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Campus Life - Okanagan

Shelley Wood wins Okanagan Short Story Contest

Okanagan Short Story Contest winner Shelley Wood (Leave-taking) centre; is flanked by second-place winner Glenna Turnbull (things you find on the side of the road) left; and Brittni Mackenzie-Dale (Dead Man’s Bluff) right.

Okanagan Short Story Contest winner Shelley Wood (Leave-taking) centre; is flanked by second-place winner Glenna Turnbull (things you find on the side of the road) left; and Brittni Mackenzie-Dale (Dead Man’s Bluff) right.

Glenna Turnbull and Brittni Mackenzie-Dale take runners-up honours

A story that weaves in and out of the lives of three people over many years has won Shelley Wood of Kelowna first prize in the Okanagan Short Story Contest for her original piece of writing, Leave-taking.

There is a woman, quietly reading the list of benefactors posted on a hospital wall; another much younger woman, frustrated in her search for food in a refrigerator, finding little but Tupperware containers that cannot be trusted; and a man, eyes shut and lying in bed, catching a scent he once loved.

Wood’s submission topped 121 entries in the Okanagan Short Story contest, sponsored by UBC’s Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, the Kelowna Capital News and the Central Okanagan Foundation. Entries were judged by UBC Writer in Residence Gerry Shikatani, and creative writing faculty members.

Shikatani praises Wood’s Leave-taking, about three lives intersecting, dividing and converging to form the basis of a very finely constructed story.

“Written in a seductively cadenced prose, it slips us in and out of their lives over the decades, in vivid vignette-like episodes that move us fluidly through the narrative,” Shikatani said in his critique. “The diction is beautifully textured in a gentle drama that leaves us wondering how each character will move on.”

The winning $500 cash prize includes a one-week residency at the Woodhaven Eco Culture Centre. Woodhaven’s rustic setting of whispering pines, trails and meandering wildlife offers an inspiring atmosphere for artists and writers to relax, work without distraction, and discuss their projects.

The $200 second prize goes to Glenna Turnbull, of Kelowna, for things you find on the side of the road. Shikatani calls Turnbull’s story a conceptually interesting narrative that takes readers on the road to find the pieces of a young woman’s life.

“It is a work of intelligent formal invention, with phrases typical of driver’s manuals and road signs dividing the story’s scenes,” said Shikatani. “The language can be wonderfully original, and the road brings into sharp focus punishment from parents, the aggressions of men in a story that gets richer with each reading.”

Third place and a $100 prize goes to Brittni Mackenzie-Dale, of Kelowna, for Dead Man’s Bluff. In this story, a group of boys head out one October day to play Blind Man’s Bluff. But their self-appointed leader Justin, has put a twist to the game he has re-named. Where this fun takes them will affect them for the rest of their lives.

“This is a story cut from the familiar and rewarding plot-line of popular novels and movies, given another engrossing take,” said Shikatani.

The winners were announced at UBC’s final Visiting Authors event of the season at the Alternator Gallery for Contemporary Art. Kelowna writer Alix Hawley, who teaches literature at Okanagan College, read a new short story to an appreciative audience.

Wood, Turnbull and Mackenzie-Dale are all former creative writing students at UBC.

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Close race for College’s 12th annual Half Marathon

Okanagan College Half Marathon

Ryan Day Half Marathon Winner 2014In the end just 12 seconds separated the winner and second place finisher in the 12th annual Okanagan College Half Marathon.

Cache Creek’s Ryan Day won the 21.1 km event in a time of 1:11:16 edging out the 2013 winner, Hans Aabye, who finished second. Kelowna’s Jeff Vogt came third in the men’s half marathon division with a finishing time of 1:18:35.

Hans Aabye Half Marathon 2014On the women’s side, Salmon Arm’s Sandra Kilmartin came in first with a time of 1:28:56. Michelle Blackburne of West Kelowna came in second at 1:29:45 and Fruitvale’s Heather Johnson placed third at 1:31:26.

