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Okanagan College will host a regional event with global implications.
Building on Progress: Climate Action across Local, Regional and Global Levels will open the doors to dialogue in September, as a way of engaging the Okanagan region in sustainability discussions happening across the globe.
On Sept. 13 and 14, Building on Progress will showcase Okanagan projects that focus on climate action, especially healthy energy systems and sustainable communities, as an affiliate event to the Global Climate Action Summit to be held in San Francisco, Calif.
"The event is designed to build momentum achieved by the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which calls on the world to communicate, educate, improve policies and strengthen resilience efforts," says Dr. Rosalind Warner, Okanagan College political science faculty member. "We are at a critical juncture in terms of adopting and implementing necessary policies to effect change.”
Okanagan College partnered with the Global Empowerment Coalition of the Central Okanagan (GECCO) to organize the affiliate event, which will connect local participants with international Global Climate Action Summit discussion through live-streamed video. Panel discussions will also be held with regional experts in private, public and energy sectors. The community can also follow the dialogue on social media using hashtags #StepUp2018 and #GCAS2018.
The College locations will also serve as inspiration for participants: the Kelowna Trades Complex and Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Penticton were both built to LEED Platinum standards. In 2016, the Centre of Excellence was named the greenest post-secondary building in Canada by Corporate Knights magazine.
“Okanagan College is a leader in sustainable construction technologies, evidenced through the quality of our programs and the innovation behind our physical spaces,” says Amy Vaillancourt, Chair of the Sustainable Construction Management Technology program. “Building on Progress is an opportunity to showcase for College students and the community to learn about the value of sustainable construction practices, and what small steps they can take to make a lasting difference.”
The event will run Sept. 13 in Kelowna and Sept. 14 in Penticton, with sessions running from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. An expo will include exhibits from local businesses and organizations in the sustainability field. The event is free and no registration is required.
For more information, visit okanagan.bc.ca/gcas2018. Follow this event on Facebook.
As the emerging cannabis industry continues to spark growing interest and dialogue, Okanagan College has partnered with experts across the region and beyond to develop a diverse offering of courses – from greenhouse pest management techniques to business fundamentals and retail sales training.
“This is a fluid and dynamic field full of aspiring producers and investors,” says Dr. Dennis Silvestrone, Director of Continues Studies and Corporate Training at Okanagan College. “The courses we have developed bring a unique educational experience to people interested in the sector. Our goal is to be ahead of the curve and find innovative ways to serve workers and employers in the Okanagan Shuswap as the industry gains momentum.”
As federal legislation regarding the usage of cannabis changes, so, too, are the attitudes surrounding the industry and those learning about and working in it. Initial interest in the offerings has been strong. The Growing Your Own Cannabis course has already filled to capacity, prompting the College to explore adding another intake this fall.
As Silvestrone points out, there is also a host of information, such as workplace policies, that employers will need to educate themselves on.
“There’s far more to cannabis training than the cultivation side of things,” he explains. “The implications around cannabis and the workplace, around facility practices and business fundamentals are vast and far-reaching and so we’re working to provide as diverse a programming array as possible to serve the community.”
With the region’s long growing season, agriculture has traditionally been a significant part of the local economy. So, it’s not surprising that the emerging cannabis industry would look to the Okanagan as an ideal environment for growth. The potential for licensed cannabis producers to set up businesses in the area means jobs for people in a growing industry and tax revenues for communities, much like the growth brought by the wine industry.
Jeff Thorne is Cultivation Manager at Sunniva, a medical cannabis company currently building a new greenhouse facility in Okanagan Falls. Thorne has years of experience in the cannabis industry and has been involved in the development of the course materials at the College.
“The cannabis training courses offered at Okanagan College are more than just theory,” says Thorne. “Created by veteran cannabis industry professionals, they give students tactile learning experiences. Individuals may have a background in the industry, but no idea on how to successfully commercialize their businesses. These courses are designed to help people understand the regulations and licensing requirements needed to meet current medical cannabis industry demands and take their production processes to the next level,” says Thorne.
The production process for medical grade marijuana is carefully regulated to maintain quality. “When you’re growing a product on a farm and delivering it to a pharmacy, you have to understand the quality assurance process. These courses will deliver that knowledge,” says Thorne.
