Campus Life  

OC students get hands-on experience in community for in-demand trades

Okanagan College Media Release

With a 44 per cent increase in new housing starts in the Shuswap over the last year, an Okanagan College program is training Salmon Arm students to meet the expected labour demand.Magdalena Kerner Feb 2017

The Shuswap is expected to see continued growth in the residential construction industry and WorkBC projects the province will have over 10,000 job openings for carpenters in the next decade.

The 26-week Residential Construction program is offered at the Salmon Arm campus and includes hand skills, safety training and trades math, and is ideal for those who enjoy physical activity, using tools and working both indoors and outdoors. Graduates of the program can go on to pursue careers as apprentice carpenters.

“It’s a great program for someone who wants to take the first step to change their career path, develop new skills, or to learn the techniques that will enable them to do their own home renovations,” says Rob Barton, Residential Construction instructor at Okanagan College. “Upon completion, students will walk out of the classroom with the theoretical foundation and practical experience that makes them ready for the workforce.”

Students will also complete a 14-week community-based construction project that gives them hands-on industry experience. Graduates are recognized for Level 1 carpentry technical training and credited with 450 work-based-hours towards the completion of Carpenter Level 1 Apprenticeship.

This year, the Salmon Arm cohort will construct a covered stage open-air amphitheatre at Gardom Lake Bible Camp that will provide valuable experience in concrete prepping, forming and placing.

This will be the second year the Salmon Arm students will complete work experience projects at the camp, and both parties feel the partnership has been mutually beneficial.  

“We were really pleased with the professionalism the students brought to the site last year,” explains Rick Kieft, Executive Director of the Gardom Lake Bible Camp. “As a camp and retreat, we believe in developing the next generation. Whenever there is the opportunity for youth to gain work experience, education, or learn a trade, we want to support it.”

For student Magdalena Kerner, the work site experience was one of the highlights of the College’s Residential Construction program. When she enrolled in the program at the Vernon campus in 2015 as part of the Women in Trades Training, she was looking for a career change.

“I knew I wanted to be hands-on in a job that was mentally stimulating and involved design and planning,” she explains. “When I started the course, I knew very little about carpentry. The skills I developed while helping build the Lake Country Food Bank were unique to being on a construction site and couldn’t have been taught in a classroom.”

Kerner didn’t have to wait to complete the foundation program to find employment and be paid for those skills. While in her final week of the course, she was hired by Greyback Construction where she worked on projects in the Kootenays and Okanagan.

She is now taking the Level 3 apprenticeship at the College’s Kelowna campus and works for Bercum Builders in Vernon on high-end custom homes.

“The foundation program offers a newcomer to the industry a great combination of safety practices, building science theory, essential hands-on skills, first aid training and 450 work-based hours – all which give one a great head start,” she adds.

Okanagan College is currently accepting applications for the next intake of the 26-week program which begins Feb. 20 at the Salmon Arm and Penticton campuses.

To learn more and apply online visit okanagan.bc.ca/trades



College marketing team earns silver in Montreal case competition

Okanagan College Media Release

A trio of third-year marketing students from Okanagan College’s School of Business are back on B.C. soil after placing second at the 12
th annual BDC Marketing Case Competition hosted by Vanier College in Montreal last weekend.

The team from Okanagan College was among 34 competing post-secondary institutions from across the country. The College finished just behind the team from College Edouard Montpetit in Quebec and ahead of the third-place team from Ontario’s George Brown College in Toronto.OC BDC Feb 2017

OC’s team members included Jacob Kuypers, Talasa Larder and Lathan McKinney. They were coached by faculty members Blair Baldwin and Stacey Fenwick.

“I am so proud of our results,” said McKinney. “Just to be able to represent our school at this huge competition was an honour and then the results were incredible. We went into the competition focused on coming up with creative solutions to the cases and we wanted to give our best effort, whatever the results were. To finish as the top English-speaking team was a significant accomplishment.”

The competition consists of two rounds. In the preliminary round all 34 teams are presented with the same case. The teams go into solitary lockdown with no access to the Internet or research resources. They prepare a full strategic analysis and identify key issues and then develop three mutually exclusive marketing strategies, choose one and develop a fully integrated marketing and sales plan including a budget and forecast ROI.

After they prepare their solutions, they present their analysis and recommendations without notes in not less than 18 and not more than 20 minutes to a panel of four judges and then face five minutes of questions.

