Campus Life - Kamloops  

TRU Williams Lake to host UN Working Group

The United Nations (UN) Working Group on Business and Human Rights will be hosted at TRU’s Williams Lake Campus on Sunday, May 28, 2017.

This historic event marks the first time a UN Working Group has ever held sessions in a small Interior community. The Working Group’s appearance is jointly sponsored by Thompson Rivers University and the Human Rights Committee of the TRU Faculty Association (TRUFA).

“We are pleased to support this important dialogue between Amnesty International and the Stkemlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation (SSN) and other First Nations in the region,” said Alan Shaver, TRU President and Vice Chancellor.

Amnesty International and Professor Nicole Schabus, Chair of the TRUFA Human Rights Committee, are organizing the meeting session, which will focus on the impacts of the Mount Polley disaster, resource development in rural BC, and regulatory and governance issues related to extractive industries.

These topics have garnered broad interest among Indigenous representatives, local communities and civil society groups. Participants include chiefs and activists from SSN and other First Nations along with representatives from advocacy groups.

“We really think that hosting this meeting at the Williams Lake campus is a great opportunity for TRU,” said Schabus. “The work being done by this group is highly relevant to ongoing efforts to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.”

For more information
Nicole Schabus
(778) 257-4431

New leadership in teaching and learning

Christine Bovis Cnossen, provost and vice-president academics, announced May 26 that Dr. Catharine Dishke Hondzel has been selected to be the new Director of the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT). Catharine will take up her position at the Centre on August 1, 2017.

As director, Dishke will provide strong strategic and visionary leadership in the articulation and implementation of learning and teaching excellence and education innovation. She will work with faculty and deans to develop and promote the scholarship of teaching and learning, scholarly teaching and evidence-based practices that support and enhance TRU’s comprehensive programs, delivery modes and learners. She will also chair the Senate Teaching and Learning Committee and will be a member of the Senate Student Engagement Committee.

In her previous role as Coordinator of Research and Learning Support at Huron University College, Dishke worked with faculty and administration on teaching support, course and curriculum development, research support, developing high impact practices in community-based learning, and cyclical program review.

“I am confident Catharine’s prior experience at Huron University College and her academic curriculum vitae will serve her well as she undertakes leadership of CELT here at TRU. I trust you will extend your warmest welcome and give her your full support and collegial cooperation as she joins our community,” Bovis Cnossesn stated.

She received her MA in Applied Social Psychology from the University of Windsor and holds a Doctorate in Education Studies (Applied Psychology) from Western University.

She also helped found Huron’s Centre for Undergraduate Research Learning, a program which offers mentorship and funding to undergraduates to conduct their own independent research projects alongside faculty mentors.

I am excited to begin work at TRU and look forward to having the opportunity to collaborate with leading-edge faculty and staff who share a vision of engaged teaching and learning. Working together, I hope to cultivate strength in diversity and support an innovative and positive campus culture that inspires creativity and includes everyone,” said Dishke.

Her research projects have investigated teachers’ fostering of creativity in the classroom, variations in children’s creativity in Norway, Finland and Canada, and the development of resilience and employment skills in trade apprentices. Her work in the scholarship of teaching and learning has examined faculty and graduate students’ perceptions of teaching culture at research-intensive institutions, academic preparation and pathways for technological education teachers, and decision-making processes in faculty and students engaged in undergraduate research.

More information
Diana Skoglund
Director Executive Communications
Thompson Rivers University
(p) 250-371-5897
(c) 250-851-1818

Tourism student set for Big Apple

Vivek Punwani is set for an all-expenses paid trip to New York City for the Professional Convention Management (PCMA) Education Conference this June after taking home a pair of major scholarships.

Punwani, a third-year student who is currently doing the tourism double degree option through TRU and a partnership with NHTV University of Applied Sciences in Breda, Netherlands, is the recipient of the 2017 Roy B. Evans Scholarship.

The award is a major scholarship from the PCMA Education Foundation which recognizes hard work, dedication, contributions to the meetings and hospitality industry and can be used toward tuition expenses for the 2017/2018 school year. On top of the Rob B. Evan’s Scholarship, he is also the recipient of the 2017 Education Conference Scholarship and a trip to the Big Apple.

“While maintaining an impressive 4.33 GPA, Vivek has been actively involved in PCMA as an executive member responsible for recruitment and member engagement,” said tourism faculty member, Robin Reid.

“He not only demonstrates an ability to maintain a high level of academic achievement, he also has an uncanny ability to reach out to the larger student body—encouraging not only participation in PCMA sponsored activities but also in enhancing a culture of engagement on the TRU campus.”

Punwani is no stranger to the tourism industry, currently working as a global account administrator for Conference Direct in Vancouver, BC. Born in Jamaica and raised in Victoria, he has lived and worked globally, including a recent stint in Melbourne, Australia. However, he says his passion for for the field didn’t come naturally.

“I definitely didn’t always want to work in tourism and events. I used to want to be a chef, and a forensic anthropologist with the RCMP. The more I travelled, the more I wanted to be involved in the industry that makes so many memories and opportunities for personal growth and intercultural understanding possible,” he said.

