The Georgia Straight - - Contents -

Read up on a host of in­no­va­tive pro­grams at sev­eral schools here and across the coun­try that of­fer cour­ses that have the po­ten­tial to change your life.

York Univer­sity’s the­atre de­part­ment has launched the ca­reers of many cel­e­brated ac­tors, di­rec­tors, and stage­hands, per­haps none more fa­mous than Rachel Mca­dams. Since grad­u­at­ing with a bach­e­lor’s in fine arts in 2001, the Lon­don, On­tario, na­tive has gone on to star in Mean Girls, Wed­ding Crash­ers, Sher­lock Holmes, Spot­light, Dis­obe­di­ence, and many other films.

An­other York Univer­sity the­atre alumna is Weyni Menge­sha, the re­cently ap­pointed artis­tic di­rec­tor of Toronto’s Soulpep­per The­atre. Yet an­other York the­atre grad is Tar­ragon The­atre artis­tic di­rec­tor Richard Rose, who has di­rected plays across the coun­try, in the United States, and in Lon­don’s West End. One of the fac­ulty mem­bers is Michael Greyeyes, who starred as Sit­ting Bull in the 2018 film Woman Walks Ahead, with Jes­sica Chas­tain.

De­part­ment chair Marlis Sch­weitzer told the Straight by phone that one of the things that make York’s the­atre pro­gram stand out is that it’s part of a large, com­pre­hen­sive univer­sity in Toronto. Stu­dents are not streamed into sep­a­rate ar­eas un­til af­ter they com­plete their first year and are re­quired to take cour­ses not only within the fac­ulty but also in the broader school of arts, me­dia, per­for­mance, and de­sign. This is the case even though York has strong con­ser­va­tory-style act­ing and pro­duc­tion-de­sign pro­grams.

“Every­body is get­ting a strong ground­ing as the­atre stu­dents and also as univer­sity stu­dents,” Sch­weitzer said. “An­other thing that makes York unique is some of the amaz­ing fa­cil­i­ties we have.”

These in­clude “gor­geous stu­dio the­atres and prosce­nium-style the­atres”, as well as a sta­teof-the-art black-box the­atre named af­ter the first chair of the pro­gram, Joseph G. Green.

He was one of the founders of York’s the­atre de­part­ment in 1969. The oth­ers were the first the­atre fac­ulty mem­ber, Don Ru­bin, act­ing teach­ers Sandy Black and David Har­ris, and tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor Joe Glos­son. An­other early fac­ulty mem­ber was Cana­dian the­atre leg­end Ma­vor Moore, who was also a long-time col- um­nist with the Globe and Mail.

This means that 2018-19 marks the 50th year of the York the­atre de­part­ment—and Sch­weitzer said this golden an­niver­sary is be­ing cel­e­brated in sev­eral ways. On Novem­ber 24, there will be a 2 p.m. pre­sen­ta­tion of David Yee’s rochdale, with a $5 ad­mis­sion fee, fol­lowed by a free party from 4:30 to 7 p.m. in the univer­sity’s Joseph G. Green Stu­dio The­atre.

York’s the­atre de­part­ment is also mark­ing the birth­day with a se­ries of in­ter­views on its web­site un­der the ban­ner head­line “Fifty Years of Dis­rup­tion”. For­mer stu­dents who have been fea­tured in­clude ground­break­ing per­for­mance artist Shawna Dempsey, The­atre On­tario’s Rachel Kennedy, post­doc­toral health re­searcher Ju­lia Gray, di­rec­tor By­ron Lavi­o­lette, Ob­sid­ian The­atre pro­ducer Luke Reese, dra­maturge Lucy Powis, film pro­ducer Robert Benedetti, and play­wright and ac­tor Bessie Cheng.

Fifty Years of Dis­rup­tion is also the theme of York’s the­atri­cal work this year. It’s in keep­ing with the de­part­ment’s his­tory of fo­cus­ing a se­ries of shows on ques­tions of so­cial and po­lit­i­cal rel­e­vance. In past years, sea­sons have re­volved around Indi­gene­ity, ac­ces­si­bil­ity, and vi­o­lence.

“It’s not just that we want to put on a play be­cause we know it will sell tick­ets,” Sch­weitzer said. “We want to build a sea­son that in­volves the whole de­part­ment—grad­u­ate and un­der­grad­u­ate—in ex­plor­ing ques­tions. So this year, the theme is around dis­rup­tion and an emerg­ing gen­er­a­tion of dis­rupters.”

Sch­weitzer pointed out that one of the ad­van­tages of study­ing at York is Toronto’s vi­brant the­atre ecosys­tem. The de­part­ment has a pro­gram called Sur­prise Sur­prise that gives stu­dents free tick­ets to see a va­ri­ety of shows. They can range from the block­buster mu­si­cal Come From Away to per­for­mances in small in­de­pen­dent the­atres.

“They get a real sense of the range of the­atre that’s be­ing pro­duced in the city,” she said, “and, thank­fully, we have a sub­way that con­nects York all the way to down­town and all the way out to Vaughan and Markham.”



Most Van­cou­ver res­i­dents have heard of Toronto, Mcgill, and Dal­housie uni­ver­si­ties, which are three of Canada’s old­est English­language post­sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tions. Con­cor­dia Univer­sity in Mon­treal, how­ever, isn’t nearly as well known across the coun­try, even though it has one of the largest stu­dent bod­ies in the coun­try.