The top six teams advance to the final round where they are presented with a new case. In the 2017 competition the final case was based on a Vancouver Tourism company that was seeking ways to remain competitive in a saturated market and in the face of new competition from Airbnb and others.

The team from OC pitched the judges on a compelling adventure tourism challenge for the Vancouver company, which would give tourists an opportunity to experience the city in a unique way, giving the company a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

The 2017 competition marks the second year in a row that a team from Okanagan College has made it to the final round.

"The effort put in by the students to prepare for the case competition was inspiring,” says Blair Baldwin, co-coach of the team. “The results show how applied learning continues to differentiate our students at the national level.”


Okanagan College students tackle food security with Refreshing idea

Okanagan College Media Release

Inventathon team 2017Three Okanagan College business students battled their way to first place at UBC Okanagan’s inaugural Inventathon last weekend and took home $600 in prize money for their innovative and socially conscious business idea, Refresh.

Cameron Starcheski, Cooper Simpson and Darren Gillespie, all members of Okanagan College’s Enactus team, were joined by Jaren Larsen and Pablo Doskoch from UBC Okanagan and given 24 hours to create a business idea that would provide solutions to one of four major social issues: financial literacy, youth empowerment, eco green, or food security.

The team spent four hours brainstorming before coming up with the idea for Refresh—a social enterprise that helps reconcile the issues of food waste and food scarcity in the Okanagan.

“We know based on secondary research that each year in Canada more than $31 billion dollars worth of food ends up in the garbage or compost,” explained Starcheski, Vice President of Enactus Okanagan College. “When you consider that more than 850,000 people rely on the food bank for meals it seems like a fairly obvious supply and demand issue.”

Starcheski and his team knew others have tried to make an impact in the area of repurposing healthy food for people in need but there is yet to be a sustainable model that works and provides a revenue source. The problems, according to Starcheski, lie in the food safety, storage and redistribution.

“We came up with a concept for a mobile refrigerated truck that could access grocery stores, cafeterias and even restaurants to pick up high quality food that was slated for waste and operate as a mobile food vendor,” he says.

“With Refresh there’s no need for overnight storage or repackaging because the truck is refrigerated and is able to provide a direct connection between the source and the end user. That simplifies a huge part of the process and allows for easy and safe redistribution.”

After a grueling 24 hours of planning, the team took their idea and pitched it to a group of 15 business professionals and was awarded first place in the Inventathon competition.

“I’m really happy with the results from Inventathon,” says Starcheski. “I think it’s a good idea and we will be moving forward to further develop the idea and engage in some primary research at Enactus Okanagan College.”



Time running out for living languages in BC

All of British Columbia’s 34 living First Nations languages are critically endangered and many face the loss of their last generation of fluent speakers within the next decade.

In order to stem this, a major symposium will take place in Penticton and Kelowna later this week, to bring together BC Indigenous communities and post-secondary institutions to develop strategies for protecting the future of these languages. Organizers say it’s an important next step of a new Indigenous language fluency degree program, which will be delivered in partnership between Indigenous communities, Indigenous institutes and public post-secondary institutions across the province.

“When languages are at risk, the ecological and environmental knowledge they encode is also endangered,” says Jeannette Armstrong, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Philosophy and assistant professor of Indigenous studies at UBC Okanagan.

“The alarming lack of traction in protecting these languages has pushed communities and institutions to innovate and critically examine the situations they face,” says Armstrong. “Time is literally running out on living languages across the province.”

Verna Billy Minnabarriet is chair of the Board of Directors of the Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association, one of the initiative’s founding partners. She notes the organization “looks forward to collaborating with Indigenous language experts, First Nation communities and post-secondary institutes to realize this vision of language fluency revitalization. Our vision is to support community post-secondary institutes that ensure and promote indigenous language, culture and knowledge programs.”

The Indigenous Language Fluency Symposium, takes place at the En’owkin Centre in Penticton and UBC Okanagan in Kelowna February 17 to 19, will bring together communities, institutions, traditional knowledge holders and scholars from BC, Hawaii, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Ontario to address the current situation by sharing innovations in programming and approaches currently underway.

“This provides an opportunity for people to share, learn, and co-create a common body of knowledge, from which we can develop strategies for a collaborative, cross-institutional Indigenous Language Fluency degree,” says Patricia Shaw, professor of Linguistic Anthropology at UBC Vancouver.

