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Philip, Gatzke and Lapointe named College’s Honorary Fellows
Okanagan College Media Release

Ernie PhilipOkanagan College will bestow its highest honour on three local respected and innovative community leaders during a series of Convocation ceremonies in June.

Ernie Philip, Alan Gatzke and Barry Lapointe will be recognized as Honorary Fellows of the College for their contributions and leadership in the areas of cultural awareness, the agricultural industry and in aviation entrepreneurship, respectively.

“I am proud to welcome Ernie, Alan and Barry as Honorary Fellows of Okanagan College,” said President Jim Hamilton. “When I think about the people who have made a difference in our communities, from Kelowna to Oyama and extending to the Shuswap, each of the 2013 recipients are shining examples of people who have been dedicated to improving their communities.”

Philip is an elder of the Little Shuswap Indian Band, a First Nations people whose traditional territory covers more than 145,000 kilometres in the Southern and Central interior of B.C. An acclaimed international dance artist, Philip has won more than 130 awards for his performances in Powwows. 

Philip, who is often referred to as Dancing Bear or Black Feather -- names that were given to him by the Sioux and Blackfoot -- will be the first to address graduates at the College’s Spring Convocation ceremony on the morning of June 8.

As a dancer and lecturer, Philip has toured throughout Canada and internationally. He has presented and performed for schools, folk festivals, conventions, powwows and exhibitions. He has been the master of ceremonies for many events and galas and in 2006 won the Ambassador Award for Aboriginal Tourism of British Columbia. His performances have done much to spread understanding and knowledge of his people and their traditions. An ambassador for peace, Philip’s contributions have helped shine a light on the unique traditions of the region’s First Nations people and their culture.

Gatzke will be presented as the Honorary Fellow at the College’s afternoon ceremony on June 8 where he will address the graduating class of business students. Alan Gatzke

As proprietor of Gatzke Orchards in Oyama, Gatzke is a third generation farmer whose roots in the Okanagan extend back to 1929, when his grandfather began the family business. Deeply embedded in the agricultural history of the Okanagan, Gatzke Orchards is one of the region’s oldest producers of tree fruits. In the 80 years since Leo Gatzke began farming in Oyama, the business has adapted to meet the needs of the people and land it serves.

As one of the areas early adopters of agritourism, Gatzke Orchards is committed to corporate social responsibility and sustainability in all forms of the business.

Gatzke’s vision for the family business has resulted in a thriving local hub that includes a farm market, café, bakery, accommodations and venues for concerts, weddings and special events.

A former city councilor for the District of Lake Country, Gatzke has also served as a Director for the Board of Tourism Kelowna, where he has helped move the sustainability agenda forward through his unique insight into economic diversification.

Lapointe will be recognized at the College’s Summer Convocation ceremony on June 27.

Barry LaPointeAs the Co-founder, CEO and past President of Kelowna Flightcraft, Lapointe is one of the region’s best-known aviation entrepreneurs. Lapointe identified a need for a regional aircraft maintenance company more than 40 years ago, launching Kelowna Flightcraft in 1970.

The small start-up quickly grew to include courier and charter services, increasing its flexibility and providing full-service access for the industry. Kelowna Flightcraft is now the third largest airline company in Canada.

Lapointe’s passion for aviation began at an early age. He graduated with honours from BCIT’s Aircraft Mechanic Engineer program in 1967; shortly after he completed his commercial pilot’s license. With more than 14,000 hours of flying logged, Lapointe is highly respected for his contributions to the aviation industry in many capacities.

He is a past Chairman of the Airline Transport Association of Canada (ATAC) board and is now serving as Secretary. Lapointe was also a member of the Partnership BC (PBC) and is a current Director with Purolator Courier Ltd. (PCL).
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