Thursday, October 1, 2015

Gold-medal skater studies what she loves, at her own pace

David Denofreo photo
On the ice, Brianna Delmaestro brims with confidence. But when it comes to her education, the gold-medal figure skater is less certain. “I’m not quite sure what I want to do,” she says.

That’s why taking General Studies is a perfect fit. There’s no pressure to pick a major or program. Instead, Brianna can choose the courses she wants in the humanities, sciences, social sciences, performing arts and business based on her individual goals and interests, while earning credits that can lead to a diploma or transfer to university. In her first semester, she took a course on nutrition, which has inspired her to possibly study dietetics at UBC.

"As an athlete, I have a passion for nutrition and healthy eating. I would love to study the area further and maybe pursue it as a career," she says.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Criminology grad follows dream of becoming a lawyer

For Clayton Gray, his decision to take on a criminology course at Douglas College came around the same way many young men try new things: for a girl.

“There was this girl, and she said ‘hey, come to this class,’” the Criminology grad recalled. “I went to check it out, and my teacher, Lorree Bogden, was so articulate and passionate – I was drawn to her teaching style.”

As for the girl?

“She actually dropped the course,” Gray laughed.

Fast-forward a few years later, and Gray is pursuing his passion for justice as a transfer to the University of Victoria, where he is working towards his law degree.

Gray – whose mother is Ojibwa – has been interested in law all of his life, specifically in relation to social justice and his family’s history. Affectionately known as the "lawyer for the defense" while growing up, Gray recalls a story his mother told him about the day his grandfather decided his grandson’s future career path – when he was negotiating over how many scoops of ice cream he should get after dinner.

“My grandfather turned to my parents and said ‘that kid, he should be a lawyer,’” Gray said.

Getting to this point hasn’t been easy, Gray noted. Prior to coming to Douglas, the 28–year-old had a difficult time at Simon Fraser University, resulting in an early departure. Once at Douglas, Gray found himself struggling again.

“My academic history wasn’t the brightest. And it was suggested I take Student Success,” Gray said. “Between that and the criminology course, it helped turn around my academic trajectory.”

The first-year law student also credits the support he received from Aboriginal Co-ordinator Dave Seaweed as another factor to his success.

“He was one of my mentors. I don’t know where I would be without Dave,” Gray said.

Aside from law, Gray, an avid wrestler throughout high school, also started a drop-in wrestling program at the Urban Native Youth Association of Vancouver, which he continued leading before moving to Victoria. Gray was also an active member of the Douglas community, participating in number of campus activities and working as a student assistant.

“Students need to get involved with their school in an active way,” he said. “You make connections at school that you will use in the future, and you don’t make those connections if you just come and sit in class.” Read more...

Monday, September 28, 2015

This week at Douglas College: Legacies of Berger panel discussion at New Westminster campus

Here’s what’s happening at Douglas: Sept. 28- Oct. 4

Tuesday, Sept. 29

Composer Tuesday - Marcus Goddard
Muir Theatre
New Westminster Campus
The Music Department presents a special presentation by Marcus Goddard, Associate Principal Trumpet with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and a composer of over 35 works.

Wednesday, Sept. 30

Hawaii Field School Information Session
New Westminster Campus
Meet the instructors and find out about studying in Hawaii in 2016.

Hawaii Field School Information Session
Coquitlam Campus
Meet the instructors and find out about studying in Hawaii in 2016.

Thursday, Oct. 1

Arts at One - Nyundo School Road Show
Muir Theatre
New Westminster Campus
Student choir from Rwanda to perform a collection of songs.

Friday, Oct. 2

Thunder in our Voices opening reception
Amelia Douglas Gallery
New Westminster Campus
Contemporary portraits from the Berger Inquiry by Linda MacCannell to be presented. Refreshments will be served.

Panel Discussion: Legacies of Berger
New Westminster Campus
Panel discussion about the legacy of Justice Thomas R. Berger's consultations with the Dene and Inuvialuit community in 1974 about a proposed oil and gas pipeline, which to this day has not been constructed. Berger's commission set the stage for all future hearings.
Reserve seats here

Maritime Field School Information Session
New Westminster
Meet the instructors and find out about studying in the Maritimes in 2016.


Friday, September 25, 2015

Student interns to experience "life-growing" placement in Uganda

Douglas College students and faculty will be among a group of 20 who will call Uganda home for the
Melissa Paluch in Uganda. Wendy Parry photo.
next six months.

