GPRC student, Gabrielle Barkman participates in a research study for at-risk youth in Grande Prairie and Jasper. PAGE 8
STUDENT ENGAGEMENT IN ACADEMIC RESEARCH : A WIN-WIN:
BEES SWEETEN IZZY CORVALAN’S CAREER PROSPECTS:
Read about Gabrielle Barkman's
Learn about the important work Izzy Corvalan is doing with the National Bee Diagnostic Centre.
A look into Arlin Sansome’s love of hot rods, motorcycles and all things electric motor.
learning experience I GPRC WISDOM MAGAZINE 1hands-on working with at-risk youth.
CANADIAN TIRE IS PROUD TO CONTINUE TO SUPPORT OUR COMMUNITY. Since 2005 Canadian Tire has been a major sponsor of GPRC's signature events; the annual President's Ball and the Wolves Classic Golf Tournament. Canadian Tire is proud to make a vital difference in the lives of our students helping GPRC build our future.
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INNER WISDOM Grande Prairie Campus.
A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
EDITORIAL MESSAGE WITH DR. ANDREW DUNLOP
of the many diverse First Nations
STUDENT ENGAGEMENT IN ACADEMIC RESEARCH Gabrielle Barkman's experience as a student researcher discusses at-risk youth and belonging.
and Métis people whose ancestors
STUDENT FEATURE Learn about the important work Izzy Corvalan is doing with the National Bee Diagnostic Centre.
immemorial. We are grateful
IN CONVERSATION Breann Thiessen shares her journey of becoming a student researcher.
traditional territory of Treaty 8."
12 14 18
SHARING WISDOM A discussion with GPRC instructors as they explore art and inspiration in Estonia.
ALUMNI FEATURE A look into Arlin Sansome’s love of hot rods, motorcycles and electric motors.
"We acknowledge the homeland
have walked this land since time
to work, live and learn on the
Wisdom is published by the Department of Community Relations as a service to the many constituents of Grande Prairie Regional College. Return undeliverable mail to: Wisdom Magazine Department of Community Relations Grande Prairie Regional College 10726 - 106 Avenue Grande Prairie, AB T8V 4C4 firstname.lastname@example.org
President and CEO Dr. Robert Murray Vice President External Relations Cherene Griffiths CONTRIBUTORS Danielle Smith, Breanna Gouschuk, Taylor Merkley Doyer, Barbara Balfour, David Olinger
PHOTOGRAPHY Randy Vanderveen Shana James Photography DESIGN imageDESIGN PRINTING Printed in Alberta GPRC WISDOM MAGAZINE
A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT Resiliency, adaptability and innovation are only three exceptional traits exemplified by GPRC students, faculty and staff this past year as our College continues our response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
on our learners' success. As our College evolves, we must inspire innovative thinking to support our students for a future where jobs are continuously changing. This is our path.
Our people are the source of inspiration for this issue of Wisdom magazine as we explore the research and innovation taking place at our College as we all work together to navigate our new normal and strive to create a bright future ahead. When I joined GPRC as the ninth President and CEO in December of 2019, the College began its path to become the northern centre of post-secondary excellence in Alberta. Throughout this issue of Wisdom, we explore the five priorities guiding this vision, as stated in GPRC's administrative strategy, 5GPRC. The strategy is built on a foundation of a unified voice reflecting our commitment to the region, our learners, industry and the citizens of Alberta. Readers will delve into articles reflecting modernization and efficiency, academic excellence and degree-granting, economic and community development, inclusion and student experience, and innovation and partnership.
A path that aims to build sustainable communities by engaging with our Alumni Advisory Council and Workforce Advisory Council to create opportunities for connection, innovation and partnership. This is a pivotal moment in GPRC's history and one that allows us the chance to look forward to the future. GPRC has a clear and ambitious vision with well-established goals, visionary strategies, and transparent metrics to ensure long-term resiliency and sustainability. I am proud of our students, faculty and staff for their ability to embrace change, their tremendous work, and their dedication to always continue learning. I hope you enjoy the 2020 edition of Wisdom.
