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Campus Life - Okanagan

Do you think of ink?

Okanagan College Media Release

For as many books, magazines, and newspapers that you have read, you may never have asked yourself about the social life of ink.Ted Bishop Oct 2014

nd that’s where Ted Bishop, an internationally recognized author and academic, is different from the rest of us.

In his role as a professor of English literature and film studies at the University of Alberta, Bishop is known for “poring over stains on paper made by some of the greatest minds in literature” (to borrow words from his publisher). Recently, though, the Edmonton-based Bishop started to contemplate the ink itself. And a forthcoming book, The Social Life of Ink: Culture, Wonder And Our Relationship With The Written Word, will reveal the discoveries he has made along a route that traverses thousands of years, continents, cultures and technologies.

He’ll be reading from the soon-to-be-released book, being published by Penguin Random House Canada, at a presentation at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m., as part of a week-long College initiative to highlight authors, scholarly and creative activity, and research.

“We take ink for granted,” says Bishop. “Unless the pen or the printer runs out of it.

“But this is a miraculous invention that really goes to the heart of our culture. There are countless fascinating aspects to this ubiquitous substance - I found myself enthralled as I researched the topic.”

InkBishop has a pedigree that promises a rewarding read. He had published on Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and modernist publishing but, after a motorcycle crash in which he broke his back and collapsed his lungs, he wrote his first cross-over book: Riding with Rilke, an account of a motorcycle ride from Edmonton to Austin, Texas to work in the James Joyce archives at the Harry Ransom Center

The book garnered a Governor-General’s award nomination in Canada, and 11 words of praise in Playboy magazine in the U.S. (You can read more about Bishop at 

“Ted is a highlight of our week of focusing on authors, scholarly and creative activity and research,” explains Ross Tyner, Okanagan College’s Director of Library Services. “We invited him to come to read from his forthcoming book because he bridges the gap between the academic world and popular literature. His first book was a fascinating read and I expect this work will be too.”

The week-long celebration at the College features many of the institution’s own faculty and staff who are accomplished and nationally known for their books, novels, articles and research, explains Tyner. 

“We have organized an entire series of presentations and lectures that span the region and an array of topic areas, as well as displays of OC authors’ work in each OC campus library.”

All are open to the public – a complete list can be found online at


UBC Biology’s Birds calendar takes off again

A male and female western bluebird pair check out a likely prospect in the ponderosa pine forest at UBC's Okanagan campus, as seen in the Birds of the UBC Okanagan Campus 2015. Photo credit: Ian Walker

A male and female western bluebird pair check out a likely prospect in the ponderosa pine forest at UBC's Okanagan campus, as seen in the Birds of the UBC Okanagan Campus 2015. Photo credit: Ian Walker

Fundraising photo project covers campus, now on sale

A colourful collection of photos showing the diversity of UBC Okanagan’s campus wildlife is back by popular demand—and now on sale.

The limited-edition Birds of the UBC Okanagan Campus 2015 wall calendar was created by a trio of camera-wielding biology professors in the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences. Sales proceeds go toward undergraduate education.

The calendar is a labour of love, says contributor Assoc. Prof. Bob Lalonde.

"We're thrilled to be able to combine birding and photography into a fundraising activity that benefits our students," says Lalonde, adding that it has been so popular, the wildlife calendar may very well become an annual tradition.

Following the success of last year's Birds of the UBC Okanagan Pond calendar, Assoc. Profs. Lalonde, Blythe Nilson, and Ian Walker took a wide-angle view.

The new calendar is now only $15 while the photographers’ coverage is significantly greater: Birds of the UBC Okanagan Campus 2015 Calendar shows a vast array of the winged ones seen across campus—all 516 acres (209 hectares) of it. That includes photos of a bald eagle, mourning dove, and woodpecker; a bluebird couple in the ponderosa pine forest; and a hallmark species at Robert Lake, American avocets.

Sales of last year's calendar raised $2,500. To boost sales this year, the price was lowered from $20 to $15. Sales proceeds go towards undergraduate education, offsetting costs for such things as lab supplies and printing for students involved in research projects.

