What's New at BC Colleges: November 1, 2010

Message from Jim Reed - President, BC Colleges

Welcome to this month’s edition of “What’s New at BC Colleges”. I'm in Vancouver at BC Colleges' inaugural "Advance 2010+ Creating & Powering the Future" conference.  Over the next two days, BC’s eleven publicly funded colleges will come together to discuss the future workforce needs of British Columbia and the role BC’s colleges will play in addressing these needs.  The conference will be the first step in the process of developing a system-wide education plan for the BC college system.

“The timing of this Advance 2010+ is critical,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College and Chair of BC Colleges. “The Province is facing a looming skills gap with an aging population and a transition to a more-knowledge based economy. We need to ensure that our colleges are ready to respond to the gap between labour force needs and the Province’s training capacity.”

In his recent study, “People without Jobs, Jobs without People” Rick Miner, PhD., (President Emeritus of Seneca College) warns that if aggressive strategies are not employed, Canada will not have the educated or skilled workforce necessary for the economic growth of the country. The same can be said about British Columbia.  Without a bold and aggressive strategy to prepare the skilled workforce required to satisfy the Province’s future labour market needs, the Province’s economic growth and development with be severely hampered.

The importance of colleges as engines of economic growth was highlighted in the recent Provincial cabinet shuffle with the inclusion of colleges in the new Ministry of Regional Economic and Skills Development.  The Premier stated that this change adds “new momentum to our excellent college system to assist with regional job creation.”  The Advance 2010+ conference will examine how colleges can best meet the labour force needs of the Province and mitigate the future skills gap.

Of course, in addition to the conference, there are many exciting things happening at our colleges ranging from the completion of new facilities at College of the Rockies and Camosun, a new Aboriginal Gathering place at North Island College, accolades and awards for educators and programs, new appointments and partnerships with business and industry.  You can read the details below and for a complete listing of news and events from all 11 colleges check out In the News on our website.

I welcome your feedback.  You can reach me at


Jim Reed
President, BC Colleges

North Island College Celebrates Opening of Aboriginal Gathering Place
Ministry of Regional Economic and Skills Development Press Release, October 29, 2010

Aboriginal students at North Island College’s Port Alberni campus have a new gathering place for traditional ceremonies and celebrations, supporting their community announced Moira Stilwell, Minister of Regional Economic and Skills Development and Barry Penner, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation.  “One of government’s goals is to increase Aboriginal student success, and this gathering place will provide a welcoming place for all Indigenous students who choose to attend North Island College’s Port Alberni campus,” said Stilwell. “Providing support to our Aboriginal students will help build a strong foundation for their future success and ultimately strengthen the community.”  The gathering place, built with a government investment of $201,000, officially opened today. Read more.

New Classroom Space Benefits Students at College of the Rockies
College of the Rockies Media Release, October 29, 2010

Students at the College of the Rockies will enjoy a new and improved place to study and learn with the completion of a major $12.74-million expansion and renovation of Kootenay Centre.  Bill Bennett, MLA for Kootenay East and Minister of Energy and Jim Abbott, MP for Kootenay-Columbia were joined by College of the Rockies executive, faculty, staff, students and Cranbrook and area residents to officially open the expansion of Kootenay Centre.  "Our government has invested in innovation and infrastructure to improve the quality of life for Canadians and set the foundation for economic prosperity," said MP Abbott. "This investment created jobs for people at a critical period while improving the infrastructure that the College of the Rockies will need for years to come." Read more.

Camosun Celebrates Dynamic $4-million Revitalization
Ministry of Regional Economic and Skills Development Media Release, October 29, 2010

Camosun College is celebrating completion of three of its Knowledge Infrastructure Program (KIP) projects, including an expanded fitness centre and new learning commons at the Lansdowne campus, and a new learning commons at the Interurban campus, giving students even more dynamic environments.  Gary Lunn, MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands and Minister of State for Sport, and Ida Chong, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head and Minister of Science and Universities joined Camosun executive, faculty, staff and students to officially open the Learning Commons at Camosun’s Lansdowne campus today, before touring the new expanded fitness centre. Read more.

Employer input sought to revise Heavy Duty Mechanical trades training
Northern Lights College Media Release, October 29, 2010

Apprenticeship – skilled trades people mentoring and teaching others in the workplace – is a centuries old tradition.  And while British Columbia’s industry training system today involves governments, colleges, industry bodies and other stakeholders each with an important role to play, it really all comes down to the commitment of employers to providing on-the-job learning opportunities.  Approximately 80 per cent of Apprenticeship training is done in the workplace, compared to about 20 per cent in a classroom setting.  So who better to help determine the skills and knowledge needed by trades people than the companies that employ them? Read more.

