Campus Life  

OC professors win back-to-back North American Case Conference award

Three Okanagan School of Business professors pose for a photo after winning the bronze medal at the North American Case Conference

Business Professors Dr. Kyleen Myrah, Kerry Rempel and Stacey Fenwick continue to put Okanagan College on the map when it comes to case research and writing.

Myrah, Rempel and Fenwick took home the bronze from the recent North American Case Conference, hosted by the North American Case Research Association (NACRA) virtually Oct. 14 to 16.

NACRA is an organization made up of case writers, researchers and teachers from all over the world. It holds an annual North American conference and publishes a top-level peer-reviewed journal of educational teaching cases that business instructors can use in their classes. For the 2021 conference, 200 members from over 20 countries participated, and 120 cases were submitted for the event.

This year, Myrah, Rempel and Fenwick’s case explored EnactusOC, a student-run organization at Okanagan College that uses entrepreneurial activities to make a positive impact in the community. The case explores motivational theories and group dynamics during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our case was situated around how EnactusOC transitioned through a pandemic. In particular, how a leader continues to motivate and move a team through these times, especially a team over which they have no authority or responsibility,” Rempel says.

This is Myrah and Rempel’s second podium finish at NACRA two years in a row, after winning gold in 2020 for exploring how the Kelowna community incorporated the voices of the city’s unhoused population into the plan to end homelessness and the ongoing challenges the pandemic poses on that strategy. 

Myrah explains that even though the Enactus OC case wasn’t as complex as the gold-winning case, their 2021 research highlighted the important issue of how the pandemic affected volunteer groups, such as Enactus.

“We talk a lot about faculty and students trying to manage education online but no one is talking about the extracurricular activities that disappeared,” she says. “Their experience was really relatable to students and professors who want to adopt this case.”

Fenwick describes it was special to receive the bronze medal award.  

“This was my first time winning a case with Kerry and Kyleen and they’re award-winning case writers so it was incredible,” she says. “They’re adept at storytelling and they have very robust teaching manuals with their cases, so it was a great learning experience for me.”

Rempel says winning another award was a great honour, especially coming from a smaller institution compared to their competitors.

“We’re competing against major powerhouse institutions where people are funded to do research,” she says. “To be recognized as one of the top in the world in case research and writing, it’s an amazing feeling.”

Fenwick says the win brings exposure and sheds a light on what OC’s School of Business is about and the talented people that work in the department.

“It shows that we have expertise. When students read a case and they recognize the names and see it’s been published and realize those people are from our institution, it gives them a sense of how credible we are overall,” she says.

ECE department celebrates National Child Day

Two Early Childhood Education students showcase their presentation during National Child Day

Education is a powerful tool to advocate for those who can't advocate for themselves, which was why Early Childhood Education (ECE) students spent National Child Day talking to peers about the difficulties children face in Canada and around the world.

National Child Day is officially observed on Nov. 20, but ECE Instructor Rebecca Ayotte said she and her students wanted to do something this week to bring awareness not just in the ECE department, but throughout the College as well. The class set up presentations in the CFL Atrium in Kelowna Tuesday, engaging students and employees who passed by. 

Ayotte said the feedback was good, with many students interacting with the ECE department and the presentations they had and being open to learning more about children’s rights.

“Some OC community members were shocked from the research that ECE students presented. The information isn’t just about Canada, they also put it into context around the world,” she said.

She said some statistics were alarming to other students.

“I think some of the statistics are shocking about the percentages of children that are getting abused,” Ayotte said. “60,000 children are reported a year in B.C. with suspicion of abuse or neglect involving a child.”

Canada signed onto the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, committing that Canadian children will be treated with dignity and respect, and given protection from harm and abuse. But despite this, many children still get hurt in various ways, which is why Ayotte said it’s important to spread the word about the situation.

ECE students Kiara Sandrelli and Michelle L'heureux said they recognize that education is the first step to change. 

“We want the public to know about the struggles children face and how much they need to be successful in this world. We wanted to give ways to help and we wanted to give others a new perspective of the world around them,” Sandrelli said.

She added that children's rights often get sidelined by bigger news items. "Really, we just want to open people's eyes."

L'heureux and Sandrelli both said being aware of children's rights is an important aspect of what they both want to do in the future.

“If you’re working at a child care facility, you have to make sure you’re treating the children with respect because you don’t know what’s going on at home or what they’re going through, unless that’s told to you,” Sandrelli said.

