Okanagan College Foundation

Saige Girouard smiling in front of the Indigenous garden.

Gratitude Report


Your impact on students: by the numbers


in emergency funding


disbursed to students


awards to 477 students


new award funds created

Year in review



Total revenue


student support


capital projects


program support

RBC and AO support hands-on entrepreneurship

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and Accelerate Okanagan (AO) are supporting the development of an innovative program that will teach hands-on entrepreneurial and business skills.

RBC is donating $50,000 from its Future Launch initiative and AO is giving $15,000 along with connections to their community.

The Experiential Entrepreneurship program will launch in 2023 and see business students design, plan, launch and run their own businesses.

Friesen family gives to health-care education

A decades-long connection to Okanagan College and a desire to give back to community is inspiring a $150,000 donation by the Friesen family to the Our Students, Your Health campaign. 

This gift comes from Rod and Dianne Friesen and their two sons, Shawn and Jason and their families.

Students expanding boundaries

This year tested us all in different ways. Hear from students on how your support is helping them turn challenges into opportunities. . . 

Saige Girouard

Saige Girouard standing in front of Indigenous garden

"In my second year of studies I connected with a classmate over our shared curiosity to learn more about our Indigenous backgrounds. I’m Métis, but my family didn’t practise Indigenous customs."

Ty Sideroff

Ty Sideroff standing in front of a cement wall.

"I have always been interested in our anatomy and exercising so I enrolled in OC’s Kinesiology Diploma program. My first year was going really well, then COVID-19 hit."

Lawren Richards

Lawren Richards stands smiling with her son in front of her straw bale home.

“I am a single mom to 17-year-old twins. We had been living in a 400-square-foot cabin about an hour from town when an opportunity came up that would allow me to purchase some land and build my own home closer to town and my kids’ school."

A gift to support health-care shortages

They are the ones who support patients with personal care and attention. Licensed Practical Nurses and Health Care Assistants are at the heart of patient care but they are also critically short in supply. This is why a Kelowna couple are choosing to support these professions today and for decades to come.

John and Monica Shantz have set up two bursary funds that will support students in the Health Care Assistant or Practical Nursing programs. One of these funds is a legacy gift that will benefit students for generations.

“We hope it will be a great thing for the students personally and for the community,” says John. 

“There is a need for the people in the fields we’ve chosen to support and we wanted to make a contribution that can impact our community as a whole.”

The Shantzs add that supporting students who are working on the frontlines of health care means a lot to them.

John and Monica Shantz standing outside of the Health Sciences Centre.

We think the practical, hands-on care from people working in these fields is so important and something we’ve benefited from personally,” says Monica. “We are grateful for the care we’ve received and we wanted to pay it forward.”

You supported students during an uncertain time

Message from the Chair and Executive Director

This past year challenged all of us including you our donors to adapt. In the months that followed the initial lockdown we had to get comfortable with, and gain insights from, new ways of thinking and doing.

The student stories we highlight in this gratitude report demonstrate the best of this ideal. While these stories are not all related to the pandemic, they are examples and indeed a celebration of our ability to get through difficult or doubtful moments and come away with a new appreciation of our abilities and maybe even a desire to inspire change.

Your continued support during the pandemic made the transition easier for students as they faced financial uncertainties and anxiety associated with a very different learning environment. Thank you for all that you do.

Your unwavering support helped raise $4 million towards our $5 million fundraising goal for the new Health Sciences Centre. With the Centre opening this fall, we’re hopeful we can raise the remaining funds and ensure students have access to the very best facilities and

equipment when they return to face-to-face learning in September.

We recognize that the tragic confirmations from former residential schools have been difficult for the survivors, families and Indigenous communities across the region, province and country.

We are committed to continue working with, learning from and listening to Indigenous communities, and engaging community
to support our Indigenous learners and employees. Saige’s story is an example of the role post-secondary can play in supporting Indigenous learners.

As we look ahead, we are grateful to you our community. Your support made a difference to students in an uncertain time and they are making a difference to our community.

Helen Jackman                                                              Gladys Fraser
Executive Director                                                      Chair
Okanagan College Foundation                             Okanagan College Foundation

Making education accessible for all

Jim Hamilton’s association with Okanagan College spans 41 years, during which time he has held various positions including professor, board member, administrator and, for the last 16 years, president.

A key passion for Jim has been improving education for all, and during his time as president the College saw a fourfold increase in the number of Indigenous learners.

Jim officially retired March 31, 2021 and in recognition of his contribution to post-secondary education locally, provincially and nationally, Okanagan College and the Okanagan College Foundation, along with donors, established the Hamilton Recognition Award Fund.

The $40,000 fund will support Indigenous learners in any program and campus, a purpose Hamilton wholeheartedly supports. The first recipients will be selected in Fall 2021.

Image of a student smiling

To read the Annual Report in full, please click here.