Patty Wellborn



A photo of Evangeline John in a field filled with balsam root sunflowers

Previous participant Evangeline John, wears a ribbon skirt she created, in a field filled with balsam root sunflowers in Secwepemcúl’ecw. UBCO’s Indigenous Art Intensive begins with the understanding that land contains knowledge

What: Indigenous Art Intensive, keynote presentations and artist panels When: Wednesdays, May 17 to June 14, 2023 Time: noon to 3:30 pm Where: University Theatre, ADM 026, UBC’s Okanagan Campus For more than a decade the Indigenous Art Intensive has brought leading international and national Indigenous scholars, curators, artists and writers together at UBC Okanagan in Syilx territory. Starting May 17 and taking place the next four Wednesdays, keynote speakers will give presentations while artists will discuss their works and participate in panel discussions. All of these lunchtime sessions are at noon in the university theatre and open to the public. The visiting artists and scholars in residence also take part in exhibitions, art making, workshops, course visits and an open studio day—also free and open to the public. “There are amazing artists and cultural practices amongst Indigenous nations in the Okanagan,” says Program Director and Professor Tania Willard.  “UBCO’s intensive builds on that by having Syilx representation as visiting artists alongside artists from other places,” says Willard. The program gathers students, artists, curators, writers and scholars to engage in contemporary ideas and discourse rooted in Indigenous art-making. It offers an educational series of courses, lectures, art shows and opportunities to create art. The program connects world-renowned speakers with resident artists to create new work. Besides all the public-facing programming, Dr. Willard says the Indigenous Art Intensive also offers a series of courses for credit. “It’s about creating an interdisciplinary, intercultural gathering space. It’s open-ended in terms of knowing that when you plant those seeds, interesting collaborations and future projects are given a starting point,” she says. “It’s a generator, I suppose. Our first goal is to generate intercultural, interdisciplinary and intergenerational conversations that can address critical issues facing Indigenous communities.” Willard says artists who boldly engage with theory or practice that reject the status quo move her most. It’s a place to be with like-minded folks, as well as people who are coming from different disciplines. There’s a supportive atmosphere for people who are focused and engaged with future potential. “We can learn all kinds of things hearing from an artist directly—stories, struggles or conflicts, problems with sourcing materials or logistics, and what it is like to be an artist full-time in a professional field,” she says. “That is valuable for students and different than what we might learn through textbooks or readings because it is happening in real-time. This year’s keynote speakers include recognized artist Nadia Myre, tattoo practitioner Dion Kaszas, political anthropologist Audra Simpson and curator and scholar Dylan Robinson. They are joined by visiting artists Michelle Sound, Krista Belle Stewart, Mariel Belanger, Peter Morin, Ts̱ēmā Igharas, Tiffany Shaw, Krystle Silverfox, Gabrielle Hill and Vanessa Dion Fletcher. The intensive is hosted by UBCO’s Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies (FCCS) in partnership with UBC Okanagan Gallery—a newly founded university gallery, that builds on the work of the Indigenous Art Intensive. It’s been 10 years since the first Indigenous Art Intensive and it has continually hosted artists in residence in a professional capacity, paying Canadian Artists’ Representation / Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC) fees and supporting their practice through studio facilities, networking and peer mentorship, explains Dr. Stacey Koosel, UBCO Gallery Curator and Indigenous Art Intensive Co-ordinator. “Helping artists develop their practice and expand their network is what every ambitious gallery wants to do, which is why UBC Okanagan Gallery is committed to supporting and co-ordinating the Indigenous Art Intensive,” she says. Now in its second year, UBC Okanagan Gallery’s first exhibition projects were in collaboration with the Indigenous Art Intensive. Previous artist residencies supported by the BC Arts Council were Whess Harman’s Lossy exhibition and Being Gooz publication and Manuel Axel Strain’s puti kʷu alaʔ exhibition in 2022. Invisible Forces, an exhibition by Krystle Silverfox and Tiffany Shaw, will open with a reception in UBCO’s FINA Gallery on Wednesday, June 7 at 5 pm. FCCS is offering courses in visual art with Tania Willard, creative writing with Troy Sebastian, art history with Dr. Stacey Koosel, and Indigenous studies with Evan Habkirk. These courses will run in conjunction with the Indigenous Art Intensive with varying degrees of crossover to provide students the opportunity to connect with the keynote speakers and the resident artists. All courses run in May and June. All programs are free and open to the public. For a full event schedule, course information and information about the artists in residence, visit:  The post UBCO’s popular Indigenous Art Intensive returns appeared first on UBC Okanagan News.
A photo of Heather Gainforth, Greg Gerard and Isaac Li

Drs. Heather Gainforth, Greg Gerard and Isaac Li are UBCO’s 2023 researchers of the year.