Formed through the merger of Sir George Wil­liams Univer­sity and Loy­ola Col­lege in 1974, it has 37,053 un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents and 9,040 grad­u­ate stu­dents this year. It’s per­haps most fa­mous for the John Mol­son School of Busi­ness, which re­lies on group learn­ing and the case-study model of in­struc­tion.

The list of un­der­grad­u­ate pro­grams at Con­cor­dia runs the gamut from jour­nal­ism to en­gi­neer­ing to ur­ban stud­ies. Some peo­ple are at­tracted by its highly re­garded bach­e­lor of arts in ac­tu­ar­ial math­e­mat­ics. Oth­ers are drawn by its ath­letic pro­grams.

About 8.5 per­cent of the stu­dents are Cana­di­ans from out­side Que­bec.

“A lot of our B.C. ap­pli­cants are in­ter­ested in our fine-arts pro­grams,” Con­cor­dia’s di­rec­tor of stu­dent re­cruit­ment, Matthew Stiege­meyer, told the Straight by phone. “It’s one of the largest fine-arts fac­ul­ties rooted in a univer­sity.”

One of the new­est fac­ulty mem­bers, artist Kelly Jaz­vac, is a sculp­tor who is part of an in­ter­dis­ci­plinary plas­tics-pol­lu­tion re­search group. Her work is a re­flec­tion that at Con­cor­dia, fine arts is not only about cre­at­ing things but also about ad­vanc­ing cul­tural dis­cus­sions about is­sues of im­por­tance to so­ci­ety.

Stiege­meyer said that the same out­ward­look­ing ap­proach is em­braced in ur­ban stud­ies, where there is a great deal of re­search into the “fu­ture-city con­cept”.

Out-of-prov­ince stu­dents are at­tracted to Con­cor­dia by the rel­a­tively low cost of liv­ing in Mon­treal com­pared to other places in Canada. Ac­cord­ing to Statis­tics Canada data, the av­er­age rent in the city in 2016 was $835 per month. In eight of the city’s bor­oughs, the av­er­age was less than $800 per month.

“Cer­tainly, the cost-of-liv­ing com­po­nent stands out,” Stiege­meyer said.

The glob­ally rec­og­nized QS rank­ings listed Mon­treal as the best stu­dent city in the world in 2017; this year, it came first in North Amer­ica and ranked fourth in the world be­hind Lon­don, Tokyo, and Mel­bourne.

The rank­ings are based on such things as the mix of stu­dents, de­sir­abil­ity (in­clud­ing liv­abil­ity, safety, and pol­lu­tion lev­els), em­ployer ac­tiv­ity, af­ford­abil­ity, and stu­dent ex­pe­ri­ence.

Mon­treal has a vi­brant nightlife with a Euro­pean feel. Be­cause there are four uni­ver­si­ties and 12 col­leges in the city, the lo­cal gov­ern­ment places a high pri­or­ity on en­sur­ing there is enough ac­com­mo­da­tion for stu­dents.

Stiege­meyer pointed out that be­cause Mon­treal is an old city, it’s pos­si­ble to rent units in cen­tury-old build­ings with high ceil­ings, old wood floors, and a sense of his­tory. “It adds to that sense of ex­oti­cism,” he said.

There’s a fully built-out rapid-tran­sit sys­tem. In ad­di­tion, Con­cor­dia runs its own buses be­tween the down­town cam­pus—home to the busi­ness, en­gi­neer­ing, and fine-arts fac­ul­ties—and the Loy­ola cam­pus six kilo­me­tres away. It’s full of green space and houses com­mu­ni­ca­tions, jour­nal­ism, psy­chol­ogy, and other pro­grams, as well as the univer­sity’s sports fa­cil­i­ties.

Stiege­meyer added one other ben­e­fit of liv­ing in Mon­treal—the food. Be­cause Que­bec has a vi­brant agri­cul­tural sec­tor, there’s plenty of healthy din­ing op­tions.

“There’s also a real com­mit­ment to the out­doors,” he said, not­ing the pop­u­lar­ity of cy­cling trails around the city and in one of Mon­treal’s most pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions, the 209-hectare Parc Jean-dra­peau.

Named af­ter one of the city’s most colour­ful may­ors, it was the site of the Expo 67 World Fair and in­cludes an en­vi­ron­men­tal mu­seum, a For­mula 1 race­track, and the city’s largest out­door-con­cert venue.


Many Bri­tish Columbians don’t know that there are more than 70,000 Indige­nous stu­dents in B.C.’S K-12 pub­lic-school sys­tem. That’s about 13 per­cent. Yet only about two per­cent of B.C.’S ap­prox­i­mately 42,000 cer­ti­fied pub­lic-school teach­ers are Indige­nous, ac­cord­ing to UBC’S as­so­ciate dean for Indige­nous ed­u­ca­tion, Jan Hare.

This has cre­ated a press­ing need for Indige­nous teach­ers and cul­tur­ally grounded ed­u­ca­tors.

“They are crit­i­cal to the suc­cess of Indige­nous stu­dents,” Hare told the Straight by phone.

The Anishi­naabe scholar’s man­date in­cludes en­rich­ing UBC’S teacher ed­u­ca­tion with Indige­nous per­spec­tives, his­to­ries, and ped­a­go­gies. She pointed out that the First Peo­ples’ Prin­ci­ples of Learn­ing are em­bed­ded in cur­ricu­lum re­form in B.C.

This holis­tic, re­flex­ive, ex­pe­ri­en­tial, and re­la­tional ap­proach that rec­og­nizes the role of Indige­nous knowl­edge is also be­ing em­braced in other prov­inces. “There has been a shift across Canada in re­sponse to cur­ricu­lum re­form,” Hare said.

