Campus Life  

CFUW Kelowna celebrates 60 years of empowering women

CIS grad, Terra Laurin and her son

Before there was Okanagan College or the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO), a small group of women met to discuss how they could contribute to their community and promote higher education for women.

Today, that group, known as the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) Kelowna chapter, are celebrating 60 years of community impact and support for female students.

More than $175,000 has been donated to female students at Okanagan College over the last 30 years including eight awards for students this year alone.

“If we can improve women’s lives through education, we know many of these women will become leaders in their fields,” explains Carrie Izumi, Co-President of CFUW Kelowna.

Terra Laurin is a single mother who received a CFUW bursary in the fall of 2020. With one semester left to complete her Computer Information Systems diploma at Okanagan College, Laurin says support from CFUW has been invaluable, allowing her to focus on her schooling and her son.

“This award shows me that hard work and commitment are as important to others as they are to me,” says Laurin. “I feel motivated knowing that there is a community supporting me as I realize my dreams.”

Meri Kim Oliver, Okanagan College Vice President Students, applauds CFUW Kelowna’s more than three decades of volunteer work in support of Okanagan College students.

“What an incredible impact CFUW Kelowna has made on female students,” says Oliver.

“Generations have been helped, and generations more will continue to be supported thanks to the longstanding and dedicated work of these women. By helping this generation of women succeed in their studies, CFUW are making a positive impact on our entire community. We are deeply grateful for their contributions to the College.”

CFUW Kelowna derives its funds for education awards from sales of coffee grown by female growers, articles knitted by members, successful fashion shows and member donations. In addition, CFUW receives financial support for the awards from the province through Gaming funds.

To celebrate CFUW’s 60th year, the organization has created an anniversary bursary fund at Okanagan College with the goal of supporting women who are either underserved or underrepresented in certain fields.

CFUW is inviting members, former members and others to donate for the establishment of two additional awards: one for women entering commercial aviation or engineering technology, and one to support a female Indigenous student in any program.

Ruth Mellor, CFUW Kelowna Vice President and member for nearly 50 years, says their organization has much to celebrate, and members can be proud of contributing to a variety of community projects that continue today.

Some examples include:

  • CFUW’s introduction in the 1970s of the Capsule College Series featuring lectures by expert speakers. After 25 successful years, this lecture series was taken over by Okanagan College.
  • The reselling of used books from the Okanagan Regional Library with the funds going back to support the library. Eventually, this fundraiser became its own non-profit, Friends of the Library.
  • The development of a pamphlet providing a list of all the non-profit groups in the city which became Advice Services Kelowna (ASK Kelowna), the starting point for Kelowna Community Resources (KCR).

“There was a lot of volunteer time put in but I don’t think it ever felt like a hardship to our members,” adds Mellor. “The real philosophy is using your education for the good of our community and that’s really the basis for who we are.”

The next 60 years
Charlene Hodgson, Co-President of CFUW Kelowna, is a fairly new member and was drawn to the club because of its focus on supporting women’s education but also broader societal issues facing women and girls. She says CFUW creates opportunities for women’s voices to be heard followed by action to make a difference.

Hodgson says their local club is raising awareness about violence against women and poverty, just to name a couple areas of current involvement. CFUW Kelowna also took part, along with other CFUW clubs in B.C., in a pilot project to support community groups who are working with kids aging out of foster care.

“As we look forward, it’s still about encouraging women,” says Hodgson. “So many good things have happened, we can’t just stop, we have to keep encouraging.”

CFUW is recruiting new members. To learn more about the Kelowna chapter, visit cfuwkelownaclub.org.

Open education efforts continue to enhance access for OC students

Roen Janyk

Thanks to a grant from BCcampus, over the next several months Okanagan College will be adding to its strong track record for promoting and supporting open education practices, including the creation, use and adaptation of open educational resources (OER).

The $10,000 grant is empowering project lead Roën Janyk, Web Services Librarian, and a group of OC employees and student union representatives who have been meeting for the past several years, to focus their efforts on honing an open education strategy and action plan for the College.

“The creation of an OER strategy at OC is something we have been hoping to develop for a long time now,” says Janyk. “We are really excited to be engaging with students and staff on this initiative.”