In the 10 K race, the top female finishers were: Glynis Sim of Salmon Arm (38:36), Carrie McGillivray of Kelowna (43:50) and Chantal Jeffrey of Blind Bay (43:50.)

The men’s 10 K race was swept by Kelowna runners, they were: Jonathan Menzies in first (37:52, Paul Willinsky (38:18), and Ken Byl (40:18.)

The Half Marathon Relay Race was won by the Results 4 Life 2 team (1:24:07.) In second in the relay was Re-Lazy (1:40:11.) Third place went to UBCO War Child with a time of 1:40:47.

Kilmartin 2014“Today’s race couldn’t have been better,” said Race Director Christine Ulmer. “We had a great mix of elite and amateur runners, each of whom added a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm to the event. I continue to be amazed by the wide range of participants in this event. Some of our most competitive racers are under the age of 15 and then we also have some really great seasoned runners who come out to enjoy the nice course and supportive environment.”

“I can’t thank our volunteers enough – they make this race really special and we couldn’t do it without them.”

Complete race results are available online at:

Sustainability expert to lead new College diploma program

Okanagan College Media Release

Amy VaillancourtAmy Vaillancourt, an expert in sustainability assessment, has joined Okanagan College as the lead instructor and program Chair for the College’s new Sustainable Construction Management Technology (SCMT) program.

Vaillancourt brings a unique blend of international education and work experience in sustainable development and environmental engineering to the position, making her an ideal fit to guide the SCMT program through its launch in September 2014.

“What drew me to Okanagan College is its reputation for innovation and being at the forefront of sustainability education,” said Vaillancourt. “The College implements programs needed by industry, giving students valuable opportunities to help meet those needs.”

“The goal of the SCMT program is to train students in new ways of doing things, and to prepare them for jobs opening up in the sustainable construction field,” explained Vaillancourt. “As older workers retire, gaps are created and a new generation of workers needs to have the knowledge and skills to work with changing building codes and new industry and government regulations.”

Vaillancourt earned a B.Sc. in civil engineering from the University of New Brunswick (UNB), Fredericton, and then completed a Master’s in Sustainable Development at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. She returned to UNB Fredericton to pursue a PhD in civil engineering.

Work experience as an engineering consultant in environmental engineering, and for the provincial government Department of Transportation and Infrastructure in New Brunswick have given Vaillancourt a broad skill set and range of perspectives.

Her current research interests are focused on implementation of sustainability assessments for municipal infrastructures, which include urban forestry, transportation, water and wastewater, and energy.

“The SCMT study stream aligns closely with my research,” said Vaillancourt. “The program takes a lifecycle approach that has students acquire knowledge of every building lifecycle phase -- from resource extraction through construction and concluding with end-of-life.”

The SCMT program is the only one of its kind in B.C. Program students will have the opportunity to learn in Okanagan College’s Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation in Penticton, one of the most sustainable buildings of its type in world.

“The zero-energy building itself is the classroom,” said Vaillancourt. “It has visible geo-thermal heating and cooling, screens that display energy conservation, solar water heating, and more. It’s the perfect environment for students, and will definitely be an important part of the learning experience.”

The Sustainable Construction Management Technology program is a three-year diploma, which provides students with the technical, business and interpersonal skills to successfully manage construction projects of varying size and complexity, with an emphasis on sustainable design principles.

College students’ research leads to national exposure

Okanagan College Media Release

Geography students magnetic labGroundbreaking research often results from an unpredictable combination of circumstances. For Okanagan College students Julia Thielmann and Arianna Lapham, answering a call for student assistance in a research project had the unexpected results of participating in a study of international significance and getting the opportunity to give a presentation at the Canadian Association of Geographers conference at the University of Victoria last month.

“It was such a great experience and I learned so much,” said Thielmann, a second-year Okanagan College student. “I really enjoy research work now and I’m hoping to be able to do more presentations. Talking with the other conference participants and learning about their work was really interesting.”