This presents op­por­tu­ni­ties for ed­u­ca­tors to think about how young learn­ers from nar­ra­tive tra­di­tions can ben­e­fit from cul­tur­ally sen­si­tive ap­proaches that en­hance com­pre­hen­sion, lan­guage de­vel­op­ment, and lis­ten­ing skills.

A cor­ner­stone of the UBC fac­ulty of ed­u­ca­tion’s ef­forts is NITEP, which is the acro­nym for its Indige­nous teacher ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram. It be­gan train­ing Indige­nous el­e­men­tary-school teach­ers in 1974 and was ex­panded to the se­condary grades in 2004.

“There is re­search that sug­gests when Indige­nous learn­ers are taught by Indige­nous ed­u­ca­tors, they’re more likely to en­gage more deeply in learn­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence bet­ter out­comes,” Hare said.

NITEP of­fers pro­gram­ming in Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties and ru­ral ar­eas, which en­ables stu­dents to re­main at lo­cal field cen­tres for the first two or three years. Then they trans­fer to UBC’S Van­cou­ver cam­pus to com­plete their bach­e­lor of ed­u­ca­tion and their cer­ti­fi­ca­tion year to be­come a teacher.

Hare em­pha­sized that NITEP de­liv­ers a holis­tic ex­pe­ri­ence that not only pre­pares fu­ture teach­ers for the class­room but also sup­ports and nur­tures their cul­tural iden­tity. The pro­gram hosts an ur­ban co­hort for those in­ter­ested in teach­ing in ur­ban ar­eas.

“They would have an un­der­stand­ing of the im­pacts that colo­nial­ism has had on our com­mu­ni­ties and our fam­i­lies,” Hare said. “They would have an op­por­tu­nity to de­velop an un­der­stand­ing of the di­ver­sity of Indige­nous peo­ple in terms of their lan­guages and cul­tures.”

Grad­u­ates in­clude B.C.’S first su­per­in­ten­dent of abo­rig­i­nal achieve­ment, Dede Derose, and Fiona La­porte, who is the head teacher at Xpey’ el­e­men­tary school (formerly Sir Wil­liam Mac­don­ald el­e­men­tary), which is Van­cou­ver’s Abo­rig­i­nal-fo­cused school, lo­cated in the city’s East Side.

Mean­while, the 2015 re­port of the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion of Canada is hav­ing an in­flu­ence on the school sys­tem. Hare noted that this re­port has not only pro­vided a road map for ad­vance­ment but has im­posed de­mands on the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem that UBC is ad­dress­ing. That’s be­cause 11 of its 94 “calls to ac­tion” fo­cus on ed­u­ca­tion.

“We have a re­quired course on Indige­nous ed­u­ca­tion,” she stated, “so all teacher can­di­dates take a course on Indige­nous per­spec­tives, Indige­nous con­tent, and Indige­nous learn­ing ap­proaches.”


Van­cou­ver Com­mu­nity Col­lege has been de­liv­er­ing ca­reer ed­u­ca­tion for more than 50 years, in­clud­ing through its con­tin­u­ing-stud­ies divi­sion. In an ef­fort to in­crease ac­ces­si­bil­ity, it has de­cided to of­fer three of its eight cour­ses on­line for those seek­ing a fash­ion-mer­chan­dis­ing as­so­ciate cer­tifi­cate.

“Tex­tiles is cur­rently on­line,” fash­ion-pro­grams co­or­di­na­tor Sarah Mur­ray told the Straight by phone. “Fash­ion fore­cast­ing is go­ing to be of­fered on­line for the first time in the win­ter. And the mer­chan­dis­ing fash­ion course will be of­fered on­line in the spring­time.”

She pointed out that stu­dents can take the eight cour­ses—in­clud­ing fash­ion mar­ket­ing and pro­mo­tion, fash­ion re­tail man­age­ment, fash­ion styling, his­tory of fash­ion, and re­tail buy­ing—in what­ever se­quence they pre­fer. Stu­dents take two cour­ses per term and they can re­ceive a cer­tifi­cate within a year.

“It’s par­tic­u­larly good for peo­ple who are work­ing in the re­tail in­dus­try al­ready and are look­ing to move up,” Mur­ray said. “Whether they want to work at head of­fice or be a man­ager or su­per­vi­sor, this pro­gram is great for that.”

That’s be­cause it pro­vides a com­pre­hen­sive over­view of the busi­ness side of the fash­ion in­dus­try. It’s a sec­tor that will face far more de­mand for work­ers in the com­ing years, ac­cord­ing to the 2016 B.C. Al­liance for Man­u­fac­tur­ing re­port on the B.C. ap­parel in­dus­try. It fore­cast that the in­dus­try will lose 37.8 per­cent of its work­ers through at­tri­tion by 2025.

Mur­ray said that some of the great­est de­mand will be for peo­ple who are knowl­edge­able about mer­chan­dis­ing and e-com­merce.

As part of VCC’S phi­los­o­phy of learn­ing by do­ing, fash­ion­mer­chan­dis­ing stu­dents work with lo­cal de­sign­ers to de­velop mar­ket­ing plans. Stu­dents also or­ga­nize a photo shoot in their styling class, lin­ing up mod­els, hair and makeup artists, and pho­tog­ra­phers.