The College received federal funding to host the International Youth Initiative Program that will see post-secondary graduates from across Canada complete internships in the east African country while gaining experience in education, health and social services. The group left for Uganda on Sept. 23.

“This is a way for Canadian students to gain life experience,” said Douglas College instructor Janice Spencer, who is heading the project with fellow faculty member John Fox. “We’re all going in as learners.”

Spencer, who has gone to Uganda five times in previous years, said the trips are a "life-growing experience."

Douglas College student Melissa Pulach will be returning to Uganda after 12 months. Pulach, who is in the Child and Youth Care Counsellor program, previously volunteered with the College’s Uganda Project as she was wrapping up her diploma in Early Childhood Education.

“I’m so excited to go back,” she said. “I fell in love with Uganda – not just the country, but the people and the culture."

The 28-week paid internships are broken into three job categories: community education worker, community health worker and community social service worker. Students will use their skills as bridge-builders in the community while taking on various projects – including working with local, grass-root organizers, the Masaka Regional Hospital and the Uganda Community Libraries Association.
“We will be supporting the identified needs in the community and working to fill the gap,” Spencer said.

The federal funding will send 40 interns in total over the next two years and will support intern salaries, travel and accommodations, as well as faculty time and travel. In order to qualify, Canadian youth must be between the ages of 19 to 30 and be post-secondary graduates of a diploma or degree program.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

VTEC program to celebrate Animal Health Week

The College is going to the dogs – and cats – Oct. 7-8 for Animal Health Week.

Students and faculty of the Veterinary Technology program will host the two-day event at the Coquitlam Campus, which will feature tours of the facility – frequently used to provide free treatment to rescue and shelter animals – and the multimedia performance Adventures of a SuperVet Tech on Oct. 8.

“We want to increase awareness of the Vet Technology program, vet nursing and what we’re all about,” instructor and practicing veterinarian Diane Boyle says. “We hope that this presentation will help bring that information to the general public and reassure them that their pets are in good hands.”

On Oct. 7, the VTEC program will also be collecting used towels or blankets – no frays or tears – all day. Donations can be dropped off at Room A2143 at the Coquitlam Campus when tours will be offered over the lunch hour, 12:30–1:30 pm. Donations are also welcome anytime.

On Oct. 8, Sandra Lean-Leighton will perform her one-woman comedy show, Adventures of a SuperVet Tech from 7:30-8:30pm in Room A1470 at the Coquitlam Campus. Tickets are $10, plus a $1.59 fee and can be purchased online. Funds raised benefit the VTEC Trust Fund, which provides student awards and bursaries and is used for equipment acquisition.

The show is designed to recognize and celebrate the work vet techs do, Boyle said.

“This show brings up the humour and pathos we find in the veterinary field daily, and will hopefully make Vet Techs feel good about themselves. It recognizes their critical role in a veterinarian hospital, and will help the public be aware of this too,” Boyle said.

Following that performance, Boyle will be leading a tour of the clinic to anyone who is interested.

The VTEC program – previously known as Animal Health Technology – was established eight years ago. The two-year program takes in 60 students each year from hundreds of applicants and provides hands-on training with animals of all shapes and sizes that is needed to succeed as a veterinary technologist.

Students in the program receive training in basic and advanced nursing care, veterinary anesthesia, pharmacology, radiology and dentistry, as well as a nutrition, animal behaviour and administrative procedures.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A harmonious match for Music program grads

Photo by Tayler Fuller 

It’s a pairing that hits all the right notes.

Douglas College Music program alums Jess Cichos and Nicole Broughton have come together to create folk-pop duo The Echos.

The two musicians decided to come together in 2013 and perform after bonding over their love of singing while at school.

“We were friends, but we didn’t start thinking about making music until the end of the year. I remember saying, ‘hey, let’s sing Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide together, I think it would sound really good,’” Cichos said. “So we did and it sounded really good. And I thought we should do this more often.”

Cichos, a Port Coquitlam resident, and Broughton, who hails from Coquitlam, have both had a passion for music from a young age. And through the connections they made at Douglas, the two we were able to take their dream of making music and bring it to fruition.

“Having the resources at Douglas helped so much. We always had access to a piano and we wrote one of our songs – The Sun Never Sets On Us – in one of the practice rooms after our music history class got cancelled last September,” Broughton recalled. “We sat there for two hours and wrote a song. “

And, through a friend in the Music Technology program, The Echos recorded their demo, Blue, this summer in Kelowna.