GPRC has embraced the challenge of operating in an evolving post-secondary landscape by remaining focused on providing an unparalleled student experience that is relevant and focused DR. ROBERT MURRAY President and CEO
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IN OUR WISDOM: EDITORIAL MESSAGE BY DR. ANDREW DUNLOP, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH AND INNOVATION AT GPRC
Students are sometimes surprised to learn that much of what they do every day—in the classroom, in their community, and elsewhere—is research. From laboratory science to creative expression to technological innovation, research comes in a variety of forms and from a range of disciplines. At GPRC, we embrace and celebrate all of them. Although research is important to any post-secondary institution, it plays a unique role at colleges like GPRC. Compared to undergraduate research at large universities, colleges are able to facilitate research that is well-integrated with industry and community, and offers students applied, hands-on learning experiences. Research is becoming more important as Alberta, along with the rest of Canada, grapples with new social, technical, and economic challenges. The expertise and tenacity of GPRC faculty, students, and partners will be instrumental to understanding and finding solutions to northern Alberta’s most pressing issues. At GPRC, some of our priority research areas include developing clean technologies, improving quality of life in northern and rural communities, finding solutions for animal health and nutrition, and advancing human health and wellness. This year, we have and continue to face an unprecedented event: a global pandemic, the like of which has not been seen in over a century. It may be some time before we can begin to wrap our heads around this experience and start to make sense of the shift to a new social and economic paradigm. We
will need compassionate and curious people to help us recover from this global crisis; in other words, we will need researchers. Research is therefore much more than an opportunity for students to build their resumes. It’s one mechanism by which we can understand our world and make it better. This is one of many reasons why GPRC is taking steps to advance the quality of research support at our College, including the introduction of the Learning Commons this past summer, a high-quality Centre for Teaching and Learning, and new online course delivery options through an extension of our partnership with Athabasca University. These are just a few of the ways GPRC supports a thriving culture of scholarship, ensuring students and faculty have access to high quality scholarly resources that will help them succeed. The students, alumni and faculty you will read about in this issue of Wisdom undertake research with this innovative perspective in mind. Whether it is experimenting with bold artistic techniques in sculpture or diagnosing the causes of community disconnection, research at GPRC tends to have one eye on the community and the other on the future. Much has changed since the beginning of this year, but one thing has stayed the same: the vital role research continues to play in addressing the world’s most difficult challenges. At GPRC, research remains the key, both to understanding our past and to forging our future. GPRC WISDOM MAGAZINE
GPRC CARES GPRC has served as a community pillar for more than 50 years, and when the global COVID-19 pandemic struck, it became clear the College had a pivotal role to play in ensuring the well-being of our communities. The GPRC Cares Initiative emerged from a desire to remain connected to our students and community, at a time when social distancing is mandatory. The GPRC Cares Initiative provides students, staff, and community members with the opportunity to access weekly mental health seminars to help them cope and find comfort in such difficult times. Remaining physically active has a positive impact on mental health. The College’s Sport, Fitness and Wellness Department also delivers a comprehensive schedule of online wellness classes to help community residents stay fit and energetic while at home. The College has also connected with local organizations to identify their needs and find ways to engage students and staff to meet their goals. For example, GPRC staff have used College fleet vehicles to deliver groceries, supplies and prescriptions to those in need. The College paired staff, faculty and students with senior residents in the community who are experiencing isolation to connect via phone, letter, or video chat. GPRC is finding ways to support community organizations by supporting our employees to get involved in these important initiatives. “I’m so proud of everything our staff and faculty have done to serve our students as we respond to COVID-19. We could not have accomplished this without the support of the communities we serve, and these GPRC Care Initiatives are just some small ways in which GPRC can show it cares and can give back,” said Dr. Murray.
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GPRC staff and community members participate in GPRC Cares Initiative supporting our community through the COVID-19 pandemic, by delivering food and supplies to local organizations and residents. GPRC WISDOM MAGAZINE
STUDENT ENGAGEM RESEARCH: A WIN-W
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MENT IN ACADEMIC WIN
GABRIELLE BARKMAN, RESEARCH ASSISTANT FOR CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND BELONGING
For Gabrielle Barkman, moving to Grande Prairie from a tiny town in Manitoba was a tremendous shock to the system, especially at the tender age of 15. “My entire high school back home had only 100 kids in it,” she said. “Coming to Grande Prairie, I definitely felt a lack of belonging and connection and some of the repercussions that come with that.” Now 24, Barkman’s experience has come full circle as she works as a research assistant for a study on civic engagement and belonging among at-risk youth in Grande Prairie and Jasper. She’s among several GPRC students recruited to work as researchers on the two-year, Social Science and Humanities Research Council funded project, led by College instructors, Dr. Connie Korpan and Dawn Moffat McMaster. Research on these two resource-dependent northern Alberta communities is particularly valuable, said Dr. Korpan and Moffat McMaster, because the outcomes of alienation and a poor sense of belonging often include lower levels of education and higher rates of poverty, crime, homelessness and suicide. Exceptionally high population growth among youth in the Grande Prairie region, combined with lower than average high school graduation rates, indicate the need for early community intervention to prevent greater social problems later on.
