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Vernon's North Okanagan Hospice Society is looking for public input on its Hospice at Home program

Hospice seeking input

North Okanagan Hospice Society is looking for public input on Hospice at Home care delivery.

The NOHS is seeking community feedback on the project that aims to enhance end-of-life care through collaboration and community involvement.

NOHS is planning to use its expertise to provide palliative end-of-life services within the client’s home, so they can better serve the needs of the community.

Three-quarters of Canadians say they want to die in their homes, yet just 15 per cent manage to do so, according to a 2018 report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

NOHS is looking for individuals in the community to take part in focus group who have experienced living with a life-limiting or palliative diagnosis, or being a family member of a person who has died an expected death in the past 36 months, at home, in hospital or in hospice.

“The information we gather from these individuals will help inform our direction with this important initiative for end-of-life care in the North Okanagan,” NOHS Executive Director Lisa Matthews said.

Developing “Hospice at Home” was identified as a key priority in the NOHS five-year strategic plan.

Potential participants may contact NOHS at [email protected].



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Cultural Immersion Elementary School will allow Okanagan Indian Band to teach children about their history

'Our history, our language'

For the first time in generations, the Okanagan Indian Band will be able to teach their children, their history.

A ground-breaking ceremony was held Thursday to officially start construction of the new OKIB Cultural Immersion Elementary School. When complete, the new facility will provide a safe and inclusive learning environment where students can embrace the Sqilxw language and culture as well as all forms of academic success.

Chief Byron Louis said the new school “means everything” to the band of 2,200 people.

“We will be able to teach our history, our language to our children,” Louis said. “A lot of people fail to realize there are thousands of years of history. We need to teach our people, our history.”

Louis said the OKIB had three day schools on its land, but the main purpose of those was to keep children out of the residential school system.

“We were doing it to try and keep our children in our communities, but we weren't absolutely successful,” Louis said. “They would control the curriculum and they would never educate our people beyond the third grade.”

OKIB member Bill Cohen has been a proponent of the school for years and the vital role it will play in the future of the North Okanagan community.

“Schooling hasn't been very good for our people. Residential schools and day schools were places where our own knowledge was not allowed,” Cohen said. “With our own school, we can change that, where our kids have a place to speak our language and learn our own knowledge that has been here for thousands of years. They will have access to all of the world knowledge too.”

The new school will replace the aging and outgrown cultural immersion school building with seven classrooms, gymnasium, library, kitchen, language, culture and administration areas to support the OKIB in expanding a culturally appropriate learning environment for the community's kindergarten to Grade 7 students.

Working in partnership with the community, the Government of Canada has committed $19.3 million to this important school project. The Okanagan Indian Band will contribute $2.85 million.

The new Okanagan Indian Band Cultural Immersion School is expected to open for students in September 2025.

“At the heart of our traditions, we Syilx nurture the roots of wisdom. Our Cultural Immersion School — nk?maplqs i? snm?am?ay?a?tn i? k?l sqilx?t?t — is a place where heritage becomes the compass guiding future leaders on a journey of knowledge, respect, and unity,” Louis said.



Vernon's Historic O'Keefe Ranch presenting old-fashioned melodrama

Dastardly deeds at O'Keefe

Handsome Mounties, long lost fathers, fur smugglers and dastardly deeds will take centre stage at Vernon's Historic O'Keefe Ranch.

The Canadian comedy Black Deeds in Whitehorse, or Trapped in the Yukon, is an old-fashioned melodrama set in 1890s Yukon, where love and betrayal run as deep as the snow.

Audience members should come prepared to boo the villain, cheer the hero and sigh for the heroine in this family-friendly, audience participatory, one-of-a-kind dining experience.

The production takes place in the O'Keefe Ranch Saloon and includes a catered meal, with liquor for purchase, as well as complementary popcorn for throwing at the villain.

Show times are March 8 and 9, and March 15 to 24 at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are $60 per person and include all fees and taxes.



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Greater Vernon Advisory Committee agrees to commit $1M for next stage of cultural centre

$1M for cultural centre

A $1 million commitment has been made by the Regional District of North Okanagan to the Greater Vernon Cultural Centre project.

The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee voted Wednesday to move forward with the next stage of design right away.

It’ll require a $1 million commitment from the RDNO, which is expected to come from a number of still-to-come grants and will be backstopped by reserves.