UBC Okanagan is celebrating six outstanding researchers with one of its most prestigious research awards—Researcher of the Year.

The award recognizes the ways in which UBCO researchers—three faculty and three graduate student or postdoctoral fellows—are making the world a better place through excellence in research and scholarly activity.

The 2023 Researcher of the Year awards ceremony honoured faculty winners Dr. Heather Gainforth for health research, Dr. Greg Garrard for social sciences and humanities and Dr. Isaac Li for the natural sciences and engineering category.

Alongside her teaching in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences, Dr. Gainforth’s research in the area of spinal cord injury (SCI) is focused on helping people with SCI live better lives. She engages directly with people living with SCI and invites the SCI community to help direct her work, in order to focus on the community’s high-priority needs that have historically received little research attention. Dr. Gainforth is dedicated to getting her results to those who need it most.

Dr. Garrard researches how humans’ activities and their perceptions of their environments shape the physical landscapes they inhabit. As a Professor of Environmental Humanities in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, he’s a globally respected voice in sustainability who is focusing on the Okanagan region. His work asks people to interrogate their own perspectives on issues such as climate change or wildfires and helps individuals understand other perspectives to combat cultural polarization.

Immersed in the study of the physical interactions between cells, Dr. Li, Assistant Professor in the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science, is an emerging leader in his field. His interdisciplinary lab builds specialized, DNA-based molecular tools to visualize these interactions at the scale of single molecules and opens opportunities for controlling these interactions, which can lead to a variety of future impacts, including disease treatments.

“UBC Okanagan’s vibrant research community continues to foster top-notch talent, which is clearly evident from this year’s Researcher of the Year recipients,” says Dr. Phil Barker, Vice-Principal and Associate Vice-President, Research and Innovation. “I’m so pleased to share and recognize the success of our incredible researchers and their important work.”

Three graduate or postdoctoral researchers were also recognized for their excellence in scholarly activity and highlighted as researchers to watch in the coming years:

  • Postdoctoral Fellow Researcher of the Year
    Dr. Femke Hoekstra, Faculty of Health and Social Development
  • Doctoral Student Researcher of the Year
    Melanie Dickie, Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science
  • Master’s Student Researcher of the Year
    Hanna Paul, Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

“It’s inspiring to see the breadth of subject matter and the quality of research conducted by our students and postdocs,” says Dr. Peter Simpson, Dean of the College of Graduate Studies. “These researchers are changemakers—conducting research to investigate some of the world’s most challenging problems and producing creative work that addresses the human condition.”

The distinguished award honours leaders at UBCO who have reached across disciplines to have major impacts in their fields, says Dr. Barker.

“Here at UBC Okanagan, we know that working together across traditional boundaries is key to helping advance discovery,” he adds. “These researchers epitomize that call to action and I look forward to seeing where it will lead their fields in the years to come.”

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People watching a film in a theatre

The annual Student Okanagan Film Festival will highlight a combination of top films submitted by Okanagan students this spring. Photo by Krists Luhaers on Unsplash

What: Student Okanagan Film Festival
Who: UBC Okanagan’s Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies
When: Monday, May 8 at 7 pm
Where: Mary Irwin Theatre, Rotary Centre for the Arts, 421 Cawston Ave

Next week’s Student Okanagan Film Festival, now in its seventh year, will show a variety of short films from a wide range of genres including mini-documentary, experimental short films, music videos, animation and short narrative films.

This annual event includes films from any student in the Okanagan, including from UBC Okanagan and those in regional high schools and post-secondary institutions.

Visual Arts professor Myron Campbell co-organizes the event theatre along with UBCO faculty members Michael V. Smith and Daniel Keyes. Campbell also helps with planning the branding and design each year and Smith is the emcee for the event.

“We are excited to be able to celebrate emerging student filmmakers of the Okanagan Valley by showcasing their work to a wide audience,” says Campbell. “It’s a great opportunity for these filmmakers to see their work on the big screen.”

