Karlsen all about seniors
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jul 13 - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

Janine Karlsen is the new owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in the Okanagan.

Karlsen comes to Kelowna from the Vancouver office, where she spent the last two years as the co-owner. She is replacing outgoing owner Don Henke.

Karlsen is a registered nurse with a master’s degree in counselling, and she is an outspoken advocate for seniors’ issues. Her areas of expertise include social isolation, Alzheimer’s and how technology can keep family members informed about seniors.

Gopal added to task force
Kirk Penton - Jul 10 - Biz Releases

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Kelowna’s Raghwa Gopal has been named to a new B.C. government task force.

Gopal, who is Accelerate Okanagan’s chief executive officer, is one of 14 members of the Emerging Economy Task Force, whose goal is to ensure those in B.C. will benefit from innovation and technology advances.

“The task force will gather input from industry leaders to assess and determine the changing nature of business and the economy in the years ahead, and recommend how our government can best anticipate change,” Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology Bruce Ralston said in a press release.

The task force is holding its first meeting today at MineSense Technologies in Vancouver, and it will provide an interim report to the minister this fall.

Gopal, who is a certified business and executive coach, has been starting, growing and selling businesses for 30 years. He is recognized as a technology innovator and sits on several business and non-profit boards.

The government is anticipating 917,000 job openings in the province by 2027, including 11 per cent in the trades and nine per cent in science and technology.

OC prof leads AI research
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 29 - Biz Releases

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An Okanagan College professor is calling for more research into machine learning processes that are the basis for autonomous systems like self-driving cars.

Dr. Youry Khmelevsky, a computer science professor, teamed with a pair of French colleagues to author and present a research paper at an international conference held recently by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The paper called for the need to take research and tool development for deep learning (DL), which makes facial and voice recognition possible, to a new level to prevent hacking or mistakes.

“Safety of DL systems is a serious requirement for real-life systems, and the research community is addressing this need with mathematically sound but low-level methods of high computational complexity,” the research trio wrote.

“It sounds very abstract, but it isn’t,” Dr. Khmelelvsky said in a press release. “It’s here today whether it’s in your car or a device that recognizes your voice and commands.”

Dr. Khmelelvsky and his team don’t have the answers to prevent hacks yet, but they plan on producing research proposals in an effort to fulfil their call for action.

“Safe AI is an important research topic attracting more and more attention worldwide,” said Dr. Gaetan Hains, one of the paper’s authors. “Dr. Khmelevsky brings software engineering expertise to complement my team’s know-how in software correctness techniques. We expect to produce new knowledge and basic techniques to support this new trend in the industry.”

Martyn cleft palate hero
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 26 - Biz Releases

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Kelowna’s Lynda Martyn on Monday was recognized as her region’s Health Care Hero at the B.C. Health Care Awards in Vancouver.

Martyn, who is an early childhood speech-language pathologist for Interior Health, received a Gold Apple for her work in ensuring that children across the interior have the best possible care for cleft lip and cleft palate.

Martyn organizes four cleft palate clinics a year, bringing together a plastic surgeon, pediatric dentist, ENT doctor, audiologist, dental hygienist, orthodontist and pediatrician to consult with families of children with cleft lip and cleft palate.

Martyn has been co-ordinating cleft palate clinics for the past 22 years, allowing hundreds of interior children to be treated without having to travel to Vancouver.

The annual B.C. Health Care Awards celebrate individuals and teams who go the extra mile while also rewarding innovation and best practice.

Time to go outside, kids
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 25 - Biz Releases

Photo: contributed

An Okanagan College researcher has done the work and would like to see more teachers take their kids outside.

Dr. Beverlie Dietze, who is the college’s director of learning and applied research, recently published her second textbook about children’s outdoor play theories, which encourage early childhood educators to get youngsters outside. Outdoor & Nature Play Early Childhood Education was co-authored by Dietze and Dianne Kashin, and published through Pearson Canada.

“The outdoor play movement is building momentum in Canada,” Dietze said in a press release. “In order for that momentum to continue, we need to offer more educators new knowledge, examples and practices that make outdoor play principles accessible and place them in a Canadian context.”

The book includes photos of outdoor play workshops Dietze has hosted at Okanagan parks and nature areas.

Recent OC grads shine bright
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 25 - People in Business

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A pair of recent Okanagan College alumni has been recognized for their contributions to the area’s tech and business sectors.

Brea Retzlaff and Drew Vincent recently received Okanagan College Alumni Association’s (OCAA) Young Alumni Awards. The honour, which has been presented annually since 1964, is presented to alumni who “demonstrate excellence in leadership, environment, business or industry, public or community service or arts.”

This is the first year the award has been bestowed upon two people.

Retzlaff graduated from OC in 2013 with a business administration degree, and she is now the director of operations at Accelerate Okanagan. She is also extensively involved in YMCA Okanagan, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Okanagan College Foundation. She also sits on the program advisory committee for the college’s new animation program.

“This is such an honour and a surprise to be recognized by the alumni association with this award,” Retzlaff said in a press release. “The college is very near and dear to me, and this award means a lot. I’m proud to represent OC alumni.”

