Success for post-secondary students requires a foundation that is vast in both support and inspiration. At the annual Selkirk College convocation ceremony each spring, the Board of Governors recognizes contributions through awards for Distinguished Alumni, Distinguished Educator and Honorary Diploma. Scroll down through a list of exceptional people who have made a difference in higher education.
2022 Board of Governors Awards
Anne Jimmie – Honorary Diploma Human Services
Through her own lived experience, Anne Jimmie has spent a decade passing along teachings to Indigenous students and advancing decolonization efforts at Selkirk College. A member of the Yaqan nukiy (Lower Kootenay Band), Jimmie is a much loved and respected Ktunaxa Elder. A residential school survivor, she willingly shares her painful past in an effort to strengthen the way forward.
BOG Award recipient Anne Jimmie (left) speaking with a student at the 2016 Aboriginal Youth Conference held at the Castlegar Campus.
“Anne is a champion for young Indigenous people and for settlers seeking belonging,” says Jessica Morin, a former Indigenous Services Coordinator at Selkirk College and the current Indigenous Research Facilitator at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. “At gatherings over the last decade, Elders from local First Nations come together with respect for one another and with love for the young people. Many of these Elders attended residential school together and reconnected at Selkirk College for the first time since they were young. Through their presence, Anne and these Elders shed light, potential and wisdom for Indigenous students.”
With a vision of an accessible, safe and relevant post-secondary institution for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, Jimmie has been a vital contributor. She attends Indigenous youth conferences, engages with faulty on Indigenizing curriculum, shares experiences as a residential school survivor, contributes to research projects and co-teaches in the Indigenous 100: Regional Perspectives course. Her presence has helped move along many essential benchmarks at Selkirk College, like the Indigenization Plan 2019-2024.
“Anne has steadfastly sought to continue delivering important contributions to Selkirk College’s mandates and missions with respect to UNDRIP, Canada’s Truth & Reconciliation journey and Indigenous empowerment,” says Dr. Christopher Horsethief, a member of the Ktunaxa Nation and guest faculty member at Selkirk College. “Her continued involvement in the Indigenous 100: Regional Perspectives course is a natural continuation of the character arc set in motion by her mother. Anne’s arc is literally an embodiment of the intergenerational transfer of Ktunaxa Indigenous voice, cultural structure within our community and guidance on interactions outside our community. She serves college learners, administrators and leadership in selfless capacities.”
Joanne van der Ham – Distinguished Educator
During a teaching career that began at Selkirk College in 1987, Joanne van der Ham spent more than 30 years as a dedicated nurse educator in the four-year Bachelor of Nursing (BScN) Program that impacted both students and peers. With a teaching philosophy based on the ethics of professionalism and compassion, she shared sophisticated understanding of nursing and higher education.
“I can say with confidence that Joanne was one of the most caring, respectful and principled educators and nurses I have ever had the pleasure working with,” says Tammie Clarke, a long-time faculty colleague of van der Ham and the current chair for the School of Health & Human Services. “Joanne was the primary reason I remained in education and did not return to my nursing practice. Her mentorship philosophy is ripe with encouragement, counsel, patience and objectivity. She role-modelled an exemplary way of being with others and authentically embraced equity and inclusion.”
Spending many years as the Year 1 facilitator, van der Ham supported students in the transition to post-secondary education and mentoring new faculty. During this impressionable time, her positive role-modelling supported learners in developing empathy, advocating for quality seniors’ care and building confidence for subsequent nursing practice experiences. With a commitment to the college that extended well beyond the BScN Program, van der Ham helped guide new faculty by facilitating the Instructional Skills Workshops each August.
“As I reflect on the years I worked with Joanne, she was a pillar of the BScN Program,” says Teresa Petrick, a retired BScN Program faculty member and former dean of the School of Health & Human Services. “She provided exemplary leadership to a new generation of nurse educators and exemplified collaborative practice. For many practicing nurses in our communities today, Joanne was instrumental in supporting the early development of excellence in the foundations of nursing practice—the stepping stones to expertise and quality health care.”
2021 Board of Governors Awards
Dan Obradovic – Distinguished Educator
An ardent advocate of preparing students for safe, successful and rewarding careers in the trades, Dan Obradovic was dedicated to both students and fellow educators during a 25-year career at the Silver King Campus in Nelson. Serving two terms as the chair of the School of Industry & Trades Training later in his post-secondary career, his efforts to improve learning environments resulted in the modernization of a campus that has served the region since 1964.
Dan Obradovic started his career at Selkirk College in 1991 as an Electrical Instructor and ended it as chair of the School of Industry & Trades Training in 2014. He is seen here (left) at the 50th birthday of the Silver King Campus in 2014 helping cut the cake with other members of the Selkirk College leadership team.