“It’s so interesting that through studying connection and belonging, I've experienced so much more connection and belonging myself.” -Gabrielle Barkman GPRC WISDOM MAGAZINE
GPRC Instructors, Dr. Connie Korpan (sitting) and Dawn Moffat McMaster (standing).
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“In a community that’s willing to invest in youth, you’ll see a much larger social return on whatever interventions or prevention they bring in,” said Dr. Korpan, who has led multiple research studies on complex social issues. “It makes sense that you would start with youth, as it is much more cost-effective than dealing with a crisis that could happen later.” Dr. Korpan also points out that colleges are naturally set up to do this type of community-based research because of the connections they typically have. “You’ve got small communities where people know one another and faculty who are engaged outside the classroom, so I think we are a better fit to do this research in many ways compared to large institutions.” For Barkman, in addition to working on a topic that resonates with her personally and adding valuable work experience to her resume, being a student researcher also allows her to play a frontline role in influencing social policy. “This is true applied research, not something that will be forgotten afterwards,” she said. “It was cool to realize that it would actually have an impact on the services and resources we would see in the community.” Her job description includes interviewing young people the same age as when she first arrived in Grande Prairie. “It's extra impactful now to hear the perspectives and recommendations of people that age because some of the things they come up with, I wish I could have accessed myself,” said Barkman, who graduated in 2019 from GPRC’s Bachelor of Arts program in Psychology.
For recent graduates considering a career in research, practical experience provides a boost in obtaining future employment and a chance to form lasting connections in the community. “The network of contacts I have in the community has really expanded in the last couple of years,” said Moffat McMaster. “I’ve had the opportunity to share this research with the community, and they’ve been really excited about it. Places like Grande Prairie that are not necessarily rural – I like to call us a remote urban centre – don’t really make the big research articles. So, there’s been a lot of excitement to know more about the place we live, to understand it better and to make that information useful.” Coaching students to take advantage of these research opportunities, learn the specific skills that are required and witness first-hand how they can be applied to the wider academic world has been rewarding, said Moffat McMaster. But the integration of students in research projects has also been valuable for ensuring better outcomes. “They always have a lot to say,” she said. "When I brought up our methodologies in class, one student recommended a specific platform to be able to reach certain individuals, and I had never heard of it. When we talked with our youth researchers or research assistants about the design of our survey, they were able to say, ‘You should change the wording here, or there should be a different focus there, or you’re missing this question.' It’s been fantastic for us to benefit from their expertise too.”
“It’s so interesting that through studying connection and belonging, I've experienced so much more connection and belonging myself.”
GPRC offers a range of resources for students who are interested in getting involved in research at the undergraduate level. GPRC’s new Centre for Teaching and Learning is a central hub for faculty to access a complete suite of pedagogical resources, including workshops, mentoring, educational technologies, and educational development materials. Students interested in research should also stay in touch with GPRC’s Research and Innovation department for the most current opportunities: gprc.me/research GPRC WISDOM MAGAZINE
STUDENT FEATURE Bees Sweeten Izzy Corvalan's Career Prospects
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Isabel "Izzy" Corvalan's mind is abuzz with career possibilities in the sciences thanks to her employment at the GPRC National Bee Diagnostic Centre (NBDC) in Beaverlodge. NBDC is the first comprehensive laboratory in Canada to deliver a full array of diagnostic services for honeybee pests, pathogens, and parasites for beekeepers, researchers and agencies across Canada. It employs microbiology, microscopy and molecular techniques to identify pathogens that affect pollinator health. Corvalan has worked in the NBDC lab after school since Grade 10. This fall, she becomes a student at GPRC as she begins her pursuit of a Bachelor of Science degree. “Before working at the lab, I always wanted to go into the medical field,” she said. “I didn’t think of other science opportunities. I always thought, ‘I want to help people,’ but now working with bees, I have begun thinking there could be a different career for me in genetics, so this job has definitely opened my eyes.” Corvalan still pinches herself that she landed a position at NBDC during high school and she hopes to return as an intern while attending GPRC. “Every day, I think, ‘how did I get this opportunity?' Working at NBDC has already been so valuable to me. It’s an incredible experience working in a lab. Now I can go to GPRC with that lab knowledge and experience. I’m fortunate to learn new things every day and I’m excited to start pursuing my science degree.” NBDC is one of 30 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada funded Technology Access Centres in Canada. As a member of this national network, NBDC provides applied research, outreach, and innovation to the beekeeping industry. Training services are also provided to beekeepers, veterinarians, undergrad and graduate students. Corvalan is thrilled to be part of the NBDC professional team. “I’m honoured to work here." Even after three years of working at the lab, Corvalan continues to be in awe of NBDC Manager, Patricia Wolf Veiga. “It’s crazy how much she knows. I have to learn the stuff I do, but for her it’s routine, and I swear she has the answer to any question. She makes me wonder if I could ever be in a similar position.” Initially, Corvalan’s work was focused on sample preparation. As she gained experience, she found herself working with specimens, learning how to read concentrations of mites and observing DNA analysis processes.