“This grant will enable faculty and instructors to have a point person at their own institution to learn more about developing and adopting open education content, while giving their students an opportunity to not only save money on course materials, but also to engage with course materials that remain relevant and accessible even after they leave the College” she adds. “I am looking forward to having time to devote to open education, and work with colleagues across Canada and BC who are working on similar projects at their own institutions.”

In the coming months, Janyk will be working with faculty, instructors, departments and portfolios to reduce reliance on traditional textbooks and course materials.

According to BCcampus, OC ranks sixth in the province among institutions in terms of savings generated for students by the use of open educational resources, with cumulative savings of nearly $750,000 since BCcampus and OC began tracking in 2013. In addition to OER savings, the Library’s e-textbook licensing program has saved students more than $400,000 since it launched in 2018 – bringing the combined savings well over $1 million between the two initiatives.

“Open educational resources play an important role in increasing affordability for students, as commercial publishers make it increasingly difficult and expensive for libraries to license ebooks, preferring to pass on the high costs of textbooks and ancillary materials to individual students,” notes Ross Tyner, Director of Library Services at Okanagan College.

As Tyner points out, OERs are vital to the development of a textbook alternative strategy, the importance of which has been reinforced by most large commercial publishers’ reactions to the current predicament which students and institutions have found themselves in during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Instructors and students who had relied on the availability of print textbooks on reserve in the library, and who have, as the result of courses moving online, transitioned to commercially published ebooks on proprietary platforms, are finding themselves locked out by publishers that refuse to sell ebooks to libraries or institutions, or who will only sell them at hugely inflated prices, choosing instead to sell or rent them directly to students where profits are highest,” adds Tyner.

Open educational resources are just one part of the open education movement.

While affordability for students is an obvious benefit of OER use, it is but one of many advantages open educational practices bring to students and instructors. For example, with OER, faculty and instructors can customize the material they use in class, either by substituting for, or adding to, resources provided by commercial publishers.

They can also build upon materials created by other educators and experts, and share among one another, giving faculty and instructors ultimate control over their course content and teaching pedagogy.

OERs also help to integrate local content – increasingly important and of interest to students across many fields.

With OERs, faculty and instructors have the ability to adapt materials to a local context, add experiential learning activities to traditionally static learning materials, and continue to adapt materials for currency and relevancy.

OERs are also greener too. They reduce waste – no more outdated print editions of textbooks going unused – by offering an online alternative or print-on-demand option. They also reduce carbon emissions by eliminating the need to ship traditional textbooks globally.  

The OER project at Okanagan College will be underway within the next few weeks and will include consultation with interested faculty, instructors, students and others. To learn more about the project or to begin exploring more open education materials for your courses, please reach out to Roën Janyk.

Further reading/resources:

UBC Okanagan launches micro-credential programs

Assistant Professor of Teaching Dean Richert and student Ram Dershan prepare a workstation that will be used for the industrial automation micro-credential course.

Assistant Professor of Teaching Dean Richert and student Ram Dershan prepare a workstation that will be used for the industrial automation micro-credential course.

Short-duration, competency-based options aim to help community members improve skills

With an increasing need for continued education among those looking to build their knowledge in high-demand fields, UBC Okanagan has launched two micro-credential programs as part of its career and personal education portfolio. The first of their kind at UBCO, the two new micro-credentials will focus on the fields of technical communication and industrial automation.

“Micro-credentials are short programs that are often competency-based and are designed to respond to the needs of industry,” says Ananya Mukherjee Reed, provost and vice-president academic at UBC Okanagan. “They enable UBC Okanagan to offer unique learning opportunities alongside our academic programs that reflect the evolving education needs of today’s workforce.”

The new micro-credentials are part of British Columbia’s $4 million in funding for similar initiatives across the province. UBCO’s two new programs are delivered online and learners will earn a non-credit letter of proficiency, which includes a traditional paper copy of the credential and one or more digital badges which can be shared on their professional social media profiles.

The Critical Skills for Communications in the Technical Sector course, offered through the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science, focuses on developing skills to communicate information accurately, succinctly and unambiguously and is intended for those working or seeking employment in a technical field.

