Honorary Fellows and Distinguished Service
Since 2006, Okanagan College has been presenting Honorary Fellow and Distinguished Service awards to deserving individuals as part of its annual Convocation ceremonies. The awards recognize distinguished achievement or service and the recipients represent a broad spectrum of regional, provincial, national and international contributions. The awards acknowledge a diverse array of people, from those who have advanced literacy among youth to individuals whose work has helped create awareness and appreciation of Aboriginal culture. A list of recipients can be found below.
Nominations for 2021 Honorary Fellows are now being accepted
Description of the Honorary Fellow Award & Criteria
The award of an Honorary Fellow is recognition by Okanagan College of distinguished achievement or outstanding service.
The criteria for the award are mentorship, excellence, eminence and accomplishment.
The College welcomes nominations that reflect the values of the College and the diversity of Canadian society. Nominees will be persons who have made significant contributions to the College, the Okanagan Valley, the Province, the Nation or on an international level.
The award will not normally be given to a serving politician or current employee of the College.
Nominations are reviewed by a standing committee of Okanagan College’s Education Council and confidential recommendations for recognition are made to the Education Council and the Board of Governors.
2019 Honorary Fellow Award Recipients
Tom Christensen is well-known for his contributions in the province through Aboriginal relations and reconciliation, as well as community volunteerism.
From 2001 to 2009 he was the elected Member of the Legislative Assembly for Okanagan-Vernon and during that time, he served as British Columbia’s Minister of Education, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation and Minister of Children and Family Development. As the province’s first Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, he had responsibility for implementing a more collaborative and less adversarial relationship with First Nations and Aboriginal peoples in B.C.
Today, Christensen is a Solicitor at Nixon Wenger LLP and remains committed to public service, having served as a Director of the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust, a Director and Chair of the Legal Services Society of British Columbia, and Chair of Community Living British Columbia. Locally, he was a Director of the Literacy and Youth Initiatives Society of the North Okanagan and is currently a Director with the Canadian Mental Health Association – Vernon Division as well as a member of the Kalamalka Rotary Club. In 2018, Christensen was selected to be member of the new Okanagan Indian Band Economic Development Corporation.
Robert Louie is the former Chief (24 years) of the Westbank First Nation and has served on numerous boards, companies and special appointments with government and private industry for more than 30 years. He has extensive experience in real estate development and finance matters and has focused primarily on working for First Nations on land matters throughout Canada. Louie is the Chairman of the First Nations Lands Advisory Board and Chairman/Director of Peace Hills Trust, the largest Aboriginal financial institution in Canada. He serves as an Indigenous advisor, representing Canada on the World Indigenous Business Forum and networks with other leaders promoting Indigenous economic development and world trade.
Louie’s connection to the College dates back to 1975 when he graduated from the Business Administration program prior to completing a law degree at the University of Victoria, and later when he was presented with the College’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2006. Countless awards and distinguished presentations - including his appointment as an Officer to the Order of Canada - have complemented his successful career. Louie also received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the Justice Institute of B.C.
Today, Louie is the owner/proprietor of Indigenous World Winery, Indigenous World Spirits and Kelowna West Manufactured Home Park.
George Galbraith, known for his philanthropy and civic spirit, is a business leader and stalwart supporter of many projects close to his heart in the Okanagan, including the Okanagan Rails to Trails Campaign, Vernon Jubliee Hospital Foundation and North Okanagan Community Foundation. He is also a supporter of the Vernon Public Art Gallery, Vernon Community Music School and The Nature Trust of British Columbia.
Galbraith has worn many hats at Okanagan College – first as an instructor at the Vernon campus in 1973, then on the College’s Board of Directors for six years. In 2017, Galbraith donated $250,000 towards the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizons - Building for Skills campaign for the new Trades Training Centre at the Vernon campus. He also funds two scholarships at the College: H.W Galbraith Memorial Award and the Kieran Galbraith Memorial Award. He sees these gifts as an act of gratitude for the benefits he received raising a family and building a livelihood in the Okanagan.
Galbraith built and operated Vercom Cable Services Ltd., Vernon’s cable system, until he sold the company in 1991 to Shaw Cable, where he continued to sit on the Board of Directors for 26 years.
Previous Honorary Fellow Award Recipients
Distinguished Service Award Recipients
This award is to honour and recognize former Okanagan College employees, who have given outstanding service to Okanagan College, who share and support the mission, vision and values of Okanagan College, and who are active within and outside the Okanagan College community. This award will not be given as a matter of routine and is extended to only those who are most deserving.
Nominations for the 2021 Distinguished Service Award are now being accepted
2019 Distinguished Service Award Recipient
Retired Okanagan College Dean of the Okanagan School of Business, Dr. Heather Banham, is this year’s Distinguished Service Award recipient.
Banham worked at the College for 24 years and wore many hats. She was a professor, department chair, Associate Dean and Dean of the Okanagan School of Business. Upon her retirement in 2017, the business program boasted more than 2,000 students on four campuses.
In 2014, Banham was recognized nationally for receiving the Fellowship designation by the Certified General Accountants (CGA) Association, the highest honour that can be given to a member of the association. The award acknowledged her time on the B.C. CGA board of directors where she served from 2011-2015 as second Vice Chair Board and First Vice Chair. In 2016, Banham was appointed as Chair, CPABC Board of Directors for 2017/2018.
Previous Distinguished Service Award Recipients
Okanagan University College Honorary Doctorates
D. Ross Fitzpatrick
Okanagan University College Distinguished Service Award Recipients