These can be in­cluded in the stu­dents’ port­fo­lio when they go look­ing for jobs. “It’s less than $3,000 to get the cer­tifi­cate,” Mur­ray said. “It is a valu­able item to have on a ré­sumé be­cause I do think it helps you move up the ranks.”

It’s not the only style-ori­ented con­tin­u­ing-stud­ies pro­gram. Justin Ewart is pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor for the makeup-artistry cer­tifi­cate. There are seven cour­ses of­fered, but stu­dents only need to com­plete five of them to grad­u­ate.

The four re­quired cour­ses are makeup-artistry fun­da­men­tals, evening and bridal makeup, fash­ion and pho­tog­ra­phy makeup, and free­lance and ca­reer de­vel­op­ment. Elec­tives in­clude air­brush­ing makeup, the­atri­cal makeup, and film-and-tele­vi­sion makeup.

In a phone in­ter­view with the

Straight, Ewart ex­plained that it can be done part-time. On av­er­age, it takes a stu­dent just less than a year and a half, though they can stretch it out to five years if they reg­is­ter for one course per term.

“In the fun­da­men­tals course, they learn to iden­tify dif­fer­ent skin tones…and how to ap­ply makeup to them, as well as iden­ti­fy­ing dif­fer­ent face shapes, eye shapes, and lip shapes and how to do proper ap­pli­ca­tion to them, or even cor­rec­tion to them,” he said. “We teach them how to cover a blem­ish.”

In ad­di­tion, stu­dents learn how to prop­erly high­light a cheek­bone or nose, as well as how to give clients a more de­fined jaw­line and ad­just the shape of some­one’s eye.

“If you take a brush and do the eye­liner down, it’s go­ing to pull down the eye,” Ewart said. “If they an­gle the eye­liner up, it’s go­ing to lift up the eye.”

He noted that this cer­tifi­cate pro- gram can lead to free­lance makeup work, as well as em­ploy­ment in the beauty in­dus­try. Prospec­tive stu­dents should have a good work ethic, a will­ing­ness to mar­ket their skills, and an abil­ity to work well with clients. “You have to be a peo­ple per­son—some­one with a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude.”


Since 1990, Van­cou­ver Learn­ing Net­work (VLN) has pro­vided a high­qual­ity, com­pre­hen­sive, flex­i­ble, and en­gag­ing ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram that of­fers an al­ter­na­tive to tra­di­tional in­per­son learn­ing. There are more than 90 on­line cour­ses that span a va­ri­ety of se­condary stud­ies and are ideal for stu­dents with a wide range of needs.

There are many rea­sons why stu­dents might find on­line learn­ing a bet­ter fit. Some take one or two on­line cour­ses as part of a grad­u­a­tion plan, while oth­ers are look­ing to up­grade a mark or jump ahead in their stud­ies. Elite ath­letes or per­form­ers, for ex­am­ple, may ben­e­fit from a less rigid school sched­ule.

Stu­dents work with VLN teeach­ers and coun­sel­lors to create a per­son­al­ized learn­ing and/or course plan to es­tab­lish in­di­vid­ual time­lines and goals. Some­times a de­sired course sim­ply isn’t of­fered or won’t fit into a stu­dent’s sched­ule. Avail­able to B.C. stu­dents, all cour­ses are ap­proved by the B.C. Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion and taught by Van­cou­ver School Board (VSB) teach­ers who are read­ily avail­able to help and sup­port stu­dents with their learn­ing. Tu­ition is free for school-aged B.C. res­i­dents. As part of the VSB, VLN cour­ses can be used to­ward a B.C. Dog­wood or Adult Grad­u­a­tion Cer­tifi­cate. And with con­tin­u­ous en­roll­ment, you can eas­ily sign up for most cour­ses on­line, at any time.

For in­for­ma­tion, a list of cour­ses, or to sign up, visit www.vlns.ca/.


Be­fore Justin Trudeau was prime min­is­ter—and be­fore Cana­di­ans had any idea that cannabis would be­come le­gal—kwantlen Polytech­nic Univer­sity was of­fer­ing ca­reer train­ing in this in­dus­try. When it launched its first on­line course in Septem­ber 2015, the fo­cus was on iden­ti­fy­ing clin­i­cal ap­pli­ca­tions for medic­i­nal cannabis.

It was the first pub­lic post­sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tion in Canada to ven­ture into this area. “We have a very for­ward-think­ing ex­ec­u­tive and a for­ward-think­ing board of gov­er­nors that has al­lowed us to do this,” KPU’S di­rec­tor of emerg­ing busi­ness, David Pur­cell, told the Straight by phone.

The re­gional univer­sity now of­fers three such on­line cour­ses and is also go­ing to host a two-day in­ter­ac­tive re­tail-cannabis-con­sul­tant work­shop on De­cem­ber 7 and 8 at its Rich­mond cam­pus. Ac­cord­ing to Pur­cell, the work­shop will cover all as­pects of pro­vin­cial and fed­eral reg­u­la­tion, as well as the his­tory of cannabis pro­hi­bi­tion and is­sues re­lat­ing to cus­tomer ser­vice. (For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.kpu.ca/cannabis.)

“We’ll talk about cannabi­noids and ter­penes and the dif­fer­ent kinds of plants,” Pur­cell said.

The on­line ca­reer-train­ing cour­ses were de­vel­oped in con­junc­tion with sev­eral peo­ple in the cannabis in­dus­try. The se­nior cur­ricu­lum ad­viser is David Rémil­lard, a co­founder of Ryz Rémi Or­ganic Skin Care and a med­i­cal-cannabis pa­tient who has spo­ken at cannabis con­fer­ences.

