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.

honoree medal

Nominations for 2022 Honorary Fellows are now being accepted

Deadline for Nominations: Nov. 19, 2021

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.

2020 Honorary Fellow Award Recipients

Virtual ceremony

On Jan. 21, 2021 Okanagan College recognized 2020 Honorary Fellows and Distinguished Service Award recipients in a virtual ceremony. 

Watch the recording of the ceremony

Pamela and Wilfred "Grouse" Barnes

Pamela and Grouse Barnes are Indigenous educators and knowledge keepers from Westbank First Nation. They are highly dedicated to preserving Syilx language, knowledge, and culture.

Pamela Barnes is a respected syilx (Okanagan) Elder and member of Westbank First Nation (WFN).

Pamela has worked as an Indigenous educator for over 40 years and teaches students of all ages and backgrounds. She is an adjunct professor at the UBCO School of Nursing providing cultural sensitivity training to third year nursing students. She also facilitates syilx teachings for the public in partnership with many organizations. She has also served on various committees and councils for School District 23 and Okanagan College.

Pamela has been involved in the research, development, and implementation of WFN’s Self Government Agreement. She has also served on several working groups for the development of WFN Community Plan. She is one of the founders of WFN’s Sensisyusten School and currently sits on the school board. She is also a member of the WFN Community Consultative Group which works with the local RCMP.

Pamela’s academic background is in Aboriginal government, graduating from UVIC in 1993. In true syilx tradition she strives to educate and mentor the next generations in all the work she does.

Wilfred “Grouse” Barnes is a respected syilx (Okanagan) Elder and member of Westbank First Nation.

He is an adjunct professor at the UBCO School of Nursing providing cultural sensitivity training to third year nursing students. He also facilitates Syilx teachings for the public for a diverse array of organizations.

Wilfred is a fluent nsyilxcen speaker and serves as an Okanagan Language and Cultural Educator. He attended the En'owkin Centre to enhance his ability as a teacher by learning to read and write in the language. He also serves as a Spiritual Care Provider at KGH, is a member of the Okanagan Nation Alliance Critical Response Team and is looked to for guidance in working with the ancestors when sacred remains are found.

Wilfred also works with the Okanagan Nation on traditional lands management and serves as an Elder in Residence at School District 23 and Okanagan College.

Robert Foord

Robert Foord is known for his strong commitment to community. Under his guidance, Kal Tire gives back in numerous ways, including the donation and reuse of recycled tires for playground surfaces, flooring and roofing through Kal’s RePlay program and support of the College’s Vernon Trades Training Centre.

Foord, who studied at Okanagan College, has long been a supporter of students and a passionate advocate for education and training. Last year, the Foord family donated a plane which previously belonged to Kal Tire founder and their late father, Tom, to be used as a training tool for students in the College’s Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME) program.

Louis Thomas

Louis Thomas is a Secwepemc knowledge keeper and a Councilor with the Neskonlith Indian Band. He works actively with the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society, Shuswap Trail Alliance, Shuswap District Arts Council, the City of Salmon Arm Housing Taskforce and many other groups in the region.

Thomas has shared his guidance and knowledge with the College in many ways over the years, including providing the traditional welcome and sharing other aspects of his culture at countless events and ceremonies.

Don Turri

Don Turri is a Partner and Family Enterprise Advisor with the accounting firm Crowe MacKay LLP in Kelowna. He has been active in the Kelowna Community throughout his career, volunteering his time to the United Way, Kelowna Sunrise Rotary, minor football and hockey, the Central Okanagan Foundation, and as a co-chair of the Okanagan College Alumni Awareness Campaign.

In 2008, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Okanagan College Alumni Association (OCAA) – the association’s foremost honour. He has also supported his alma mater as a judge for numerous competitions organized by the Okanagan College School of Business.

Previous Honorary Fellow Award Recipients

Tom Christensen
Robert Louie
George Galbraith

Mollie QuilQuil Sneena Bono
Rick Thorpe
Patrick Waunch

Randy Manuel
Sharon Shepherd
Edna Terbasket

William Redmond
Anthony von Mandl
Dr. Rita Winkler

Rod Butters
Norm Embree
Rick Pushor
Annette Sharkey

Garry Benson
Raghwa Gopal
Jim Henderson
Margriet Ruurs

Alan Gatzke
Barry Lapointe
Ernie Phillip

Yasmin John-Thorpe
Lane Merrifield
Janet Shaw

Bev Busson
Mel Kotler
Tom Landecker

Peter Haubrich
George and Trudy Heiss
Dorothy Tinning

Charles Armstrong
Robert Fine
Barbara Marchand

Jeanette Armstrong
Richard Cannings
Robert Cannings
Syd Cannings
Ken Harding

Ross Gorman
Lorraine McGrath
Ken Smedley

Albert Baldeo
Mike Roberts
Lois Serwa


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

2020 Distinguished Service Award Recipient

Brooks began her career at the College teaching business courses in 1981. In the late 1990s she was instrumental in the development of the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree program, now a cornerstone for the College.

After 20 years in the classroom, she became the Dean of the Faculty of Adult and Continuing Education and then the first Dean of the Okanagan School of Business when it was formed in 2005, positions she held for 10 years. She also served as OC’s inaugural Director of Learning and Teaching, before retiring in 2013.

Brooks first walked the halls of the College as a student in the Business Administration Diploma program in 1974, graduating in 1976.

Her studies at OC sparked a lifetime of continued education, including an MBA from McMaster University, a PhD in Education from the University of Texas, Austin, and an MEd in College Administrative Leadership from Simon Fraser University. In addition, she is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and has been honoured as a Fellow of the organization, an FCPA, in recognition of her exceptional service to her community and the profession of accounting.

Brooks was one of the founding members of the Okanagan College Alumni Association (OCAA) and its first President, and was the first recipient of the association’s Distinguished Alumni Award – it’s highest honour – in 2002.

Watch Jayne's video message   Read full news release

Former Dean of Business Dr. Jayne Brooks

Previous Distinguished Service Award Recipients

Okanagan University College Honorary Doctorates

Katy Bindon
William Bowering
Roy Brown
Rowland Grant
Mike Harcourt
Ronald Jeffels
Tom Kerr

Graham Smith
Miho Steinberg
Guy Tousignant
Steven Tuck
Norman Walker
Peter Williams

Arthur Carty
Andrea Deakin
Lambert Schmalz
Alison Smith
Gerry Zimmermann
James English
D. Ross Fitzpatrick
Thomas Foord
Jack Whyte
Daphne Odjig
Patricia Proudfoot
Mary Louie
Harry McWatters
Tony Onley
John Woodowrth
Roger Ames
Stephen Cannings
Vicki Gabereau
John Thomson
Charles Fipke

Okanagan University College Distinguished Service Award Recipients

Graham Bruce
Gary Mellor
Alex Recsky