Silent auction – fundraiser

valley first22Silent Auction for FEED THE VALLEY – Support your local food bank

Valley First has taken down our “Map of the Okanagan” that has been hanging in our window for several years.
We notice lots of people stop to look at it.
It can now be in your business or in your home.
We are holding a Silent Auction for
this item from Feb 27th to end of day March 6th.
Come on in to Valley First to make your bid.

All funds raised will go to FEED THE VALLEY – our signature cause that supports our local food bank
The map is professionally mounted. It measures 34in X 24in.

Report on Education

We would like to congratulate all of our education partners and especially Jim Insley, our educators, and the Aboriginal Education Advisory Council on the excellent graduation results of 2014. We received a letter from the Minister of Education, Peter Fassbender congratulating the Board of Education on the 75%, six year completion rate of our Aboriginal students. Our district is well above the provincial average of 62%. We are very proud of the hard work of our Aboriginal students and all of our partners. We will continue to work hard for the success of all of our students.

The Aboriginal Education Advisory Council meeting was held on Tuesday February 17th. The meeting was hosted by the Osoyoos Indian Band at Tuc-el-Nuit School. The committees of the council are working on several projects and events: Pow-Wow will be on April 10th and 11th at Osoyoos Secondary, the Aboriginal graduation will be held in Oliver on June 16th at the Venables Theatre and a “new “committee this year, which includes one elementary and one secondary teacher from the district as well as Dave Foster (principal Osoyoos Elementary), are working on a dinner with a Residential School presentation by Brad Marsden on March 4th from 4-7.30 pm.

The intent of this committee is to become familiar with the Residential School curriculum for grades 5 and 10 teachers. This new curriculum will be introduced next year. They will receive two full days of information given by our Aboriginal knowledge keepers.
Student forums will be held at South Okanagan Secondary, Osoyoos Secondary and Similkameen Elementary Secondary schools. At the forums teachers and administrators are hoping to gather input from students that will inform their school goals, inquiry work and direction for the next year. A facilitator will lead these forums and we are looking forward to hearing the results of the student conversations.

Foundations Skills Assessment (FSA) for 2015 was administered to grades 4 and 7 students in February. The FSA assesses students’ skills in reading, writing and numeracy. The FSA’s were marked on February 21st and a big thank you to our FSA lead scorers: Shannon Miller (writing), Scott Tremblay (reading), and Shendah Benoit (numeracy). Dave Foster coordinated the administration and marking plan for the district – thank you Dave!

Bev Young, superintendent, received information about a $5,000 Skills Training Access Support grant available upon application to the Ministry of Education. The intent of this grant is to support rural districts in developing local solutions to improve access opportunities for students living in areas that do not have a post-secondary institution or sufficient local support to pursue their career interests. We will be submitting an application by the February 27th due date and will be notified by March 6th if we are selected.

The Board saw firsthand what a difference the trades programs are making in the lives of our students. At the last Board meeting Kelsey Gorgichuk and Rod Kitt, Career Prep teacher, made a presentation to the Board. Kelsey graduated from OSS last year and is well on her way to be a fully qualified welder, she did her training at Thompson River University and is currently working in Saskatchewan as a welder. In September 2014 we had nine students enrolled in the ACE IT/Dual credit program and in February 2015 we now have 19 students enrolled. These students are working towards becoming carpenters, mechanics, welders, chefs, plumbers, estheticians and aircraft maintenance engineers while completing their high school diplomas. We need to provide these options for students to ensure multiple pathways to graduation and the success of all students in school.