One of the cour­ses, Plant Pro­duc­tion and Fa­cil­ity Man­age­ment, has been up­dated and re­vamped to re­flect how le­gal­iza­tion is pro­ceed­ing un­der the Cannabis Act. Pur­cell said that over 13 weeks, stu­dents gain a “foun­da­tional un­der­stand­ing” of both the in­dus­try and the cannabis plant.

They also learn how and where to grow it, as well as in which fa­cil­i­ties this might take place.

“We talk about qual­ity as­sur­ance, qual­ity con­trol, and qual­ity-man­age­ment sys­tems in this course,” Pur­cell said. “We also talk about stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures and, of course, all the fed­eral and pro­vin­cial reg­u­la­tory frame­works un­der which Health Canada dic­tates the pro­duc­tion of cannabis in Canada.”

An­other 13-week course, Mar­ket­ing Un­der the Cannabis Act, “arms peo­ple with the tools nec­es­sary to make sure that they’re fol­low­ing the rules and reg­u­la­tions—and aren’t con­tra­ven­ing any of those rules”.

Pur­cell said it can help those with a mar­ket­ing back­ground or an un­der­stand­ing of mar­ket­ing strate­gies learn how their skills can be ap­plied at a li­censed cannabis pro­ducer or an an­cil­lary cannabis com­pany in Canada.

The third of­fer­ing, Fi­nanc­ing a Cannabis En­ter­prise in Canada, is an eight-week course for aspir­ing en­trepreneurs. It of­fers in­sights into the eco­nom­ics of the cannabis in­dus­try and how the mar­ket func­tions.

A ma­jor fo­cus is help­ing learn­ers un­der­stand how to raise cap­i­tal, pre­pare their pitches for fund­ing, de­velop a busi­ness plan, and then launch their cannabis-re­lated com­pany. Pur­cell said that the course gives stu­dents a good ground­ing in how to build a busi­ness around an­cil­lary prod­ucts in the cannabis sec­tor.

“We’ve been of­fer­ing that course for a lit­tle over a year now,” he noted. “It’s gain­ing trac­tion.”

Pur­cell re­vealed that KPU is in the “late stages” of de­vel­op­ing a year­long cannabis-cul­ti­va­tion course to train en­try and mi­dlevel work­ers for em­ploy­ment with li­censed pro­duc­ers. In ad­di­tion, the re­gional univer­sity is in the process of cre­at­ing a course to teach peo­ple to be­come qual­ity-as­sur­ance tech­ni­cians for li­censed pro­duc­ers, which could be avail­able by the spring or sum­mer of next year.

“The in­dus­try has told us that qual­ity-as­sur­ance tech and qual­ity con­trol are re­ally the big pieces that are miss­ing from the work­force now,” Pur­cell said. “We’re build­ing that course specif­i­cally now to fill that need. We’re also look­ing at build­ing ex­trac­tion cour­ses.”

The long-term goal is for KPU to de­velop cer­tifi­cate, diploma, and de­gree pro­grams fo­cus­ing on cannabis.

“The in­dus­try is go­ing to de­mand it,” Pur­cell pre­dicted. “We’re work­ing with our fac­ulty to create course work and to create cur­ricu­lum that would be suit­able and would be in de­mand for those types of pro­grams.”

In the mean­time, KPU has formed part­ner­ships with post­sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tions in other prov­inces to en­sure that its cur­ricu­lum is reach­ing stu­dents across the coun­try. Pur­cell said grad­u­ates are find­ing jobs in this area, in part be­cause the cour­ses were crafted by peo­ple al­ready work­ing in the in­dus­try. KPU is also in dis­cus­sions with ed­u­ca­tion ad­min­is­tra­tors in other coun­tries, in­clud­ing Aus­tralia.

“We’re not just look­ing at it in Canada,” Pur­cell said. “We re­ally want to lead this across the planet.”


The on­slaught of for­est fires, hur­ri­canes, and ex­treme flood­ing in re­cent years has made it even more ur­gent to de­velop re­new­able sources of en­ergy and re­duce green­house-gas emis­sions.

It has also sharply in­creased in­ter­est in ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams that ad­dress these im­por­tant global is­sues. For ex­am­ple, at the Van­cou­ver cam­pus of the New York In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, a mas­ter’s pro­gram in en­ergy man­age­ment has taken off in pop­u­lar­ity.

“The pro­gram started in 2016 with four stu­dents,” NYIT as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor Remi Char­ron told the Straight by phone. “Now we have over 100 stu­dents reg­is­tered.”

The NYIT en­ergy-man­age­ment pro­gram in­cludes seven core cour­ses and three elec­tives. They cover such ar­eas as al­ter­na­tive en­ergy, power-plant sys­tems, so­lar en­ergy, en­vi­ron­men­tal au­dits and mon­i­tor­ing, en­vi­ron­men­tal risk as­sess­ment,

smart-grid sys­tems, and ad­vanced bat­tery and fuel-cell tech­nolo­gies.

All the cour­ses are of­fered in the evenings, which makes it pos­si­ble to study while con­tin­u­ing to work dur­ing the day. “If you’re do­ing it full­time, you could com­plete it in a year,” Char­ron said. “Most of the stu­dents are do­ing it in a year and a half.”

For those who pre­fer a more leisurely pace, it’s pos­si­ble to com­plete this mas­ter’s pro­gram over a fiveyear pe­riod. Stu­dents can also ob­tain a NYIT en­ergy-man­age­ment mas­ter’s de­gree on­line through the New York cam­pus. For those who pre­fer face-to-face in­struc­tion, classes take place at NYIT’S cam­pus in down­town Van­cou­ver.