Led by Dr. Terence Day, College Professor of Geography & Earth and Environmental Science, the idea for the research study began with the College’s purchase of magnetic lab equipment from Lakehead University in Ontario. 

Using soil samples collected by Day from a nine-kilometre stretch of coastline in North Norfolk in the United Kingdom, the research team sought to establish a relationship between levels of coastal erosion and magnetic materials left by waves. Coincidentally, the research study samples were taken from an area heavily damaged in December 2013 by severe storms and storm surges that swept a number of beach-side homes into the sea.

“There are clear environmental implications,” said Day. “There is more magnetic material in areas where there is more erosion. We can identify rates of coastal erosion even in places where they are not routinely monitored.”

Day will be using the magnetic lab equipment in two summer research projects – one in collaboration with UBC Okanagan which will measure properties of rocks from the Himalayas, and another in conjunction with the Royal British Columbia Museum and the University of Lethbridge examining sediment samples from the Merritt area.

“We were the only undergraduate students giving a presentation and we were definitely nervous,” said first-year student Lapham. “But we did really well, and the audience was very supportive. We got lots of compliments.”

For Thielmann and Lapham, the excitement of the past year is taking them in different directions. Having completed two years of university transfer studies at the College, Thielmann is moving on to complete her undergraduate degree at UBC Okanagan. 

Lapham is looking forward to her second year at Okanagan College and is planning to take more geography classes.

College returns from Skills BC with eleven medals

Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College Skills BC 2014If the future of our region is dependent on a skilled workforce, the Okanagan is in good shape. Nearly a dozen Okanagan College trades and technology students have returned home after podium finishes at the BC Skills Canada competition, held earlier this month in Abbotsford.

The College earned 11 medals (three gold, four silver and four bronze) in a series of timed high-pressure skills competitions ranging from Automotive Collision Repair to IT Network Systems Administration.

“I’m extremely proud of the results of our students,” said Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “The Skills BC competition is a great measure of how our students perform in the real world. They are faced with hands-on applied challenges and are given a set amount of time to make repairs, trouble shoot and come up with relevant solutions. The medals are evidence of our students’ skills and the great instruction they receive.”  

Winners of the provincial competition are eligible to compete at the nationals, held in June in Toronto. The Okanagan College students who will represent the province in Toronto are: Vernon’s Dominique Zimmermann, gold in Aircraft Maintenance; Kelowna’s Ken Anderson, gold in Automotive Service; and James Webber, gold in Electronics, also from Kelowna. 

For the second year in a row Okanagan College swept the Electronic Engineering competition, taking all three podium spots. It’s the third year the College has competed in this category; each year students from the program have returned with medals. The College earned gold, silver and bronze in 2013 and took home a silver and bronze in 2012. 

“I am really excited to support Dominique at the national competition,” said AME M instructor and coach Dale Martell. “After winning the provincial competition I’m feeling very confident about how he’ll do in Toronto. We’ve been sending students to the Skills competition for three years and are yet to return without medals. Dominique and Derek are no exception. They are both great students who can work independently and will be a huge asset to the industry.”

Other medalists include: Derek Volling, Aircraft Maintenance (bronze); Russell Relling, Automotive Collision Repair (silver); Jay Kendrick, Automotive Collision Repair (bronze); Nick Spottock, Automotive Service (bronze); Christopher Dalton, Carpentry (silver); Josh Wams, Electronics (silver); Alex Pelton, Electronics (bronze); Bryer Edwards, IT Network Systems Administration (silver).

Graduate students open academic conference to public and media

Sarah De Leeuw

Keynote speaker Sarah De Leeuw

Fifth annual IGS Conference features free presentations focusing on rethinking sustainability

What: 2014 Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference, Rethinking Sustainability: New Critical and Cultural Horizons, open to media and public
Who: Interdisciplinary graduate students across disciplines
When: Friday, May 2, and Saturday, May 3
Where: UBC’s Okanagan campus

About 70 graduate students, including 35 presenters, from a variety of post-secondary institutions, will gather for this year’s Interdisciplinary Graduate Student (IGS) Conference May 2 and 3 at UBC’s Okanagan campus. For the first time, conference presentations and events are open to media and public. Registration is not required.

