Okanagan College welcomes new Associate Director, Indigenization

By Michelle Lowry | October 17, 2022

Rhea Dupuis
Rhea Dupuis, Associate Director, Indigenization

Okanagan College is pleased to welcome Rhea Dupuis, x̌ʷnámx̌ʷnəm, as the College’s first Associate Director, Indigenization. Rhea, from the Syilx Okanagan Nation and a member of the Penticton Indian Band, brings more than 20 years experience to OC, working in both public and Indigenous education systems, as well as with mental health and wellness organizations.

Rhea’s traditional name is x̌ʷnámx̌ʷnəm, a Syilx name which means Hummingbird.

“I am both thrilled and grateful that Rhea has chosen to share her wisdom, skills and experience with us by joining our team at Okanagan College,” said Dr. Neil Fassina, president. “In her years working in regions across B.C., Rhea has led by example in listening, learning and building relationships that are dedicated to improving services and access to education for Indigenous communities. Her commitment is aligned to OC’s pledge to work toward Reconciliation and to incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing and being into all that we do.”

Most recently, Rhea served as principal of the Penticton Indian Band (PIB) Education Centre, where she oversaw high school and adult education programming. In this role Rhea collaborated with partners including those at the Indigenous Higher Learning Association and the First Nations Education Committee/First Nations Education School Association. Prior to that, Rhea worked as a school counsellor with the PIB and with School District #67, and as an Aboriginal mental health clinician with the B.C. Ministry of Children and Families Development.

“I have a strong belief that education is key to the work that needs to be done to bring awareness to Truth and Reconciliation and the healing journey for Indigenous communities,” said Rhea. “My passion is to help others and as I step into this brand-new role at Okanagan College, I look forward to building relationships that will lead to positive changes as together we support students in their lifelong learning.”

Rhea holds a Master’s degree in Indigenous Counselling Psychology/Education Leadership Studies, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Child and Youth Care, both from the University of Victoria. Among her other achievements, she is a proud OC alum having graduated in 1996 from the Education Assistant Certificate program at the Penticton campus.

As Associate Director, Indigenization, Rhea will support OC’s leadership to embed Indigenous world views and ways of knowing and being through the College’s strategic plan, priority projects and ongoing initiatives. The Associate Director will also work with community leaders and partners, building relationships and connections that contribute to OC’s academic programming and student services.

Rhea’s first day will be November 21, 2022.



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