Izzy Corvalan providing research assistance.
“Starting off, I didn’t think my role was that important. Then the more I worked, I realized I’m really contributing to national studies. It’s so cool getting clients from all over Canada.” In fact, Corvalan already played a part in a research finding of significant interest. She worked on a sample in which Varroa mites had attached themselves to honeybees. Typically, researchers at NBDC find five mites on a bee. In Corvalan’s sample up to 200 mites were found. Before her job at NBDC, Corvalan had never considered studying bees. In fact, she was unaware of the important research being conducted in her own community. As a Beaverlodge resident, she is pleased to see such an important facility in a smaller centre. “We don't often think about bees, but I’ve loved learning their important role in our environment. I also didn’t know how many beekeepers were in the Peace Region and how many people worked in the field until a local event, Bee Days, last year. It was nice talking to beekeepers and learning about their profession. It’s definitely connected and opened up my network with people who work with bees every day.” Corvalan is looking forward to starting her degree at GPRC and enhancing her knowledge in science. “There are many different aspects in science to discover. I love learning and especially working in a lab. I couldn’t have found a better opportunity.” Once she’s completed her education, Corvalan would like to travel and one day return to her community. But there’s no telling what course she might follow once her career takes flight. GPRC WISDOM MAGAZINE
GPRC Computer Systems Technology alumna, Breann Thiessen researched and developed an automated growing cube for time and cost-effective vegetable cultivation. 14
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Thiessen was a recipient of the 2019 GPRC Student Research Award where she combined her passion of computer science and gardening to create an affordable plant computer. Thiessen reflects on what she has learned from her research experience, the invaluable mentorship she received and her advice to future student researchers. What interested you in a Computer Systems Technology program? My original plan was to enroll in an Information Technologies program, but I wanted a career that allowed me to utilize my problem-solving skills and love of technology. I looked back on my childhood and I loved computers, so I ultimately chose Computer Systems Technology. What made you choose GPRC to pursue your education? I chose GPRC for the closeness to family, smaller class sizes and the ability to utilize GPRC’s Accessibility Services. I don't have the strongest mathematical background and they offered a lot of support for students who needed additional help. I thought it was perfect to have the support of tutoring. I met future mentors, Dr. Brian Redmond and Franco Carlacci right before registration, and they gave honest advice that helped me make my decision to enroll.
from the systems and actually using it. I didn't realize this type of work was considered legitimate research, so it was exciting. The funding associated with the award was also very helpful because I didn't have to worry about money during my project. I was able to focus on the research and what I was passionate about. Finally, the mentorship from professionals who have similar interests or skills that complement your own was very beneficial. For example, it was great working with the trades department, who were able to help me build the prototype that I would then code. You mention the mentorship you received for your research. How did that enhance your experience? I experienced a few obstacles along the way and my mentors, GPRC instructors Dr. Brian Redmond (mathematics, now Dean, School of Arts, Science and Upgrading), Franco Carlacci (computer science) and Charles Sanderson (electrical) were all great because they helped me learn so much more than I thought possible. They kept me on task, kept me from feeling overwhelmed, and helped me see the big picture to stay focused on my main goal.