Labour market predictions indicate the industry will see greatest demand for semi-skilled jobs in areas such as canopy maintenance, pest management, processing and extraction. Thorne notes that opportunities for on-the-job training do exist, and workers who take steps to build a foundation of industry knowledge will excel.
The College made headlines last fall when it became one of the first in the sector in B.C. to implement a Cannabis course through its School of Business. The Emerging Marijuana Industry was the name of the course taught by David Cram, a 26-year veteran College business professor. It illuminated students to the regulatory process and emerging business impacts of legalization, in the context of the Canadian economy.
Intakes for the courses offered through the College’s Continuing Studies department begin in September. Course details, tuition and application information can be found online at okanagan.bc.ca/cannabistraining.
Way’. Bienvenue. Willkommen. Welcome.
No matter how you say it, Okanagan College wants students to walk away from Orientation Day at the Penticton campus on Sept. 4 feeling welcomed and set for success.
"Students are making one of the biggest transitions of their lives when they begin post-secondary studies, and social connections support students with navigating that shift," says Eric Corneau, Regional Dean South Okanagan Similkameen. “It is excellent that the community has come together with welcoming students this year, to help newcomers feel at home in their new city. Everyone at the College is very excited about the day and the start of the new academic year.”
Students can get a java jumpstart with free coffee during a Mix 'N Mingle starting at 10 a.m, when they can pick up a welcome bag of goodies. Therapy dogs from St. John Ambulance will also be on hand for students seeking furry relief from the bustle.
Just after an official welcome and First Nations territory acknowledgement on the Common Green, students can meet instructors and fellow students during department sessions at 11 a.m. as the first step to academic success.
At noon, the Kickoff Carnival begins with a free barbecue, campus tours and a photo booth to capture that important first day. Students looking to break the ice with new friends are invited to play Giant Jenga, Zorb Pool races, riding bull, dunk tank, corn hole, arcade bowling and ring toss.
This is also the first year that community organizations are part of Orientation Day activities. "Taste the Okanagan," from regional beverage providers will offer students the chance to sample local craft beers, craft ciders, wines, kombucha, soda and coffee. Over 10 vendors will be on hand at the Sunoka Building on the north-end of campus for the can’t-miss tasting event of the year.
Students can win donated swag from local merchants specializing in books, movies, art, climbing, restaurants and dining, health, chocolate, sweets and treats, shopping, outdoor activities and more.
There’s no better way to shake off those first-day jitters than a carnival.
Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm campus will welcome everyone Tuesday, Sept. 4 with Kick Off, a full-day of fun activities and treats to ease students back in to classes.
“Social connections are so critical for success at post-secondary. We want new and returning students to start the new semester on a positive note with their new campus community,” says Joan Ragsdale, Regional Dean of Shuswap Revelstoke.
Coffee and muffins will be available at the Campus Cafe as students arrive. Workshops will help students become acquainted with:
Starting at 9 a.m., a series of orientations will be held, including opportunities for students to meet their program instructors and peers. A carnival-themed lunch for new and returning students will follow, in addition to a fair with games, prizes and giveaways. Photos for student ID cards will be taken between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
New and returning students are invited to take part in Prep for Success: Essential Skills for College on Aug. 29 and 30. These free workshops offer information on how to be an effective student, with topics like time management, learning strategies, essay writing, giving class presentations and dealing with stress. There is no requirement to be an Okanagan College student; all post-secondary students welcome.
More information is available online.
Lights! Camera! Action! Those looking to break into careers in B.C.’s booming film industry can explore new courses coming to Okanagan College this fall.
“We know visual content, from Netflix to YouTube and Facebook, is in high demand and that the region and the province is poised to continue to be a hub for development of that content,” explains Dennis Silvestrone, Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Training at the College. “The Okanagan has long been a region with a strong and vibrant film industry, and so in developing these courses, our aim was to tap into the immense pool of expertise and talent here, and to offer courses that would help students seamlessly transition into in-demand roles in the industry.”
One of those industry experts consulted in the development of the courses was Okanagan Film Commissioner Jon Summerland.
