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Campus Life - Okanagan

From brownies and Bundt cakes to running water in India

Women and children in the village of Jangala Kottalu are used to carrying water to their part of the village. Now, thanks to the dessert buffet organized by students in UBC’s Residence Association they have fresh water from a new well.

Women and children in the village of Jangala Kottalu are used to carrying water to their part of the village. Now, thanks to the dessert buffet organized by students in UBC’s Residence Association they have fresh water from a new well.

Students organize fund-raiser dessert buffet to build a well in Andhra Pradesh

It was the case of two opposites: the decadence of dessert and a village in India with no clean water.

For a group of students from UBC’s Okanagan campus, the idea of desserts — all rich and creamy and gooey — was the perfect way to raise money to build a well for that village of 250 residents. Third-year sociology student and student residence advisor Raman Rajwan, loves to bake and wanted to find a purpose for all that good food.

“One of the major social issues in our world is the lack of clean drinking water,” says Rajwan. “I really wanted to motivate my residents to be the change in the world and I wanted to put my passion of making cupcakes to good use.”

During the academic year, there are about 1,700 resident students at UBC’s Okanagan campus and Residence Life manager Ned Gallagher says advisors work to iron out wrinkles of student life and to enrich their experience living on campus.

“There are lots of aspects to Residence Life including engaging students during those first few weeks of transition to university life, and initiatives surrounding diversity, mental health, academics, and community engagement,” says Gallagher. “This year, it was the well in India.”

Rajwan worked with a group to organize the fund-raiser dessert buffet. Students planned the event, sold tickets, and made more than 50 desserts like KitKat-Nutella cakes and pink lemonade cupcakes, raising $950 at the February event.

Now they can see the fruits of their labour. Gallagher says the money was presented to Sopar International, a non-profit, non-government organization that works to support development in India’s poor communities. A well, in the village of Jangala Kottalu, Andhra Pradesh, was opened this spring.

“We have nine residence buildings and a multitude of units and we try to engage the students as much as possible,” Gallagher says. “The dessert buffet is the perfect example of everything coming together with a positive outcome for those involved and the end result of a working well in India.”

A small sampling of the decadent desserts made by UBC students as a fundraiser for the well in India.

A small sampling of the decadent desserts made by UBC students as a fundraiser for the well in India.



Two Okanagan College students help local tech company gain a competitive edge

Okanagan College Media Release

Youry K July 2014An Okanagan College professor has been awarded a federal research grant that will help a growing Kelowna gaming company and provide three students valuable experience in Kelowna’s competitive tech market.

Currently two students Trevor Alstad and Riley Dunkin, in the Bachelor of Computer Information Systems program, have already started working on the project studying ways to monitor and optimize the game services of Kelowna-based technology company WTFast. They are working under the direction of project supervisor and Okanagan College Computer Science professor Dr. Youry Khmelevsky.

The research is being funded through a College and Community Program Innovation grant of $24,990 from Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). It is the first NSERC grant the College has received.

“The grant will subsidize the first step in the design, construction and testing of a new layer of game server software, which will take six months,” says Dr. Khmelevsky.

“When technology companies have a bottleneck in service they usually add servers to compensate, but adding extra hardware to the pool is not always optimal because they unnecessarily consume power, human resources and money,” he says.

To help solve this problem, Alstad and Dunkin will be studying how to improve performance between gamers’ workstations and WTFast’s game server clusters without adding costly infrastructure.

“It’s one thing to learn something in class but another when you have to apply it in a live scenario, and fix problems in real time. It takes what I’ve learned to a whole other level,” says Alstad.

This project is just another example of the College commitment to industry-relevant applied learning.

“Applied Research and innovation continues to be an important element for students and employees at Okanagan College regularly,” says Okanagan College’s Vice President of Education, Andrew Hay.

“Whether our students are involved in projects with local companies or our employees gaining external funds to assist with product and business development, Okanagan College is committed to aiding innovation and helping local industry. This is one of the many ways that the College helps create more career opportunities in the Okanagan,” he says.

WTFast CEO Robert Bartlett agrees.