NYIT also of­fers mas­ter’s pro­grams in cy­ber­se­cu­rity, fi­nance, man­age­ment, and in­struc­tional tech­nol­ogy in Van­cou­ver. The cy­ber­se­cu­rity pro­gram is be­ing trans­ferred to a new cam­pus at the Broad­way Tech Cen­tre be­side Ren­frew Sta­tion.

Char­ron re­vealed that NYIT is also de­vel­op­ing a mas­ter’s de­gree in com­puter science, spe­cial­iz­ing in data science, as well as an­other mas­ter’s in UX/UI (user ex­pe­ri­ence/user in­ter­face).

The en­ergy-man­age­ment pro­gram has ben­e­fited from a grant from B.C. Hous­ing that en­abled the school to create a lab with sta­tions fo­cus­ing on dif­fer­ent en­ergy tech­nolo­gies. NYIT has also cre­ated a video se­ries.

Ac­cord­ing to Char­ron, most of the stu­dents take the elec­tive course in so­lar en­ergy, which com­ple­ments the core course in re­new­able en­ergy. The fo­cus in the elec­tive is on so­lar pho­to­voltaics, which is tak­ing off around the world.

The course on ad­vanced bat­tery and fuel-cell tech­nolo­gies cov­ers ad­vances in the stor­age of re­new­able en­ergy, as well as fuel cells for larger ve­hi­cles. In ad­di­tion, new fac­ulty will be of­fer­ing a course on the “smart grid”, which will demon­strate how re­new­able power sources can be­come part of elec­tric­i­ty­trans­mis­sion sys­tems.

There’s also a sig­nif­i­cant amount of eco­nomic in­for­ma­tion im­parted to stu­dents in this mas­ter’s pro­gram.

“They learn about dif­fer­ent in­cen­tive pro­grams and feed-in tar­iffs and how you can man­age that,” Char­ron noted. “They look at how the util­ity-rate struc­tures work in terms of when you’re gen­er­at­ing and when you need to bring on ex­tra power.”

Many of the stu­dents have an en­gi­neer­ing or science back­ground.

“Some of them are com­ing straight from their un­der­grad,” he said. “Oth­ers are ma­ture stu­dents that just want to get into ei­ther en­ergy ef­fi­ciency or re­new­able en­ergy.”

Char­ron’s ex­per­tise is in green build­ings, and he’s a cer­ti­fied pas­sive­house de­signer. For those in­ter­ested in learn­ing how to re­duce a build­ing’s con­sump­tion of power, there is an elec­tive course on en­ergy modelling.

NYIT en­ables stu­dents to ap­ply for fel­low­ships to travel more than 200 kilo­me­tres from their cam­pus on a project.

“It’s meant for stu­dents to ex­plore the world,” Char­ron said. “We have four stu­dents that went to the Boil­ing River in the mid­dle of the Ama­zon. We’ve had two stu­dents who went to Abu Dhabi to look at en­ergy ef­fi­ciency.”


The Cen­tre for Dig­i­tal Me­dia likes to trum­pet the suc­cess of its grad­u­ates. On its web­site, the Van­cou­ver­based grad­u­ate school points out that 95 per­cent of its alumni are work­ing in their fields.

Two of those grad­u­ates are Christo­pher Sroka and Carolyn Fung, who each credit the Cen­tre for Dig­i­tal Me­dia for putting them on a path to find­ing their dream jobs.

Sroka, a brand-con­tent spe­cial­ist at Whistler Black­comb, said his job en­tails cu­rat­ing mar­ket­ing con­tent through his em­ployer’s so­cial channels. This in­volves deal­ing with agen­cies, con­trac­tors, pho­tog­ra­phers, videog­ra­phers, and ath­letes.

“I make sure all the con­tent goes to the right place at the right time with the right mes­sage,” Sroka told the Straight by phone.

He grad­u­ated in 2012 from UBC’S Okana­gan cam­pus with a bach­e­lor of man­age­ment de­gree with a fo­cus on mar­ket­ing. He found a job at a mar­ket­ing agency but found him­self “siloed” into video edit­ing be­cause he was good at it. He wanted to be ex­posed to other ar­eas.

“I felt kind of lim­ited—or backed into a cor­ner,” Sroka ac­knowl­edged.

He was at­tracted to the Cen­tre for Dig­i­tal Me­dia pro­gram be­cause it fo­cused on teams of stu­dents work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tively on projects for real clients as op­posed to writ­ing a the­sis. “I could put this on my ré­sumé and I could use this af­ter­ward,” he said.

The school opened in 2007 on Great North­ern Way as a part­ner­ship be­tween four post­sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tions—ubc, SFU, the B.C. In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, and Emily Carr Univer­sity of Art + De­sign—and it’s home to the mas­ter of dig­i­tal me­dia pro­gram. While there, Sroka learned that fail­ing can be just as im­por­tant as suc­ceed­ing be­cause it of­fers use­ful learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences.

In fact, he said, the school ac­tu­ally en­cour­ages stu­dents to ex­pe­ri­ence fail­ures as they re­fine and im­prove their projects.

“If I didn’t at­tend the school, I would have been more scared to try new things and get out of my com­fort zone,” he said.

Sroka ob­tained an in­tern­ship with the Cen­tre for Dig­i­tal Me­dia’s mar­ket­ing de­part­ment be­cause a staff mem­ber went on ma­ter­nity leave. The videos he cre­ated led him to be hired part-time with the Van­cou­ver Canucks, which led to him work­ing for Whistler Black­comb.