“The industry keeps growing and we’re adding the infrastructure to attract projects that support more full-time employment opportunities in the area,” explains Summerland. “I have several projects we’re exploring right now, including opportunities for a film series, so it’s a very cool and exciting time to get into film.”
The recent addition of a purpose-built soundstage near the Kelowna airport brings opportunities for increased employment options, regional tax credits and infrastructure to support the industry.
“The Okanagan offers a diverse range of scenery, locations and seasons, and producers are finding that they can get great value from their budgets here. Every successful project breeds another,” says Summerland.
A unique complement of courses, from set etiquette to applicable first aid, offered at Okanagan College brings together a range of useful skills for anyone interested in building their training to enter the industry.
“The Motion Picture Industry Orientation (MPIO) and Background Set Etiquette training offers you the essential details you will need to begin working in the industry. You need basic training to get a film job and the more you get, the better off you are. From there, the sky’s the limit in this industry,” says Summerland.
Debra Sawarin – a 28-year film industry veteran, who holds make-up artist credits on projects such as Pathfinder, An Unfinished Life and many other films and television shows – will instruct the MPIO class offered at the College this fall. Sawarin is looking forward to passing on her experiences and deep industry knowledge with students.
“I’m going to teach the basic expectations and behaviours that will help students navigate their first job and be successful when they walk onto a set for the first time,” explains Sawarin. “Along with the MPIO course, the first aid and traffic safety courses cover all off the essentials that many newcomers to the industry might not even know they should have, but are crucial to working on any set.”
Sawarin is also quick to point out the need for strong communication and collaboration skills on set – skills students can expect to hone in the courses.
“The film industry is one that really embraces the concept of teamwork,” says Sawarin. “It combines people with diverse skills and talents all within one project. A make-up artist could be working next to someone who handles heavy equipment, each doing their jobs without getting in each other’s way.”
More information about the courses and how to register can be found at okanagan.bc.ca/filmindustry.
Lunch and snack time at the Little Learners Academy will be a little bit easier, thanks to a donation from Valley First.
Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union, is donating $5,000 to the new child care centre located at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus. The gift supports a kitchen space located in one of the centre’s four age-specific spaces.
“Hunger is our signature cause at Valley First and along with that we also support food security, which includes access to healthy food for all,” says Susan Ewanick, President of Valley First.
“Along with understanding nutrition, instilling a joy for eating is important to children’s health and well-being for their whole lives. It’s this alignment with our values that compelled us to support the kitchen at Little Learners Academy.”
“Valley First has been a long-time supporter of Okanagan College, and we’re very grateful for their gift to our child care centre campaign,” says Kathy Butler, Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director.
“The kitchen is already being put to good use, with the children easily getting their lunches from the refrigerator for snacks and lunchtime.”
Little Learner’s Academy officially opened in September 2017 to help address the need for more child-care spaces in Penticton. With a priority on providing child care for students and staff at the college, 25 per cent of the children currently at the centre are connected to Okanagan College. The remaining spaces are children from Penticton and the surrounding communities.
The child care centre is made possible by a $500,000 investment by the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development and support from donors. For more information and ways to support the Bright from the Start Campaign please visit okanagan.bc.ca/give.
Little Learners was also recently recognized as one of Canada’s most sustainable new buildings. To learn more click here.
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.
From an early age, Alice George knew she had a passion for helping others. This spring she parlayed that lifelong interest into a new career as one the first graduates of the College’s Aboriginal Community Support Worker Certificate program in Vernon.
While working as a cashier for the Nk’Mip Gas and Convenience Store in Oliver, George often found herself speaking to people who needed more assistance than she could offer.
“I’ve always had an interest in helping others and I knew I could do more,” explains George.
The opportunity presented itself when George learned of a new program the College was launching in the fall of 2017.
While George was initially intimidated by the idea of going back to school, she and her husband challenged each other to pursue continuing their educations. After her husband Edward completed his six-month program at the Vernon campus, George started looking for educational opportunities for herself.
“I came across the Aboriginal Community Support Worker (ASCW) program and I was interested in it immediately,” 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 next intake launches at the Vernon campus this fall.
“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.”
The Aboriginal Community Support Worker certificate is one of hundreds of Continuing Studies courses and certificates offered by the College at its campuses and learning centres from Revelstoke to the South Okanagan. Learn more about the program here.