Langara's 40 years on 49th event marks milestone achievement
Langara Colleges Media Release, October 27, 2010

On October 14, 2010, Langara College celebrated its 40th anniversary of its 49th Avenue campus with a public event. The 40 on 49th event invited high school students, current students, parents, counselors, and the general public to the campus for free food, great prize draws, live entertainment, and a full day of fun and activities.  “Langara has been a part of the neighborhood for 40 years, and with record-breaking enrolment the last two semesters, there’s lots to celebrate. It’s great we got the entire community involved to mark this milestone achievement,” said Dr. Ian Humphreys, Director of Communications & Marketing.  Read more.

VCC launches Year of Science events with NASA astronaut John Herrington
Vancouver Community College Media Release, October 27, 2010

What's it like to walk in space? Does the Earth really look that spectacular from up there? And, most importantly, what about going to the bathroom in zero gravity?  Vancouver Community College this Thursday, Oct. 28, hosts NASA astronaut Cmdr. John Herrington -- the first Native American in space -- for two special presentations kicking off a series of VCC events as part of British Columbia's Year of Science.  "Science is everywhere in our daily lives, and it's a key part of VCC programming that enables our students to be job-ready -- from physics and biology to culinary arts, health sciences, transportation trades, music and much more," says VCC president Kathy Kinloch.  Read more.

NWCC Houston instructor gets nod as best educator
Northwest Community College Media Release, October 27, 2010

Longtime Northwest Community College (NWCC) instructor and program coordinator Sandi Lavallie was honoured by the Houston and District Chamber of Commerce last Saturday at the Houston Community Hall for her work as a respected educator in the Bulkley Valley.  Lavallie, who is the current Career and College Prep instructor and coordinator in Houston, won the Educator of the Year Award at the Chamber’s yearly Business Excellence Awards gala. This award recognizes an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to the education of the youth of Houston and strives to inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn.  Read more.

CNC opens Chieftain Auto Parts Lab
College of New Caledonia Media Release, October 22, 2010

The College of New Caledonia will officially open the Chieftain Auto Parts Lab today, marking the beginning of what CNC hopes to be a growing trend of corporate partnerships.  The local auto parts company donated $25,000 to CNC to create a computer lab in the automotive area of the John A. Brink Trades and Technology Centre at the college.  “We are delighted to create this legacy in our community college,” said Chieftain owner/manager Trevor Heinze. “These students are our future and it means a great deal to Chieftain to give them the best technology available to help them learn and grow into professionals in the auto industry.”  Chieftain Auto Parts has also grown over the years, from a staff of three people in 1973 to more than 35 staff in two local stores and about 20,000 square feet of automotive and other parts.  Read more.

Windsor Plywood gift to Centre of Excellence is helping build the community
Okanagan College Media Release, October 21, 2010

A $20,000 donation to Okanagan College’s Centre of Excellence is an important example of Windsor Plywood’s long-time commitment to building the community, according to Doug Sudchak, the owner and manager of the Windsor Plywood Penticton franchise. The donation is a welcome signal of how a locally owned and operated company is supporting the community and the importance it attaches to sustainability in building practices, according to Jim Henderson, Vice-President of the Okanagan College Foundation and the man spearheading a $5-million fundraising campaign for the Centre. “Windsor Plywood has been in Penticton for more than 35 years and we know the role that Okanagan College has played here. With expanded trades training and the new programs that the Centre of Excellence will bring, we know it is going to be an even more important part of the community,” says Doug Sudchak. “We are really pleased to be able to offer this support as acknowledgement of that.” Read more.

Douglas College is the first post-secondary institution in Canada to win a North America-wide award presented to sign language interpreter programs for their contributions to the field.
Douglas College Media Release, October 20, 2010

Douglas's Program of Sign Language Interpretation was given the 2010 Video Relay Service Interpreter Education Program Award of Excellence by Sorenson Communications.  The annual award is given to an interpreter education program (IEP) that is making a meaningful contribution by expanding curriculum and responding to the ever-increasing demand for interpreters.  "It's incredible," says Jan Carrie, Dean of Child, Family and Community Studies. "This is an award of excellence for all of North America, and to get an award of this calibre says a lot for our program." Read more.

Mir Centre for Peace appoints Chair
Selkirk Media Release, October 15, 2010

Following a national search that resulted in applications from across North America, Randy Janzen has been appointed as the Chair of the Mir Centre for Peace at Selkirk College.  Randy has worked at Selkirk College since 1998 as a nursing instructor in the School of Health and Human Services where he also served as School Chair from 2004 to 2007. His work with the Mir Centre includes service on the Mir Programming Council, a lecturer in the Mir Centre for Peace Winter lecture series and teaching in the second year of the Peace Studies program.  Read more.



BC Colleges is a consortium representing BC’s 11 public, community colleges serving almost 250,000 students annually with campuses in close to 70 communities throughout British Columbia. BC’s 11 colleges offer a comprehensive range of programs from university studies and baccalaureate degrees to career, technical and trades education. All 11 of BC’s colleges offer programs that are designed to be accessible, affordable and responsive to the evolving needs of BC communities and industry. For more, visit our website.