“The goal of this year's IGS Conference is to bring a broad range of graduate students from varying disciplines -- humanities to social sciences to experimental sciences -- into conversation on issues related to sustainability,” says Max Dickenson, secretary for the IGS Conference.

“The conference aims to foster interdisciplinary discussion about issues we often think of as immediately relevant when we think ‘sustainability,’ such as environmental activism and preservation, but also about the processes of sustaining ideas and sustaining thought, as well as the question of whether the concept of sustainability is ever deployed in damaging ways rather than positive ones,” says Dickenson.

The conference features two days of panel discussions and events. An expected highlight is Sarah De Leeuw's keynote presentation, Small, Intimate, and Loving: Re-scaling and Embodying Sustainability, on Friday, May 2, 9 to 10:30 a.m. in ARTS 103. De Leeuw is an associate professor with the Northern Medical Program at the University of Northern British Columbia.

Her research concerns small, intimate geographies and expressions of power in and through place. Specifically, she focuses on colonialism in British Columbia, child welfare and residential schools, and creative and artistic expressions as means of disrupting power imbalances.

The conference runs in collaboration with an art exhibition. Materiality combines art installations, creative writing, reading, and an informal discussion with students and faculty. The event is curated by UBC PhD candidate Jeannette Angel and takes place from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the FINA gallery in the foyer of the Creative and Critical Studies building.

The conference closes with Walking the Talk, a panel discussion featuring a conversation across disciplines between distinguished scholars conducting sustainability-related research. The presentation will be held Saturday, May 3, 2 to 3:30 p.m. in the Students' Union Theatre (University Centre UNC 106). Moderated by David Kadish, a master of fine arts student with the Centre for Culture and Technology at UBC’s Okanagan campus, Walking the Talk features UBC faculty members Greg Garrard, Susan Murch, Jeannette Armstrong and John Wagner.

This is the first time the conference has included a full panel of faculty members speaking to the topics and concerns the graduate presenters addressed throughout the conference.

For more information on the IGS Conference, and to see a detailed schedule of events go to


Okanagan College drives trades career exploration to Revelstoke

Okanagan College Media Release

For the very first time, Okanagan College’s Trades Discovery Trailer will stop in Revelstoke.

On April 24, Okanagan College instructors and industry representatives will be at the Revelstoke Forum to show secondary school students, their parents, and members of the general public, what it means to work in a variety of different trades.    

“There has never been a better time to learn a skilled trade. A career in the trades provides challenging and interesting opportunities to work with the latest technologies in a variety of environments,” says Steve Moores, Okanagan College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship.

Attendees at the event will have the chance to experience the latest technology in trades educationthe virtual reality Welder Trainer simulator. In addition, there will be demonstrations and hands-on activities for the following trades:  
  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineer Maintenance
  • Collision Repair & Refinishing Prep Technician
  • Carpentry/Joinery
  • Electrician
  • Recreation Vehicle Service Technician
  • Automotive Service Technician
  • Sheet Metal
  • Welding

Students will have the opportunity to find out more about existing programs and new developments, like the Electrician Pre-Apprenticeship program being proposed for Revelstoke in August of 2015. Attendees will also be able to learn about the benefits of school district dual credit programs and tuition savings for trades training.

Taylor Pro Training, the Automotive Training Standards Organization and Okanagan College employees will be on hand to supervise the activities and demonstrations as well as answer questions about programs, application process, working in the trades and job options.

The Trades Discovery Trailer exhibition runs from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Revelstoke Forum, 1100 Vernon Ave. Members of the public are invited to attend as well.

For more information about Trades and Apprenticeship education at Okanagan College, visit

UBC researchers part of Peachland partnership for large development

Keith Culver chats with Mark Holland

Okanagan Sustainability Institute director Keith Culver chats with Mark Holland, vice-president of development for New Monaco. Holland, a UBC alumnus, is excited about UBC’s research partnership with the District of Peachland and New Monaco.