“We always seize the opportunity to partner with the College because these projects help us develop local talent, hopefully hire them after graduation, and ultimately build the tech industry in the Okanagan,” says Bartlett.

“The resulting software will make it much easier for WTFast’s customers to combine and optimize resources from different providers and will be a great marketing opportunity for both WTFast, and the College’s Bachelor of Computer Information Systems degree program,” says Dr. Khmelevsky.

Rhonda Draper to receive Excellence in Teaching Award

Educator to be feted at 25th anniversary celebration for Faculty of Education

Rhonda Draper

Rhonda Draper, inaugural recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award, presented by the Faculty of Education at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

Rhonda Draper from Kelowna has been announced as the recipient of the first Excellence in Teaching Award presented by the Faculty of Education at UBC’s Okanagan campus. Draper will be recognized at the 25th anniversary celebration dinner on July 26, 2014.

The award was created to recognize the exceptional teaching inside and outside of the classroom to highlight the remarkable educators in the valley. Draper receives a $2,000 cash prize and a sculpture created by local Okanagan artist Ede Axelson.

“I am honoured to be receiving the inaugural award,” says Draper. “Like my colleagues, I strive each day to nurture and develop Canada’s most precious resource – our children.”

Draper, who is a music specialist at École Glenmore Elementary, is a Governor General’s award-winning teacher who brings 24 years of teaching experience to her Okanagan classroom.

“It is our pleasure to recognize and celebrate Rhonda Draper’s outstanding contributions to the Okanagan community,” says Susan Crichton, director of the Faculty of Education. “She represents the remarkable dedication and exemplary practice for which we created this award.”

Nominators emphasized Draper’s passion as an educator and as a community leader, acknowledging her successful strategies for integrating the arts across a variety of subjects.

Draper is lauded as the creator of the award-winning stage musical “How Canada Came to Be,” which teaches Canadian history through Canadian folk songs. She was the winner of the Okanagan Arts Award for Education, and is president of the Central Okanagan Music Education Association.

A former TEDxKelowna speaker, Draper founded Month of Love at the Global Citizen Conference, a tool which teaches social compassion which has raised more than $50,000 for humanitarian aid. Draper is currently studying her master of arts with the Faculty of Education.



Ghana children’s verbal stories turned into school books

Students page through one of the books they created

Students page through one of the books they created.

Folk tales come to life in print thanks to team of UBC teacher candidates 

Verbal stories, handed down for generations, are now published in school books in Ghana, thanks to a group of students from UBC’s Okanagan campus.

The seven illustrated books were produced by Nabit children in the village of Bolgatanga, in the Upper East Region of Ghana, with the help of Faculty of Education teacher candidates.

The project is part of PhD student Cindy Bourne’s research exploring the design principles of global service-learning projects. Education students Jessica Bens, Holly Corbett, Meghan Epp, Alisha Hoy, Dorothy Marcy, Stephen MacInnis, and Sara Pereira worked with junior high school students in Bolgatanga to choose, illustrate, and write the folklore for the storybooks.

“Reading stories to children is one of our society's greatest pleasures and it has lasting impact—opening doors to imagination, learning, and a love of literature,” says Bourne. “Providing relevant books that reflect their unique culture and the artistic talent of their young people was an honour and an experience that the teacher candidates will never forget.”

The Nabit are a proud people with a rich culture, explains Bourne. Much of the economy is subsistence farming, the region is one of the poorest in Ghana, and there are many challenges in providing education and resources. In the Nabdam school district, there are limited books available for children learning to read.  What books are accessible are often donated from overseas, and while helpful, are often not culturally relevant.

The UBC students worked with two local junior high schools, taking seven local stories and creating English versions, English being the official language in Ghana. The students provided colourful images to go with the stories and translated the work into Nabit. The result is culturally relevant stories, says Bourne. And she describes the moment when community members opened the books for the first time as unforgettable.

Working closely with Ghana partners, Bourne and her doctoral supervisor Susan Crichton, developed the book project so it can provide Faculty of Education teacher candidates with an opportunity to use their knowledge in a meaningful way.  At the same time, they have helped increase English competency for high school students, and provide culturally relevant reading for primary students in Boglatanga.