Local emerging filmmakers were invited a few months ago to submit their work for the chance to be included in the festival screening. The goal is to create an hour of programming of the best films. A panel of jurors, consisting of faculty members and student volunteers, is working to narrow the more than 40 selections for the viewing.

“The quality of films are getting better every year, and we are looking forward to seeing and sharing what students have produced this year,” Campbell adds.

The Student Okanagan Film Festival is open to the public and the screening takes place at the Mary Irwin Theatre on May 8, starting at 7 pm. Admission is by donation, all proceeds go back into the festival programming for future years.

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An image generated by an AI visualization program that is meant to represent AI positively

The above image was generated by Midjourney, an AI visualization program, using a simple prompt:
“create an image showing how AI is positively and negatively affecting the world.”

In an environment of increasing polarization, debates can serve as a way of bringing worlds together. This belief is behind UBC Okanagan’s venture to champion civil discourse.

“At UBC Okanagan, we believe that debate is an antidote to polarization,” says Lesley Cormack, UBC Okanagan’s Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor and host of the marquee event. “Universities can facilitate tough conversations and convene opposing perspectives, and UBC Okanagan Debates will serve as a lively and engaging platform to examine tough topics in an illuminating way.”

The inaugural debate on May 3 will tackle artificial intelligence—one of the most defining issues of our time. Debaters will present either an optimistic or skeptical perspective of AI and discuss whether we should take a step back and press pause or embrace this potentially disruptive technology.

The debate will be moderated by Nora Young, radio personality and host of CBC’s Spark—a show devoted to digital technology.

“We have the luxury of living in the information age, but the downside is that we are drowning in information,” says Marten Youssef, Associate Vice-President of University Relations at UBCO. “Quantity of information isn’t just the problem, but it’s the quality of it too. This is why debating artificial intelligence is both urgent and important.”

On Wednesday, May 3, UBCO will convene four leading thinkers in artificial intelligence to debate the optimistic and skeptical sides of this topic. How it will impact our human connections, our creativity and the way we work. The debaters are:

On the optimist side:

Kevin Leyton-Brown—a Computer Science Professor who likes to play games with machines. He teaches them how to learn, cooperate and compete in complex environments such as auctions and markets.

Madeleine Ransom—a Philosophy Professor who likes to explore how we perceive the world. She investigates how our senses, cognition and technology shape our understanding of reality and art. She is philosophical about AI: it’s going to change the world for the better.

On the skeptic side:

Bryce Traister—Dean of the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, he has expertise in early American literature, culture, religion and science fiction. He is also a master debater who can challenge any professor to a verbal duel. He loves sci-fi and is proud to be a nerd.

Wendy Wong—a Professor and Principal’s Research Chair of Political Science. She has written a book about data and human rights that will be published in October 2023. She thinks AI poses a threat to our social and political frameworks, and it is time to empower the stakeholders in AI discussions.

Hosted by Dr. Cormack, the event takes place at UBCO’s Commons theatre at 7 pm. The event is free and open to the public but registration is required. More information, and a registration link, can be found at:

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A photo of a student setting up an art exhibition

UBCO student Katya Meehalchan sets up her art as part of the Forty Feet Forward exhibit.

What: Forty Feet Forward student art exhibition Who: Graduating artists in the Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Media Studies programs When: Opening reception: Friday, April 21, from 6 to 9:30 pm, exhibition dates: April 22 to 28, daily from 10 am to 4 pm Where: Creative and Critical Studies building, 1148 Research Road, UBC Okanagan Visual arts students with UBC Okanagan’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and Bachelor of Media Studies programs host their annual graduation art exhibition starting this week. Forty Feet Forward runs from April 21 to April 28 in UBCO’s Creative and Critical Studies building, which will be transformed into an exhibition space. The show includes the work of 20 student artists who specialize in a variety of mediums including photography, sculpture, drawing, painting, digital media and printmaking. Visual Arts Instructor Andreas Rutkauskas says this group of artists has established a great sense of community while preparing for this exhibition. “What makes this group of artists so unique is the developed camaraderie,” says Rutkauskas. “Throughout history, the artist groups and collectives that have endured have laughed, cried, eaten and created together. I see that type of energy developing with this cohort.” He also believes that this camaraderie will continue beyond this exhibition and their undergraduate studies. The importance of community among this group of artists is echoed by BFA student Simone King. “I cherish all the connections I’ve made with the people in this program. One of the most important aspects of the fine arts program is the time you have with your peers and professors around you,” King explains. “It’s incredibly important as a growing artist to have their support and feedback, as well as to be surrounded by so many different practices that we can learn from.” BFA student Josie Hillman says that the final exhibition will represent the culmination of her studies and is an exciting opportunity for her to push boundaries. “Now that I am in fourth year, I aim to push societal and personal views of how we see life by passing the boundaries of our comfort zones and identifying what can be deemed as discomfort, and how we can surpass it,” says Hillman. Rutkauskas is looking forward to seeing the final result of all the hard work that these artists have put in. “Witnessing the artists’ pride in their accomplishments in front of friends and family is the most rewarding moment,” he adds. The community is welcome to the opening reception on April 21, from 6 to 9:30 pm. Forty Feet Forward is a free, public exhibit and is open daily from April 21 to 28, from 10 am to 4 pm. More information can be found at: The post UBCO graduating art students present <em>Forty Feet Forward</em> exhibit appeared first on UBC Okanagan News.
A photo of a book laying on a table