What inspired you to expand your field of study and begin your research? What prompted your idea? When I enrolled in my program, I thought I would learn networking and computer hardware but what interested me most was coding. I'm happy I chose this program because GPRC offered more coding experience than other institutions. At the time, I had a greenhouse built in my backyard where I planned to combine my passion for gardening with my interest in coding and utilize a 'Raspberry Pi' programming tool to make a sensor system to help with growth and cultivation of my plants instead of a plant computer. Plant computers are costly, and I thought I could make an affordable option for people interested in the process but not interested in the technology and coding portion. I was discussing my plans with Dr. Redmond and he suggested I apply for a research grant. This opportunity also provided me with exposure to other individuals that would be able to help me with my research and prompted me to expand my project into a cost-effective plant computer. How did receiving the 2019 GPRC Student Research Award affect your path as a researcher? The award helped me learn there's more to research than just reading. I didn't realize there's a whole other side of study where you build prototypes. The award provided more confidence in myself going forward with ideas, building prototypes and systems that work, and then taking the data
Dr. Brian Redmond with Breann Thiessen at the first annual GPRC Student Research Conference. GPRC WISDOM MAGAZINE
Dr. Redmond was my main mentor and helped me with the math portion of my project. Math is not my strongest subject and he would take the time to explain how a formula is written out and how it works for the project. Franco was great for software and programming assistance. He offered a lot of advice of how to keep the project simple and efficient. He helped me develop simple solutions to problems that I was overthinking. Charles provided me with access to trades experts and always found someone who would have time to help me with my project. He also provided me with the resources to help with the physical construction of the project. What have you learned from this research project? Two important lessons I learned were to not buy cheap sensors because you will be disappointed and secondly, to not overthink the technical problems you run into. As I progressed in my education, I realized I would have done things differently because of the new knowledge I had acquired, but you grow as a researcher as you progress in your project. I also realized specific plant computers can keep you in one particular lane of research. Ideally, I would like to make a generic sensor system that could monitor anything you want.
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This can be difficult as sensors monitor a variety of things but if I can figure out a system that monitors plants, I believe I can figure out how to monitor items such as crops and oil wells. I would transition future research into a more generic sensor system. I would focus in on how we apply sensors to other industries aside from agriculture. What would you say to encourage fellow student researchers to pursue their project and apply for similar research awards? I encourage students to pursue research as it’s a way to differentiate yourself when you are ready to enter the job market. When I got this opportunity, I jumped on it as I knew it would be beneficial after I completed my education. Also, if people are willing to offer help, don't think you don't deserve that help. My background is not in math and science, and I was terrified at the thought of entering this research field. GPRC was there to help and encourage me every step along the way. I was worried I wouldn't succeed but decided to pursue my research because I had great instructors and their support encouraging me. The GPRC Research and Innovation department made sure I had access to resources, I had experienced instructors willing to help and Accessibility Services available for academic assistance. You never know what you can achieve until you try.
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Somewhere in a small historical town in Estonia, the artistic influence of Grande Prairie still lingers. 18
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Picturesque town square in Viljandi, Estonia.
SHARING WISDOM: GPRC Instructors Explore Art and Inspiration in Estonia
Somewhere in a small historical town in Estonia, the artistic influence of Grande Prairie still lingers. Given the opportunity to attend an annual residency program for two weeks in the spring of 2019, four GPRC faculty members were able to do what they love best – conduct research and create art. This chance to share knowledge and creative practices in a setting far from home is the brainchild of Dr. Shawn Pinchbeck, GPRC music technology instructor. Located 150 kilometres from the Estonian capital of Tallinn, the picturesque town of Viljandi may appear to be off the beaten track, but it boasts a thriving cultural scene, an arts academy and an abundance of creative talent. It also happens to be located in a country that holds the world record for business start-ups per-person and bragging rights for creating the software known as Skype. “I’ve been running this residency program for four years, but this is the first time other GPRC faculty became involved,” said Dr. Pinchbeck. “Despite it being self-funded, there was a tremendous amount of interest this year. A residency is a nice getaway for an artist to meet different people and be inspired. Away from your usual routine, you get into a different head space one that’s less cluttered with everything going on in your life. Sometimes you might even find that what you’re working on at home is more relevant in other places.” Tina Martel, an instructor of painting, drawing and visual fundamentals, attended this year together with her husband Doug Wills, a digital media instructor at the College.
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“I said to Doug, ‘I think we need to do this artists’ residency in Estonia’ and he asked, ‘Why would we go there?’ And I said, ‘Why would we not?’" “I thought it would be great to immerse ourselves in a completely different culture and share the experience with colleagues. We are teachers all the time and artists second, but this residency allowed us to be professionals at a different level.” Martel, a two-time breast cancer survivor who wrote Not in the Pink, an award-winning book documenting her experience, created a text-based artwork on the same theme which is now prominently featured on the walls of the arts academy in Viljandi.
GPRC Instructor, Doug Wills.