Fung, a pro­ducer and project man­ager at Van­cou­ver-based NGX In­ter­ac­tive, ob­tained her bach­e­lor’s de­gree in busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion at Aca­dia Univer­sity in Nova Sco­tia be­fore spend­ing sev­eral years in the mar­ket­ing busi­ness. As a mil­len­nial, she was an early adopter of Face­book ad cam­paigns, launch­ing the first in B.C. be­fore con­clud­ing that she needed to learn more about dig­i­tal me­dia.

That led her to take the mas­ter’s pro­gram at the Cen­tre for Dig­i­tal Me­dia in the 2014-15 school year. Her ca­reer goal was to de­velop in­ter­ac­tive ex­pe­ri­ences in mu­se­ums and dis­cov­ery cen­tres.

“It re­ally changed my life for­ever,” Fung told the Straight by phone.

At the school, she was the project man­ager on a team that worked with the Van­cou­ver Mar­itime Mu­seum to re-create the ex­pe­ri­ence of trav­el­ling on the St. Roch through the North­west Pas­sage. Turn­ing the ship’s wheel brought up dif­fer­ent video screens.

“Ba­si­cally, I ended up on that project for two terms,” Fung re­called. “I think what the CDM pro­vides you with is a lot of hands-on prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence to get in there and build things.”

She cred­ited the CDM for en­hanc­ing her cul­tural lit­er­acy be­cause it brought her in con­tact with stu­dents from other coun­tries.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing, Fung joined NGX In­ter­ac­tive, where she pro­duces in­ter­ac­tive ex­hibits for cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions. She has worked on projects for Science World, the H. R. Macmil­lan Space Cen­tre, Hal­i­fax’s largest dis­cov­ery cen­tre, and the Lone Star Flight Mu­seum in Texas. This has en­tailed ev­ery­thing from cre­at­ing touch-screen ex­hibits to multi-user projects that in­volve vir­tual re­al­ity and aug­mented re­al­ity.

“The CDM helped po­si­tion me for be­ing where I am now in terms of giv­ing me the op­por­tu­nity to work with in­dus­try,” Fung said.


Any­one who has watched The Great Bri­tish Bak­ing Show knows how dif­fi­cult it is to create com­pli­cated layer cakes filled with a mul­ti­tude of in­gre­di­ents. And that’s one rea­son why the In­dus­try Train­ing Author­ity B.C. in­cludes bak­ers in its Red Seal cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram for skilled trades.

Those in­ter­ested in pur­su­ing a ca­reer as a baker can be­come li­censed by go­ing through the three-level bak­ing-and-pas­try-arts ap­pren­tice pro­gram at Van­cou­ver Com­mu­nity Col­lege. Ac­cord­ing to VCC in­struc­tor Es­ther Kosa, peo­ple who want to be­come Red Seal bak­ers must first reg­is­ter with the ITA and ob­tain a trade worker’s iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber. This sticks with the per­son for the rest of their life.

Grad­u­ates of an Ita–ap­proved train­ing pro­gram, such as the one at VCC, can ap­ply for credit to­ward meet­ing the tech­ni­cal re­quire­ments. Kosa ex­plained to the Straight over the phone that those in VCC’S 11-month bak­ing pro­gram take their ap­pren­tice level one exam at the end. If they pass, VCC in­struc­tors sug­gest they go out and find a job be­fore tak­ing the next step to­ward be­com­ing a Red Seal baker.

That’s be­cause they need a spon­sor (of­ten an em­ployer) to be ad­mit­ted into the level two ap­pren­tice course.

“Af­ter do­ing that, then they would go back out, work for an­other year and get more ex­pe­ri­ence, and then come back for level three,” Kosa said.

The ITA re­quires that Red Seal bak­ers pos­sess a spec­i­fied set of skills, which are taught by VCC in each stage of its ap­pren­tice pro­gram. At the first level, stu­dents learn how to make ba­sic pies, cook­ies, pas­tries, and bread. It is of­fered ev­ery Jan­uary. They must also be ca­pa­ble of ba­sic cake-dec­o­rat­ing.

At the sec­ond level, which is of­fered in Fe­bru­ary, stu­dents are chal­lenged to create more elab­o­rate baked goods. “Per­haps they’ll make dif­fer­ent types of pie,” Kosa said. “In­stead of a blue­berry pie, they would go with a chif­fon pie or a cream pie. Ba­si­cally, we re­quire a lit­tle bit more un­der­stand­ing and a dif­fer­ent method of mak­ing dif­fer­ent types of pie.”

Level two stu­dents are also chal­lenged to tem­per choco­late and might be asked to make more ad­vanced mousse cakes. They’re also re­quired to make wed­ding cakes.

“Level three will con­cen­trate more on the ad­vanced side of things—ice creams, more ad­vanced wed­ding cakes, and more in-depth choco­late stuff,” Kosa re­vealed.

Stu­dents work in VCC’S food labs, which have a deck oven, a con­vec­tion oven, and, in some cases, a rack oven that ro­tates fully. Kosa said that each lab also has long wooden ta­bles, which each ac­com­mo­date two stu­dents. The school can take up to 18 ap­pren­tices in each pro­gram.

One of the dif­fer­ences be­tween the ap­pren­tice pro­gram and The Great Bri­tish Bak­ing Show is the equip­ment. Some of it is much larger at Vcc—in­clud­ing a 75-litre mixer—than any­one will ever see on the TV show.

