Campus Life  

Made in Canada health-care initiative launches in Europe

Seniors having a conversation

UBC Okanagan’s NavCARE, designed to help older people with declining health age safely in their homes, has now expanded to six European countries.

The European Commission is investing more than $8 million to adapt a volunteer health-care navigation program developed jointly by UBC Okanagan and the University of Alberta.

NavCARE, created to help older persons living with declining health age safely in their homes, launched in 2014 with researchers from UBC Okanagan's School of Nursing and the University of Alberta's Faculty of Nursing. The goal was to connect volunteers with older people living at home to help maintain their independence and support their quality of life needs.

After a three-year study that determined older persons living in rural communities with declining health can maintain better, healthier lives if they have the help of a trained volunteer, Dr. Barb Pesut, a UBCO Nursing Professor, and Dr. Wendy Duggleby with the UAlberta Faculty of Nursing launched NavCARE. It started small, in three rural communities in BC. But as Dr. Pesut explains, the need to help the aging population is urgent.

"Far too often, supportive care comes too late and many people are left struggling," she says. "People living at home with declining health need support early--and volunteer navigators have enormous potential to provide this support and improve their quality of life."

The program has grown significantly since its inception and in 2021 Health Canada awarded $2.2 million to expand NavCARE across the country.

"This expansion across Canada has been exciting, as we have seen diverse communities across Canada benefit from NavCARE" explains Dr. Duggleby.

Now, a group of European partners will use the NavCARE model to implement a similar program, called EU NAVIGATE, for older people with cancer.

"The concept of care navigation hardly exists in Europe," explains Dr. Lieve Van den Block, lead researcher for EU NAVIGATE and Professor of Aging and Palliative Care at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels (VUB) and the VUB-University of Ghent End-of-Life Care Research Group. "This is a Canadian care intervention program that's going to be adapted to the European Union health-care context. The goal is to see how it fits into the health-care systems in our countries and how older people with cancer can benefit from it, including those who usually lack access to health and social care services."

Earlier this month, EU NAVIGATE began service in six countries: Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Poland and Portugal. Researchers will monitor and evaluate the implementation of a navigation intervention for seniors with cancer. The program will also examine the impact on the patients and their family caregivers and will run as an international, pragmatic randomized controlled trial.

The three main dissemination partners are the European Cancer Organization, the European Association of Palliative Care and Age Platform Europe. In total, there are 11 partner groups, including one in Canada with Drs. Pesut and Duggleby.

While volunteers are at the heart of NavCARE, Dr. Van den Block says the program will vary in each European country, with some using paid social workers or health-care professionals.

The program was developed in such a way so it could be adapted to different contexts, Dr. Pesut explains.

"What's so positive about this project is that while the underlying principles of NavCARE stay the same, they are meant to be flexible and adjustable depending on the needs of each country," she says. "That's the piece we're very excited about--seeing its potential within different health-care systems and seeing how various countries chose to use our model and make it work for their specific needs."

The funding, the equivalent of six million euros, will cover the implementation of the program in the six countries including clinical work, research and a full evaluation. Dr. Van den Block says once navigation services are mapped in Europe, the program can grow to perhaps include all cancer patients, not just senior ones, and she sees the potential for continued growth for the many people living across Europe with chronic illness, including those with frailty or dementia.

"We have really tapped into all the different stakeholder group's needs to create positive impacts in Europe for people living with cancer," she adds. "This is a unique project. It is exciting to build on knowledge developed in Canada and translate it to improve care in Europe."

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UBC powers FORWARD to drive decades of discovery and solutions

Aerial view of campus

A bold commitment to help solve some of the world's most urgent problems--that's the promise and potential of FORWARD, the campaign for UBC, a $3 billion fundraising and alumni engagement initiative announced today by the University of British Columbia.

President Santa J. Ono and UBC Okanagan Principal Lesley Cormack together unveiled UBC's most ambitious campaign ever via a simulcast event held on the Vancouver and Kelowna campuses.

FORWARD, the campaign for UBC, will raise $3 billion to benefit students and researchers across both campuses, and activate the power of global alumni by doubling alumni engagement. Through giving, volunteering and engagement with UBC, donors and alumni will accelerate the university's impact in three key areas: advancing healthy lives, creating solutions for the planet, and shaping thriving societies.