“Recognizing, as it’s stated, that the reserves are the backup to the sources actually mentioned in the motion,” said GVAC Chair Bob Fleming.

The next stage of design will include pre-construction costing, and geotechnical and environmental assessments.

Staff also informed the committee the project increases $167,000 for every month beyond its target construction dates.

“We anticipate we're going to incur additional costs because of inflation,” said RDNO staff. “If we move faster, we can hope to hold those tighter and perhaps see some of that reduced.”

The cultural centre is currently expected to cost $41.9 million. $28 million has been approved for borrowing, and the remaining $13.9 million is to come from a combination of senior-level government grants, foundation contributions, and community fundraising.

The RDNO itself has committed $900,000 for the project from its provincial grant under the Growing Communities Fund.

The RDNO and its fundraising partners aim to have the remainder of the required funding by July 2024.



Greater Vernon BC Winter Games Legacy Fund now taking applications for grant money

Games money up for grabs

Applications are now being accepted for the Greater Vernon BC Winter Games Legacy Fund.

Local sport organizations and community initiatives in the Greater Vernon area are invited to apply for a portion of $200,000 in grant money.

The Legacy Fund is earmarked for projects that will carry on the legacy of the games and positively impact the Greater Vernon community for years to come.

The deadline for applications is March 10.

“I am so proud of how our community stepped up and pulled together to give participants the experience of a lifetime, but the celebration is not over yet,” said Nicky Dunlop, president of the Greater Vernon BC Winter Games.

“Our legacy committee is ready to accept applications and looks forward to hearing about all of the projects that will further impact our community in a positive and ongoing way.”

The fund was made possible through cash and in-kind donations from Friends of the Games and proceeds from the sale of Games merchandise.

The Greater Vernon BC Winter Games took place from March 23 to 26 last year. More than 1,500 volunteers came together to put on a once-in-a-life-time experience for more than 1,000 participants from every corner of British Columbia.



Coldstream residents have a chance to comment on the district's long-term financial plan.

Budget up for review

Residents will have a chance to comment on the District of Coldstream's long-term financial plan.

The 2024-28 Financial Plan Bylaw is available for public viewing and consultation on the district’s website or for pick up at the Coldstream Municipal Office, 9901 Kalamalka Rd.

In-person consultation opportunities are being offered March 5 and 8 from 3 until 7 p.m. at the Coldstream Municipal Office.

Anyone who would like to provide written comment on the proposed bylaw can do so by emailing [email protected].

Comments must be submitted no later than March 11 at 4 p.m.



Michael Rodine will be in Vernon court on Feb. 29 on numerous charges surrounding a fatal crash

Rodine back in court

A Vernon man facing multiple charges in a deadly crash that killed two people will be back in a Vernon courtroom later this month.

Michael Rodine is charged with two counts of criminal negligence causing death, two counts of causing death while driving with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit, and two counts of impaired driving causing death.

Rodine will be in Supreme Court Feb. 29 for that purpose and to confirm the election of being tried by a Supreme Court judge without a jury.

The head-on collision resulted in the death of two grandparents on vacation in the Okanagan from Vancouver.

The crash happened in the early morning hours of Aug. 5, 2022, on Highway 97 near the Vernon Cadet Training Centre.



Trial for men accused of Lumby home invasion, shooting opens without one accused

Trial opens without accused

The BC Supreme Court trial for two men accused of a home invasion robbery at gunpoint in Lumby in the fall of 2019 will continue even though one of the men failed to show.

Justice Gibb-Carlsey is proceeding without Stewart Wayne Tkachuk and considers the accused to have “deliberately absconded” from his own trial. On Tuesday, court heard how Tkachuk's electronic monitoring bracelet was found on a Vernon road and appears to have been cut off.

Tkachuk stands co-accused with Edward Scott Coghill on eight separate charges stemming from an alleged robbery on Dure Meadow Rd. on Sept. 18, 2019.

During Crown Counsel’s opening address, Brock Bellrichard told the judge he will be submitting evidence to prove the two men are responsible for breaking into a home while wearing masks, tying up the couple inside, and robbing them before shooting them both.

Bellrichard plans to submit photo and video evidence from the victim’s visit to the hospital after the ordeal.

One photo shows a blue piece of plastic that was removed from the male victim’s chest after he was treated for a suspected gunshot wound.