Birds of the UBC Okanagan Campus 2015 Calendar is available for purchase at the UBC Okanagan Bookstore (Administration Building) and Mosaic Books, 411 Bernard Ave., Kelowna.

The photographers

If you want to capture a rare sighting of sandhill cranes at Robert Lake, you need patience, timing, and the right gear. Here's the go-to photo equipment used by UBC Assoc. Biology Profs. Bob Lalonde, Blythe Nilson, and Ian Walker when they go birding:

  • Bob Lalonde: Uses a Canon EOS digital rebel, Canon 400mm f5.6 L series lens, and monopod. This setup sets a good compromise between quality and portability, he says. “The L series lenses are all excellent, and the 400mm is one of the most affordable. Digital rebel cameras are not full-frame, but the sensor is excellent and the smaller size provides an added ‘crop factor’ that turns a 400mm lens into a 560mm lens. There are more expensive and sharper alternatives, but none of them are as light and handy!”
  • Ian Walker: Principally uses a Nikon D5000 camera body equipped with a Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 lens. The lens incorporates auto-focus and vibration reduction, and is much less expensive than any comparable Nikon lenses, he says. “This kit provides somewhat greater magnification, but it is distinctly heavier and bulkier than Lalonde’s setup. Few people will have my tolerance for lugging this lens all day in the field.”
  • Blythe Nilson: Uses a Canon Rebel T1i with a Canon 100-400 L series lens. “I need to upgrade,” she says.
A yellow rumped warbler forages in the campus oaks, as seen in the Birds of the UBC Okanagan Campus 2015. Photo credit: Bob Lalonde

A yellow rumped warbler forages in the campus oaks, as seen in the Birds of the UBC Okanagan Campus 2015. Photo credit: Bob Lalonde

Bohemian waxwings need to eat snow to wash down their sugar-rich diet of berries, as seen in the Birds of the UBC Okanagan Campus 2015. Photo credit: Bob Lalonde

Bohemian waxwings need to eat snow to wash down their sugar-rich diet of berries, as seen in the Birds of the UBC Okanagan Campus 2015. Photo credit: Bob Lalonde

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Residential Construction students use skills to support local family

Okanagan College Media Release

Armstrong Res Con Oct 2014A team of 15 Okanagan College trades students put their skills to good use for a worthy cause this summer.  

The students, who took the Residential Construction Foundation program in Armstrong, which ran from February to August, were working digging holes and laying backfill at a project house when it was delayed due to weather conditions. 

Residential Construction Instructor Les Shuert needed to find an alternative project to fill the gap. When he was telling John Aarestad, building supply manager at Shepherd’s Home Hardware about his problem, Aarestad suggested the students try out their new skills building two 8-by-10 foot garden sheds and the store would donate the materials. 

As the students began building the sheds, tragedy struck Okanagan College Carpentry Instructor Gerry Leverrier when his four-year-old granddaughter Megan was diagnosed with a rare liver disease and sent to the Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto for treatment. Megan lives in Salmon Arm with her parents, Gerry’s son Jamie, who is an RCMP corporal with the Salmon Arm detachment, her mom Michelle, and her younger brother Gavin.

Shuert and his colleague Okanagan College Tool Room Attendant Brian Thomas jumped on the opportunity to help the young family and asked Aarestad if they could donate the sheds to an auction that the RCMP was holding to help the Leverrier’s with expenses related to the family’s extended stay in Toronto. He agreed and together the sheds were sold for nearly $1,000 at the auction in July. 

“Building the sheds gave the students an opportunity to do things they wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to do, such as affixing roofing material, hanging doors and building rafters, which really helped develop their on-the-job skills,” says Shuert.

“While it’s hard to beat the pride you feel from seeing a finished project, knowing it was helping a family going through a really difficult time made it even that much more rewarding for the students,” he says.

Okanagan College is currently accepting applications for the next intake of its 30-week Residential Construction program in Salmon Arm, which starts February 2015. The program provides students with the necessary theoretical and practical knowledge to seek employment as an Apprentice Carpenter in the residential construction industry.