“We hope that people get a deeper understanding of children and can understand that there’s so much going on around them that they don’t see.”

Ayotte hopes that once people are more aware of children's rights, that they acknowledge those rights and normalize advocating for children. 

“There are Indigenous areas in our communities that don’t have fresh water for their children, and that’s happening just under our noses. The ECE students came together with passion to bring awareness to the Rights of the Child, and I believe they did that with the engagement and conversations I saw at the Kelowna campus,” she said.

“We need to fight for our children regardless of who they are and where they come from. We are the only advocates they have.”

International Education Week highlights diversity at Okanagan College

Three women pose together in front of Brazil's national flag during International Education Week at Okanagan College's Kelowna campus

Okanagan College translated its diverse student population into a learning opportunity during International Education Week (IEW) as students and staff celebrated cultures and encouraged each other to experience what other countries had to offer. 

On Tuesday, Nov. 16, the Kelowna campus held language lessons at the Centre for Learning atrium, where student volunteers set up booths that others can visit to learn a bit more about various languages and cultures. Languages represented included Spanish, Punjabi, Hindi, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Bengali and Portuguese.

In addition to language instruction at the booths, there were also various games and crafts.

International Student Liaison Sora Chang is one of the organizers of OC's IEW Kelowna event, and she said it was amazing to see staff and students interacting with each other face to face.

"The students really loved it. Volunteers, after COVID, this is their first time chatting with other students in person," she said. "This is a great chance for international students to meet Canadian students as well and come together."

She said events and initiatives like IEW are important not only to encourage international students at the College to share their language and culture, but also to inspire other students to explore culture, but also to inspire other students to explore cultures and perspectives outside of their own.

Heather Carson with Athletics, Recreation and Student Life said they want students to be open to the possibilities of international studies.

“How exciting would it be to do a semester abroad?” she said. “How else do you learn about other countries if you don’t immerse yourself in the culture?”

Student volunteers Lilian Queiroz and Ana Brito said it was exciting to share facts about Brazil, their home country, Brazil as well as teach other students some Portuguese. The two students are currently studying English at OC, with plans to register for other courses soon.

“It’s amazing because we can teach some words in Portuguese and others can teach us words in English and share about their countries too,” Queiroz said. “It’s a rich experience to teach something you know and learning with other people too.”

“My teachers have been great here and I have a great opportunity here,” Brito said.

Another volunteer, Aziza Khan, said she felt grateful to teach other OC community members about Bangladesh and her Bengali language. She said teaching others her language and learning from other students at the same time was enjoyable. 

“In Bangladesh, many Bengali people sacrificed their lives to establish this language in 1952. So sharing it is important to me and I just feel honoured and proud to be able to do this,” Khan added.

The Kelowna campus had other events planned throughout the week, in addition to activities at the other three campuses. 

New year brings new career by starting studies in January

Practical Nursing student, Shaylyn Douglas

The coming year brings new career training opportunities for Shaylyn Douglas.

Douglas will be returning to the classroom in January with her sights set on training to advance her career in health care at Okanagan College.

In addition to beginning the Practical Nursing Diploma program at the Penticton campus, Douglas received a financial boost to aid her studies when she won the $5,000 OC Tuition Giveaway Contest.

“I wasn’t sure what career path I wanted to pursue until I had the opportunity to interact with patients in the physician’s office where I worked,” says Douglas. “I was drawn to the Practical Nursing program because of those experiences.”

The opportunity to build on those health-care skills is something Douglas is looking forward to during her training at OC.

“I’ve heard good things about the program from Practical Nursing graduates. Once I knew that being involved in another person’s care was something I really enjoyed doing, the choice to continue to expand that knowledge at OC made sense,” says Douglas.

Douglas’ decision to head back to class was that much easier when she found out that she had won the OC Tuition Giveaway Contest.

“Winning the tuition giveaway has been immensely helpful for me,” says Douglas. “I will be returning to school after an extended time in the workforce and I was concerned about how I would afford tuition fees and support myself through the program. This tuition will take some of the strain off my personal savings, allowing me to focus more of my time on studying.”

Practical Nursing is just one of the programs offered at OC that begins in January. Arts, Science and Business studies allow students to pursue their academic studies, and foundational programs offer learners the opportunity to take steps toward their educational goals.