“I think that the tourism program broadened my understanding of the field and its impacts on communities. It also provides a very global perspective as well as a philosophical and theoretical framework that I can apply to my future studies and outlook on tourism.”

Punwani is looking forward to networking, reconnecting with friends from across the globe and learning about the latest industry trends at the conference next month.

Conference activities include conversations with thought leaders who bring fresh outside perspectives. In a city rich with design, art, architecture, fashion and more, New York City provides the perfect backdrop for student-leaders to think outside the traditional meeting paradigm.


Labà dienà from the Beer Library

Emily Dundas Oke in Lithuania

Emily Dundas Oke has turned the document holder that the TRU study abroad office gave her into a mini studio—it holds drawing pencils, watercolours, scissors, glue and collage materials.

She’s always picking up free magazines and newspapers to use for collage. Lately the print materials include Lithuanian

Dundas Oke is currently studying at two institutions in Vilnius, Lithuania—Vilnius University and the Vilnius Academy of Arts and she’s majoring in philosophy and minoring in visual arts.

She explains her affection for TRU and its unique size—big enough to enable fantastic opportunities in research, study abroad, co-op, exhibitions and community, but small enough to develop amazing rapport with wonderful professors.

Lately she’s been developing new relationships and community connections in the baroque beauty of the Baltic.

Q & A with Emily Dundas Oke

What has been great about study abroad?
The combination of an amazing place in a wonderful multi-layered context. I am a student of two institutions in a city full of art, cafés, bars, international people and interesting locals.

What surprised you about this experience?
Lithuania has been predominantly one big surprise. I intentionally knew very little about it before arriving. A major surprise is the amount of cultural events in the city. And I did not expect to meet so many international students—all of my courses are filled with students from across Europe.

Have there been any challenges that you’ve had to overcome?
Certainly. Meeting and becoming friends with locals has not been as easy as I expected, given that I live and study with other international students. That being said, Lithuanians are extremely helpful and slowly but surely I am getting there!

You’ve spent two summers working at the Kamloops Art Gallery? 
I am fortunate to have worked at the Kamloops Art Gallery as both an art instructor and an installation assistant. Through the gallery, not only do I get to work with committed and supportive staff, but I have also been able to develop teaching skills, my research capacity, and understanding of arts organization and administration.

Any cool projects you’ve got to work on over there?
I have exhibited twice thus far and in unique contexts. The Vilnius Art Academy has a campus in Klaipeda and they organized a two-week participatory art workshop with two professors from Liepzig University. The workshop, titled SOURCE, was especially interesting since we were working with family archives to develop new photographs, text and an exhibition.

Also, in Vilnius, one of my courses is titled “Interactive Team Project.” Together, 18 artists from somewhere around a dozen countries worked collaboratively in an alternative space to realise an exhibition. We just had our opening last week. The opportunity to work collaboratively is rare, and to do so with so many unique artists from different backgrounds was both a challenge and a fun venture.

What are the major differences between the two institutions in Vilnius and TRU?
Course structure and approach. My lectures only meet once a week for an hour and a half. Although I am not doing any studio courses, it seems as the the visual arts students have much more freedom in their assignments. Whereas at TRU, for all my courses (both philosophy and visual arts) we have assignments due throughout the term, here, the assignments are due at the end of the semester. In addition, each visual art student has a faculty advisor throughout their whole degree with whom they work independently.

What is your top choice as a dining destination in the city?
The Alaus Biblioteka, which literally translates to Beer Library is my favorite place for a drink. They have a chart that looks like the Periodical Table of all the possible beers to try. The servers are quirky and I think know everything there is to know about beer.

What inspires you the most lately?
The spaces. It is impossible not to get lost in Vilnius Old town, as the streets are never straight and there is no grid. This spatial disorientation is still interesting to me after three months. That, and the history of spaces and places through political change.

My artwork and research in Canada before arriving to Lithuania dealt with space and identity through territories which are recognized through various levels of culture, legislation and the recognition of identity in spaces which are hard to define and which continually go through change.

Lithuania has a complex past which includes occupations of Nazi and Soviet Regimes as well as a strong history of the Great Duchy of Lithuania. Currently I am interested in how artists identify coming from and shaping this space.

What advice do you have for first year arts students?
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Get busy doing what is fun and make things happen for you and others. Just get moving and don’t be too hard on yourself. Participate in the community. Ask questions as you never know where they will lead. Have fun. Learn about art in as many ways as you can: go to galleries, volunteer, work, make and read, read, read.

Anything else you want to add about Vilnius?
It is an amazing place to live. Perhaps not well known to Canadians, but it is a burgeoning culture that is full of diverse and unique experiences. I picked it out of intuition, and am still more than thrilled to be here. It is affordable, accessible, and a wonderful place to be, especially for those interested in arts and on a budget.

You can check out Dundas Oke’s blog for more of a glimpse into her experience abroad and her interests in reading and art. 

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