Alex Janvier is UBC artist-in-residence from Oct. 4 to 17

Alex Janvier

Celebrated Aboriginal artist Alex Janvier is UBC’s artist-in-residence.

Celebrated artist to create new works, includes exhibition at Kelowna Art Gallery

Alex Janvier, one of Canada’s most iconic Aboriginal artists, arrives at UBC Okanagan for two weeks as artist-in-residence.

During his residency at UBC from October 4 to 17, Janvier will convert the Fine Arts (FINA) Gallery into an artist studio, producing new paintings in a spirit of community and collaboration. The public is invited to visit the gallery from Monday to Friday, 2 to 5 p.m., to see the artist at work over the course of his stay.

“This is absolutely tremendous,” says Ashok Mathur, head of the Department of Creative Studies. “The entire UBC community will be able to see this world-renowned artist in the very act of his practice. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

There will also be an opportunity to view more of Janvier’s art, as the exhibition 7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. featuring his work opens at the Kelowna Art Gallery on Friday, October 17, running until Sunday, January 4, 2015.

Born of Dene Suline and Saulteaux descent in 1935, Janvier was raised in the nurturing care of his family until the age of eight. Then the young Janvier was uprooted from his home and sent to the Blue Quills Indian Residential School near St. Paul, Alberta. Although Janvier speaks of having a creative instinct from as far back as he can remember, it was at the residential school that he was given the tools to create his first paintings.

Unlike many Aboriginal artists of his time, Janvier received formal art training from the Alberta College of Art in Calgary and graduated with honours in 1960. Immediately after graduation, Janvier took up an opportunity to instruct art at the University of Alberta.

In 2012, the new Janvier Gallery opened on Cold Lake First Nations 149B, which is located north of the City of Cold Lake, Alberta.

About Alex Janvier

While Janvier recognizes the work of Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky and Swiss artist Paul Klee as influences, his style is unique. Many of his masterpieces involve an eloquent blend of both abstract and representational images with bright, often symbolic colours. As a First Nations person emerging from a history of oppression and many struggles for cultural empowerment, Janvier paints both the challenges and celebrations that he has encountered in his lifetime. He proudly credits the beadwork and birch bark basketry of his mother and other relatives as influencing his art.

As a member of the commonly referred to “Indian Group of Seven,” Janvier is one of the significant pioneering Aboriginal artists in Canada, and as such has influenced many generations of Aboriginal artists. By virtue of his art, Janvier was selected to represent Canada in a Canadian/Chinese Cultural Exchange in 1985. Although he has completed several murals nationally, Janvier speaks of the 450 metre-squared masterpiece entitled Morning Star at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, as a major highlight in his career.


Front row seating encourages cultural diversity by ‘accident’

Management professor John Burton recently moved students Mark Brandle, Samin Mahmood, Michael Flaherty-Specht and David Rogas to the front row of his classroom as part of the rolling seats initiative.

Management professor John Burton recently moved students Mark Brandle, Samin Mahmood, Michael Flaherty-Specht and David Rogas to the front row of his classroom as part of the rolling seats initiative.

Management professor notes side benefits when classroom seating plan changes

As a university student, John Burton always found a seat at the back of the lecture theatre. Shy and afraid of speaking in front of people, he liked the anonymity.

Now, as an assistant professor at UBC’s Okanagan campus, Burton knows he would have benefited from being out of that back row. Burton, who teaches business ethics, has instituted a ‘rolling seats’ initiative in his second-year management class. He assigns seats to the students and each week those in the front row move to the rear of the class, and each row of students moves forward. Every student who hides out in the back row eventually ends up in the front.

Dubbed rolling seats or the Front Row Experience (FRE), Burton says he got the idea from the Socratic circle teaching plan—a group study idea named after Socrates and used by educators around the world. But lecture halls don’t lend themselves to students working in circles.