Dr. Edward Hornibrook, head of the Department of Earth, Environmental and Geographic Sciences and host of the new credential at UBCO, says the ability to communicate complex topics in a way that can be generally understood is a critical skill for employees across a breadth of industries.

“The program offers eight modules that focus on everything from improving grammar and style to better engaging with clients to producing successful technical proposals,” he says. “While many people focus on developing their technical abilities, this program is a great opportunity to improve on communication skills and will help participants get their ideas out in a clear and concise way—something that can bring a world of new opportunities for those seeking employment or wishing to advance their current position.”

Skills in Industrial Automation, offered through the School of Engineering in the Faculty of Applied Science, brings together theory with hands-on practice. Participants have the opportunity to use industry-standard tools to learn about and develop automated systems.

“Not only are these programs designed in close collaboration with industry partners to ensure they provide real value in a professional context, but also students get to hone their skills in a flexible way and network with other people in their fields with the same interests,” says Dr. Homayoun Najjaran, associate director of manufacturing engineering and creator of the industrial automation micro-credential. “This is a new and exciting offering from UBCO and one that’s going to benefit employers and individuals alike.”

While the Skills in Industrial Automation micro-credential is full, Critical Skills for Communications in the Technical Sector is open for enrolment. For more information on both programs visit: provost.ok.ubc.ca/cpe

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

Indigenous Awards drives support for OC students

Austin MacArthur

Kamloops’ Austin MacArthur moved to Kelowna to attend Okanagan College’s Automotive Service Technician program to unlock a lifelong dream of becoming a mechanic – a dream fueled in part by the Irving K. Barber BC Scholarship Society’s Indigenous Student awards.

MacArthur is one of over 600 BC Indigenous students who shared more than $2.2 million in awards from the Society in support of post-secondary studies. The Society’s Indigenous Award program is one of six award programs and was created to assist in removing barriers to higher education for Indigenous peoples.

“I cannot explain how grateful I was to find out I was an award recipient,” says MacArthur. “The support from the Irving K. Barber Indigenous Award has enabled me to purchase a reliable laptop – a necessity for online learning – and most importantly it has taken the stress away of having to work while in school.”

The society offers renewable annual awards of $1,000 to $5,000 to students studying at all post-secondary levels – including trades training, apprenticeships, diplomas, certificates, undergraduate degrees and even masters, doctoral and teacher education studies. The awards are renewable in order to provide sustained funding over multiple years.

“Do your research about scholarships and bursary awards that are available,” advises MacArthur. “Even if you think you won’t get it, if you meet the eligibility, take the time to apply. You never know what could happen.”

His advice is echoed by Okanagan College School of Business student Saige Girouard, who received similar financial supports to complete her Bachelor of Business degree.

Saige Girouard

“I’ve been contemplating applying for these awards for four years before I finally did,” explains Girouard. “As a non-status Métis, I’ve always struggled with applying for Indigenous awards and the feeling I felt when I received my congratulatory letter for this award is unparalleled – to be recognized as an Indigenous person with academic success is a huge honour.”

The Society’s Indigenous Awards are available to students who identify as Indigenous, which the society defines as First Nations (Status or Non-Status), Métis or Inuit.

Girouard will be completing her Bachelor of Business Administration degree with Honours, a distinction she credits to the financial freedom from the Indigenous Award which allowed her to focus entirely on school. Girouard’s dream is to work with the government and be part of the change towards a genuine and sustained reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

“We know this Awards program makes a real difference in shaping the futures of Indigenous students,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training in a media release issued by the Irving K. Barber Society. “Every year, these funds help break down barriers for Indigenous students enabling recipients to become active participants in classrooms, in communities and eventually in B.C.’s economy by putting their knowledge and skills to good use.”

OC’s Computer Information Systems student David Tearoe and Education Assistant student Deanna Josephson couldn’t agree more. Both students enrolled at Okanagan College with the goal of changing their career paths, a goal that was assisted by the Indigenous Awards.

David Tearoe

Tearoe, a Keremeos local, has spent the last 12 years working in the floor installation industry and was able to confidently make the transition back to school to study his true passion, data analysis.