“Providing training opportunities for health-care and other in-demand careers to meet the growing needs of our community is an important part of Okanagan College’s commitment to our region,” says Meri Kim Oliver, Vice President Students at OC. “It is gratifying to be able to support a student like Shaylyn in pursuing her goals.”

Find out more about the adult academic and career preparation foundational programs that are available for January starts online: okanagan.bc.ca/winterstart

New funding connects people to tourism careers in the Okanagan

Two people checking into a hotel handing a credit card to hotel staff standing at a desk

The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction has announced a program that will provide skills training to as many as 30 eligible British Columbians to prepare them for jobs in the hospitality industry in the Okanagan and Shuswap regions.

“Graduates of this skills-training project will be qualified for a variety of jobs in the hospitality and tourism sectors,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “The training participants receive will prepare them for exciting careers and give them an opportunity to contribute to the growth of local businesses in their communities.”

Read the full Government of B.C. announcement online.

TOTA award remembers George Hanson, supports OC viticulture student

Seven Stone Patio

Winemaker George Hanson, who passed away in February, was widely acknowledged for his efforts to grow the B.C. wine scene. A new award funded by the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) will commemorate his legacy, while helping a viticulture student at Okanagan College to cultivate their future in the industry Hanson so dearly loved.

TOTA has donated $1,500 to create the George Hanson Memorial Bursary, which will be open to students in the College’s Viticulture Certificate program starting in January.

“We are very pleased to be able to support this award in memory of George Hanson,” said Ellen Walker-Matthews, CEO of TOTA. “George’s legacy of excellence will live on in the high bar he set for future grape growers and wine makers, such as those coming out of Okanagan College. George is dearly missed, and we hope this award will plant a seed of inspiration in the heart of a budding viticulturist.”

“George Hanson was truly larger than life and will be remembered as someone who left an inspirational legacy in the Okanagan wine and tourism industry,” said Jonathan Rouse, Associate Dean for the School of Business and Director of Food, Wine and Tourism at Okanagan College.

“We're deeply grateful to the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association for this meaningful tribute to George, which will aid and inspire an Okanagan College viticulture student as they step out into the industry and carry on the tradition and passion of winemaking, creativity and excellence that he embodied.”

After a career in telecommunications, George Hanson arrived in the Similkameen Valley in 1999 with the goal of following his dream of winemaking. The rest is B.C. wine history.

He purchased a 20-acre parcel of land near Cawston and planted Bordeaux varietals. Four years later, he released his first vintage. A few years after that, he formalized and built what would become Seven Stones winery. By the time he retired in 2019, Hanson and his wines had garnered international attention and awards—cementing his place as a pioneer in the industry and a respected name among B.C.’s acclaimed winemakers.

Those future viticulturists looking to follow in his footsteps can learn more about the College’s Viticulture Certificate at www.okanagan.bc.ca/viticulture-certificate. The popular program starts in January at the Penticton campus. Students gain the skills and knowledge needed master the art and science of grape growing, and gain the vineyard operation and management skills needed to start and thrive in the industry.

Viticulture students interested in applying for the award are encouraged to do so through the College’s Financial Aid and Awards application portal on their myOkanagan account. General information for applying for awards at OC can be found at www.okanagan.bc.ca/awards.  

Soaring Indigenous sculpture unveiled in OC's new Health Sciences Centre

Four Food Chiefs Sculpture

A nine metre (30 foot), hand-cut metal sculpture by local Indigenous artist Clint George is now installed and proudly on display in Okanagan College's new Health Sciences Centre.

The sculpture represents the Four Food Chiefs, and depicts the Syilx Okanagan oral history (or captik??) on how food was given.

James Coble, Director of Student Services and Indigenization Task Force Chair at Okanagan College, says the sculpture demonstrates the College’s commitment to creating welcoming spaces for Indigenous students.

“The opportunity to create a large-scale art piece in the main entryway was presented to us at the beginning of the project and it feels incredible to see it is now a reality,” says Coble, adding the intent is to interweave Indigenous design into all new buildings including opportunities for art and cultural installments like the Four Food Chiefs.

“We’re excited to have such an amazing work of art so prominently displayed. One of our goals is to use expressions of Indigenous culture, like this one, as a way to initiate meaningful conversations for the benefit of all learners at Okanagan College.”

George, whose traditional name is Wapupxn, says the art will create opportunities to explore health and wellness from an Indigenous perspective.

“When I had the opportunity to build a sculpture for the College, especially in Kelowna, I chose one of the most important stories we have, which is our Four Food Chiefs,” explains George, who is a member of the Penticton Indian Band (SnPink’tn).