Interest in the books is widespread across the Nabdam school district. Fundraising activities are underway both in Canada and in Ghana to ensure that copies of the books become available in the primary schools of Bolgatanga and there are plans for more books to be developed.

Meanwhile, UBC graduate student Robyn Giffen has dovetailed her research with the Faculty of Education’s book project. Giffen’s master’s research is creating a writing system for the Nabit people so they can begin to write in their own language as well as in English. Giffen is studying anthropology at UBC’s Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences and was in Ghana at the same time as the education students. Through the results of her research and the work of the local Nabit Language Committee, the books will also introduce some of the first Nabit words into print.

To view the books visit: http://issuu.com/ubcedo

On the day the books are delivered to Bolgatanga, students and villagers pore over their own colourful illustrations on the pages and read the words they helped translate.

On the day the books are delivered to Bolgatanga, students and villagers pore over their own colourful illustrations on the pages and read the words they helped translate.


UBC sponsors Canadian war literature world conference in Ottawa

Anderson Araujo, Nancy Holmes and Lisa Grekul

Anderson Araujo, Nancy Holmes and Lisa Grekul, seen here at the Okanagan Military Museum, will give presentations marking the 100th anniversary of the First World War at the Canadian War Museum during a conference from July 31 to August 2.

Renowned authors to speak about Canada’s First World War literary contributions

The University of British Columbia Okanagan, the University of Ottawa, and the Canadian War Museum are marking the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the “war to end all wars” with a conference on Canadian war literature and a distinguished speakers series in Ottawa, July 31 to August 2, 2014.

For nearly a century, Canada’s role in the First World War has elicited a range of critical and literary responses.  Academics, writers, and journalists are meeting for the Canadian Literature of World War One International Conference at the University of Ottawa to examine, debate, and celebrate this literature.

Three scholars from UBC’s Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies will make presentations at the conference:

  • Lisa Grekul, associate professor of English, will discuss the war-time internment of Ukrainians;
  • Anderson Araujo, assistant professor of English, will deliver a paper on the influence of jingoist poet Jesse Pope on poets of the war era;
  • Nancy Holmes, associate professor of creative writing and poetry, will talk about girls’ novelist Lucy Maud Montgomery and her war poetry.

“This conference and lecture series are a significant contribution to the upcoming anniversary assessments of the legacy of the Great War,” says Holmes.  “The conference aims to investigate Canada’s participation in the First World War from literary, aesthetic, critical, political, historical, cultural, and other perspectives.”

Margaret MacMillan

Author Margaret MacMillan gives a free lecture Friday August 1 at the Canadian War Museum.

In conjunction with the conference, drawing attendees from across the country and Europe, three distinguished speakers will give free public lectures.

  • Tim Cook, historian at the Canadian War Museum and author of several acclaimed books on both world wars, opens the series and the conference at 7 p.m., Thursday, July 31, at the Canadian War Museum with a talk, “Canada and the Commemoration of the Great War, 1918-2018.”  Cook’s books include Clio’s Warriors: Canadian Historians and the Writing of the World Wars and At the Sharp End: Canadians Fighting the Great War 1914-1916; Shock Troops: Canadians Fighting the Great War 1917-1918, which won the 2009 Charles Taylor Prize.
  • Friday, August 1’s lecture will be given by Margaret MacMillan, the Oxford University historian whose book Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World, became an international bestseller. In time for 100th anniversary of the First World War, her much-anticipated book about the origins of the war, The War that Ended Peace: The Road to 1914, has been recently published.  MacMillan’s talk, “The Great War in Literature,” is at 7 p.m., August 1, at the Canadian War Museum.
  • Saturday August 2’s talk is by novelist Frances Itani. She has written one of the most well-known contemporary novels concerning the First World War, Deafening. Her talk, “An Abyss of Awareness: A Novelist Writing About the Wars,” will be from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the University of Ottawa, Simard Hall, room 129. There will be a conference panel discussion of Itani’s work before her talk (registration fee is required for the talk.)