“I decided to make the first two rows my go-to students,” he says. “They are the ones I will ask questions, the ones I expect to be most prepared for each class. That’s not to say I’m not going to engage with all students, and the ones at the back have to also be prepared because I might surprise them with a question.”

Requiring students to sit in randomly mixed groups, the FRE method discourages formation of cliques and encourages them to get to know their classmates. Burton says international students account for up to 20 per cent of management classes, and the FRE helps dissolve cultural barriers.

Burton’s idea has caught the attention of UBC’s Equity and Inclusion Office. Alden Habacon is UBC’s director of Intercultural Understanding Strategy Development and he is the first to admit that Intercultural understanding is a fairly new concept.

“Diversity of people, and inclusive and intercultural learning are part of the DNA of UBC,” says Habacon. “In fact, intellectual diversity is core to UBC's success and aspirations in research, community engagement, and student learning.”

But it can’t just be forced onto people, he notes. While implied on campus, finding unassuming ways to break down barriers makes for a more natural transition.

“UBC is a global place, and there is the potential for the relationships and engagement across profound differences that can truly enrich our understanding of the world,” says Habacon.

Burton, whose initial goal was to give students a tool to break the ice, has been using the idea for years in his classroom.

“I didn’t introduce rolling seats into my classroom with diversity in mind, but diversity is a wonderful side benefit,” he says. “These relationships start with a face-to-face encounter. The culture on our campus provides such a great opportunity for understanding each other and it’s great that you can build those networks right here in your classroom.”


Auto sector support vital to successful $2.5 million launch of campaign to revamp Okanagan College’s Trades Training Complex

Okanagan College Media Release

The Okanagan College Foundation campaign to raise funds for a new Trades Training Complex at the Kelowna campus Trades Oct 2014has kicked off with donations from 43 donors totaling $2.5 million – a significant portion of that coming from Kelowna area car dealerships.

Local car dealerships have collectively provided $610,000; a sizable donation that includes $10,000 from the Kelowna Auto Dealers Association. Another $845,000 has come from industry leaders in the auto, welding, construction, plumbing, mechanical, and electrical sectors.

“We’ve only just launched our campaign and we’re more than a third of the way to reaching our $7-million goal,” said Dennis Gabelhouse, Chair of the Bright Horizons - Building for Skills Campaign. “To have one of our key trades sectors come forward with this level of commitment really sets the tone for what we hope will come. The Kelowna Auto Dealers Association and local auto dealers clearly understand the importance of supporting the College.”

Work on the $33-million Trades Training Complex expansion and renovation has begun and is expected to be complete in the Spring of 2016. The provincial government has committed $28-million to the project and the Okanagan College Foundation is responsible for raising an additional $7 million; $5 million for capital costs and the remaining $2 million going towards student and program support.

Gabelhouse thanked Sentes General Manager Adam Rich for being one of the first industry leaders to publicly support the campaign. Rich is one of 18 sector chairs who not only volunteer their time to the campaign, but have collectively donated $345,000. He also recognized John Bokitch, president of the 18-member Kelowna Auto Dealers Association.

Bokitch said supporting the College makes business sense, given the industry’s reliance on the institution to educate many of the industry’s employees.

“We need highly skilled mechanics and technicians and graduating students need jobs,” he said.

The support shown by the automotive sector has been phenomenal, says Kathy Butler, the Foundation’s Executive Director.

“The Foundation is very grateful that the individual auto dealers and the Kelowna Auto Dealers Association have chosen this campaign as its charity of choice,” she said. “We’ve all read the statistics that the demand for skilled tradespeople is high. Having this industry come forward and invest in students’ future is great news.”

“Today’s announcement makes it clear that industry recognizes the importance the trades play in our economy and is working with the College to address the skills shortage we know is coming,” Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton said. “We know that 43 per cent of the one million job openings that will be created in B.C. by 2022 will require trades or technical training and many of those jobs will be filled by Okanagan College graduates.”

“Community support is vital to building that connection between our College, our students, and this province’s future.” 

Okanagan College student Emma Paul will complete the 30-week Automotive Service Foundation Program this week. She has already secured a job with Lexus.

