whether other sorting or counting machines existed, and found examples in Switzerland and California that use a spinning motion to separate and count cans. The specifications for that technology, however, were far too large to fit in the Interior Recycling's building.
"We had to design something that functioned and fit within this building," says Skulmoski.
Working alongside welding instructor Sean Jarvis, Skulmoski designed a customized hopper that uses an agitator to help funnel cans down through 21 metal chutes. Adjacent to each chute is a photo sensor that signals a computer each time a can falls. When the computer’s count reaches a specific number of cans, the conveyor stops momentarily, allowing the hopper to release the counted cans into a condenser. From there, “biscuits” of compressed aluminum emerge, each having equal numbers of cans, regardless of weight.
"This could make our plant run more efficiently because we could put people into more skilled labour, in terms of maintaining the counting machine, versus just counting the cans. Being able to audit everything versus spot-check will be great," says Aarsen.
Students were also brought onto the applied research project. Curtis Alwood, a first-year Electrician Pre-Apprenticeship student in Kelowna, researched options for counting technologies and helped wire the components. Maximillian Dannert, who completed his Welder Foundation Certificate this spring, assisted with designing, welding, and fabricating the hopper and its frame.
"This gives students hands-on experience working with a client, facing real deadlines on a real project. Plus they get paid," says Skulmoski.
The prototype was affixed to the existing conveyor system, taking four days to custom fabricate and install. The applied research team also had to ensure the counting machine could quickly and easily convert back to the old weight-based system, in case something happens with the prototype, adding another layer of complexity to the project.
"Applied research projects like this bring the community and academia together, and that doesn't happen very often. From start to finish we were able to offer this partner a solution in just six months, whereas with other larger institutions it could take years," Skulmoski explains, adding that the end result could save the bottle depot tens of thousands of dollars per year.
A class of Plumbing and Piping Foundation trades students were the first to step through the doors of the newly completed Trades Training Centre at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus at 7 a.m. this morning. A few hours later, they helped to officially open the space where they will hone their trade.
Stephen Fuhr, Member of Parliament for Kelowna - Lake Country and The Hon. Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training joined Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton and other College officials, donors, industry and community members, students and alumni in a ribbon cutting ceremony at noon today, August 7, followed by a BBQ for students and guests.
The new 1,250 square-metre (13,450 square-foot) centre will accommodate about 150 students per year in Carpentry, Welding, Electrical, Plumbing and Piping, and Women in Trades programs.
The Province of B.C. provided $2.88 million and the Government of Canada provided $2.66 million toward the $6.2 million total project cost. The Okanagan College Foundation has raised nearly $1 million to cover the $673,000 capital construction cost, as well as provide support for students and programming.
Read the full story about the grand opening in the media release.
View recorded livestream of the event here.
Find the photo gallery on Flickr.
The four people joining Okanagan College’s Board of Governors may be fresh to the role, but they are familiar names in the region.
David Porteous, Juliette Cunningham, Shelly Cook and Tina Lee have each been appointed to the College’s Board by the provincial government for one-year terms that began at the end of July.
“I’m looking forward to Juliette, Tina, Shelley and David starting their work with the Board,” says Okanagan College Board of Governors’ chair Chris Derickson. “I know their experience will yield insights and perspectives valuable for our Board.”
Lee is an experienced communications and strategy professional from Penticton whose human rights and development work has spanned six continents and has ranged from influencing United Nations activity to developing municipal community engagement processes.
Cunningham is a current City of Vernon Councillor, Vice-Chair of the Regional District of the North Okanagan, Vice-Chair of the Okanagan Basin Water Board as well as a business owner. She also has an extensive history of working with non-profit Boards such as the Women’s Centre, Junction Literacy, People Place, Museum and the Early Years Council.
Porteous is an employee group benefits consultant and writes for a quarterly senior’s magazine on health and benefits issues. He co-founded McIver-Porteous Insurance Services Ltd. In the 1980s and was president of Working Enterprises Insurance Services Ltd. He also started Canadian Administrative Underwriting Services Inc. and Working Enterprises Consulting & Benefits Services Ltd.