The authors’ books will be for sale at each event.

There will also be presentations on a variety of Canadian writers whose work covers the wartime period, including Joseph Boyden, Timothy Findley, Stephen Leacock, Charles Yale Harrison, and L.M. Montgomery, as well as papers on key issues such as memorials, trauma, journalism, and women during the war.

The conference is also open to the public but requires a registration fee. For registration and presentation details, visit: worldwaronelit.ca

For information about the conference and speakers’ series, please contact:

Nancy Holmes, UBC Okanagan, [email protected], 250-807-9369
Anderson Araujo, UBC Okanagan, [email protected] , 250-807-9589
David Staines, University of Ottawa, [email protected], 613-562-5800 ext. 1182


Vin-dulge at the Okanagan’s ultimate wine-food pairing course

Okanagan College Media Release

Wondering what food to serve with that Pinotage you picked up last weekend? Looking to plan your own wine tasting event this fall? ASensory Lab July 2014 new food and wine learning experience offers an unparalleled opportunity for enthusiasts to explore the bounty of the Okanagan Valley. 

The three-day program, called the Okanagan Wine and Food Intensive, runs from Friday, August 1, to Sunday, August 3, at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus.

“What better way to spend the long weekend than visiting wineries, meeting wine producers and learning about wine making, viticulture, cooking, and wine and food pairing with Okanagan’s top industry experts,” says Okanagan College’s Director of Food, Wine and Tourism, Jonathan Rouse.

Each day starts and ends at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus. Daily fieldtrips and transportation on a private Grape Escapes tour company bus, seasonal Okanagan lunches, and sensory wine and food education sessions are all included in the Okanagan Wine and Food Intensive learning experience. 

“Everyone from wine and food novices to passionate oenophiles will enjoy this course,” says Erin Korpisto, Wine Studies Instructor at Okanagan College and one of the hosts of the Wine and Food Intensive.

It promises to be a fun-filled exploration of the Okanagan wine region and a rare chance to interact with the region’s top wine and food producers in an intimate setting.”

Joining Korpisto as instructors for the weekend are Okanagan wine experts French-trained Viticulturist Penelope Roche, and Chef, Sommelier and Winemaker Jay Drysdale. 

The course runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day leaving participants the evening to explore the multitude of restaurants and events taking place at area wineries and restaurants at their leisure.

At the end of the weekend, participants will receive a Certificate of Completion and handbook of tip sheets, tasting notes and recipes to supplement their wine-food pairing experience at home.

The cost for the three-day Okanagan Wine and Food Intensive is $630. For more details and to register, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/fwtcourses or call 1-866-510-8899.

Canada West defers decision to add football at UBC Okanagan

UBC Okanagan Heat logo

Delay to expand campus athletics due to league’s pending strategic review

A strategic review by the Canada West Universities Athletics Association (Canada West) has put on hold the possibility of adding varsity football to UBC’s Okanagan campus.

At its annual general meeting in May, Canada West placed a moratorium on new membership applications and on existing members applying to add teams to league sports. The moratorium was put in place to bring stability to the membership and sport structure to allow the members and the staff time to complete a strategic planning process while contemplating future growth. Canada West expects the moratorium to be lifted once this process is complete. While Canada West has not set a strict timeline, it is hoped that the process will be completed in 12 to 15 months.

“Canada West has undergone unprecedented growth over the past several years increasing its member institution numbers from 11 to 17, with relative increases in the participation of many of its league sports,” says UBC Okanagan Director of Athletics and Recreation Rob Johnson. “This growth brings significant challenges as members and the Association itself work to find ways to develop equitable schedules, re-organize resources and determine a sustainable plan for the future.”

Caught in this moratorium is a possible application from UBC Okanagan regarding football. The Okanagan Sun and UBC Okanagan have explored the idea of fielding a team in Canada West. While no formal agreement between the two organizations has been reached, discussions were progressing at the time the moratorium was announced.