A Red Seal electrician, Obradovic entered the post-secondary chapter of his career in 1991 as an Electrical Program instructor. His first teaching assignment was to develop the Entry Level Electrical Training Program and quickly established himself as an exemplary educator. The Electrical Foundation Program and the Electrical Apprenticeship Program remains one of Selkirk College’s most popular on the Silver King Campus and has a highly regarded reputation within the industry.
Obradovic served two terms as chair for the School of Industry & Trades Training from 2008 to 2014. His dedication to bettering outcomes for learners was also evident from his role on the Education Council from 2007 to 2010 where he sat as chair for two years. Obradovic was recognized for his teaching, leadership and innovative approaches with a NISOD Award in 2010. As someone passionate about ensuring trades instructors were well supported with clear collective agreement language and interpretation, he also served in various roles for the BCGEU local at the college.
Well regarded as a lifelong learner by his colleagues, Obradovic’s passion was demonstrated by successful completion his undergraduate degree and a Master of Education degree. He dove into his own studies while continuing to be employed at the college, which was not a common occurrence at the time.
One of Obradovic’s most important contributions to Selkirk College was strong advocacy for improvements to the teaching environment for students. He was instrumental in advancing the need for investment in state-of-the-art equipment and facilities which culminated with the $24 million Silver King Campus renewal project that began shortly after he retired.
Jenni Martin – Distinguished Alumna
Upon graduating from the Forest Technology Program in 1996, Jenni Martin started her career working in the Castlegar area for a private land owner. Today she serves with the Provincial Government as the Provincial Training & Development Manager in Dawson Creek.
Arriving to Selkirk College in the mid-1990s as a mature student and a single mother with three children close in age, Martin extended the two-year diploma over three years as she juggled life as a dedicated learner. With steely-eyed focus, she completed her education and soon began building a resume of well-respected outcomes. She started her chapter with the Provincial Government when she relocated her family to Quesnel to start a job as an Auxiliary Forest Technician.
Working in Prince Rupert as a Compliance and Enforcement Officer, shortly after her children graduated from high school, Martin was appointed as regional manager for the northeast section of British Columbia with Compliance & Enforcement in Dawson Creek. Martin provided leadership throughout the province in this significant organizational shift in the government’s approach to enforcement of environmental law and regulations.
Known for standing up for what is right, Martin has a great amount of compassion for people and meets them where they are. She continues to challenge the status quo, knowing that there are always better ways to do things.
Lawney Reyes – Honorary Diploma in Indigenous Studies
Lawney Reyes has a deep connection to the history and land of the Selkirk College region. A Sin Aikst artist, architect, sculptor and author who grew up in a Colville Confederated Tribes community in Washington State, Reyes has helped educate Selkirk College students and staff about the ancestral lands of the Sinixt people.
Reyes’ grandfather was Alexander Christian, a respected Sinixt elder and revered hunter known to his people as Pic Ah Kelowna, White Grizzly Bear. His grandmother was Teresa Bernard Christian, daughter of the important Sinixt chief, James Bernard. His mother, Mary Christian Wong, was born on Red Mountain when her family was camped there. Until 1919, the extended Christian family lived at kp'itl'els (now Brilliant), a traditional Sinixt settlement at the confluence of the Columbia and Kootenay rivers. Forced off their land, the Christian family relocated to the reservation of the Colville Confederated Tribes in Washington State.
Lawney Reyes (middle) on a visit to the Selkirk College Castlegar Campus.
Reyes spent part of his growing up on the Colville Indian Reservation. As a boy, he attended the Chemawa Indian School in Salem, Oregon. Inspired by teachers to become an artist, Reyes attended the University of Washington in Seattle. He worked for the Seafirst Corporation in Seattle for more than 20 years as an interior designer and art director, overseeing the development of an important art collection. He also had an award-winning career as a sculptor, receiving commissions for his work from around the world.
Reyes’ designs are also incorporated in his books, White Grizzly Bear's Legacy (2002), Bernie Whitebear (2006), and B Street (2008) and on the Christian family memorial stone at Brilliant. Now in his early-90s, Reyes continues to publish with his latest work A Tribal Manifesto published in 2020.
Reyes has inspired students with his love of learning and his realization that his education has made all the difference in his life. His decades of painting, sculpting, architectural design and his writing were unimaginable when he began school, but as a wise elder his dreams of reconnecting with his ancestral lands and educating countless people about the Sinixt people have truly been realized and from which Selkirk College has benefitted so much.
2020 Board of Governors Awards
Kathleen Pinckney – Distinguished Educator
Kathleen Pinckney’s impact on post-secondary learning has inspired decades of students and her legacy reverberates in what Selkirk College is today. An exemplary educator, nurse education visionary and thoughtful post-secondary administrator, her commitment to enhancing lives through education is unparalleled.