We are urging parents with kindergarten age students, who will be attending school in our district, to please register at their neighborhood school. Early registration helps us in our planning, staffing and grade configurations for elementary schools next year.
Graduation times and dates for our secondary schools are as follow:
 Osoyoos Secondary School – Thursday, June 25th at 6 pm in the OSS gym.
 Similkameen Elementary Secondary School – Thursday, June 25th at 4 pm in the SESS gym
 Southern Okanagan Secondary School – Thursday, June 25th at 7 pm in the SOSS gym
 – Thursday, June 18th at 6 pm in the SOSS Atrium

Effective May 1st, 2015 Victoria would no longer be funding upgrading courses for adults who have graduated with a dogwood certificate. The Ministry will continue to fund graduated adults with a dogwood certificate if they enroll in Literacy Foundation courses. Students who have completed school with a BC School Completion Certificate will continue to be funded if they enroll in upgrading courses. In 2013/14 the district received $51,775 through this grant. We anticipate revenue to be reduced due to these changes.

The Ministry of Education has been working with districts to upgrade district networks. The Next Generation Network (NGN) will enable faster Internet connections, greater bandwidth capacity and improve reliability of technology and provide improved security features. Districts throughout the province are transitioning to the NGN over a three year period. SD53 is part of the 2015 transition plan and expects to be converted to the NGN by fall. In order to access the new network, the district requires upgraded technology equipment that will cost approximately $50,000, however, the improved speed and other features with improve school and student connectivity.

More information on this project can be found at the following link:

At the last regular Board of Education meeting the Board approved our revamped smoke-free policy. This policy includes smokeless tobacco-free and electronic smoking products. The revised trustee code of conduct as well as the transportation of students policy (revisions to regulations) also received notice of motion. The Board also approved the 2014/2015 Amended Annual Budget. Our amended budget reflects a decrease in our Provincial grant money from the Ministry of Education due to the labor dispute and a decline in our student population. We will end the year with a projected deficit of $585,767 which will be funded from our surplus.
Trustees will be attending the BCSTA Thompson Okanagan Branch meeting on the weekend of February 27th in Vernon. At the Branch meeting we will be visiting the Winter House and we will attend presentations from a variety of educators in the Vernon school district who will be presenting on new education initiatives in their district.

Should you have any questions, please contact me at 250-498-1333.
Submitted by Marieze Tarr, Chairperson
School District No. 53 (Okanagan Similkameen)

Do you care?

There has been a great deal in the news over the past few weeks about C-51, the government’s news Anti-Terrorism Act.  It is another one in a series of omnibus bills and contains 62 pages covering everything from expanding the mandate of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to allowing police to seize terrorist propaganda while making it easier to share information between government departments.

On the surface, it appears fairly clear: we are faced with a terrorist threat.  C-51 will make our country a safer place.

The reality, however, is not that simplistic.  I have been monitoring what the mainstream media have been saying about this piece of legislation and have learned that there is a lot of concern about the threat to our rights and freedoms.

As Campbell Clark stated in his Globe and Mail Op-ed: “Two things are clear: First the Conservatives think this bill will help them win an election, and second, they don’t want people to understand it.  That’s a bad combination for a bill that will change things in secret, in ways we won’t know for years.”

In spite of the fact that the two tragic deaths of Canadian service men were not directly related to a “terrorist plot” against Canada, the government has justified C-51 using the threat of a Jihadist invasion.  If we recall, the individuals who murdered our two soldiers were mentally deranged fanatics with no connection to any international terrorist organization.

Canadians have a right to worry about their safety.  It is a duty of a government to address this concern in a responsible manner, and not to play on the “fear factor”.  As our Leader Tom Mulcair stated, “The Prime Minister is telling Canadians they need to choose between their security and their rights – that safety and freedom are mutually exclusive.  Instead of putting forward concrete measures to make Canadians safer and protect freedoms Conservatives have put politics over principle and introduced a bill that is dangerously vague and likely ineffective.”

In the 1960s and 1970s, the RCMP had been engaged in illegal disruptive activities.  The McDonald Commission was created and CSIS was established to collect and analyze information and produce intelligence about potential national security threats to Canada.  Now, with C-51, CSIS will be allowed to engage in this type of activity and do legally what the RCMP had been doing illegally.  This should be of great concern to all Canadians

Those of us that recall the War Measures Act of 1970, remember the sweeping powers it gave the police. Hundreds of innocent people were arrested, interrogated and detained as a result.  This must not happen ever again.