“I grew up in Kelowna and I feel lucky to be able to complete my training here at Okanagan College. It never occurred to me to train anywhere else and I can say with all honesty that the training I have received has been exceptional. I work with top-of-the line equipment and I learn from instructors who have been incredibly supportive and have encouraged me every step of the way,” Paul said. 

“I am excited to be one of the students who will train in the refurbished complex and I am thankful to the College Foundation, the automotive sector, and the many donors and volunteers who are working so hard to raise the funds needed to see this project through to completion.”

Information about the campaign can be found on the Foundation’s website at

Dr. Heather Banham receives the CGA Association’s highest honour

Okanagan College Media Release

Dr. Heather Banham Oct. 2014The Dean of Okanagan College’s School of Business, Dr. Heather Banham, has been awarded the highest honour that can be bestowed on a member of the Certified General Accountants (CGA) Association.

On Sept. 20, CGA-BC honoured eight of its members with a CGA Fellowship designation, which is given to members who have made outstanding contributions to the CGA Association or the accounting profession. 

CGA-BC Chair David Sale praised Banham as a “fine example for anyone in a position of leadership within a large, multi-faceted organization.”

Banham was specifically recognized for her contribution to the development of the College’s business program and the creation of strategic partnerships between the College and the CGA, which resulted in a $100,000 endowment from the CGA through the Okanagan College Foundation. She also serves as second Vice Chair of the CGA-BC’s Board of Directors and has recently been elected as first Vice Chair for 2015. In addition, she has served on several committees, including Discipline and Education Appeals, and on CGA Canada’s National Education Committee.

“It was a real honor to be selected for the Fellowship designation by CGA Canada,” says Banham. “While the award is presented as a recognition for past service, I am looking forward to continuing to contribute as the CA, CGA and CMA merging of the profession takes place.”

Bubble tea: creating cultural diversity at UBC one cup at a time

Alden Habacon, UBC’s Director of Intercultural Understanding Strategy Development, enjoys a bubble tea with Jenica Frisque, from UBC Okanagan’s Equity and Inclusion Office, second-year arts student Tiffany Huang, and UBC Okanagan’s Lisa Levell.

Alden Habacon, UBC’s Director of Intercultural Understanding Strategy Development, enjoys a bubble tea with Jenica Frisque, from UBC Okanagan’s Equity and Inclusion Office, second-year arts student Tiffany Huang, and UBC Okanagan’s Lisa Levell.

Student club brings Taiwanese tea to campus to cross cultural barriers

A group of UBC students is using a novel ethnic beverage to bring people together.

Grace Mak, a third-year human kinetics student who moved to Canada from Hong Kong six years ago, can often be seen on campus with a cup of bubble tea in her hands. Mak is the president of UBC Okanagan’s Teaholic club, a group of students who want to share bubble tea with fellow students, faculty, and staff.

Grace Mak, right, serves bubble tea during a university event.

Grace Mak, right, serves bubble tea during a university event.

“We see a good example of cultural interaction in Vancouver bubble tea shops, so we wanted to promote this special drink of Asian culture to students in Kelowna that come from different backgrounds and places,” says Mak.

Bubble tea is a tea-based modern fusion beverage that originates from Taiwan. Fresh tea is mixed with different flavours and coloured tapioca. The tapioca, flavourless, chewy, gluten-free, and starchy, is known as “pearls” or “boba,” explains Mak. The tea is served cold, and is consumed with a large straw so the tapioca, or bubbles, can float into the mouth.

This week UBC celebrates Diversity and Equity Week and Alden Habacon, UBC’s director of Intercultural Understanding Strategy Development, says the bubble tea club is a wonderful example of students working together to share their culture. Teaholic club executives are from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China and the students are from a number of faculties and schools including Management, Arts and Sciences.

Habacon says having a culturally diverse campus directly benefits the learning of students, the work experience for faculty and staff, and UBC’s relationships with its communities.