"Across the globe, the call for progressive and collaborative solutions to pressing real-world problems is clearer and more urgent than ever," said UBC Board of Governors Chair Nancy McKenzie. "Universities have a powerful responsibility to help move society forward and UBC is uniquely positioned to shape our shared future. As a top-ranked research university, we already lead the way in climate action, international engagement and industry and innovation impact. We have the intellectual and physical capacity to build a healthier, more just and sustainable world. Now, working together through this campaign with our friends, donors and almost 400,000 alumni worldwide, we will forge a better future for this generation and the ones that follow."

Recognizing the affordability issues facing students at UBC and universities across the country, UBC is also highlighting its first ever fundraising initiative specifically focused on student affordability. The FORWARD for Students Affordability Initiative aims to raise $100 million with a high priority placed on responding to students who are in need.

"I am so pleased to see affordability initiatives are a focus of this bold new campaign," says Vice-President, Students, Dr. Ainsley Carry. "Students are at the heart of all that we do, and this is a very real issue facing students. The FORWARD for Students Affordability Initiative will help UBC directly support those who need assistance now."

A UBC Okanagan research initiative that the campaign will benefit is the Next-Generation Battery Research and Training Centre in Kelowna, which is poised to become a world leader in developing, integrating and recycling the next-generation lithium-ion batteries that increasingly power cell phones, laptops, electric vehicles and so much more. The global market for these batteries will reach $100 billion by the next decade. But today's batteries need a boost; they are expensive, hazardous, and have limited power and recycling options. Within the next decade, BCO researchers like Dr. Jian Liu aim to help decarbonize the North American economy by developing smaller, stronger, safer and cleaner batteries that ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"At UBC Okanagan, we are committed to unleashing the unlimited potential of our young and entrepreneurial campus," says Dr. Cormack. "The ultimate success of this campaign will be measured in discovery rather than dollars, because we know that what happens at UBC in the next 10 years will have a decisive impact on the next 100."

At UBC Vancouver, the FORWARD campaign will help supercharge transformative biomedical innovation like Dr. Megan Levings' research into "living drugs"--a game-changer in fighting immune-based diseases. Her team is developing cell-based therapies that program human immune cells so they are like mini-computers to target and prevent chronic diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's and cardiovascular disease. In the future, patients would not receive a drug but a living cell that effectively reprograms their immune response and reduces the need for future treatment. Cell therapy could also help make organ transplants safer by training the immune system to tolerate "invading" cells from another person.

These projects are just two examples among many that will benefit from this bold campaign to help find collaborative solutions to pressing global problems.

"Through this ambitious campaign, UBC will meet the future with urgency and optimism," adds UBC Board of Governors Chair Nancy McKenzie. "And with the generous support of our community friends, donors and alumni, UBC will help deliver a healthier, more resilient and sustainable tomorrow."

To learn more about FORWARD and the many projects it will advance, visit forward.ubc.ca.

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Emo-jional rescue: UBCO researchers create tool to measure the emotion in emojis

A woman looking at emojis in a smartphone

UBC Okanagan researchers are sharing a new tool for academics hoping to better understand and measure the ever-expanding world of emojis in everyday communication.

How much is really known about those smiley faces staring back at from smartphone screens? Anyone who has ever wondered if the people sending them are really that happy is not alone.

Thanks to a pair of UBC Okanagan colleagues, researchers striving to better understand the ever-expanding world of emojis now have a new tool to keep pace with technology--what they call a multidimensional lexicon of emojis (MLE).

Doctoral student Rebecca Godard and Dr. Susan Holtzman, Associate Professor in Psychology at UBCO, have published their findings in a new paper titled "The Multidimensional Lexicon of Emojis: A New Tool to Assess the Emotional Content of Emojis." The research appears in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

"As digital platforms evolve, strategies are also evolving to communicate emotion," Godard says. "We saw that early on with emoticons (precursors to emojis), but emojis have largely taken over that role of facilitating emotional communication. At the same time, research on emojis has lagged behind actual use. Researchers don't have enough tools for measuring the way people use emojis and the emotions that they communicate."

While it may be easy to cast off emojis as simple distractions, they belie a hidden language--especially among young people--Godard says. And any researcher studying digital communication will have to account for the emotional information an emoji contains to get a true accounting of the message.

Godard's MLE can help researchers crack that coded language and the emotions behind it beyond simple negativity and positivity.

Godard analyzed three million Twitter posts and collected emotion ratings of emojis from 2,230 human raters to develop and validate the MLE.