Winner of the 2023 Okanagan Short Story Contest will be announced at a special event next week. Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash.

What: Wrap-up event for Okanagan Short Story Content
Who: Fiction writers across BC’s Southern Interior
When: Thursday, April 6, at 7 pm
Where: The Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art, 421 Cawston Ave., Kelowna

Drum roll, please.

The winners of the 2023 Okanagan Short Story Contest are about to be announced.

UBC Okanagan’s Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies (FCCS) has published the finalists of the annual fiction writing contest.

The Okanagan Short Story Contest recognizes the best new short stories by emerging fiction writers in the Southern Interior of British Columbia, explains FCCS Professor Nancy Holmes. Past winners have gone on to publish with Penguin Random House, Arsenal Pulp Press and NeWest Press, as well as numerous national and international magazines and journals.

A total of 150 short story entries were submitted for the adult category, and 54 stories for the high school category.

“Once again, the quality and quantity of the entries were amazing,” says Professor Holmes. “The Interior of BC is becoming a hotbed of great fiction.”

Shortlisted authors: Adult Category

  • Nils Donnelly, Kelowna
  • Carolyn Mitchell, Lake Country
  • Miracle Adebayo, Kelowna
  • Alison Braid, Summerland
  • Glenna Turnbull, Kelowna
  • Jules Vadura, Kelowna
  • Faye Arcand, Okanagan Falls
  • Marina Meyer, Penticton
  • Trista-Lee Godfrey, Kelowna
  • Madeleine van Goudoever, Kelowna
  • Kristin Burns, Vernon
  • Claire Miller-Harder, Lake Country
  • Dene Moore, 100 Mile House
  • Levi Ravsborg, Kelowna

Shortlisted authors: High School Category

  • Camryn Mackiewich, Vernon
  • Sybella Stehmeier, West Kelowna
  • Rhiannon Spinks, Kelowna
  • Acacia Cousins, West Kelowna
  • Sara Gray, Kelowna
  • Emma Xu, Kelowna
  • Dorian Detta, Cranbrook
  • Vivian Bruce, Lake Country

Holmes says there are a few fun facts about a number of finalists. For example, Glenna Turnbull is a former prize winner while Kristin Burns, Faye Arcand, and Nils Donnelly—a current UBCO undergraduate student—have all been shortlisted in the past. Marina Meyer is an Okanagan College student while Miracle Adebayo and Claire Miller-Harder are current Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) students in creative writing. Finalist Kristin Burns is also a UBCO MFA alumna.

FCCS is offering cash prizes to the top three stories—$1,000, $400 and $200.The first prize winner also wins a one-week retreat at The Woodhaven Eco Culture Centre in Kelowna. The top story by a high school student receives a prize of $200. Co-sponsors of the contest are FCCS and the Central Okanagan Foundation.

The winners of the Okanagan Short Story Contest will be announced at a live event with contest judge Corinna Chong who is an acclaimed Canadian writer, editor and English professor at Okanagan College. The event will take place on Thursday, April 6 at 7 pm at the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art.

To learn more, visit:

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A photo of a student filmmaker working on a stop-motion project

Budding filmmakers are encouraged to submit an original short film and participate in the annual Student Okanagan Film Festival on May 8.