Developer joins forces with engineering students, Okanagan Sustainability Institute

Taking the lab out of the classroom is becoming commonplace at UBC as academics strive to apply what they know to the world around us.

For researchers with UBC’s Okanagan Sustainability Institute (OSI) and the School of Engineering, one of their current research labs is a sloping hillside in the northern part of Peachland. The 125-acre parcel is the proposed site of New Monaco, a multi-use urban development that will eventually see a fully sustainable community of more than 5,000 residents, commercial businesses, and light industry.

Keith Culver, director of UBC’s OSI, says he is pleased with the distinctive partnerships formed between New Monaco developer Mark Holland, UBC’s School of Engineering, OSI, the District of Peachland, and organizations such as Urban Systems, Fortis BC, and Focus Energy Group.

“We have created a regional innovation system that uses the Okanagan as a living lab for exploration of new ways of doing things together,” says Culver. “And there’s mutual learning about how to apply research principles to solve real problems. We’re not afraid to be ambitious: problem-solving in the Okanagan can be globally relevant if done well.”

Researchers at UBC have received a three-year, $125,000 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council grant that allows a group of graduate students from the School of Engineering to look at several aspects of sustainable development. Engineering Professor Rehan Sadiq says the students are working on projects ranging from sustainable water and electricity supplies, wastewater containment and recycling, and transit.

“Research to transform sustainability principles into planning practices is complex and challenging,” says Sadiq. “Sustainability on a neighbourhood scale requires an holistic and integrative approach to balancing flows of water, energy, material, and finance.”

Urban neighbourhood sustainability has been recognized as one of the four emerging challenges for Canada in the next decade, says engineer Kasun Hewage, an associate professor.

Residential, commercial, and institutional buildings and infrastructure require high volumes of energy and raw materials to construct, operate, and maintain. Hewage says his students are exploring specific ways to mitigate the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and general waste produced during construction and when the buildings are occupied.

New Monaco, adopted into Peachland’s Official Community Plan in 2011, will be a community with mixed housing, commercial, and artisan light-industrial zoning with a projected 5,000 residents; doubling the population of Peachland and creating new employment opportunities for the area.

District of Peachland Mayor Keith Fielding says the collaboration between the district and New Monaco is a good example of how communities and developers can plan for the future.

“The developers and district staff have a very effective working relationship,” Fielding says. “It exemplifies best practices with respect to community consultation and the quest to ensure healthy and sustainable outcomes.”

Mark Holland, New Monaco’s VP Development and board director for the Urban Development Institute, says this project demonstrates the immense potential of strategic economic development in the Okanagan.

“We have a world-class university, a local government, a utility, a major developer, engineers, and innovative researchers working together on a real community to drive market-ready innovation,” says Holland.

Culver notes that this research will be invaluable for decades to come, as the goal is to provide results to all communities dealing with issues such as growth and sustainability.

“It is information we will be able to transfer to any neighbourhood in Canada and comparable regions globally,” he says.


Okanagan Heat volleyball star, CIS boss highlight UBC event

Tickets remain available for UBC’s ninth annual Athletics Scholarship Breakfast 

Jill Festival

Jill Festival will speak at the ninth annual Valley First/UBC Okanagan Scholarship Breakfast on Thursday, April 24.

Fifth-year volleyball player Jill Festival has enjoyed team and individual success throughout her varsity days at UBC’s Okanagan campus. To cap off her career with UBC’s Okanagan Heat, Festival will speak at this year’s Valley First/UBC Okanagan Athletics Scholarship Breakfast on Thursday, April 24.

Festival, who graduates this June with a bachelor of arts degree in English and psychology in the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, captained the Heat volleyball team for the past three seasons. Strong in academics and athletics, she has won the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCNA) National Scholar Award and twice been named an Academic All-Canadian.