This new lexicon consists of 359 common emojis rated on eight emotions (anger, anticipation, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, surprise, and trust) and the two broader sentiments (positive and negative).

"A substantial amount of online communication now includes emojis," says Holtzman, who supervised the findings. "From market to mental health research, we hope this new tool will help everyone better understand the emotions of people communicating online."

Godard saw the need for the MLE because human communication is changing and growing so rapidly. More people are writing at a higher rate than at any time in history, but often in short bursts through social media, email or text message. When people speak face to face, they see emotional cues that help translate emotions. When people write letters, they have the luxury of letting the words explain the emotions over paragraphs. In tweets, there are 280 characters.

But people tweet a lot, and much of that is in the public domain. It's a tantalizing opportunity to study communication, and Godard's lexicon can help translate. Godard is continuing her PhD at UBCO, and will monitor how useful her MLE remains. She understands the research will need to be updated to keep pace with the quickly changing world of digital communication.

"We know that the meanings of emojis change over time," says Godard. "We also know how subtle teens can be, in their text messages for example, and how they tend to gravitate toward what's new."

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Okanagan College invites community to week of activities leading to National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Handprint with the words "I pledge" over an orange background

Okanagan College is inviting people across the region to join our learning community in marking the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30, as we journey together on the path to work with, listen to and learn from Indigenous peoples.

The community is invited to several free events:

  • Thursday, Sept. 22 – Jingle Dance: History, Meaning and Celebration. Jingle Dress Dancer Janessa Lambert, a former OC student, will guide us on a celebration of the history of Jingle Dance, etiquette and format of a powwow, how regalia is made, and even a chance to learn to dance yourself. The event will be at OC's Penticton campus, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, Sept. 23 – 13th annual Youth Exhibition Powwow. Organized by Indigenous Services, this Kelowna campus event is a favourite with school children and community members. Listen to drummers from nations throughout Turtle Island as they establish the beat for Traditional, Chicken, Grass, Fancy, Jingle and Hoop Dancers. Grand entry begins at 9:30 a.m., with dancing continuing throughout the day and the closing ceremony and feast scheduled for 4 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 27 – Lessons from the Field: Learning from and teaching in an Indigenous community. OC is presenting a webinar for educators about teaching in an Indigenous community. Moderated by Chantale Hutchinson, Clinton Brochu from the Trades and Apprenticeship portfolio will share lessons he has learned and advice for educators starting the journey of thinking about and working and learning in Indigenous communities. The webinar will be held at 3:15 p.m. on Zoom. Registration is required and more information is available on the Okanagan College website, under OC Events.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 27 – Screening and discussion of Indian Horse. The screening will feature Indian Horse, the film adaptation of Richard Wagamese's award-winning novel, followed by a facilitated discussion. Admission is by donation, with proceeds going to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society. The screening will be held in the Lecture Theatre (S104) at the Kelowna campus, starting at 6 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 29 – Lowering of the flags. Okanagan College will hold a brief ceremony at 2:15 p.m. at the Kelowna campus, in recognition of the confirmation by T?emlúps te Secwepemc, and honouring all those impacted by the legacy of Indian Residential School System. Flags will remain lowered at all campuses on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (Sept. 30).

For people who cannot attend the events, OC’s I Pledge Campaign enables anyone to demonstrate support and commitment to reconciliation. Visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/pledge to add your name to the growing list of people who have committed to reading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 calls to action and/or add a personal commitment that is meaningful to you.

That webpage also showcases information and resources to help people learn about the Indian Residential School System, colonialism in Canada, and the legacy of their impacts on Indigenous people. There are a variety of links that showcase different perspectives and Indigenous voices, including reading lists, music, podcasts, movies, documentaries and social media influencers.

Supports available

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation can be an emotional time for many in our region, and the following services are available to support survivors and anyone impacted:

  • A national crisis line is available, offering emotional and crisis referral services for Indian Residential School System survivors and those affected. The 24-hour national crisis line can be contacted at 1-866-925-4419.
  • Within B.C., the KUU-US Crisis Line Society operates a crisis line providing culturally relevant support for Indigenous, Metis and Inuit peoples. The crisis line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, toll-free from anywhere in British Columbia: 1-800-588-8717 (toll free). Alternatively, you can call directly into the Youth Line at 250-723-2040 or the Adult Line at 250-723-4050, or online: https://www.kuu-uscrisisline.com/.
  • The First Nations Health Authority also has a Mental Health Benefit.