“We teach the stu­dents how to do in­di­vid­ual stuff as well as larger pro­duc­tion stuff,” Kosa said. “That’s so they’re not sur­prised when they go out in the in­dus­try.”

She pointed out that Red Seal bak­ers can re­ceive higher pay, de­pend­ing on where they’re em­ployed. And this cer­ti­fi­ca­tion has po­ten­tial to open up op­por­tu­ni­ties to work in the hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor, par­tic­u­larly in ho­tels.

“I be­lieve that in our city, there are very tal­ented peo­ple who are will­ing to teach,” she stated.

She added that some­times hav­ing a trade cer­ti­fi­ca­tion can lead to jobs in other coun­tries.

“One of our in­struc­tors used to work for Fair­mont and she was able to go to Scot­land and work there for a while,” Kosa said. “It does open up a lot of ways to travel if peo­ple put their time and ef­fort into learn­ing.”


UBC’S fac­ulty of ed­u­ca­tion has left a large im­print on B.C.’S K-12 school sys­tem. Ac­cord­ing to the fac­ulty’s web­site, it has ed­u­cated more than 45 per­cent of the prov­ince’s el­e­men­tary-school teach­ers and a ma­jor­ity of B.C. se­condary-school teach­ers.

Natasha Philib­ert-palmer hopes to join their ranks. She en­rolled in the fac­ulty of ed­u­ca­tion in Septem­ber with the goal of be­com­ing a high-school physics teacher.

The physics teacher ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram is rooted in a great deal of col­lab­o­ra­tion with the UBC de­part­ment of physics and as­tron­omy.

In a phone in­ter­view with the Straight, Philib­ert-palmer re­called be­ing one of the few teenage girls in her Physics 11 and Physics 12 classes when she at­tended se­condary school.

“I would love to en­cour­age more girls to do that,” she said.

She’s par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in try­ing to per­suade all stu­dents from other groups un­der­rep­re­sented in the sciences—in­clud­ing Indige­nous learn­ers—to be­come more in­ter­ested in the sub­ject.

The self-con­fessed sci-fi fan grad­u­ated sev­eral years ago with an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree in me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing. For the past four years, Philib­ert-palmer was over­see­ing out­reach pro­grams for UBC’S en­gi­neer­ing de­part­ment, which brought her in con­tact with many teenagers. “I re­ally like work­ing with kids,” she said.

This month, she be­gan her first two-week practicum. It’s part of a one-year pro­gram that in­cludes cour­ses in how to teach physics and the other sciences. There are also cour­ses on the his­tory of ed­u­ca­tion, so­cial jus­tice in ed­u­ca­tion, child­hood de­vel­op­ment, and teach­ing stu­dents for whom English isn’t their first lan­guage.

For Philib­ert-palmer, it’s been a pleas­ant sur­prise to see how com­mit­ted other teacher can­di­dates are to pro­mot­ing the well-be­ing of stu­dents.

“Ev­ery­one is re­ally here for the same rea­son,” she said. “They re­ally like chil­dren and they re­ally want to help chil­dren and youth be the best peo­ple they can be, what­ever sub­ject they’re teach­ing.”

Philib­ert-palmer doesn’t come from a fam­ily of ed­u­ca­tors. Her dad is a me­chanic who works on cars, and from a very young age she helped him in the garage. From there, it was nat­u­ral to study me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing at univer­sity.

“I’ve al­ways re­ally en­joyed fig­ur­ing out how things work,” she said.

Philib­ert-palmer has a very good chance of find­ing work as a physics teacher when she com­pletes the pro­gram in July of 2019. A pro­vin­cial task-force re­port noted that 54 of the prov­ince’s school dis­tricts are hav­ing trou­ble find­ing and re­tain­ing science, math, and French teach­ers, teacher-li­brar­i­ans, coun­sel­lors, and learn­ing-as­sis­tance teach­ers.

“When I talk to teach­ers and I tell them I’m tak­ing physics, they tell me there will be a job for me when I grad­u­ate,” she said.

But first she’ll have to com­plete a 10-week practicum in a class­room in early 2019.

“Then at the be­gin­ning of May, we have some­thing re­ally cool called the com­mu­nity field ex­pe­ri­ence, which is three weeks long,” she added. “It could be with a com­mu­nity part­ner that does some form of in­for­mal ed­u­ca­tion, like a sum­mer-camp pro­gram, or a mu­seum or Science World.

“It could also be in a school district other than the one where you did your practicum,” Philib­ert-palmer con­tin­ued. “If you were in an ur­ban set­ting, you could go for three weeks to a ru­ral school district and ex­pe­ri­ence that.”

York Univer­sity’s de­part­ment of the­atre is cel­e­brat­ing its 50th an­niver­sary with a per­for­mance of rochdale; Con­cor­dia stu­dents in Mon­treal are the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of some of the low­est rents of any large Cana­dian city.

Van­cou­ver Com­mu­nity Col­lege is of­fer­ing on­line cour­ses to those seek­ing a fash­ion-mer­chan­dis­ing as­so­ciate cer­tifi­cate.

The New York In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy grants mas­ter’s de­grees in cy­ber­se­cu­rity, busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion, en­ergy man­age­ment, and in­struc­tional tech­nol­ogy.

The Cen­tre for Dig­i­tal Me­dia opened on Great North­ern Way in 2007 as a re­sult of a part­ner­ship be­tween four B.C. post­sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tions.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.