Wills, who trained as a sculptor, ceramic artist and graphic designer, completed a short film and a compilation of photos based on elements he observed while in Estonia. Both were on display at GPRC. “I’m curious about things that were once useful and have history, but are now obsolete - like small pipes with electrical cords sticking out, or unused nails which are now painted or stuccoed over.” For Marina Fridman, a full time artist, who taught drawing, sculpture and portfolio development at the College, her Estonian residency allowed her to further germinate her idea for a large-scale, multimedia art installation. “The process of art-making and art research always begins with a question” said Fridman. “The more interesting the question, the more interesting the artwork in response to it.” Fridman is fascinated by the idea of fear within a political context and how it is used to divide or unite groups of people. She is interviewing more than 200 Grande Prairie residents and recording them whispering their fears. The final multimedia experience will encompass drawing, sculpture and sound. It’s a project she describes as both rewarding and perspectivealtering, and much more research-based than anything she has done before.
“Some people list all their fears, but others discuss just their biggest one. One fear that was particularly genuine and relatable came from a woman who worried she’s not making the right choices, not living life the way she was meant to live. Another woman told me she has epileptic seizures that she describes like entering a velvet black space, where you forget who you are and everything you know. She is most afraid that that’s what death will be like.” “I tend to voice my fears often as I feel this lessens their power over me, and I hope this art piece will have the same result for people participating in the project.”
GPRC Instructor Tina Martel with former student Kasie Campbell.
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“Art residencies play an integral role in influencing and furthering an artist’s work and career” Fridman said. My worldview expands dramatically when I’m in an international location. It influences my artwork and opens my eyes to different ways of thinking and living.”
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DONOR PROFILE: Canadian Tire Owners Vital GPRC Sponsors
By the time Jim and MaryHelen Boccioletti turned over the Grande Prairie Canadian Tire ownership reins two years ago, they'd established an incredible legacy of giving with GPRC.
"We hoped our support went towards providing a better postsecondary experience for the youth of Grande Prairie, and that experience may be part of their decision to stay in the region."
In 14 years of giving to the College, the couple donated more than $350,000, including holding title sponsorship of the President's Ball since 2005 and the newly named Wolves Classic Golf Tournament, starting in 2006.
MaryHelen said sponsorship of the two events was a natural fit.
The Bocciolettis also attended both events and were always keen bidders on auction items. As new owners, John and Maria Kavanagh have carried on the same support. Sadly, Jim Boccioletti passed away suddenly on February 12, 2020, in his home with MaryHelen and his son, Jamie, by his side. MaryHelen recalls their time fondly in Grande Prairie, the friends they made and the fulfilment they found in supporting community events and organizations such as GPRC. When the couple first began supporting the College, they saw it as investing in both GPRC and the future of the community. "Jim and I always felt strongly that to see Grande Prairie continue to grow, the community needed to keep our youth from moving away to larger cities. One of the best ways to do that was to ensure that they had access to a top-level postsecondary education, so supporting the College was very important to us."
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"Jim was an avid golfer and always loved the opportunity to spend the day on the course with good friends and supporting a great cause, so our involvement with the College's golf tournament was an easy decision. "The President's Ball was just such a wonderful evening that after our first year in attendance, we decided it was something we wanted to continue to be a part of and grow with. So, when the titanium sponsor level became available, we jumped at it." MaryHelen said they were particularly fond of the President's Ball for the high-quality dining, the dancing and the opportunity to hear success stories from the previous year at the College. Reinvesting in the community was something Jim saw as his responsibility as a business owner. He did not consider himself a philanthropist. "He did it because he recognized there were needs in the community, and we were fortunate enough to be in a position to help with those needs. Jim just wanted to do his part to support the community that supported us." There was one kind of acknowledgement that Jim cherished, MaryHelen said.
Continued customer loyalty over the past 98 years has helped Canadian Tire expand to 500 retail stores across the country. The Bocciolettis and Kavanaghs recognize that for a thriving company, it's both the right thing to do and sound business practice to reinvest in local communities. "We have a responsibility to pay back our customer's support by supporting things they care about," said Kavanagh. "Whether it's helping kids participate in sports through our Jumpstart charity, support for GPRC, our sponsorship of the Festival of Trees, or the many other local organizations and events we support, we know we can make a difference and help make things better."
John and Maria Kavanagh at the 2019 President's Ball.
"Every once and a while, one of our staff who attended GPRC would stop by Jim's office and mention that they'd heard about his support and say thank you."