For the OC community:

“The Indian Residential School System in Canada and the legacy of that system continues in the lived experience of trauma still felt by survivors, their families and all those impacted for generations into the future. Our hope is that by holding time and space to acknowledge the trauma that exists and persists, to listen, and to learn how to actively support Indigenous members of our community, we will contribute to the process of healing,” said Meri Kim Oliver, Vice-President, Students.

UBCO celebrates 10 years of canine therapy programs

A photo of a B.A.R.K. dog and its handler

In 2022, B.A.R.K. hosted more than 25 drop-in and BARK2GO sessions each for a combined total of more than 4,000 canine visits aimed to help reduce student stress.

Ten years ago, a rescue dog named Frances was given a new "leash" on life--and a new job.

Frances was rescued off the streets of Los Angeles by Dr. John-Tyler Binfet an Associate Professor who researches kindness and student success with UBC Okanagan's School of Education. The pup was put to work to provide Dr. Binfet's students a unique classroom learning experience. For example, the students would teach Frances a behavioural exercise in front of their classmates.

While Frances has since retired, Dr. Binfet recalls it was her impact on students that sparked a pilot project called Building Academic Retention through K9s (B.A.R.K).

"We couldn't walk down a hallway without being stopped by students," he says. "They would eventually look up at me from petting Frances and say, 'As much as I miss my family, I miss my dog more.'"

Using those experiences as inspiration, Dr. Binfet began B.A.R.K. to examine how animal-assisted visitation can impact feelings of homesickness and a sense of isolation in first-year university students. The program started modestly in 2012 with 12 dogs and has grown significantly.

B.A.R.K. now has more than 60 in-house handler and dog teams--all UBCO volunteers--and reaches thousands of students each year. Each session generally has 10 to 13 dogs and handlers, 15 student volunteers and more than 100 student visitors. BARK2Go, mini sessions offered around the campus, was introduced a few years later and last year the program offered 25 drop-in and BARK2GO sessions each for a combined total of more than 4,000 canine visits.

The program has also spread with and into the community through several different partnerships including the Okanagan Boys and Girls Club and the VEDA Exclusive Student Living buildings.

"We're thrilled to be celebrating 10 years on campus and are excited to see how the program continues to evolve and move forward," says Dr. Binfet.

Not only has the program evolved, but it's come full circle with a number of former students now volunteering as trained B.A.R.K handlers.

"When I first got to campus in 2017, I was extremely nervous and didn't know what to expect," says Sierra Adamow, now a UBCO alumna. "During my first week, I noticed the B.A.R.K. program, and it allowed me to make new friends, feel calmer, put a smile on my face and leave me ready to enjoy my university experience. Now in 2022, I volunteer with my dog to help other students feel welcome and included."

In addition to providing comfort to students, more than 15 peer-reviewed research papers have been published based on the program. Dr. Binfet and his team, including graduate students, have led a number of studies on canine-assisted interventions such as measuring the impact of stress reduction on students and law enforcement members, the importance of canine cuddles and effects of virtual dog therapy.

The program continues to have a lasting impact on many, including Emma Kneller, who became involved as a handler when the program first started.

"B.A.R.K. has created a community full of laughs and joy for students, volunteers and handlers alike," says Kneller. "B.A.R.K. has changed my life and I am sure many others as well. The joy to share my dogs with people is indescribable and I know, by watching the faces of our students, a little pat, or a scratch behind a dog's ears goes a lot further than just making my dogs feel good."

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Kelowna mayoral candidates invited to public debate hosted by Okanagan College, UBC Okanagan

Text of "Kelowna votes" overtop of a lakeview image of the city

Mayoral candidates in Kelowna will speak specifically to issues that matter to university and college students at an on-campus debate at the end of September.

Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan have teamed up to host the event, which will be moderated by CBC Radio host Sarah Penton at OC’s lecture theatre on K.L.O. Road.

“We are thrilled to be welcoming the candidates, students and the community onto our campus, to hear from the individuals running to be the next mayor of Kelowna,” says Dr. Neil Fassina, president, Okanagan College. “Post-secondary students are helping prepare the questions for the debate, on topics that matter most to them and to Kelowna’s future as a city that is known for its commitment to higher learning and a destination for students throughout the region and beyond.”

Students at both institutions are being engaged in preparing questions for the debate, touching on several themes, such as affordability, wellbeing, diversity, Truth and Reconciliation, climate change, and the future of Kelowna.