Vincent graduated in 2014 with a business administration degree and immediately started helping Okanagan start-up companies do strategic planning, marketing strategies and project management. He currently does operations work with local companies and runs the Okanagan Young Professionals program.

“It’s been very important to me in my education and my career to connect with the community and address needs of young professionals in a tangible way,” Vincent said in the release. “I am very humbled to be recognized as one of this year’s young alumni award recipients.

“The future of the workplace in the Okanagan is positive, and I’m making it my mission to help support and be a resource for the next generation of young professionals.”

Retzlaff and Vincent will be honoured at the OCAA’s annual awards event, which will be held at the college’s Okanagan campus on Oct. 15.

B&B snags AAA honour
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 22 - Biz Releases

Photo: submitted

A Kelowna bed and breakfast owner is celebrating a couple of prestigious awards while also commemorating 20 years in business.

Sherry Cote, the owner of A Vista Villa Couples Retreat, captured Trip Advisor and BCAA honours recently.

A Vista Villa has enjoyed five-star status for years on Trip Advisor, but over the last month it has been listed as the No. 1 best value among Kelowna bed and breakfasts.

Cote then received word last week that her B&B was awarded the AAA Inspector’s Best of Romantic label, which puts it among the organization’s prestigious “Best of” lodgings.

Faces of #OKGNtech
Kirk Penton - Jun 22 - Columnists

A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.

Our community is strong and growing with record speed, and maintaining connection through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic. We’ve got a plan.

Introducing “The Faces of #OKGNtech,” a showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram at @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.

Meet Susan. Susan Johal is the office manager at Kimmit Wrzesniewski Law. When Susan isn’t keeping the office running, you can find her in her garden or playing golf. We recently caught up with Susan to learn more about her role at Kimmit Wrzesniewski and what she loves about the Okanagan.

[Editor’s Note: Susan is up early so she can squeeze in a round of golf BEFORE WORK #Powermoves #Foresho]

What do you enjoy about your role at Kimmit Wrzesniewski?

“I’ve been working at Kimmitt Wrzesniewski for 29 years, and it has been wonderful since the first day I walked in. What I enjoy most about my role is the people.

“Working at a law firm gives me the opportunity to follow along with people’s lives. I’ve watched young couples come in after they’ve bought their first home, and then years later they come back to open up their own businesses. It’s really neat to be able to see the different paths that people take.”

What do you love about the Okanagan?

“My family came to Kelowna in 1906, which makes me fifth generation. My family was actually one of the first Indo-Canadian families that came to the Okanagan, which is pretty cool. I feel really lucky to call this place home.

“One thing about this community is that it has always been good to me, and because of that I like to give back. When volunteering I don’t like to pick a certain group; I really try to give a little bit to everybody if I can. I get lots of calls from people who need a helping hand, and I always say ‘Yeah, not a problem!’ #givefirst #susanforpresident

“After I graduated from Rutland Secondary, I went to Okanagan College. That’s right, I’m straight out of Rutland—and proud of it #StraightoutofRutland

What do you love about #OKGNtech?

“When I graduated from high school almost everybody left Kelowna because they wanted to see the big city, and then once we had our 20-year grad reunion they had almost all come back. I think that really speaks to the industry that is growing here.

“One thing I love about tech is that you can live wherever you want and still work anywhere in the world.”

Who inspires you?

“I’m really inspired by Oprah. She once said, ‘Be thankful for what you have. You’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never ever have enough.’ ”

Face of Big O Tires passes
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 22 - Biz Releases

A prominent Vernon businessman is being remembered for his contagious laugh, lively energy, positive outlook, and outbursts of song and dance.

Ernie Zubot, of Big 0 Tires, passed away at the age of 77.

Ernie and his wife, Marg, ran Big O Tires in Vernon for 35 years before selling to Fountain Tire in September 2014.

In an obituary, it was stated that Ernie could “always be seen with a smile on his face and a joke to tell, a trait many people in the community will remember.”

As per Ernie’s wishes, he was cremated and there will be no service held.

Local earns Foodie of the Year nod
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 21 - Biz Profiles

Image: submitted

An Okanagan business owner has been named one of the top 10 foodies of the year by Western Living.

Christine Coletta, who founded Okanagan Crush Pad in Summerland, was announced as one of the honourees today. Coletta has been a leader in the B.C. wine industry, most notably creating a B.C. wine and Alberta food event recently in an effort to repair strained relations between the provinces.

The magazine noted “with a successful career in the B.C. wine industry, Coletta is a prime example of how talents in the industry have worked tirelessly to advocate for and to improve the Canadian culinary scene.”

Coletta helped numerous B.C. wineries establish their businesses earlier in her career, and then she launched her own wine, Haywire, along with Okanagan Crush Pad, which was Canada’s first purpose-built custom crush wine making facility.

“I am thankful to Western Living for shining a light on those who work hard to elevate and inspire with their food and wine efforts,” Coletta said in a press release. “Also, I am very thankful to the local restaurants, who bought B.C. wine when it was an unknown and for helping make the industry what it is today.”

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