“I think it’s very important when any image of the Four Food Chiefs goes up in the Okanagan or anywhere, that you give it an image that people are going to ask questions about and in that case, it helps teach people about who we are and where we came from.”

The sculpture spans all three stories of the Health Sciences Centre offering unique views on each floor where student study and meeting spaces are located.

“This beautiful sculpture creates a culturally relevant space where we can offer more Indigenous-based programming such as storytelling, workshops and ceremonial activities all with the goal of increasing our education and awareness amongst the OC community,” adds Anthony Isaac, Okanagan College’s Indigenization Project Manager.

At the early ideation stage, the project and its focus on the Four Food Chiefs was guided by engagement with Westbank First Nation (WFN) and the WFN Public Arts Committee. From there, the generous support of a group of donors involved in the building helped bring it to fruition.

Health Sciences Centre

The sculpture was supported by the building architect GEC Architecture, project manager Faction Projects and the construction team Stuart Olson Construction. The companies saw the art as a way to contribute in a meaningful way to the Health Sciences Centre, in alignment with the College’s efforts to incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing and doing into all aspects of the project from design to completion.

“We had meaningful engagement with Westbank First Nation, which helped galvanize our design thinking at the outset,” explains Peter Osborne, a partner with GEC Architecture. 

“This engagement led to the notion of weaving, which is reflected in the exterior cladding to the mass timber frame used instead of concrete. The landscape architecture was selected in collaboration with WFN on their traditional uses of medicine. Interior glass panels will also feature Indigenous etching designs.

The College’s commitment to learning and working with Indigenous communities resonates with Faction Projects, notes CEO Tim McLennan.

“The Four Food Chiefs sculpture is something we are incredibly proud to be part of supporting as a celebration of Indigenous culture,” says McLennan.

“As we look to the future, this project is a reminder to us that there is so much we can continue to learn from Indigenous peoples. From how we build buildings to inhabiting space and retaining a connection to the natural environment.”

Rick Andison, Stuart Olson’s Director, Business Development for Southern Alberta and Interior B.C., says working on any large-scale new building creates an emotional attachment for their team.

It’s always been very import to our company to participate in the community and leave a lasting impression. Our team was moved by this art, and we are thrilled to see how the Four Food Chiefs sculpture will inspire students and the community.”

RBC invests in Okanagan College's future

RBC cheque presentation

A $75,000 gift from the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) will support the growth of Okanagan College now and into the future.

RBC in British Columbia is contributing $35,000 to the Our Students, Your Health campaign for the new Health Sciences Centre on the Kelowna campus while $40,000 will support future investment in the campus.

According to Courtney Hesse, RBC’s Regional Vice President for the Okanagan and Kootenays, supporting the College aligns strongly with RBC's focus on empowering youth for the jobs of tomorrow.

“Okanagan College plays a critical role in providing the skilled employees that power our region’s economy,” says Hesse. “Whether that's an in-demand health care professional or a budding entrepreneur, we're proud to support education and equipping our young people to become tomorrow's leaders.”

RBC has a strong history of giving to Okanagan College. Since 2005, RBC Foundation has donated $300,000 to support a range of projects including two upcoming programs: preparing high school students for careers in technology and the Experiential Entrepreneurship program.

In 2019, RBC launched RBC on Campus, a physical location on the College’s Kelowna campus that provides financial literacy support for students, including budgeting and planning.

“This gift is incredibly timely as we open the Health Sciences Centre and continue to purchase the final pieces of equipment for students,” says Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director Helen Jackman.

“Our many thanks to RBC for giving to health care education and OC’s future where we will continue to serve our communities with leadership and relevant skills training.”

The B.C. government officially marked the opening of Okanagan College’s new Health Sciences Centre Oct. 1. While the Centre is open, there are still opportunities to support the facility and the vital equipment needed to educate health care professionals who will serve in our region’s long-term care homes, hospitals and community settings.

The Okanagan College Foundation is offering private tours so the public can see firsthand the impact this Centre will make on our community. To learn more visit OurStudentsYourHealth.ca.

Okanagan College professors pen in-depth book on history of Canadian corrections

Melissa Munn and Chris Clarkson

Discourse about the lived experiences of those behind bars is about to break free across the country, with a special virtual book launch event next week.