“Universities and Colleges are places where people come together to exchange ideas and debate issues that are relevant to our shared interests,” says Dr. Lesley Cormack, principal, UBC Okanagan. “This event is an opportunity to talk about priorities that matter to our community today, and more importantly to consider what’s most important for Kelowna as we look to the future.”

Admission to the debate is free; donations for the Indian Residential School Survivors Society will be accepted at the door. Space is limited so guests are encouraged to secure tickets through the link below.

WHEN: Sept. 28, 2022

TIME: Doors open 7 p.m., Event begins 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Okanagan College, 1000 K.L.O. Road, S104 Lecture Theatre in the Student Services building

TICKETS: Free – Space is limited – Reserve your tickets today on Eventbrite

Okanagan College alumni Emily McKay made a lot of connections while studying at OC’s School of Business

Emily McKay

Those connections led her to where she is today, as a social entrepreneur with a fashion business aimed at sustainability in an industry that produces greenhouse gases at twice the rate of the airline industry.

“I went to Okanagan College because I was interested in the marketing world and possibly one day owning my own business,” says McKay. “Looking back, I made so many amazing connections at Okanagan College that led me in the direction of all of my most critical work experiences and special life experiences. It led me to my study abroad program, which led me to the job opportunities I’ve had.”

At McKay’s Most Wanted Luxury Resale, re-use and recycle aren’t just buzzwords, they are a way of life. They offer “pre-loved” luxury items, extending the use of clothing and limiting its impact on the environment.

“Our focus is to do what is best for people and our planet in every decision we make,” says McKay. “We are here to celebrate our collective love of fashion by fostering a community committed to learning, shifting our shopping habits, and exploring style in the incredible world of pre-loved.”

Most Wanted is a small, women led consignment boutique and sustainable fashion is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to McKay’s efforts. Her shop utilizes recycled paper for business cards, avoids printing at all costs and at its core, aims to keep clothing in people’s wardrobes and out of landfills and waterways.

Funds raised through sales are donated to Remake, an international non-profit that is fighting to make the fashion industry a force for good. On Sept. 24, Most Wanted is hosting Fashion Stories: Exploring Sustainability in Fashion, an art exhibition in support of Remake.

“The purpose is to spark vital conversations about fashion’s impact on both people and our planet,” says McKay.

Fashion Stories: Exploring Sustainability in Fashion takes place Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. at Most Wanted Luxury Resale located at 540 West Ave. in Kelowna.

Find them online at mostwantedresale.com.

UBCO invites the community to explore campus on Open Day

A photo of UBCO Heat fans

UBC Okanagan is welcoming the community to campus for Homecoming 2022. Along with exhibits, presentations, and varsity athletics games, there are several hands-on activities including screen printing for people to try out.

Each September, UBC Okanagan invites its students, alumni and members of the local communities to connect and celebrate on campus during Homecoming weekend.

"Having conferred more than 20,000 degrees over 17 years, UBC Okanagan is entering a new era and now is the ideal time for our alumni to come home," says campus Principal Dr. Lesley Cormack. "We have a full agenda of events planned and we encourage our alumni, and the community, to come to campus to participate in Homecoming this weekend. There is so much going on and this is a great opportunity to get reacquainted with old friends, tour some of our buildings and try your hands at something new."

As part of UBCO's homecoming celebrations, taking place on both the Okanagan and Vancouver campuses September 23 and 24, UBC invites the community to Think Forward.

The event will feature Dr. Cormack, in person, who will be joined virtually by UBC President Professor Santa Ono--the two will share a screen and a stage simultaneously between the Okanagan and Vancouver. Special guest Shane Koyczan will perform spoken word poetry live and be broadcast to Vancouver and students from the UBC School of Music will perform on stage in Vancouver and be live streamed in the Okanagan concurrently. The event will be emceed by CBC journalist Ian Hanomansing who was awarded a UBC honorary degree in 2019.

"We have a panel of outstanding forward thinkers who will share their vision for the future as we launch UBC's most ambitious fundraising and alumni engagement campaign in our history," adds. Dr. Cormack. "You will see how, together, we can move the world forward."

The weekend is filled with a variety of events including a panel conversation with Kelowna-based entrepreneur and former Dragons' Den dragon Lane Merrifield with several UBC alumni. This event is hosted by the School of Engineering, with student teams involved with the Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Impact FundThe fund awards start-up capital to develop viable projects that seek to solve real-world problems.