History, as we know, is full of examples of irresponsible leaders rallying their citizens by exaggerating threats to their security.  As a former CSIS officer, Francois Lavigne states, “Some of these tactics are taken right out of the fascist playbook.  Create an enemy that is hard to identify. Make it an enemy that is nebulous and seems to be able to do things that nobody else can.  Don’t define the enemy.  Just identify.  Generate fear around that enemy.  Then, send out the message that the only people who can deal with this enemy are us.”

The Conservatives have defined the “enemy” and are ramming legislation through that is supposedly going to protect us.  They have limited debate at Second Reading and are only allowing 3 meetings at Committee to hear witnesses.  To put this in context, after Sept 11, 2001, the Liberal government held 10 Committee sessions and heard from 80 witnesses before passing major anti-terrorism legislation.  (I find it hard to understand why the Liberals have given unconditional support to C-51).

It is my opinion that this ideologically driven piece of legislation is a very real threat to our rights and freedoms.

Alex Atamanenko, MP

Al Sismey – ‘Crimestopper’ – steps down

al sismey22

“Yes, it is time to hang up my spurs!!!! I will be done March 31 to make room for some “new blood”!!!”

Crime Stoppers regional co-ordinator Al Sismey, the only paid staff person with a volunteer-driven organization that started in Penticton about 23 years ago. Crime Stoppers at that time was new program created in the U.S. to generate tips for police based on the promise of cash rewards. Most people phoning in tips don’t want the cash says Sismey, a retired Mountie and former local business owner.

In the last year – a bit of a shake up in how the Penticton based programme was operated and supervised with a new direction provided by new top cop – Superintendent Kevin Hewco. al sismey22

Sismey says it’s time for some for a change in his life and the Crime Stoppers organization which works throughout the regional district and gets some funding from the RDOS>

A well earned holiday is next for Sismey.

Area 27 – progressing towards track construction

27 b2 Since our project received approval from the Osoyoos Indian Band, we have been moving forward with construction planning. One of the key next steps is to finalize track engineering in advance of earth moving. This requires a site visit by our track designer. Area 27 members and media will tour the track and site with track designer Jacques Villeneuve on the weekend.27 c They will be able to see the precise location of each corner, elevation changes, and straightaway lengths: Promoter Bill Drossos 27

Helping hands

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Soup Kitchen – Thursday at Oliver’s 7th Day Adventist Church

Kitchen helpers below and a fine young lass above washing tables

geo group22

March 11 in Penticton – Wined it Up

ed pix ebyPhoto by Paul Eby

Rock band “Wined it Up” will compete in “Off The Charts” at the Barking Parrot March 11 at 7:30 p.m.

Pictured Mikie Spillett, Ken Repkow, Jim Ruhland and Ed Dukes.

Good luck

Saturday March 14th

a healthy living22On the tail of the exciting and sold out Kevin Breel presentation at the Cleland Theater in February, the OSHLC is partnering with the Okanagan Similkameen Healthy Living Fair Society to present Dr. Art Hister at the annual FREE Healthy Living Fair – Saturday March 14th at the Penticton Trade & Convention Centre. This event is a continuation of the objectives of the Coalition, which is to support and profile Healthy Living initiatives in our community.

Dr. Hister will speak about the “Simple Steps for a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life”, at 9:15 am on the main stage in the Penticton Trade & Convention, just after the opening ceremonies. In his humorous, common sense style, Dr. Hister will tantalize our audience with many simple steps just about anyone – no matter how young or old, no matter their previous medical history – can take to:

1) Increase your chances of living longer

2) Greatly lower your risk of developing those debilitating, chronic illnesses that most of us think are inevitable consequences of aging but most definitely are not

3) Live with more energy and way more happiness, and most important in this day and age,

4) Cope better with life’s inevitable stresses.