According to Judy Thompson, assistant professor in the First Nations Studies program at the University of Northern British Columbia, the “partnerships built through the symposium will be integrated into an expanded network of expertise and experience which will help us move forward on a degree program that can be delivered at many institutions around this province, using a flexible structure that is responsive to the diverse, and increasingly dire situations faced by BC's Indigenous languages.”

About the symposium

The three-day meeting, February 17 to 19, will open with a welcoming feast hosted by En’owkin Centre in Penticton, with a keynote presentation and four symposium sessions at UBC’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna.

The meeting has been organized by a consortium of post-secondary institutions and First Nations organizations, including:

  • Wilp Wilxo'oskwhl Nisga'a (Gitwinksihlkw)
  • University of Northern British Columbia (Prince George)
  • Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (Merritt)
  • Okanagan Indian Education Resources Society -- En’owkin Centre (Penticton)
  • University of British Columbia (Okanagan and Vancouver)
  • First Nations Education Steering Committee
  • Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association

The partner organizations have committed to develop a language fluency framework that supports the language revitalization needs of Indigenous peoples in BC. The consortium includes three Aboriginal-controlled institutes, with a geographical scope encompassing most of the mainland of British Columbia, and two key BC First Nations Education organizations.

To find out more, visit: icer.ok.ubc.ca/events/Indigenous_Languages_Fluency_Symposium

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Nominations open for 2017 OCAA Alumni Awards

Okanagan College Media Release

The Okanagan College Alumni Association (OCAA) is now accepting nominations for the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award and Young Alumni Award.Comba and Stewart

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes alumni of Okanagan College and Okanagan University College for their demonstration of excellence in the areas of leadership, the environment, business or industry, public or community service, the arts, and/or support for Okanagan College. The Young Alumni Award celebrates the outstanding contributions of an alumna or alumnus who is under the age of 35.

"It’s always a highlight to read through the nomination forms and learn about the impact that our alumni have on others,” says Kara Kazimer, President of the OCAA Board of Directors. “Okanagan College and OUC alumni are making a real difference in their industries and communities.”

All members of the Okanagan College Alumni Association are eligible to be nominated for the Distinguished Alumni or Young Alumni awards. Nominees must have completed a certificate, diploma, degree, apprenticeship program or have completed a minimum of 30 academic credits at Okanagan College or OUC.

The deadline for nominations is Friday, March 10. Nominations may be made by completing an online form available at: www.okanagan.bc.ca/DAA-YAA.

The 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award and Young Alumni Award will be selected by the Alumni Association Board of Directors and presented at the association’s annual general meeting in September.

Heather Stewart, General Studies (1979) was the recipient of last year’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Sarah Comba, Business Administration Diploma (2007), was honoured with the 2016 Young Alumni Award. Profiles of previous years’ recipients can be found at alumni.okanagan.bc.ca/alumni-awards


OC’s Abbey Jones wins BC Social Innovation Youth Award

Okanagan College Media Release 

jones abbeyAn Okanagan College business student is among 12 youth in the province who were recognized on Wednesday with an inaugural BC Social Innovation Youth Award, valued at $1,000.

Abbey Jones received the award from the Honourable Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation, at the BC Summit on Social Innovation in Vancouver on Feb. 8.

Jones is in the third year of the College’s Bachelor of Business Administration program in Kelowna and is the co-founder and project manager of CANsave—a financial education program designed to teach primary school students the importance of saving and financial planning.

The project, which is operated through Okanagan College’s Enactus team, was initiated in 2016 after Jones and her peers identified a lack of financial education in the current school curriculum. The CANsave program was launched in Kelowna and has grown quickly, spreading through schools across the country. CANsave is now being implemented in 80 communities throughout Canada and is impacting more than 6,000 students.

“Being at the forefront of developing and implementing CANsave has added an incredible amount of value to my experience at the Okanagan School of Business,” says Jones. “Learning through experience, trying new things and making connections in the business and non-profit communities along the way are some of the incredible experiences I am so thankful for.” 


The BC Social Innovation Youth Awards recognize 12 extraordinary individuals in the province under the age of 30 who are creating positive social change within their communities.

At just 21-years-old Jones is among the youngest of the recipients and according to her professor Dr. Kyleen Myrah, is more than deserving.

“Abbey is a great example of the very best of the students I have the privilege of working with at Okanagan College and it was an honour to be with her in Vancouver to watch her accept this award,” says Myrah. “While she is outstanding in the classroom, where Abbey really shines is her community engagement. As part of Enactus Okanagan College, Abbey and her peers take their knowledge and enthusiasm and put their skills into projects that have a real impact on people in our community. The growth and success of CANsave is evidence of the strength of her ideas and her leadership skills. We are extremely proud to work with her at the College.”