Students who love to be behind the camera, are invited to create a short film for the upcoming Student Okanagan Film Festival. Now in its seventh year, organizers are calling for submissions of short films from a wide range of genres including narrative, mini-documentary, experimental, music videos and animation. The film festival was initiated in 2014 by UBC Okanagan professors Michael V. Smith, Dan Keyes and Myron Campbell, all with the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies. They continue to co-manage the event and screenings. The festival began as a way to celebrate their students’ films in one screening, explains Campbell. The idea quickly morphed into an annual event that now includes films from any student in the Okanagan, including those in high school and college. “We are so proud of the work our students are doing, so we created the event to allow them to present their films to the public on the big screen,” says Campbell. Local emerging filmmakers are invited to submit their work for the chance to be included in the festival screening later this spring. To be eligible, the filmmaker must be a registered student in any Okanagan school and their film must have been produced anytime in 2022 or 2023. A panel of jurors, consisting of faculty members and student volunteers, will narrow the selections. The festival will run for about one hour, showcasing the top films selected by the panel. Submissions are due by April 15 and can be submitted at The Student Okanagan Film Festival is open to the public and the screening takes place at the Mary Irwin Theatre on May 8, starting at 7 pm. Admission is by donation, all proceeds go back into the festival programming for future years. The post Dreaming of the big screen? appeared first on UBC Okanagan News.
A photo of Miss Cookie LaWhore, alter-ego of Michael V. Smith

Miss Cookie LaWhore, the alter-ego of UBC Okanagan Professor Michael V. Smith, is one of several entertainers lined up for Pony Cabaret, a fundraising event taking place on February 9. Tickets are on sale now.

What: Pony Cabaret, an evening of drag and musical entertainment When: Saturday, February 9, 7:30 to 9:30 pm Where: Mary Irwin Theatre, Rotary Centre for the Arts, 421 Cawston Ave., Kelowna Cost: Suggested fundraising amount of $10 to $40. Pony Cabaret is 18+. Top-class entertainment, queer culture, music and food combine for a good cause as Pony Cabaret returns to Kelowna. The cabaret is queer-run and stocked full of talented queer performers featuring drag, storytelling, comedy and burlesque, as well as hosted by Miss Cookie LaWhore and Erin Scott. Miss LaWhore is the alter-ego of UBC Okanagan Professor Michael V. Smith and her role is to be the biggest freak in the room so everyone else can feel a little more normal, he explains. “The goal of this event is to make a space where everyone can feel welcome, regardless of who they are or where they come from,” adds Smith. The event showcases artists across a variety of disciplines. This is the seventh year it has been organized in Kelowna and Smith says there will be local and national talent including Ivan Coyote, Rose Butch, Tanya Lipscomb, Mother Girth and Ella Lamoureux performing. “I’m most excited for our big names. Ivan Coyote—who is Canada’s best storyteller—and the magical Rose Butch from Canada’s A Drag mix with all the amazing local talent we have here in the Okanagan,” adds Smith “At Pony, we’re always bridging communities, on and off the stage.” Smith has partnered with the Inspired Word Café (IWC) to organize this year’s event. IWC is a literary arts non-profit society that provides accessible and inclusive programming. After years of partnering on Pony in a smaller capacity, performer Erin Scott—former IWC executive director—and Smith made IWC an official partner thanks to a funding boost from Canadian Heritage. Additional support comes from the Government of Canada and UBCO’s Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, explains Scott. “Pony is a breath of fresh air for our community and we are tickled pink that UBC Okanagan continues to support us as we get bold on stage with some of Canada’s best queer artists,” she adds. “I encourage people to come for the performers, stay for the looks and drink for the cause. Come and get in the saddle and get ready to go for a ride.” All proceeds from the event go to the Living Positive Resource Centre, which provides harm reduction, prevention and education resources along with supportive services that focus on individual and community health and wellness to anyone living with, affected by, or at risk of HIV, Hepatitis C or related health issues. A bar and concession will be available before and during the show. The venue is wheelchair accessible, has gendered washrooms and a gender neutral, accessible washroom available by request. The show is for adults, 18 and over. Pony Cabaret is a fundraiser and tickets are available on a sliding scale between$10 to $40. More information can be found at: The post UBCO professor helps rein in Pony Cabaret comeback appeared first on UBC Okanagan News.

What: Fifth annual Life Raft Debate
Who: UBC professors compete to win a role to lead society
When: Wednesday, January 25, beginning at 7 pm
Venue: COM 201, Commons building, 3297 University Way and over Zoom

As the Okanagan winter progresses some people might dream of being cast away on a deserted beach.