Okanagan College Sociology Professor Melissa Munn and History Professor Chris Clarkson joined forces to co-author Disruptive Prisoners: Resistance, Reform and the New Deal, published this fall by University of Toronto Press.

The book is a collective biography that reconstitutes the histories of Canada’s federal prison system in the mid-20th century – constructed after years of extensive research of archives, penal press material and government document reviews and interviews with various stakeholders.

A virtual book launch is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 27, when Munn and Clarkson will discuss the evidence that these prisoners were active agents of change who advocated for and resisted the initiatives that were part of Canada’s “new deal for corrections.”

The pair come from different academic disciplines, so collaborating on the project was a learning process that achieved amazing results.

“Working with a historian challenged me to learn new approaches to research and I really loved that,” Munn said. “It forced me to look at things from a new angle and also become more certain with my disciplinary expertise.”

Munn currently runs the Penal Press website and has been interested in preserving these histories for quite some time. It was her passion to make sure these types of histories survive that hooked Clarkson to join in the efforts.

“I’ve always been interested in the historical experiences of the residents of institutions like orphanages, asylums or old age homes, but most of those histories are written using documents produced by administrators and you rarely even get the tiniest glimpse into the perspectives of the residents,” explains Clarkson. “The prisoners’ newspapers offer an exciting new window on life within prisons and allowed us to look into the operation of prisons in a way that hasn’t been possible in the study of other institutions.”

First-hand prisoner accounts provide an engaging glimpse behind the bars of Canada’s federal prison system. A question-and-answer period will follow the presentation.

The event is being hosted by the Olde Gaol Museum, a historic jail built in 1863 that operated for 140 years in Lindsay, Ont. In 1957, a group of citizens began collecting, preserving and sharing the heritage of Lindsay and surrounding townships, leading to the establishment of the Victoria County Historical Society. Before its closure in 2003, the society redeveloped the jail into a museum.

The virtual event is free and will take place Wednesday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Zoom. Registration is required online: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Sspgyq6bSYyHXG3Y5xJ_jQ 

Copies of Disruptive Prisoners can be ordered online: https://utorontopress.com/9781487525910/disruptive-prisoners/

Okanagan College Coyotes win the Canadian College Baseball Conference

The Okanagan College Coyotes baseball team pulled out all the stops this past weekend, taking home first place in the Fall Championship of the 2021 Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC) league.

All eight teams in the CCBC came to play for the first time since May 2019.

“It was really nice to see all the eight teams competing again after such a tough time due to COVID,” says Head Coach Geoff White. “I applaud all the student athletes from all the programs for sticking with it to get back to this point.”

The Coyotes’ weekend started with a close game against the PBA Dawgs that saw OC pull away late with a 7 – 4 victory. In game two, the Coyotes took it to Edmonton with a 12 -1 win, clinching their spot in the semi-finals. The Coyotes finished their round-robin undefeated with a 4 – 3 win over Vancouver Island University. 

The semi-finals on Sunday night saw Pool A’s first seed OC Coyotes playing against Pool B’s second seed Victoria Golden Tide, while pool B’s first seed Fraser Valley Cascade, who also swept their round robin, faced off against PBA Dawgs.  

First up was OC vs Victoria. It was a back-and-forth game, but the Coyotes never let up. Again, they pulled away late and took the 11 – 5 win. On the other side, Fraser Valley took down PBA 5 – 3 in a nail-biter setting up the finals Monday morning against the Coyotes. 

The final game came down to poise and depth as the Coyotes bats never let up, putting up 12 runs over 9 innings. The pitching staff came up big with a great performance in relief from Maris Brons and some clutch innings from Jesse Poniewozik to shut the door. It was a great team effort, and the Okanagan College Coyotes came away with the CCBC Fall Championship with a final score of 12 – 5.  

“It was exciting to have some meaningful, playoff style games finally for the players,” says White. “The coaching staff was very pleased in how we performed.”

Okanagan College has been in the final of the last three tournaments hosted by the CCBC.  This is their second tournament championship over those last three opportunities.  Final standings after the completion of the tournament.

  1. Okanagan College Coyotes (5-0)
  2. University of Fraser Valley Cascades (4-1)
  3. Prairie Baseball Academy Dawgs (2-2)
  4. Victoria Collegiate Golden Tide (2-2)
  5. Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack (2-2)
  6. Edmonton Collegiate Hawks (1-3)
  7. University of Calgary Dinos (1-3)
  8. Vancouver Island University Mariners (0-4)

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