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Speaker inspires students at Indigenous Youth Entrepreneurship Day in Vernon

Entrepreneur and mentor

When Tasha Swite introduces herself at the inaugural Indigenous Youth Entrepreneurship Day in Vernon, she says: “I’m a mother. I’m a wife. And I’m a fourth-generation entrepreneur.”

Also, the first woman among that long line of self-employed Swites. Tasha Swite is the owner of

N'ha-itk, Spirit of the Lake Native Boutique in West Kelowna, and she was one of several people sharing her story of entrepreneurship to educate and inspire Indigenous high school students Thursday.

“I put my whole life into my business — and I love every minute,” Swite told the students, now three years after taking the leap to open the gift shop that sells everything from intricately beaded earrings to handcrafted-in-BC rabbit fur moccasins.

In addition to supporting Indigenous artisans, she says it’s also her way of sharing Syilx culture. Her great-grandfather was a trapper on Swite Mountain, her grandpa ran a horse corral and sold firewood, and her father ran a fruit stand and is now a contractor.

Giving Indigenous students from across School District 22 a chance to see themselves in other entrepreneurs was just one of several reasons why the district, along with Community Futures North Okanagan, set up the first Indigenous Youth Entrepreneurship Day at the district office.

“One of our wishes is that these students who want to start their own business someday will know that it’s absolutely possible, with hard work,” says Debbie Meyer, career co-ordinator, School District No. 22. “We also want them to know that they don’t have to do it alone—there are resources in the community to support them. And we wanted them to have that connection with mentors to make it more of a reality for them.”

Twelve students from across the school district attended the event, filled with activities and speakers from the local Indigenous entrepreneur community.

Daniel Drysdale, a 17-year-old Charles Bloom Secondary School student said the day has helped him begin to imagine his dream of running an HVAC business after he graduates.

“I liked hearing about other business owners’ stories, the challenges they’ve been through and how they’ve overcome them.”

Andrea Mack, a 16-year-old Kalamalka Secondary School student, says, “It has been a great learning experience. Now I know that starting a business is probably not going to be a straight line,” and her hands zig and zag to indicate the winding road that is running a small business.

Chase Martin, another Grade 11 student at Charles Bloom has already started a business, Insight Glowing, selling glow sticks and LED rings often sported at raves. What would he take away from the speakers?

“That you need to follow your passion if you really want it to go further.”

Overhearing the excitement and imagining among the participants is a welcome response for Kazia Mullin, business services manager at Community Futures North Okanagan, co-organizer of the event.

“Entrepreneurship is really an important skill for any young person to have, whatever path they take It’s using your creativity and problem-solving skills, and we already know that these students come from a culture of creativity and overcoming obstacles, and they’re makers, so it’s a natural fit and we always want to support any opportunity to give young entrepreneurs a great start.”



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Vernon woman in the running to become Ms Health & Fitness covergirl, voting closes at 7 p.m. today

Vote to support Fara

Fara Coombs is hoping to make it to the next level on route to becoming a covergirl.

But she needs help to get there.

The Vernon woman is in the running to a covergirl for Ms Health & Fitness magazine and is currently in second place in her group.

Coombs needs to make the top 10 to advance to the next round of competition.

“Every vote counts,” said Coombs.

And time is running out. Voting in the latest round closes at 7 p.m. today.

To vote for Coombs, click here.

Coombs did not set out to enter the contest, but at the urging of friends, Coombs, who calls herself "an all-natural born and raised Okanagan girl who has a positive attitude with positive vibes," sent in photos of herself on vacation in tropical locations and catching some rays at Kal Beach in Coldstream.



Vernon's Dr. Mark Corbett was recognized by the Doctors of BC for his hard work and dedication

Local doc gets award

It took a year to get, but a well-known Okanagan doctor has received his award from 2021.

Every year, the Doctors of BC acknowledge the contributions of physicians, residents and medical students around the province through the Doctors of BC Awards.

The COVID pandemic delayed the awards that included Vernon's own Dr. Mark Corbett, who received the Doctors of BC Silver Medal of Service.

A statement from the Doctors of BC said Corbett “is known for his decades-long commitment to his full-service family practice and his tireless patient advocacy. He’s played a vital role in serving his colleagues through the many Doctors of BC positions he’s held, including chairperson of the board during the association's governance restructure.

“Dr. Corbett’s humanity and compassion are evident in his impressive work in medical education and palliative care, and his commitment to transparency, integrity, and to the care of his patients make him a respected and trusted colleague to many.”

Corbett is also active volunteering in the community including being a board member with the Vernon and District Association for Community Living.



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Popular program where residents can meet with members of the North Okanagan Vernon RCMP is back

Have Coffee with a Cop

A popular program is back after a two-year absence.

Starting next week, area residents will have a chance to meet with members of the North Okanagan Vernon RCMP.