"My friend Jim's favourite business mantra was always that the best advertising you can do for your business is to provide significant charitable support to your community. In doing so, customers will support you in-kind. Our support for GPRC is one example of this philosophy. We are always here for the Grande Prairie community as, year after year, they have been there for us." Rest In Peace, Jim Boccioletti July 25, 1949 – February 12, 2020
"You can see your name in a program, in an advertisement or up on the stage at an event, but nothing meant as much to Jim as having a student who benefited from his support simply say 'thanks.' Those always made Jim's day." John Kavanagh mentioned continuing the Boccioletti family's work is a fitting tribute. "The Bocciolettis are long-time family friends of ours, and when we took over the business from them, we wanted to make sure we continued their legacy of giving back to the Grande Prairie community. Support for GPRC had always been important to Jim, and I was happy to continue the tradition." Community support is essential to augment government funding for a regional college, and the Kavanaghs also underline the value of planting the seeds for community growth. "A generous alumni and additional financial support from private individuals and businesses within the community can help substantially in ensuring the best outcomes for students," said Kavanagh. "We all win, as well, when we can develop talent locally and see people stay here to pursue a career, start a business or otherwise plant roots here." Kavanagh states GPRC is a recognized hub for developing future employees in numerous sectors throughout the region. It's great for parents to know their children can grow up and attain post-secondary education close to their families.
Jim and MaryHelen Boccioletti. GPRC WISDOM MAGAZINE
DONOR PROFILE: Fletcher Mudryk LLP Invests In GPRC
The history of Fletcher Mudryk LLP in Grande Prairie goes back 85 years. For nearly a third of that time, the accounting firm has supported GPRC in various ways. Over the last 28 years of giving, Fletcher Mudryk LLP has donated $170,000 to the College by the sponsorship of events, including the newly named Wolves Classic Golf Tournament and the President's Ball. In addition to its generous financial support, Fletcher Mudryk LLP also engages with the College on many levels, including hiring students from the business program. Devon Wardley, a partner with Fletcher Mudryk LLP and a GPRC alumnus, states the ongoing relationship with the College is a win-win situation. "We rely on post-secondary graduates to ensure we're constantly able to hire the next generation of professional accountants. Our business model is reliant on employing business and commerce graduates from the Peace Country, and GPRC is critical to accomplish this."
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It's been a proven part of the firm's sustainability over the years. "Many of our partners, associates, CPAs, CPA students and support staff attended GPRC at one time or another in their education," Wardley explained. "We're the largest locally-owned CPA firm in Grande Prairie, and we've seen success in our growth and succession planning by hiring local talent who also have roots in the Peace Country. We hire with a long-term outlook in mind, and hiring local graduates continues to be a crucial part of our longevity." In fact, four of seven Fletcher Mudryk LLP partners are GPRC alumni, with three of five associates being among staff who've received degrees through the College's collaboration with Athabasca University. Over the years, the firm has hired well over 100 alumni and summer students.
From left: Crystal Furlong, Dana Lewis, Susue Ajaleh, Wendy Snisarenko, and Devon Wardley at the June 2019 Wolves Classic Golf Tournament.
While GPRC is a significant pipeline for the firm's staffing, Wardley notes the College also generates employees for many other businesses within the community and is a vital economic stimulator. "At Fletcher Mudryk LLP, our vision is that we strive for excellence for our people, our clients and our community. We are from here, and we want this region, our community, to be set up for success. GPRC fills a vital role in that picture, not just in producing future accountants, but through its development of leaders and skilled workers in each and every department, ranging from the trades to nursing to education." Investing in post-secondary education is gratifying for the firm, particularly for staff who owe their start in successful careers to GPRC. "Post-secondary students need to be able to focus on growing as individuals and scholars," said Wardley. "Financial burdens should not be a limiting factor in personal growth and success. We see our support making college life more comfortable and stable for students, which allows them to reach a higher potential." Remaining agile for clients through the pandemic has been vital for Fletcher Mudryk LLP. The firm was also nimble when it came to the financial support of the College. With the College's charity golf tournament cancellation due to COVID-19, the firm shifted its 2020
From left: Kari Speaker Smith, Dara LaLonde, Lydell Torgerson, and Amy Richards join the GPRC mascot, Farley at the June 2019 Wolves Classic Golf Tournament.