"We are not yet in a position to make formal application to Canada West, as there are still a number of issues to be negotiated between UBC and the Sun," says Johnson. "The moratorium is not a huge set-back at this time. In fact, the time frame Canada West suggests falls roughly in line with our thoughts on the earliest time we would be in position to submit an application."

Sun President Paul Carson is disappointed by this delay in the process but feels it can provide more time to ensure a successful application process.

“We have spent a lot of time and energy on this project and intend on seeing it through to the end regardless of delays,” says Carson. “The Okanagan Sun are still very excited about the possibility of bringing CIS football to the Okanagan Valley and UBC and the feedback from the community has been very positive.”

Discussions between UBC Okanagan and the Sun continue.


Summer literary institute gives insider perspective on writing, editing

Free public lectures offer useful tips to budding authors and editors

Paul Seesequasis

Paul Seesequasis gives a public talk on Wednesday July 23 at UBCO on the topic, Throwing Sticks at the Queen’s Hat: Mediating Indigenous Works from Big Bear to Boyden.

Ever wonder about the nuts and bolts that go into the writing, editing and publishing of a literary work?

Editing Modernism: Creative and Critical Remediations, a five-day Textual Editing and Modernism in Canada (TEMiC) Summer Institute at UBC’s Okanagan campus, offers the opportunity for writers and editors to learn all that and more from July 21 to 25.

As an added feature to the scholarly proceedings, a series of five expert lectures are free and open to the public during the institute.

Student participants of Creative and Critical Remediations will be introduced to the foundations of editorial theory and will learn from expert-led discussions while they acquire skills to identify and assess digital tools for editing.

Institute directors Karis Shearer, assistant professor of English in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at UBC Okanagan and Dean Irvine, associate professor of English at Dalhousie University and director of Editing Modernism in Canada, will lead participants through an intensive study of contemporary editorial theory from Canada and abroad.

Not only will the TEMiC Summer Institute bring participants from as far away as Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec to UBC Okanagan for intensive training in the theory and practice of editing, it also offers the public an opportunity to attend five talks on editing by major scholars in the field, says Shearer.

“Anyone who’s interested in Canadian literature, or curious about what goes on behind the production a print or digital book – the hard decisions that are made long before it arrives on the bookshelf or on your e-reader – is likely to find these talks intriguing.”

The public talk series explores writings of renowned authors; discusses the how-to of editing; mediating Indigenous literature; offers insight into the work of those who “make” literature at the edge of mainstream institutions; and explains the world of audio editing for literary works.

The public talks take place each day of the institute from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in University Theatre, ADM026. Pay parking is available and registration is not necessary. Topics include:

  • Monday, July 21
    UBC Okanagan Assistant Professor Jordan Stouck and Simon Fraser University Professor Emeritus David Stouck, Finding Sinclair Ross: Editors at Work. Canadian modernist author Sinclair Ross’ edited letters and writings are discussed for their relevance and meaning.
  • Tuesday, July 22
    Susan Brown, Remediating the Editor. Renowned for her work in digital humanities, with academic appointments at the University of Alberta and University of Guelph, Brown offers insights into the roles of writers and editors.
  • Wednesday, July 23
    Paul Seesequasis, Throwing Sticks at the Queen’s Hat: Mediating Indigenous Words from Big Bear to Boyden. Seesequasis, editor-in-chief of Theytus Books, Canada’s first Aboriginal press, discusses Indigenous literature from the perspective of both historic figures like Big Bear to today’s authors, like Joseph Boyden.
  • Thursday, July 24
    Kaplan Harris, Adjuncts, Interns and DIY Poetry Tradition. An associate professor with Bonaventure University and a Fulbright Visiting Research Chair at Brock University, Harris offers insight into the work of those who “make” literature at the edge of mainstream institutions.
  • Friday, July 25
    Miriam Nichols, The Astonishment Tapes: Translating the Archives. Nichols, an associate professor at the University of the Fraser Valley, talks about editing the audio tapes of Vancouver author Robin Blaser into book form.