But a few UBC Okanagan professors have now landed on a fictional island and have their work cut out for them.

Each year UBC Okanagan’s Society of Scholars hosts a Life Raft Debate, pitting faculty against each other as they maintain why they alone have the skills to help save the world and therefore deserve the last seat on the life-raft.

The premise for the fifth annual Life Raft Debate involves faculty who have crash-landed on a fictional tropical deserted island, explains Society of Scholars spokesperson Aimee Davarani. Recognizing the necessity for governance in their new home, the survivors must hold an election to determine who will become their leader and last hope for a civilized society.

“This is their chance to campaign as the new leader of the island,” she says. “With all the resources provided to stay alive, the chosen one must take on the challenge of forming a new culture that can be sustained for the future. Because who knows when help will arrive? But first, they must win the debate.”

“The members of the audience are the ones who will vote for their new leader, making this an entertaining and interactive evening,” Davarani adds, a third-year psychology student.

This year the debating professors include Dr. Jordan Stouck from the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, School of Engineering’s Dr. Alon Eisenstein and Dr. Renaud-Phillippe Garner from the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

“We invite people to come and watch the professors from different faculties debate against each other to prove that their discipline is superior to all others when it comes to creating and maintaining a new society,” adds Davarani.

To add intrigue to the evening, the final debater, Dr. Matthew Nelson, will play the role of Devil’s Advocate. The biology professor will campaign that none of the academic debaters deserve to be in a leadership role and the fate of society should rest with the audience as a whole.

“We really encourage our community to come watch our faculty members as they deal with this unique twist on defending their expertise,” says Davarani. “The annual Life Raft Debate has become a fun and entertaining way to help people discover how different points of view and areas of expertise can work together, or against, improving our society.”

More information and registration can be found at:

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A person leafing through pages of a writing notepad

Entries are open for UBCO’s annual Okanagan Short Story Contest

While December is the time many people look forward to carrying on favourite traditions, the creative writing faculty at UBC Okanagan is encouraging local writers to begin a new one.

UBCO’s Okanagan Short Story Contest was initiated 25 years ago by Nancy Holmes and John Lent. Holmes, Associate Professor of Creative Writing, says if budding writers haven’t yet participated in the annual contest, maybe this is the year they should.

“When we launched the contest, we had no idea it would just get bigger and better two and a half decades on,” says Professor Holmes, who teaches in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies. “Each year the stories that win are amazing. I’m hoping for 25 more years and many more wonderful stories.”

The short story contest has a long tradition of introducing budding writers to the Okanagan community. Winners in previous years have gone on to publish with Penguin Random House, Arsenal Pulp Press and NeWest Press, as well as numerous national and international magazines and journals.

Local emerging writers are invited to submit their work for the chance to win great prizes, including a top award of $1,000 and a one-week retreat at The Woodhaven Eco Culture Centre in Kelowna. Second and third prizes are $400 and $200, respectively. This is the fourth consecutive year the contest has been open to high school students and the top prize for that category is $200.

Entries are open to fiction writers in the Southern Interior of British Columbia—east of Hope, west of the Alberta border, north of the border to the United States and south of Williams Lake.

All original entries must be between 1,000 and 4,000 words, and writers are welcome to submit as many entries as they choose. There is a $20 entry fee for each story (but no charge for students in the high school category). All proceeds will go towards the FCCS Creative Writing scholarships at UBC Okanagan, and towards supporting Indspire, an Indigenous organization that invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.

“I really do hope people, who might have some time during the upcoming holiday season, try their hand at creative writing and test the waters by submitting an entry to the short story contest,” says Holmes. “Who knows, this might become an annual tradition for them.”

Entries must be received by 11:59 pm February 6, 2023.

Submitted entries will be adjudicated by celebrated Canadian fiction writer Corinna Chong and faculty from the Creative Writing Program. Chong won the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize for her work Kids in Kindergarten. Her first novel, Belinda’s Rings, was published in 2013 and her short fiction has been published in magazines across Canada, including The Malahat Review, Room, Grain and The Humber Literary Review. Chong currently lives in Kelowna and teaches English and Fine Arts at Okanagan College.

Winners of the short story contest will be announced in March at a public event where the finalists will be invited to read from their work. For a full list of contest details and rules, visit:

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