The program was put on hold due to COVID restrictions, but Coffee With a Cop is back.

Const. Chris Terleski said Coffee with a Cop is a community policing initiative that aims to improve and strengthen police-public relations by bringing police officers and community members together. The event is part of a broader effort to promote positive interactions between police officers and the communities they serve.

Continuing into June, residents will have the opportunity to join members of the RCMP at a local coffee shop where they can sit down with an officer, ask questions, discuss concerns, share what’s on their minds and enjoy a coffee courtesy of the police department.

“We are part of the community and it’s important that our community knows who we are,” said Supt. Shawna Baher. “These one-on-one interactions in a relaxed environment let the public and police officers engage in good, honest conversations. They may be brief, but these connections are one of the best ways we can build mutual respect and trust.”
Coffee with a Cop will take place at the following times and locations:

Armstrong
Wednesday, May 25, 9-11 a.m.
House of Armstrong - 2510 Pleasant Valley Blvd, Armstrong

Falkland
Monday, May 30, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Falkland Senior Centre - 5706 Highway 97A Falkland

Lumby
Wednesday, June 1, 9-11 a.m.
Sisters Family Restaurant – 1920 Vernon St. Lumby

Enderby
Wednesday, June 8, 9-11 a.m.
Tim Hortons – 5655 Highway 97A Enderby

Vernon
Wed, June 8, 1:30-3 p.m.
Blenz Coffee Downtown
2706 30th Ave (Nixon-Wenger Building)

Coldstream
Friday, June 10, 9-11 a.m.
Rail Trail Café – 13904 Kalamalka Road Coldstream



Ukraine family of five now safe in Vernon after fleeing war in their homeland

Finally safe in Canada

A Ukrainian family from Kyiv are safe and sound in Vernon, but it took several weeks to climb a mountain of red tape to get here.

And the uncertainty of where they were going to live added to an already stressful situation of having to flee their home to escape the invading Russian army.

To provide them with a safe haven, Vernon resident Paul Ksyniuk has opened his home to his great-niece, Tetiana Usyk, her husband, Dymytro, and their three daughters, Anastasiia, 12, Khrystyna, 9, and Polina, 5.

The family flew into the Kelowna airport on Sunday.

The family speaks little English, so Ksyniuk acted as a translator for the refugees who hope to return home one day.

The Usyks are grateful to have a safe place to stay, but the weeks-long ordeal of getting here weighed heavy on the family.

After leaving Kyiv, the family made it to the Romanian border where they were stopped in their tracks.

On top of leaving their home and their belongings in the middle of a war, the family now had to secure accommodations while they obtained visas.

“There were big hurdles they had to jump,” said Ksyniuk. “The time that it took to get all of the documentation, they were told it was going to be a few days, but it ended up being a few weeks. They had to find someone that would host them and help them out with many things.”

The family hopes to return home one day, but for now, Ksyniuk is looking for anyone in Vernon who would be willing to show them around the area.

Ksyniuk can be reached at 250-550-6813.

The children are also trying to keep up with their schooling despite being in a far away land.

Ksyniuk said a meeting is planned with the local school district Thursday to try and place the girls in classes where they can learn some English while they are here.

The family is also working with various agencies in Vernon for assistance.



Vernon Jubilee Hospital Have a Heart Radiothon goes for 12 hours May 26

Radiothon will be live

The annual Have a Heart Radiothon will be benefitting women and children.

Pure Country 105.7 will host the 19th annual event Thursday, May 26 with the funds raised being used to purchase much-needed equipment in the Women’s and Children’s Health Services (WCHS) unit in Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

“We’re excited to return to a live event this year with our strong partnership with Pure Country 105.7 for this 12-hour day in support of acquiring critical equipment for moms and babies,” said Kate McBrearty, VJH Foundation executive director. “With 828 babies born in 2021 alone, the unit was full of activity and highlighted the need for additional specialized equipment – a panda warmer and a pediatric transport monitor.”

Kristen Megyesi, Manager Clinical Operations WCHS said when faced with medical emergencies, “time and the right equipment are key. The transport monitor is essential for clinicians to use when making decisions about a critically ill pediatric patient's care.”

Megyesi said this can include transport to another community to receive more specialized services, return transport back to their home community, or even to be used during a trip to the diagnostic imaging department at our own site for continuous up-to-the-second stats.

“As well, the panda warmer is one of the truly staple pieces of equipment we depend on in our day-to-day lives as labour and delivery nurses. Every baby born at VJH will use the panda warmer before being released home. These critical items increase a child’s ability to receive the care they require as quickly as possible,” she said.

On-air hosts Turner Gentry and Jess Mattia will be broadcasting live from the Village Green Shopping Centre main entrance for the entire day.

Residents are encouraged to get involved in the following ways:

  • Donate by phone: 250-558-1362
  • Donate online: vjhfoundation.org/radiothon
  • In-person donation: Village Green Centre main entrance 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Trans-Canada Highway reopens between Sicamous and Canoe

Hwy 1 crash near Sicamous

UPDATE 10:30 p.m.