The full schedule of public events can be found at: http://editingmodernism.ca/training/training-institutes/temic/schedule/

For further information contact: [email protected]

TEMiC Summer Institute on Twitter: @TEMIC_UBCO


UBC partnership with Mitacs brings business developer to Interior

Jennifer Tedman-Jones

Jennifer Tedman-Jones is the Okanagan director of business development for Mitacs, a national, not-for-profit training and research organization.

University-industry collaborations will be promoted across the region

UBC is partnering with Mitacs, a national, not-for-profit training and research organization, to locate a business development specialist on the Okanagan campus.

This week Jennifer Tedman-Jones began work to promote university-industry collaboration in the Interior, including through Mitacs research and training programs. Tedman-Jones comes to UBC from the University of Waterloo, continuing in the role of director of business development with Mitacs.

Mitacs provides services to both industry and university faculty with a focus on developing research-based linkages. Mitacs offers a suite of research and training programs, such as Mitacs Accelerate, which connects local industries to top graduate students and post-doctoral fellows over the course of a minimum four-month co-funded research project. The internships provide students the opportunity to transfer their skills from theory to application.

Based at UBC Okanagan, Tedman-Jones will support the Okanagan campus’ promotion of innovation and economic development in the Interior in collaboration with Thompson Rivers University, the University of Northern British Columbia and Okanagan College.

“The partnership between Mitacs and UBC Okanagan is an exciting development for the region,” says Deborah Buszard, deputy-vice chancellor and principal. “I look forward to seeing the connections between the University and the community grow and I expect students who take part in Mitacs training programs will find enhanced opportunities for skills development, as well as increased employability.”

Gordon Binsted, vice-principal research, also expressed enthusiasm for the arrival of a Mitacs specialist on campus. “UBC Okanagan has rapidly growing capacity for excellent research with activities increasing annually,” says Binsted. “Having a Mitacs specialist on campus will further UBC’s robust research connections with the community and I look forward to working with Jennifer to broaden UBC’s impact.”

Tedman-Jones can be reached at [email protected].

UBC Okanagan is one of four institutions celebrating the arrival of a Mitacs business developer on campus. Further information can be found at: http://www.mitacs.ca/n/2014/07/mitacs-announces-strategic-rd-partnership-initiative-universities-alberta-british-columbia


UBC professor named observer for UN session to end racism

Margo Tamez, third from right, walks along the Texas-Mexico border wall near the community of El Calaboz, with Lipan Apache elders, law students of the University of Texas Law Human Rights Clinic, and documentarians. Photo by Clemente Guzman

Margo Tamez, third from right, walks along the Texas-Mexico border wall near the community of El Calaboz, with Lipan Apache elders, law students of the University of Texas Law Human Rights Clinic, and documentarians. Photo by Clemente Guzman

Margo Tamez’s research into Aboriginal rights includes Texas treaty claims

A UBC researcher has been named an official observer by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) 85th Session in Geneva, Switzerland, next month.

Margo Tamez, an assistant professor of Indigenous studies in department of Community, Cultural and Global Studies in the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences at UBC’s Okanagan campus, will participate in the session from August 11 to 15.

Tamez, who has extensively researched Aboriginal rights in the U.S., contributed to a major brief to the Early Warning/Early Action procedure of the CERD body in 2012 which will be reviewed at the 85th session. Her research focuses on Indigenous rights claims by the Lipan Apache from Texas. The claims include lack of consultation, free prior and informed consent, mass dispossession, and non-recognition of treaty obligations.

In addition to the session on racial discrimination, Tamez will attend a session of another treaty body, the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

“It is a special honour and exciting opportunity to be invited to sit in on CEDAW’s session and observe their work,” says Tamez.

“My participation in this one-day training of the CEDAW opens opportunities to analyze further the gendered dimensions of the Lipan Apache case,” says Tamez.  “My co-authors (law professor Ariel Dulitzky and the Human Rights Clinic, the University of Texas School of Law) and I developed analysis which makes visible the ways in which the border wall, militarization and dispossession are adversely affecting Lipan Apache elder women, women and girls.”

Tamez’s research is supported through a UBC Hampton Research Grant Award.


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