“Receiving this award was incredible and could not have come at a better time,” explains Tearoe. “Returning to school to switch careers is financially stressful and this award helped me mentally and financially transition to a sustainable, life-long career in my field of choice.”

Josephson worked in the social service field in Regina, Sask. for more than a decade before moving to Vernon. After starting her family and staying at home for a few years to raise her children, Josephson realized her desire to work with children as a career. She enrolled in the College’s Education Assistant program in Vernon to upgrade her skills and pursue a new career, allowing her to follow her passion of supporting children with special needs.

Deanna Josephson

“I am a mother to three children all under the age of six,” says Josephson. “This award has helped our family so much. It made returning to school a lot easier and I look forward to graduation when I can return to work with confidence in my new career.”

Since the awards inception, nearly $23 million has been distributed to BC students. Students can apply for awards in several categories – Indigenous Awards, International Scholarships, Transfer Scholarships and Women in Tech.

Applications for the 2021/22 Indigenous Awards will be accepted by the Society until 5 p.m. on Friday, April 30, 2021. Students looking to apply or find more information about the awards including eligibility and award renewals can visit the Society’s website, www.ikbbc.ca.

The month of March is set aside to embrace aging in the Okanagan

Naomi Mison, who is hosting an event to discuss virtual solutions to support loved ones during COVIID-19, has a conversation with her mother on Skype.

Naomi Mison, who is hosting an event to discuss virtual solutions to support loved ones during COVIID-19, has a conversation with her mother on Skype.

More than 30 virtual events are lined up, from health tips to art classes

This March will be the eighth annual Embrace Aging month taking place across the Okanagan.

Organized each spring by UBC Okanagan’s Institute for Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Prevention (IHLCDP), the goal is to raise awareness and educational opportunities on issues relevant to seniors and their families, explains Nursing Professor Joan Bottorff, director of the IHLCDP.

“After living with COIVD-19 for a year, we have all learned how important all aspects of health are—good physical, mental and social health is vital for us all,” says Bottorff. “This is especially important for our aging population.”

Bottorff says that by 2036 it is projected older adults will account for 25 per cent of Canada’s population. That statistic alone makes programs that support successful and healthy aging vital for everyone.

“Embrace Aging Month brings into focus the importance of supporting older adults in our communities,” she adds. “We have organized a variety of events that will share information aimed at bettering the quality of life among older adults.”

Co-sponsored by Interior Savings Credit Union and Interior Health, March is filled with more than 30 free events, workshops and activities for seniors, their families and caregivers

But, she notes, the workshops go beyond supplying healthy aging tips.

“It’s also about having fun, consciously making a point to enjoy our days, even though some people may feel separated or isolated during the pandemic,” Bottorff says.

This year event organizers have teamed up with Border Free Bees to offer a number of workshops including how to build a home for mason bees and how to become a bee ambassador. Other events include online painting classes, a beading workshop, estate planning, walking tips, scam protection ideas and a Women in Syilx culture presentation by Kelowna Museums.

Participants will also hear from UBC Okanagan students and faculty about the latest research on the importance of gut health, nutrition, stroke care, tips on transitioning into a care home or aging at home, advice on how to get a good night’s sleep and tips to prevent falls.

All events, free and open to the public, will be offered virtually via Zoom. To learn more, visit: okanaganembraceaging.com

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

Province partners with Interior universities for COVID-19 research solutions

Aerial view of UBC Okanagan

Projects will look at improving N95 masks, mental health and well-being

The BC Ministry of Health is investing in BC Interior research universities to understand the harmful effects of COVID-19 and mitigate its impact on communities across the province.

The province has funded five collaborative research projects through the Interior University Research Coalition (IURC), a partnership between Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in Kamloops, the University of British Columbia, Okanagan (UBCO) in Kelowna and the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) in Prince George.

The projects being funded range from identifying the effects of the pandemic on the mental health and well-being of people living in rural communities to developing telehealth programs that will engage older adults outside urban centres. Other projects include a focus on improving the lifespan of N95 masks, as well as building a better understanding of whether new technologies are improving the resiliency of rural health-care practitioners.