funding to the College's awards, scholarships and bursaries program, enabling GPRC to assist more students. "Transitioning that support this year was an easy decision, as no matter what is going on in the world, GPRC needs funds to continue to develop students each and every year," said Wardley. In addition to providing funding for the Wolves Classic Golf Tournament as Title Sponsor since 2015, Fletcher Mudryk LLP contributes to the event by providing more than 100 hours of volunteer time. "Philanthropy, to me, means giving not just to give, but to make as much impact as you can to those things that are important – not just important to our firm or me, but to the community and our region," Wardley finished. "It means looking for the big issues that face our community and making as much of a difference as possible through volunteerism, donations or other methods." GPRC WISDOM MAGAZINE
ALUMNI FEATURE Arlin Sansome
Arlin Sansome’s love of hot rods first sparked when he was just a toddler, tinkering on cars by his father’s side in the family garage. The son of an automotive mechanic, Sansome soon discovered a passion for motorcycles and racing that later evolved into a record-breaking career working on electric vehicles. Today Sansome, 41, has set the record for the world’s fastest front-wheel drive electric car. His innovative work in electric motor controller development for electric vehicle propulsion has been featured on the Discovery Channel. Now living in Nanaimo, B.C., Sansome still keeps in touch with the instructors he first met while completing his Motorcycle Mechanic Certificate from GPRC Fairview in 2001.
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“When I was applying for jobs in the motorcycle industry, everyone kept asking me if I had been to Fairview College. That’s how I knew it was the place to be and how I found my way into the industry,” says Sansome, whose first gig was working on snowmobiles in a shop in Milo, half an hour from where he grew up in Vulcan, Alberta. “GPRC Fairview is where I did all my training and how I met my instructors, Dan Bruce and Brad Chorney, 20 years ago now. They were the ones who got me daydreaming about the things I could do with my life. As much as I loved cars, I didn’t like getting into awkward positions underneath them and getting dirt in my eyes.
Arlin Sansome working in his shop.
“In the late 1990s/early 2000s, I found the motorcycle world was so much more technologically advanced, and much farther ahead of performance cars. That’s where the real engineering was happening at the time, the high power-to-weight ratios and advanced control systems I wanted to get my hands on.” A daredevil in his teens, Sansome grew up riding motorcycles and spent his 16th birthday in a wheelchair with casts on both legs after a stunt that went awry. Needless to say, that didn’t deter him from earning a Journeyman Red Seal accreditation in motorcycle mechanics and ultimately opening his own motorcycle repair, customization and fabrication shop after moving to Vancouver Island in 2006. As he sought a way to avoid paying for high-priced fuel, his interests gradually evolved into the electric vehicle business. “I wanted to drive a fun car that wouldn’t break the bank so I did a lot of research on alternative fuels,” says Sansome. “The efficiencies of hydrogen-based fuel didn’t make sense to me so I started diving into the electrical stuff. Eventually I stumbled into building an electric bike in 2007; once I got it running, that’s when things really took off.” Sansome estimates he spent about 10 years and $30,000 developing a motor controller to achieve 303 horsepower at the wheels, using a Nissan leaf motor with custom batteries. This would break the world record for the fastest and quickest front wheel drive car, earning a feature on the Discovery Channel. “As far as anyone can tell, I have the most power out of a Nissan motor, with much more to come,” he says. “I want to see if I can develop an electric street legal car with the fastest quarter mile from 0 to 60.” In 2015 Sansome started Underground Electrics, a business dedicated to developing and promoting high performance electric vehicle technology. In addition to consulting for companies such as AirBus and Lightning Motorcycles and developing motor controllers, he also teaches motorcycle and marine mechanics at Vancouver Island University.
“I spend about 25 hours a week working with students, and I also spend time as a toolroom attendant when I’m not instructing. A lot of the work I do is by myself on the computer at home, so it helps to get out sometimes,” he says. “One company hired me to develop a battery charger for those electric scooters you can rent on the ride share apps. I developed a charging station that charges 12 at once and enables users who drop their scooters off to get a discount. This alleviated the issue of scooters just lying around on the sidewalks and allowed them to get returned to where they belong." Sansome has turned down offers of up to half a million dollars to further develop electric vehicle technology in the U.S. The demand for his line of work, he says, is “insane” and pays extremely well, allowing him to live debt-free with his wife and two young children on the island, along with nine electric motorcycles, an electric motocross bike, and a Honda CRF 450 which he is currently converting to electric power. "It will have over 70 horsepower at the wheel and run all day in the tails or one moto main event on a charge," he says. “For the first few years the objective of my work wasn’t about being green; it was about the performance and cost advantages. But then I realized I liked breathing clean air, eating pure food and drinking water without getting sick or dying, and that we need to clean up our act,” he says. “We are one of the worst countries in the world per capita for CO2 emissions – and if everybody just passes the blame on, nothing will ever get done. "I feel pretty lucky I landed in this field of work, and that I get to live in a place with a year-round motorcycle-riding season, clean lakes to swim in, and thousands of kilometres of bush for my family and I to play in. So everything we do now must be as green as possible because we have a short window of opportunity to make a difference.”
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