“This commitment to intercultural understanding requires all sorts of good things to happen—like friend-making and trust building across cultures—that ultimately make UBC a more socially sustainable place to learn, live, and work,” says Habacon.  “Places that are as diverse as UBC, or aspire to be, are watching to see how we make this happen. That’s an incredible opportunity. ”

The Teaholic club sells tea at various times across campus and organizes cultural events that are open to all students. During Diversity and Equity Week, they are also sharing bubble tea the Day of Health and the Tea from Around the World event on Friday, October 3.


College to host, compete in Young Chefs challenge

Okanagan College Media Release

The Young Chefs competition will return to Okanagan College next month as part of the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival’s series of culinary events and will showcase the talents of several Okanagan College apprentice chefs and alumni.
Ten up-and-coming Okanagan chefs from local restaurants including Waterfront Wines, Milestones, Kraft Kitchen, Salted Brick, Joey Kelowna, The Delta Grand Okanagan, Earls, Mission Hill Terrace Restaurant, Brodos and the Eldorado Hotel will compete for the title of the Okanagan’s Top Young Chef.
Each of the competitors will create a dish featuring Alexis de Portneuf cheese. The decadent dishes must be comprised of at least 20 per cent cheese and will be expertly paired with an Okanagan winery.
Judges and ticketholders will sample the culinary fares and vote for their top choices.
“We are thrilled to bring this unique event back to Kelowna for another year,” said Blair Baldwin, General Manager of the Okanagan Wine Festivals. “The calibre of skill and expertise coming from the young chefs of our region is astounding and this event gives people the opportunity to experience that in person. It’s really one of the most authentic and passionate culinary experiences of the year.”
Four teams of apprentice chefs from Okanagan College will compete in an additional challenge and will be mentored by College Chef instructors Perry Bentley, Mike Barillaro, Jim Armstrong and Reinhard Foerderer.
“We have an incredible lineup of chefs taking part in this competition,” said Chef Bernard Casavant, Okanagan College’s Manager of Culinary Arts. “I’m pleased to see four skilled Okanagan College alumni among the Young Chefs competitors and of course our apprentice chefs will showcase their emerging talents.”
The event will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 9 in the atrium of the Centre for Learning at Okanagan College. Tickets cost $60, include a Safe Ride Home and can be purchased online:

B.C. Wine Information Society Sensory Centre to be new home for judging Okanagan Wine Festivals’ B.C. Wine Awards

Okanagan College Media Release

Wine FestivalAs Okanagan College and friends were celebrating the opening of the new B.C. Wine Information Society Sensory Centre at the Penticton campus, a new agreement was being finalized that speaks to the value of the Centre for the wine and tourism industry.

Jonathan Rouse, Okanagan College’s Director of Food, Wine and Tourism, announced Wednesday that the Centre will be host to the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society’s professional judging for the 2015 B.C. Wine Awards.

“Each year, the Fall Wine Festival brings some of the continent’s best palates to the south Okanagan to judge the entries for the Fall Wine Fest,” explains Martin Lewis, the chair of judging for the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society. “We have used various venues for those intensive judging sessions, but we are very excited about being able to utilize the new Sensory Centre at Okanagan College next year.”

This year, the nine judges will consider a record 540 entries in the B.C. Wine Awards. The Festivals Society staff expects more will be entered next year.

“This is a welcome endorsement for the Centre,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “Our goal was to create a facility with the amenities that would provide an excellent educational experience for students in credential and shorter-term programs. It was also to develop something that industry would want to use for purposes such as this.”

“Connections with industry are vital to delivering the viticulture and oenology programs that our students – and their employers - want and expect,” explains Rouse. “The Sensory Centre is, among other things, intended to be an incubator for those relations.”

Key to developing the facility was a $300,000 donation from the B.C. Wine Information Society, for which the Centre is named.

“Our Board understood the College’s goals for this facility from the beginning,” explains Society President Keith Bevington. “Learning that the judging for next year’s Fall Okanagan Wine Festival will be done in the Centre is proof of how valuable the facility will be to industry.”


Photo courtesy of Kiernan Frey

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