“This is a win-win-win situation for the province, for the universities, and for the communities we serve in terms of the impact this research will have on the health and quality of life for the people who live there,” says Will Garrett-Petts, associate vice-president, research and graduate studies at TRU.

He adds that the IURC has developed a model that can ensure responsible and innovative research.

“The work we’re doing is meaningful and is guided by the interests of the local and regional communities,” he says. “This is a wonderful model of collaboration, and one we are collectively celebrating.”

UBC Okanagan’s Vice-Principal and Associate Vice-President for Research and Innovation Phil Barker agrees. He says his campus is especially excited to be working on an initiative that is highly collaborative and that spans campuses and institutions across the BC interior.

“We’re delighted that the BC Ministry of Health is investing in this initiative to help mitigate the effects of COVID-19 throughout our province,” explains Barker. “Our researchers have been able to mobilize quickly through the tri-university partnership and each of the selected projects will leverage our respective strengths to serve communities across BC.”

The BC Ministry of Health has provided the IURC with $150,000 to launch this initiative. The IURC was established in 2017 to advance the research and innovation capacity and commercialization potential of the BC Interior and create new opportunities for economic and social innovation. The inaugural funding is focused largely on COVID-19 issues that affect the BC Interior but the results from these projects will help support regional and provincial health care decision-making and provide real-world opportunities for students to gain experience in the complex, ever-changing realm of health care.

“When researchers from different institutions collaborate across disciplines, the research outcomes benefit from different perspectives and synergies that result from cross-institutional collaboration,” says Kathy Lewis, acting vice-president of research at UNBC. “These projects are fantastic examples of what’s possible when researchers from across the BC Interior come together and seek solutions to pressing public health concerns.”

About the projects

  • Shannon Freeman, associate professor in UNBC’s School of Nursing, has partnered with Piper Jackson, assistant professor of computer science at TRU, to develop a COVID-19 risk assessment tool that identifies homecare clients who are at greatest risk of contracting the virus.
  • Jian Liu and Abbas Milani of UBCO’s School of Engineering will be working with Hossein Kazemian of UNBC to improve the lifespan of nanofibres and activated carbon mats in N95 masks.
  • Brodie Sakakibara, assistant professor in UBCO’s Southern Medical Program and investigator in the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management, is working with researchers at UBCO, UNBC and Interior Health to create a student-delivered Community Outreach Telehealth Program that will engage older adults from outside urban centres and establish best practices for providing health support during a pandemic.
  • TRU’s Bala Nikku has teamed up with Khalad Hasan from UBCO and Rahul Jain from UNBC to better understand whether new technologies are improving the resiliency of rural health care practitioners.
  • Nelly Oelke, associate professor in UBCO’s School of Nursing and scientific director of the Rural Coordination Centre of BC, will be collaborating with UBCO’s Donna Kurtz, UNBC’s Davina Banner-Lukaris and TRU’s Bonnie Fournier to expand ongoing research that explores the mental health impacts of climate change events. The new study will identify the effects of the pandemic on the mental health and well-being of people living in rural communities to help foster resilience.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

Friends fur life help build skills for life

Dogs put the fun into learning vital social skills

A new UBC Okanagan study finds children not only reap the benefits of working with therapy dogs–they enjoy it too.

“Dog lovers often have an assumption that canine-assisted interventions are going to be effective because other people are going to love dogs,” says Nicole Harris, who conducted this research while a master’s student in the School of Education. “While we do frequently see children improve in therapy dog programs, we didn’t have data to support that they enjoyed the time as well.”

Harris was the lead researcher in the study that explored how children reacted while participating in a social skill-training program with therapy dogs.

The research saw 22 children from the Okanagan Boys and Girls Club take part in a series of sessions to help them build their social skills. Over six weeks, the children were accompanied by therapy dogs from UBC Okanagan’s Building Academic Retention through K9s (BARK) program as they completed lessons.

Each week the children were taught a new skill, such as introducing themselves or giving directions to others. The children would first practice with their assigned therapy dog before running through the exercise with the rest of the group. In the final phase, the children —accompanied by their new furry friend and volunteer handler —would practice their new skills with university students located in the building.