The Selkirk College Distinguished Educator for 2020, Kathleen Pinckney’s regional post-secondary legacy shines bright almost two decades after her retirement. A registered nurse for more than four decades, she spent a career at Selkirk College that spanned 30-plus years where innovative leadership helped create significant change in community health care.
A registered nurse for 10 years prior shifting her focus to teaching at Selkirk College in the mid-1970s, Pinckney’s involvement at instructor level and then as part of the intuition’s leadership team administration helped ensure quality health care in the region and beyond. Under her leadership, Selkirk College was successful in attaining degree completion status for the Nursing Program in collaboration with the University of Victoria which enabled local students to complete the BSN degree on the Castlegar Campus. The program has become one of the most successful at the college with a consistent trend that results in more than 70 per cent of the RNs in the West Kootenay-Boundary are graduates of Selkirk College.
An award-winning instructor, Pinckney was directly involved in a number of teaching strategy innovations, such as preceptorships, that are used to the present day to deliver health education to learners. She spent time as president of the Selkirk College Faculty Association, was a member of Education Council and was involved in a variety of committees through the years.
After transitioning to leadership as first a Dean and then Senior Instructional Officer (today known as the Vice President of Education), Pinckney encouraged faculty to explore new ideas to grow as teachers and as people. She was instrumental in implementing the Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) Program at Selkirk College, a provincial adult teaching certification that continues to this day. This program brought faculty and other employees together to focus on teaching methodologies and how to improve teaching in the classroom.
Upon retirement in 2004, Pinckney’s passionate involvement at the post-secondary level shone bright as a well-regarded leader in the province and nationally in the discipline of nursing education. Pinckney continues to stay involved at Selkirk College through the creation of several scholarships and bursaries that assist current learners to be their best while earning an education.
Katrine Conroy – Distinguished Alumna
A veteran B.C. politician who is highly respected in the hallways of power in Victoria, Katrine Conroy’s post-secondary journey began at Selkirk College in 1975. With family roots already planted at the Castlegar Campus, after graduating from Stanley Humphries Secondary School she enrolled in the School of University Arts & Sciences. Conroy returned in 1979 as a member of the first cohort to graduate from the Early Childhood Care & Education Program, a sector where she would leave a lasting legacy.
Katrine Conroy is a strong advocate for post-secondary education at the provincial level. A student in the very first Early Childhood Care Education Program cohort at Selkirk College, her tremendous impact on life for families in the West Kootenay is significant.
After working hands-on in local childcare centres, Conroy became the executive director of the Kootenay Columbia Childcare Society (now Kootenay Family Place) while teaching part time in the Selkirk College ECCE Program.
Conroy’s deep care for children and families was matched by her commitment to building stronger communities overall. In 2005, she took her passion for making positive change to the political level and captured the West Kootenay-Boundary seat as an NDP candidate. After serving on the opposition benches for three consecutive terms, in 2017 Conroy became part of the ruling party and earned her first cabinet post which was fittingly the Minister of Children & Family Development. After capturing her fifth straight win the riding now known as Kootenay West, in 2020 Premier John Horgan handed her the portfolio of Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development.
A valued and enthusiastic supporter of her hometown post-secondary, Conroy has established scholarships and bursaries to assist today’s Selkirk College learners.
Mike Martin – Honorary Diploma in Liberal Arts & Sciences
An indispensable leader during a significant transitional period of Teck Trail Operations, Mike Martin spent an incredible 40-year career at the region’s cornerstone industry giant. A community leader in a myriad of ways during his career, soon after retirement he was elected as the City of Trail’s mayor in 2014 where he continued to provide trusted direction for the region.
Mike Martin spent an amazing 40-year career at Teck Trail Operations and then was elected as the City of Trail's mayor in 2014. In both his roles, he was an enthusiastic support of Selkirk College.
After graduating from UBC with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Chemical Engineering, Martin joined Teck joined in the early 1970s, holding technical and senior management level positions in virtually all of the production plants. He was appointed general manager in 2006 and made many contributions to Trail Operations, including improving environmental and safety performance, commissioning new plant processes and resolving feed supply issues. Upon retirement, he was highly respected throughout the company as a manager who led the Trail facility through significant industry change and performance improvements over the years.
A tireless volunteer, Martin’s passion for community building continued when he was elected mayor in 2014 where he proactively oversaw the planning and execution of the construction of the Columbia River Skywalk and the Trail Riverfront Centre during his tenure. He worked hard to position the City of Trail as positively as possible by working with various stakeholder groups that shared his same goals and vision. One of these stakeholder groups was Selkirk College and Martin was often collaborating locally and with senior levels of government on ways to see the college grow and prosper.
Though a successful and popular mayor, Martin did not seek election in 2018. Embracing retirement, he remains an enthusiastic support of regional post-secondary education at Selkirk College.