Also taking place Saturday, a panel of alumni from the Faculty of Health and Social Development will host a TED-style talk discussing the importance of equity, especially when it comes to health and wellbeing.

Events on Saturday include UBCO Open Day's busking concert series, an alumni showcase, student-led booths, games, digital experiences and fine arts experiences including a paint-by-numbers campus mural.

Students and faculty from the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science will host hands-on science experiments and live demonstrations. Attendees can also participate in an Indigenous beading workshop, screen printing class or head to UBCO's Makerspace for a hands-on activity.

Other events include a medical school open house, a mini-film festival, a 3D printing workshop, a lesson about artificial intelligence and a presentation called All the Stars We Cannot See--an immersive installation where people view a virtual sky where they can watch in real time at more than 25,000 satellites as they fly overhead.

All of these events are free and open to the public with registration required for some.

For a complete list of homecoming events and details including time, location and registration links, visit: alumni.ubc.ca/ubc-homecoming-okanagan

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UBCO team examines the roots of great wine tourism

A person cutting grapes with garden shears

Giving your guests the chance to participate in agricultural workshops or hands-on activities are just some of the ways wineries can create an authentic and memorable holiday, new research from UBC Okanagan suggests.

Establishing a sense of place--letting visitors dig right into the soil and smell the earth where the grapes are grown for their wine--is one strategy wineries can use to revive lagging tourism numbers coming out of the pandemic, new research from UBC Okanagan reveals.

Research Associate Darcen Esau and supervisor Dr. Donna Senese, an Associate Professor in Geography in the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, collaborated on new research published recently in the journal Food Quality and Preference.

"It really does come down to ensuring people understand that wine tourism is a multi-sensory experience," says Esau.

The findings come thanks to research focused on Italy's renowned Tuscany wine region in 2018.

Finding "slow, small and local" is what wine tourists crave on vacation, and is what makes Tuscany a world leader in wine tourism. It also provides a simple framework others can follow regardless of where in the world they are located.

"We often think of tourism as just being visual, at just looking at the landscape," Esau says. "It's about engaging all five of our senses through participation at a working farm and actually getting a little mud under your fingernails, touching the vines, smelling the wine cellar or hearing a tractor drive by."

The feeling of being part of an agricultural lifestyle can be accomplished through workshops or hands-on activities. It is this participation in agricultural activity that helps vacationing visitors escape, which makes the whole experience feel more authentic and memorable, he explains.

Esau wanted to understand how the sensory experience of wine tourism can create a unique association with a wine destination, providing memorable experiences that are both unique and authentic. Much of that investigating was done during a four-week trip to Castello Sonnino winery in the valleys of Central Italy. Yes, spending a month on a working vacation at a Tuscan winery is part of a class offered at UBCO.

But the winery is also an education centre and provides lessons to the world, Dr. Senese says.

Dr. Senese, who conducts research with UBC's Wine Research Centre, has led UBC courses in the Chianti wine appellation four times to study the connections between wine, food and tourism in the sustainability of the region's geography.

She calls Esau's findings eye-opening, and further confirmation of what she has held dear for the past 20 years. Respecting place is at the heart of every geographer, like her, and she wants the wine industry to embrace a holistic approach in their thinking.

"It is sensual on all five levels," she says. "For our students, one of the standouts about visiting a lot of those wineries in Tuscany, and the experiences they have, is the breathtaking passion the people at the wineries have for the product and the place.

"It's odd to see tears coming to the eyes of students going, 'Wow. I haven't had this experience before, and these people are so passionate about what they're doing.'"

The research comes at an especially important time for a wine industry attempting to recover from a global pandemic. According to a study commissioned by Wine Growers British Columbia and released in mid-August, wine-related tourism in the Okanagan declined to 254,000 visits in 2020 from 1.2 million in 2019.

Dr. Senese is quick to encourage smaller wine regions, such as the Okanagan Valley, to embrace the findings and give their visitors the full sensory experience. After all, many small wineries rely on tourists and local tastings rather than flooding global markets with exported products.

At the same time, the research also applies to all wine regions regardless of their numbers as they seek to drive tourism and subsequent visitation.

"It really is about downplaying that commercial component and emphasizing the local craftsmanship," says Esau, "which a large winery can do as well. We see great examples of it throughout the Okanagan."

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