“Therapy dogs are often able to reach children and facilitate their growth in surprising ways. We saw evidence of this in the social skills of children when they were paired with a therapy dog,” says Dr. John-Tyler Binfet, associate professor in the School of Education and director of BARK. “The dogs helped create a non-threatening climate while the children were learning these new skills. We saw the children practice and hone their social skills with and alongside the dogs.”

While the children were learning and practising their new skills, the research team collected data.

“Findings from our observations suggested that canine-assisted social and emotional learning initiatives can provide unique advantages,” says Harris. “Our team saw that by interacting with the therapy dogs, the children’s moods improved and their engagement in their lessons increased.”

In fact, 87 per cent of the team rated the children’s engagement level as very or extremely engaged during the sessions.

At the end of the six weeks, Harris interviewed eight children, aged 5 to 11 years old, who regularly attended the sessions. Each child indicated the social skill-training program was an enjoyable and positive experience and the dogs were a meaningful and essential part of the program.

One participant noticed that the children behaved better at the sessions than at their regular after-school care program, and they thought it was because the children liked being around the dogs.

Half of the children mentioned ways that they felt the dogs helped with their emotional well-being, with one participant crediting a dog with helping him “become more responsible and control his silliness.”

As a full-time elementary school teacher, Harris notes that schools have become increasingly important in helping students develop social and emotional skills, and this research could contribute to the development of future school-based or after-school programs.

“Dogs have the ability to provide many stress-reducing and confidence-boosting benefits to children,” says Harris. “It was really heartwarming to see the impact the program had on the kids.”

The research stemmed from the Building Confidence through K9s program, which was offered in partnership with the TELUS Thompson Okanagan Community Board.

The study was published in the Journal of Research in Childhood Education.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

College and Monashee applied research projects seeks participants

App Project

An applied research project by Okanagan College and Monashee Health Collective, a local allied health professional clinic, is in need of participants to help guide the creation of a cutting-edge new tool to enhance communication between patients and health care professionals.

Funded by a grant from the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the goal of the project is to launch a prototype holistic wellness app.

“We are looking for people to participate in this research project to investigate the impact of a new health app on quality of life,” explains the project’s Principal Investigator Kathryn Reimer. “This app will allow you to keep track of your activities, and talk virtually to an allied health professional. It’s different than other health apps you may have tried because it takes a holistic approach to healthcare, it’s more than just another exercise app.”

Who is eligible to participate? Participants must be between 19-80 years of age between February and March 2021, have a smart phone with Internet access, an email address, and be able to read/write in English.

What is required? Participants will be asked to use the app prototype for one month, and complete three short surveys about their experience. Each survey takes approximately 5-10 minutes to complete.

“We hope people of the Okanagan will seize this opportunity to contribute to research that may help improve quality of life for Canadian adults,” says Reimer.

To learn more about the opportunity, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/AppResearchParticipants

For more information about the project, contact Kathryn Reimer at [email protected].

OC students get primed for financial success

Xiaochen Yang, OC School of Business student

A local partnership with a non-profit company, Launch Financial Education Society (Launch Okanagan), is powering up to help Okanagan College students boost their financial literacy this spring.

Starting March 2, OC students will benefit from a free financial literacy program hosted online by Launch Okanagan. The Primer for Life series is an interactive, five-week program that offers students a chance to learn about their relationship with money, consumerism, budgeting, saving and credit. A number of Okanagan College Business students are also volunteering as facilitators and ambassadors to help encourage their peers in other program areas to drop into the sessions to boost their financial literacy.

Xiaochen Yang is one of those students lending her time and expertise to help raise awareness for the program. Yang is enrolled in OC’s School of Business Post-Baccalaureate Diploma program in Accounting and while she has always had an interest in numbers, this workshop means something different for her.

“It’s important for us as post-secondary students to know how to manage our wealth and educate ourselves on personal finances,” says Yang. “This is a chance for us to build another skill and give us an idea of how to wisely deal with our incomes.”

The Primer for Life program is geared to young adults in post-secondary and will be delivered virtually, allowing OC students from across the Okanagan region to participate.