“Our friend built a studio for herself in her basement, so we road-tripped to Kelowna and spent a week there and recorded and did a couple of videos, too,” Broughton, who plays the piano, said.

The EP is currently being mixed and mastered, and The Echos plan to have it available for purchase as soon as possible.

“We will alert everyone on social media when it’s ready,” Broughton said.

For those who can’t wait to hear The Echos, Cichos and Broughton will be performing Oct. 10 at Studio Records as part of the Best in Vancouver 2015 competition. Doors open at 7:30pm. Tickets are $12.

The Echos also perform weekly at the Westwood Plateau golf course’s lounge, Rogue, every Wednesday from 7-9 and will be performing at the PoCo River and Trails festival at Peace Park and Lion Park.

“Every time we accomplish something, we just look forward to what’s next. You can have dreams, and that’s a beautiful thing, but you have to work for it – really hard. And that’s what we discovered,” Cichos said.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Computing Studies student takes her skills to work at co-op placement

David Denofreo photo
Poonampreet Kaur knows that being a successful computer programmer means keeping up with the latest developments in the field – and getting as much experience as she can.

That’s why the Computing Studies and Information Systems student jumped at the chance to take the Co-operative Education program. Through it, Poonampreet is gaining valuable practical experience at her placement with the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch, where she’s working as a developer to help the organization achieve its business goals.
"Programming is a challenging field, but there's nothing I'd rather do," she says.

Interested in doing what Poonampreet does? Come to an info session for the Computing Studies and Information Systems diploma program. 


Monday, September 21, 2015

Nursing grad provides treatment with compassion to those in need

For Zahra Lalani, volunteering as a nurse in the Indian state of Hyderabad brought things full circle.

Growing up in a developing country herself, Lalani was acutely aware of the medical need for those who lack access to basic care – especially palliative care.

The Nairobi-born transplant came to Vancouver at the age of 13 and, later, enrolled in Douglas College’s Nursing Diploma program before transferring to the University of Victoria's Bachelor of Nursing program and graduating with distinction in 2000.

Upon graduation, Lalani took on various roles with the B.C. Cancer Agency, where she has been a nurse for the last 15 years. Lalani currently works as the research nurse with the Pain and Symptom and Palliative Care Team part-time and recently stepped into the role of Palliative Care Co-ordinator in January 2014 to help open and establish a brand new six-bed hospice home in Vancouver.

On top of these two time-consuming roles in Canada, Lalani has also taken on the challenge of improving access for palliative care for people living below the poverty line in India with Canadian-based not-for-profit organization, Two Worlds Cancer Collaboration Foundation.

Lalani’s passion for providing accessible palliative care and end-of-life support in developing countries stems from the realization that she could have faced a similar situation.

“That could be me, or anyone who is not born here, where resources are so flush,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to give back and have volunteered here in Canada, but I also feel the urgency to do something for people who are not necessarily part of our day-to-day lives - people in circumstances where they have no voice and no access, who need someone to advocate for them and tell their story.”

As a member of the fundraising committee and the executive team with Two Worlds Cancer Collaboration Foundation, Lalani volunteers her time in Canada to raise awareness, and in India, where she uses her vacation time to work with the front-line clinical team and improve medical processes.

During her visits, Lalani has implemented safer chemotherapy mixing and administration practices with the pediatric-oncology unit. She has also provided basic hygiene education for people with limited access to clean, running water with the goal to prevent infections for those who are immunosuppressed due to chemotherapy treatments.

Upon her first trip to India, Lalani realized that in many developing countries, approximately 80 percent of cancers are diagnosed in late stages, which require palliative care. However, less than one percent of patients have access.

Adding to the suffering for people who are already experiencing hardship is the lack of access to essential pain medicines, like morphine – which is produced in India but is not necessarily accessible to the people in India.

“It felt like people were seen as just numbers – not people - and I believe people should live and also die in dignity. Not having access to pain medicines and palliative care and having to endure needless suffering is a human rights issue,” she says.

Since that initial trip, Lalani is happy to note that there have been a number of improvements, including an increase in cure rates for curable-cancer patients.

“We are trying to change this,” Lalani said. “We are trying to promote access to palliative care and essential services and pain medicines. We’ve started small in India, where we have been able to grow, and we are hoping our program will serve as a model for other countries.”

Douglas College no longer offers a Nursing Diploma Program. The College does offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.