And best of all, the message comes with a huge serving of humour and common


Dr. Art Hister has been a full time “media doctor” since 1991 and in that span has worked for several outstanding media outlets including BBC Radio in the UK, CBC Newsworld, CBC Radio, and the Corus Radio network, and currently he is a health analyst for BCTV News in British Columbia, although his only claim for respect from his family is that first, in 1969, Dr. Hister was at Woodstock and second, that he was also the first full-time physician at the legendary Pine Free Clinic.

Dr. Hister has (and continues to be) been a health consultant to the BC government, and currently serves as a consultant on aging issue for several organizations including the BC Alzheimer Society and the Tapestry Foundation, as well as serving as a patron for the Urology Foundation at Vancouver General Hospital.

His proudest achievement, though, besides being at Woodstock, is his wonderful family: his wife, Phyllis Simon, owner of Vancouver Kidsbooks, North America’s largest – and of course, best – independent children’s book store, to whom he has been married for 43 years (tied together for over 46 years, however), his two great sons, Jonah and Tim, and the newest additions, his gorgeous, talented, smart, amazingly athletic and utterly captivating 36-month-old grandchild, Masha, who luckily takes after her grandma, not her grandpa, and his 2-year-old grandson Henry, who is certain to be just as amazing as Masha.


During the 2015 Healthy Living Fair, organizations will profile resources, products and services that support and encourage a healthy lifestyle. After our Keynote Speaker, Dr. Art Hister speaks at 9:15 am, there will be activity demos, healthy eating sessions, Healthy Living Assessment stations and over 80 different information booths – all for Free!

Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 14th at the Penticton Trade & Convention Centre. For more information on the 2015 event; to pre-register for the ‘Healthy Living Assessment'; to be an exhibitor or become one of our valued volunteers, please visit the website:

RDOS hires new manager of Public Works

rdos logo twoRoger Huston to commence as the new Public Works Manager for the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen on March 30th.

Roger Huston, a dedicated professional with over 22 years’ experience in local government will commence his employment with the RDOS on March 30, 2015.

Roger comes to us with over 20 years in local government occupying senior management positions within a Public Works department. He has previously held similar positions with the City of Grand Forks and the Village of Lumby.

“Mr. Huston has a proven track record in local government and comes highly recommended”, stated Bill Newell, RDOS Chief Administrative Officer, “We look forward to him joining the RDOS team and working with us to achieve our goals and objectives.”

Mr. Huston, who will relocate into the area to begin his new position states, “I am very excited to join the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, work together with the RDOS team, and help move forward the interesting projects they have planned.”

He will replace Doug French, P.Eng. who is retiring.

Ethel Jones R.I.P.

daisy22Long time Willowbrook resident Ethel Jones passed away February 8, 2015 in Kaslo at the age of 91 years. She is survived by Sons Terry (Dina) of Woodbury, Rick (Heather) at Mirror Lake, and Lex (Gail) of Kaslo. Five grandchildren: Terry (Karla), Alicia, Casey (Shane), Nick (Dezz), and Chad. Great-grandson Jason. Sister Dody Thompson of North Vancouver, and Sister-in-law Betty (Keith) Killick of Chilliwack. Ethel was predeceased by her husband Fred in 2010, and their daughters Susie in 1958, and Annie in 1972.

Ethel was a hard working woman who operated many businesses with Fred including “Westlake Lodge” at Hollyburn Mountain in the 1940’s,  Motels in Nelson and Okanagan Falls, and Kaslo Marine Service. Together they enjoyed a long retirement, tending a large garden in Willowbrook in the summer, and loved skiing at Baldy in the winter. Ethel had recently moved to Kaslo to be closer to her family. A memorial will be held in Kaslo in the spring.

SORCO moves fast to acquire manager

dale belevdereThe South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls, SORCO, will soon have a new manager.


Dale Belvedere was appointed by the board and will take on the new job March 1.

The change come after executive manager Lauren Meads informed the board of her intention to leave the position.


Belvedere is no stranger to SORCO. For the past seven years, she has been actively involved as a volunteer in all aspects of raptor rehab operations

She also has a strong medical and management background and has completed wildlife rehabilitation training courses.