“This program was created to provide youth with the financial knowledge and skills they need to feel confident in making financial decisions,” says Jennifer Robins, Executive Director of Launch Okanagan. “Workshop sessions are free and there aren’t any financial or income restrictions you need to attend – everyone is welcome.”

A new financial topic is covered each week and, to accommodate busy academic and work schedules, students can choose from two time slots per week to attend.

OC students can enrol and view the workshop schedule at www.okanagan.bc.ca/ocprimerforlife.

UBCO professor discusses the importance of public art

<em>Celestial Bodies: Four Stories</em> of the Night Sky, projections will be shown at the Rotary Centre for the Arts until February 28.

Celestial Bodies: Four Stories of the Night Sky, projections will be shown at the Rotary Centre for the Arts until February 28.

Public art adds beauty to the community and lets us reflect on what is in front of us

Public art can take many forms, from mural paintings to installations and exhibitions, to large scale sculptures. It can work to revitalize the urban landscape while supporting and improving the cultural, social and economic vitality of our local community.

UBC Okanagan’s Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies (FCCS) is deeply committed to community engagement, says Denise Kenney. Artists do not just make art for themselves, she says, but rather enter into conversation with their communities—public art and community engagement is the most honest and direct example of that.

Kenney is an educator, filmmaker, eco-artist and performer. She teaches interdisciplinary performance and film at UBCO and is currently the department head for Creative Studies.

Why is public art important?

I believe it is vital. I always ask my students, "If art and artists are really 'fluff,' then why do so many oppressive regimes target artists?" The way we converse with our communities is through our art. Art matters.

Every day we engage with art and aesthetics in some way. Everything from the way our cell phones are designed, to our toasters, furniture, films, books and what we have on the walls in our houses. It is all around us. But art is much more than just design—it builds resiliency in our communities and helps us to understand other points of view and perspectives.

How do FCCS students and faculty contribute to the vibrancy of our arts community?

We host a number of events where people share poetry, writing, performance work, installations and exhibitions. These events are essentially social practice projects where we engage in conversations with and for our community. Our art is sometimes a catalyst or a container for dialogue or community conversation, sometimes an offering of beauty and sometimes a provocateur or interrupter.

The university is able to leverage our resources, which are fresh young people who can teach us what this next wave is, what people are thinking, how these younger people see the world, and what their issues are. Having our students work in the community keeps us all on the pulse of emerging ideas and concerns. It keeps us vibrant.

What previous projects have UBCO students, faculty and alumni added to the public art in the community?

We see some of our faculty and alumni work on banners along Main Street in Lake Country as part of a public art commission done by that municipality. And the tree grates and light stands in downtown Kelowna, and the bronze sculpture of Chief Charlie swkn?cut outside of the tourism centre are all done by Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and Master of Fine Arts alumna Crystal Przybille.

Just last summer, through a painting course with BFA alumnus and current painting instructor David Doody, our BFA students created a large-scale mural on the back of a downtown Kelowna building. Students from the BFA program also worked on a mural design to transform University Way into an experimental public art piece.

The Living Things Festival presented The Collective Body which was a series of projections outside of the Rotary Centre for the Arts (RCA) that included work from our students and faculty. Currently, projections in this space showcase fascinating stories of the night sky in a new exhibit called Celestial Bodies.

During the pandemic, how is FCCS working to exhibit students’ work?

We are all struggling under the weight of the pandemic. And rather than students feeling like they are the victims of the pandemic, it is a great opportunity for us to say this is the time when artists have something to offer back. We have found a safe way for our students to experience their relevance and importance in the community and at the same time offer something that gives the community a moment of distraction, contemplation and aesthetic arrest in the context of the pandemic.

Along with our upcoming Spring Festival, our students and faculty are working on several online events including our BFA graduation show, the announcement of our Okanagan Short Story contest winners and the launch of this year's Papershell anthology, showcasing student work from our creative writing program.

We specifically want to get away from so much online engagement, so in addition to those events we will be exhibiting student work in our FINA Gallery, through the Rotary Centre for the Arts, the Lake Country Art Gallery Town Wall and outdoor Mural space and in the Alternator Gallery. We will also be showcasing student work on postcards, street banners and digital projections.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

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