According to the BC Prosecution Service the two men are charged with the following eight offences:

  • breaking and entering a dwelling house and committing robbery therein
  • robbery with a firearm
  • discharging a firearm at two people with intent to wound, maim or disfigure them
  • intentionally discharging a firearm into or at a place, knowing or being reckless as to whether another person was present, or while being reckless as to the life or safety of another person
  • having their face masked with intent to commit an indictable offence
  • unlawful confinement
  • aggravated assault
  • unlicensed possession of a firearm

Tkachuk is also charged with possessing a firearm while being prohibited from doing so and could face additional charges after not showing up for his trial.

Coghill pleaded "not guilty" to all charges in court on Wednesday while Tkachuk pleaded "not guilty" during a December 2023 court appearance.

During the seven remaining days of the trial, the court is expected to hear testimony from a DNA expert, police involved in the case, and both victims.



RDNO to discuss increased operating grants for Vernon area not-for-profits

Grants up for discussion

Arts and culture societies in the Greater Vernon area could be getting increased funds from the Regional District of North Okanagan.

Operating grant increases will be up for discussion at the RDNO’s board meeting on Wednesday.

A staff report is recommending directors approve funding increases for the Arts Council of the North Okanagan, the Vernon Public Art Gallery, Gallery Vertigo, Allan Brooks Nature Centre, and BGC Okanagan. The report also recommends “the RDNO enter into multi-year funding agreements with all not-for-profit organizations receiving annual operating grants; and further,

“That requests exceeding the amounts within the multi-year funding agreements be referred to the subsequent agreement renewal."

RDNO says the benefit of having multi-year funding agreements is mutual. It would allow the RDNO to complete a review of the goals and budgets of organizations, and the position of RDNO grants within that plan.

“This will also provide a mechanism within which to measure success of the public investment — are the goals that were set, achieved within that planning period — allowing the RDNO to consider the next term of funding with this performance in mind.”

RDNO says entering multi-year funding agreements would benefit organizations planning and sustainability.

“Having documented and committed annual funding can better allow the organization to leverage the annual grant from other funders, or plan for changes to the organizations operations that have been built into the plan for the term,” reads the report.

RDNO already has an established multi-year funding agreement with the Arts Council of the North Okanagan, it also has an expired agreement with BGC Okanagan which could be renewed.

The Vernon Public Art Gallery, Gallery Vertigo and Allan Brooks Nature Society are all without multi-year funding agreements.

The arts council has requested an 8.3 per cent increase from its 2023 grant for a total of $267,226 in 2024. The public art gallery requested $260,000 in 2024, which would be a 12 per cent increase over 2023.

Both Gallery Vertigo and Allan Brooks Nature Centre have requested additional $10,000 to make their respective 2024 grant’s total $30,000.

An increase to the BGC’s annual funding has already been tentatively approved by the board for an additional increase of $4,400, or 5 per cent. Read the full report here.



Enderby will know on March 9 if it is a finalist in the 2024 Kraft Hockeyville contest

Waiting game for Enderby

And now we wait.

The nomination period for the 2024 Kraft Hockeyville contest has closed and the final four will be announced March 9.

And organizers are hoping Enderby will be one of them as their arena is in desperate need of upgrades.

Kaylee Wells has been helping to organize the nomination process and said the North Okanagan community received 299 nominations, 486 pictures and 428 notes which go towards total points that are used by the selection committee.

Wells said there were more than 3,000 nominations for communities across Canada.

The winning community will receive $250,000 for arena upgrades and will host an NHL pre-season game.

Three runner-up communities will receive $25,000 each.

Wells said there is no way of telling exactly how Enderby stacked up against other communities, but she is optimistic of the results.

“We were sort of tracking communities that we thought were the top leaders of it and we feel we were one of the leaders in Canada,” she said. “We are not sure we made it to the top four, but we are hopeful.”

Wells said should Enderby win the contest, they hope to leverage the prize money into other grants for the arena.

“We've had lots of support from surrounding communities,” Well said, adding the arena serves not only Enderby, but surrounding communities like Splatsin and outlying areas.

Following the nomination period, the winner of the final will be decided by the number overall votes they collect during the final phase of the contest.

The City of Enderby closed its arena for the season last month because of a problem with the refrigeration system.

A sudden increase in corrosion inside of the refrigeration system has led to a build-up of sediment affecting one of its critical components.

As a result, brine circulation pumps are drawing air into the system. If left unchecked, this causes deterioration in the system.



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