Digital photography could be a key factor in rural health care

Assoc. Prof. of Nursing Kathy Rush

Assoc. Prof. of Nursing Kathy Rush

Photographs may lead to better treatment and care for patients in rural communities, a UBC Okanagan study shows.

Prof. Kathy Rush, who teaches in UBC Okanagan’s School of Nursing, recently completed a study with older patients who live with atrial fibrillation (AF)—a chronic condition that causes irregular heartbeat, fatigue, dizziness and shortness of breath.

For her study, Rush gave digital cameras to 10 participants, at varying stages of health, who lived independently in towns with populations under 7,000. Participants were asked to take daily photos and mail in a memory card every two weeks for six months.

“These photo journeys give patients a voice and makes visible what can be invisible when someone is suffering,” says Rush. “You don’t always get the full story or picture of what is really going on in their lives. These photos gave us considerable information about the environmental context of living with an illness in rural communities, where there is limited access to services.”

While many of the photos portrayed people waiting for, or travelling to appointments, Rush says other images told a much more stark story.

“The photos gave us access to their days, to things that wouldn’t be reported in a doctor’s office, or on a medical chart, but were an important part of their day-to-day care,” says Rush. “The images brought to life their social supports and the gaps in service.”

On days when patients felt healthy, often the images were of places in their community or the participants outside doing something they enjoyed. On symptomatic days, images were of pills, reminders of medical appointments or people resting at home.

Rush says one man took a series of photos over several hours of a clock while he experienced symptoms—identifying how long he endured discomfort. Other patients took photos of their caregivers or the social support they had in the community (people who drove them to medical appointments) or trips to larger medical facilities.

The photos, Rush says, can help health professionals understand the everyday healthcare journey of residents who live with a chronic condition.

“There is certainly a rural context, like being transferred by ambulance or traveling for hours to get to a health clinic,” says Rush. “We knew we couldn’t capture their health care journeys with words alone and this project really opened windows into their lives.”

Rush is recommending that photo journeys be used more frequently for older, rural patients, regardless of their health condition. Photographs provided a powerful tool for the participants and Rush says they have been able to tap into nuances and subtleties of living with AF that patients may not share with health professionals or family members.

Rush’s research was recently published in Chronic Illness and was made possible by funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.


Barely-educated humans impact bear behaviour

UBC Professor Lael Parrott

UBC Professor Lael Parrott.

The American black bear can rest easier thanks to conservation research conducted at UBC’s Okanagan campus. A recent study indicates that while urban sprawl results in more human-bear interactions, human education can hinder negative encounters.

“Unless steps are taken to reduce human-bear interactions, we will see an increase in bears that are habituated to humans, leading to property damage, human injuries and more dead bears,” says Lael Parrott, professor of Biology and Earth and Environmental Sciences at UBC Okanagan.

“These situations are unacceptable and sustainable solutions are needed. One approach is to implement education programs that teach humans how to keep their properties attractant-free and how to behave during a bear encounter.”

Parrott, along with UBC mathematics Associate Professor Rebecca Tyson and student research assistants, developed a computer model to simulate the effectiveness of human-bear awareness education about bear movement and foraging behaviour in an urban setting. The program, based on field data, made it possible to run hundreds of scenarios and investigate the outcomes and best practices. In the model, bear awareness education included training about proper garbage disposal and deterrent use.

UBC research indicates bear management strategies need to improve to educate people and protect the bear population.

UBC research indicates bear management strategies need to improve to educate people and protect the bear population.

The researchers found that the biggest contributor to bear status was urban land use. A one per cent increase in urbanization resulted in a 91 per cent increase in human-bear conflict. The model also suggests that education targeting the border areas between the residential community and bear habitats will have the biggest impact on limiting bear conflict.

“Our model suggests that bear management strategies involving education programs reduce the number of 'conflict bears,'” says Parrott. “Although this is a computer simulation, it is required since some field studies are unethical or extremely difficult to take on. Modelling provides a useful and cost-effective alternative and can be used to select promising programs for further field study."

Parrott's team is testing some of these solutions in Whistler, BC.

The American black bear’s habitat includes Canada, the United States, and Northern Mexico. According to Wildsafe BC, British Columbia has one of the highest populations of black bears in the world—between 120,000 and 150,000 animals. And there are some 25,000 reported sightings each year. Bears require about 20,000 calories a day to prepare for hibernation; during this time, some bears are attracted to residential areas by fruit trees and unsecured garbage.