At the scholarship breakfast, Festival will speak about the importance of community support and how varsity athletes often depend on scholarships to allow them to play at the high-ranking Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) level. Also speaking that morning is CIS top executive Pierre Lafontaine.

Jill Festival

Student speaker Jill Festival, Heat captain for the past three seasons, has won the CCAA National Scholar Award and twice been named an Academic All-Canadian.

Rob Johnson, director of Athletics and Recreation at UBC Okanagan, says it’s exciting to have Lafontaine, a man so tied into the world of university sports, come to Kelowna and speak about varsity athletics.

“This is an exciting time for the CIS—a new TV deal with SportsNet, a new strategic plan, and a new CEO to lead us,” says Johnson “With our soccer teams joining our basketball and volleyball teams at the CIS level this fall, UBC Okanagan is well positioned to be an active member in these changes. Canadian university sport keeps getting better and better and we are fortunate to have these opportunities here in the Okanagan.”

Before joining the CIS, Lafontaine was CEO at Swimming Canada, where he led the organization to consistent podium finishes at Olympic and Paralympic games.

However, to get to the podium, student athletes need more than just natural talent and a competitive drive, says Johnston. And that’s where the scholarship breakfast comes in. Money raised goes directly to student athletes.

“Many of our student athletes couldn’t afford to participate on our teams without the financial awards that we offer as a result the athletics breakfast,” says Johnson.

UBC matches every dollar raised at the Valley First/UBC Okanagan Athletics Breakfast and overall more than $400,000 has been raised for the Athletics Scholarship Endowment.

This year’s breakfast agenda is jam-packed as out-going UBC President Stephen Toope will also speak at his final appearance at the Athletic Scholarship Breakfast. He leaves his position in June and this will be one of his last official speaking dates in the Okanagan.

The ninth annual Valley First/UBC Okanagan Scholarship Breakfast takes place on Thursday, April 24 at the Coast Capri Hotel. Doors open at 6:45 a.m. and the program begins at 7:15.

Tickets are still available at:


Kelowna’s Alix Hawley closes out Visiting Author series

Final UBC literary event of season features festive evening

Alix Hawley

Kelowna author Alix Hawley will read from her works at UBC’s final Visiting Author evening of the year on April 22 at the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art.

Looking for a cool way to celebrate World Book Night? Join UBC for the final Visiting Author event of the season as celebrated Kelowna author Alix Hawley reads from her works.

The reading is among a trio of literary tributes celebrating the work of authors and poets on Tuesday, April 22, at the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art, 421 Cawston Ave., Kelowna.

The evening will also see announcement of the winner and two runners-up for the Okanagan Short Story contest. As well, UBC creative writing students will read from their class project #Vherbage!, and launch their collaborative digital writing site that explores the psychosocial, animate lives of plants.

The program:

  • 5:30 p.m. – #Vherbage!, a class project by UBC’s Department of Creative Studies creative writing students;
  • 7 p.m. – Okanagan Short Story contest winners announced;
  • 7:15 p.m. – Visiting Author Alix Hawley reads from her works.

Hawley was one of five finalists for the English 2014 and 2012 CBC Short Story Prize. Her upcoming novel, All True Not a Lie In It, a first-person account of American frontier hero Daniel Boone's captivity by the Shawnee, will be published this spring.

Hawley has also authored a critically acclaimed short-story collection, The Old Familiar (Thistledown 2008.) A teacher of English literature and creative writing at Okanagan College, she lives in Kelowna with her family.

The evening’s event, which includes snacks and refreshments, is free and open to the public.

April 23 is World Book Day, also known as International Day of the Book. The commemorative was created in 1995 by UNESCO to promote reading, publishing and copyright. World Book Day pays world-wide homage to books and authors, encouraging everyone, particularly young people, to discover the pleasure of reading and gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity.

This date was picked due to its significance as the anniversary of the deaths of literary giants William Shakespeare and Spanish authors Miguel de Cervantes and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, in 1616.


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