Cook is an Okanagan College alumnus and has more than 20 years’ experience working with disadvantaged populations in institutional and community-based settings in BC and Ontario. She has a Master’s Degree in Human and Social Development from the University of Victoria and is currently completing her PhD in Community, Culture and Global Studies at the University of British Columbia - Okanagan. Before pursuing her doctoral studies, Cook was Executive Director of John Howard Society in Kelowna for 11 years. In 2017, Cook received a national award for innovation and urban sustainability (Dr. Alex Aylett Scholarship) related to her community-based research efforts. She was the candidate for the BC NDP- Kelowna-West in the 2017 General Election and the 2018 By-election.
Cunningham and Lee each hold a Bachelor of Arts degree from Simon Fraser University.
“I am very familiar with the contribution Okanagan College makes to the community and the region,” says Cunningham. “I am eager to work with Chris, the other board members and administration to ensure its continued success and development.”
“I’ve watched Okanagan College develop its profile in the South Okanagan and Similkameen, and I am excited to learn more about the institution and bring my talents to the Board table,” says Lee.
Porteous shares the others’ interest in the contribution Board members can make to OC’s success: “This is an organization that is very clearly connected and supportive of the communities it serves,” he notes. “Governance is an integral and important part of any public post-secondary institution and I am honored to have been selected to serve in this role.”
“People and organizations in this region identify with Okanagan College,” says Cook. “There are so many proud alumni and so many positive partnerships associated with the College that I know being a member of the Board of Governors will be a rewarding experience.”
Provincially-appointed Board members whose term ends July 31 are Connie Denesiuk (who served six years and was Board Chair from 2016 to early 2018) and Joe Maciel (who was appointed in 2014). Vernon’s Riminder Gakhal completed her 16-month term with the Board at the end of 2017. Board Vice-Chair Gloria Morgan has been reappointed to July 31, 2019.
Other appointed members of the Board include Charity Gerbrandt and Robert McGowan. Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton and Education Council Chair Christopher Newitt are also members of the Board. In addition, there are two student members, a faculty representative and a support staff representative, all elected by their respective constituencies.
Early on, Alice George knew she had a passion for helping others. Working as a cashier for the Nk’Mip Gas and Convenience Store in Oliver, George met people who needed more assistance than she could offer during her interactions at her workplace.
“I had an interest in helping others,” says George, “I knew I could do more.”
Going back to school was hard so George and her husband challenged each other to pursue continuing their educations. Once her husband, Edward, had successfully completed his six-month program through Okanagan College, George started looking for educational opportunities for herself.
Turns out that finding the right program was the easy part. “I noticed the Aboriginal Community Support Worker (ASCW) program and I was really interested in it,” says George.
“This program was the product of extensive consultation with Aboriginal communities throughout the Interior of B.C. as well as a number of community entities that serve Indigenous peoples in the region,” explains Dr. Dennis Silvestrone, Okanagan College’s Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Training. “The growing need for social and community support workers with a deeper knowledge of the specific challenges facing Indigenous individuals and families prompted us to respond to this training need.”
The full-time program includes course work and a practicum that prepares individuals to step into community support work assisting Indigenous individuals and families, both on- and off- reserve, to enhance their quality of life.
“The program gave me a better understanding of Indigenous history and current issues facing Indigenous communities today,” says George. “If you’re willing to dig deeper and become self-aware of your own biases and values, you can really build on your professional skills. That is when the work becomes more interesting.”
“The college was such a welcoming place to go to school and my experience has inspired me to pursue additional post-secondary education,” says George. “My perspective has really shifted – I now have a much more compassionate and empathetic view on how to support others.”
In preparation for the fall intake, Okanagan College will offer an information session at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 14, in Room E105 at the Vernon campus of Okanagan College, located at 7000 College Way in Vernon. The session will provide community members with the opportunity to learn more about the program, ask questions and learn more about financial support options.
The Aboriginal Community Support Worker certificate is just one of the hundreds of Continuing Studies courses and certificates that are offered at Okanagan College campuses. To find out more about the series or to discover a new career path, check out Okanagan College’s newly released fall 2018 Continuing Studies Brochure at okanagan.bc.ca/csbrochure.