The study, published in Ecological Modelling, was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).


It’s the End of the World As We Know It – playing at the Salmar

A recurring and increasingly prevalent theme in film is “the end of the world as we know it,” and Okanagan College’s Dr. Tim Walters has built a season of “Classics at the Classic” that feature nine dystopian and apocalyptic flicks.

The next film in the series air on Feb. 6 at 5 p.m. at the Salmar Classic Theatre. Walters, who teaches film at the College, organizes the series for students in his second-year university transfer course – Studies in Reading Film – but it is open to the general public as well. General admission is $5.

Despite the seemingly dark subject matter, Walters says that he was attracted to the theme precisely because of the growing range of movies that explore this terrain. 

“The desire to show audiences the end of the world, or a world gone bad, is almost as old as film itself, but one that has become increasingly prevalent in mainstream culture in the past few decades, and is now a recurring context for not just sci-fi or horror films, but comedies, Christian and secular thrillers, and blockbuster young adult film series like The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner.”

Walters ranks this season’s line-up of films as the best yet. “Focusing on this genre allows us to see how the idea of a dystopian world has changed over time and between cultures, which can help us understand our current anxieties. It is also a theme that allow us to enjoy a surprisingly broad range of films—action and zombie movies, historical epics, psychological dramas, etc.—from some of the greatest directors in film history.”

“When planning these series, I’m mindful of the fact that Salmon Arm has an unusually sophisticated film-going public, and I think local audiences are going to really appreciate these films, almost none of which has ever been screened in town before.”

The program began with a dystopian double bill of Fritz Lang’s visionary masterpiece “Metropolis” (1927), followed by Bong Joon Ho’s revolutionary sci-fi action thriller “Snowpiercer” (2013) at 7:30 p.m. The final film of the series will be voted on by students taking the course and announced in mid-March.

Full line-up:

Jan. 30 – 5 p.m. Metropolis (1927) 7:30 p.m. Snowpiercer (2013)
Feb. 6 – 5 p.m. Children of Men (2006)
Feb. 27 – 7 p.m. Melancholia (2011)
March 6 – 5 p.m.  Blade Runner (1982)
March 13 – 5 p.m. 28 Days Later (2002)
March 20 – 5 p.m. The New World (2005)
March 27 – 7 p.m. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
April 3 – 5 p.m. To be announced. The choice of film will be voted on by the class.



New courses explore resistance and revolution


From millions of women marching globally out of concern for their human rights, to protests over pipelines, to rebels in Syria, there seems to be increasing expressions of discontent dotting our global political landscape.amy cohen

Some may be full-on revolt. Others may be civil disobedience or demonstrations of democratic rights and freedom of speech.

It is clear that the issue of resistance, its causes and manifestations, warrants consideration - and it’s at the heart of a timely new offering from Okanagan College at its Salmon Arm campus.

Resistance and Revolution is a program emphasis within the College’s two-year Associate of Arts degree (transferable to B.C. universities) that will give students an in-depth opportunity to study the many ways that people around the world have fought and continue to fight social, political, colonial and economic orders.

The program draws on a number of disciplines, including anthropology, communications, economics, English, geography, history, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, and gender studies.

“It is vital to understand what leads people to dramatic efforts to foment change, and to appreciate how the drive for social justice and empowerment is harnessed,” notes Joan Ragsdale, Okanagan College’s Regional Dean for the Shuswap-Revelstoke region. “There’s a growing interest in our area, throughout the province and around the world in social justice studies. We are fortunate to have some very good faculty at our campus with an interest in this.”

Amy Cohen is among those professors.

“Whether it is the expression of solidarity we saw at Standing Rock over the Dakota Access pipeline or the ways dissatisfaction with politics and politicians are manifested in the U.S., we’re seeing that resistance is playing an ever-important role in the public agenda,” says Cohen. “The protests following Trump’s inauguration are just further evidence of the trend.”

The program emphasis will be of interest to students who want to better understand the history of resistance and revolution, the strategies involved, their effectiveness and how they are expressed in today’s political and economic environment, she explains.

“The program will also sharpen students’ critical thinking and analytical skills, something that will serve them well in further studies or in career development,” adds Ragsdale.

Courses in Resistance and Revolution will be offered beginning September 2017 at the campus. For more information, you can visit okanagan.bc.ca/RandR



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