According to DriveBC the crash has been cleared and Highway 1 has reopened near Bernie Road.


ORIGINAL 8:50 p.m.

The Trans-Canada Highway is closed west of Sicamous.

DriveBC says the route is shut down in both directions at Bernie Road, due to a vehicle incident.

A post on Twitter shows the cab a tractor-trailer in the ditch with the truck flipped on its side. Part of its load appears to have spilled across the highway.

Crews are on scene and an assessment is in progress, but there is no estimated time of reopening.

Alternate routes are available through Highway 97A and Highway 97B.



Vernon-Monashee MLA announced post-pandemic funding for Okanagan Regional Library

More cash for libraries

The province is providing some cash for post-pandemic libraries.

Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu and Boundary-Similkameen MLA Roly Russell said people will see improvements at their local public libraries, including expanded digital collections and internet access, upgraded spaces and programming, and improved air circulation thanks to new COVID-19 relief and recovery funding for libraries.

“As a parent, I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who works to make our libraries vibrant and accessible places for kids to learn,” said Sandhu “Libraries are true pillars in our communities. Last summer, my local library even stepped in to provide a safe and cooler place for people during the heat dome. I am glad that this funding will allow libraries in Vernon and across the Okanagan to improve the services that we all enjoy.”

Public libraries in the Okanagan and Boundary regions are receiving funding as follows:

  • Okanagan Regional Library – $172,407.12
  • Grand Forks and District Public Library - $35,057.95
  • Greenwood Public Library – $26,417.32
  • Midway Public Library – $25,261.99

“Local libraries are vital to rural communities – they serve as gathering places, as skills-building centres, and help us build strong communities,” said Russell. “In conversations with leaders from our rural libraries, they made it clear they need some more support given everything they do and have been through. This funding will help support our libraries to adapt and keep providing the vital community service people want and need.”

Some $8 million in COVID-19 relief and recovery funding is being distributed between 71 public libraries, six library federations and three library service partners in B.C.

Libraries can use the funding to enhance services for people and fill gaps created by the pandemic. This may include adapting their physical spaces, delivering computer and virtual technology training, and developing programs that help people build deeper social and community connections.

This investment builds on a one-time $3 million investment in public libraries in 2020, to expand digital services and computer access during the pandemic. Government also provides $14 million in annual funding toward operating costs at B.C.'s public libraries.



Funtastic Community Grant program is now accepting applications for 2022

Money to give away

Organizers of Western Canada’s largest slo-pitch tournament and music festival are raring to go.

After missing two years due to COVID restrictions, the Funtastic Slo Pitch Tournament and A&W Music Festival is back for 2022 - and they want to give away money.

Funds raised at Funtastic are given out by way of the Funtastic Sports Society Community Grant Program.

Jamie Austin, Funtastic Sports Society president, said the Funtastic Community Grant program is now accepting applications for 2022.

“Our mission is Building a Better Community through Sport, and the Funtastic Sports Society proudly invites qualifying community groups to submit applications,” said a press release from the society.

“This year marks the 36th year that Funtastic has contributed back to the community through its donations and grant program.”

Since 1985, donations have totalled more than $2.1 million and since the inception of the Funtastic Community Investment Grant Program in 2009, more than $250,000 has been donated for financial support to non-profit sport, recreation, and community organizations of a sport nature serving the Greater Vernon area.

Successful applicants benefit from the program with an emphasis on projects that will continue to support the growth of sport and recreation in the region.

The applications and criteria are available on the Funtastic website.

Deadline for applications is June 15, 2022

Raffle ticket and 50/50 ticket sales also support the grant program.

Prizes are two e-bikes, a stay and play at Silver Star Mountain, two inflatable paddle boards and a ball package including registration for Funtastic 2023.

The draw will take place July 3.



Valley Medical Lab on 30th Avenue in Vernon is switching from appointments to a walk-in system

Walk ins only at lab

A downtown Vernon medical facility is returning to a walk-in system.

The Valley Medical Lab on 30th Avenue switched to an appointment-only system during the COVID pandemic, but a sign on the door says that as of June 1, the lab will be for walk ins only.

The notice states, “Due to the ongoing shortage of staffing in the North Okanagan, along with the high demand for access to laboratory collection services, we will temporarily suspend our appointment system at the downtown Vernon location.

“This temporary change will allow us at Valley Medical Laboratories to serve a greater number of patients in the North Okanagan.”

Valley Medical said the change will allow the lab to serve more patients and decrease wait times for those needing lab work.

The Valley Medical Labs Railway Plaza location near the Village Green Centre also operates on a walk-in basis.

The 30th Avenue lab will see patients from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. while the Railway Plaza facility will operate from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Appointments can still be made at Interior Health facilities.



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