Sunday, September 20, 2015

This week at Douglas: Celebrate National Coaches Week

Here’s what’s happening at Douglas Sept. 21-27

Tuesday, Sept. 22

National Coaches Week: Strength and Conditioning Tips New Westminster Campus
8am – 3:15pm
Douglas coach Jake Elder invites the public to watch training sessions with Douglas varsity athletes in two sessions. First is 8-9:45am (men’s baseball) and 1:45-3:15pm (men’s soccer). Sessions are in the New Westminster Fitness Centre.

Wednesday, Sept. 23

Wales Field School Information Session New Westminster Campus
Room 2203 (Lecture theatre)
Meet the instructors and find out about studying in Wales in Summer 2016.

Thursday, Sept. 24

National Coaches Week: Strength and Conditioning Tips II
New Westminster Campus
8am – 3:15pm
Douglas coach Jake Elder invites the public to watch training sessions with Douglas varsity athletes in two sessions. First is 8-9:45am (men’s baseball) and 1:45-3:15pm (men’s soccer). Sessions are in the New Westminster Fitness Centre.

Arts at One
New Westminster Campus
Arts at One in the New Westminster Theatre. This week’s show is Firecat, featuring Paola Borolussi on flute and Corey Hamm on piano. Free and open to the public.

Friday, Sept. 25

Wales Field School Information SessionCoquitlam Campus
Room B2090
Meet the instructors and find out about studying in Wales in Summer 2016.

Saturday, Sept. 26

Institute for Urban Ecology: Water and Wildlife in Your Garden
Coquitlam Campus
Learn about creating better habitat for wildlife and native pollinators, with a focus on water features.
Discuss the importance of water features in urban gardens and how to care for a water feature safely. Participants will create their own small garden water bath to take home.

Got an event you want listed? Submit it here.

See more upcoming Douglas College events on the Events Calendar.

And make sure to join Douglas College on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Legacies of Berger to delve into Canada's pipeline history

The contentious issue of pipelines dominates today’s headlines and political debates, much like it did during the Berger Inquiry decades ago.

On Oct. 2, Douglas College will host a free in-depth panel discussion, Legacies of Berger, to debate the lasting legacy of then-BC Supreme Court Justice Thomas R. Berger, who headed the commission from 1974 to 1977.

The panel discussion is open to the public and will be held Oct. 2, 7-9pm at the Laura C. Muir Theatre at the College’s New Westminster Campus, 700 Royal Avenue. Prior to the panel will be the official opening of the Thunder in our Voices exhibit at 5:30pm. The exhibit provides a multimedia perspective into the commission.

The Legacies of Berger will explore the history and contemporary ramifications of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, says Anthropology instructor Jaime Yard.

“Attendees will delve into this complex, unprecedented, and, to the best of my knowledge, unduplicated, process of consultation with communities about the potential environmental and social effects of pipeline development in the north,” says Yard. “The panel brings together a group of scholars who have spent decades engaged in research on indigenous and non-indigenous political movements, history, health and land use.”

The panel will feature Dr. Michael Asch, an anthropologist who was an expert witness at the Berger Inquiry; Drew Ann Wake, exhibition curator and documentary filmmaker; Dr. Peter Stephenson, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and chair of the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria; and Dr. Glen Sean Coulthard, member of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation and an assistant professor in the First Nations and Indigenous Studies Program and the Department of Political Science at UBC.

Justice Berger was appointed by the federal government to hold hearings into a proposed natural-gas pipeline from the Beaufort Sea, along the Mackenzie Valley, to U.S. markets. Berger’s extensive consultation with communities set a precedent for conducting hearings on large industrial projects.

To reserve seats for the panel, visit

Also featured at the Amelia Douglas Gallery on the New Westminster campus is the Thunder in our Voices exhibition.

The exhibition, which runs until Oct. 23, is the product of Wake’s work with five generations of Inuvialuit and Dene families. The story began when she was a young reporter with the CBC covering the inquiry. For eighteen months she attended both the formal hearings in Yellowknife and community hearings in a dozen Dene and Inuvialuit communities across the North West Territories.

Seven years ago, she found a suitcase of her old audio tapes in storage. From 2008 to 2015, she travelled with photographer Linda MacCannell, down the Mackenzie River from the B.C. border to the Beaufort Sea. In each community, Wake and MacCannell gave classroom workshops so children and teenagers could produce images and videos to contribute to the Thunder in our Voices exhibition.