Okanagan College is bestowing its highest honour on three notable Okanagan residents, each of whom has made unique and meaningful contributions to the region through historical preservation, volunteerism and mentorship.
Randy Manuel, Sharon Shepherd and Edna Terbasket will be named Honorary Fellows of Okanagan College during convocation ceremonies in Kelowna this June.
Manuel, former curator of the Penticton Museum, is an artist, writer, historian and public servant whose career spans more than five decades, will be recognized by the college for his vision and multi-faceted efforts in documenting, celebrating, and preserving the history and ecology of the region.
Born in Naramata and raised in Penticton, Manuel trained at the Kootenay School of the Arts (Selkirk College) as a commercial artist. He began volunteering with the Okanagan Historical Society at age 17 and has supported the organization for more than 50 years, including serving as its president from 2013-15. He served as president of the Okanagan-Similkameen Parks Society in the late 1970s and established the Kettle Valley Steam Railway Society and the S.S. Sicamous Restoration Society in 1988.
Manuel was the curator of the Penticton Museum from 1986 to 2005, during which time he helped to draw wider public attention to the history of the region. He served as a Penticton city councillor from 2005-08, and then as a director and president of the Okanagan School of Arts, guiding in the restoration of the school’s historic Shatford Cultural Centre, which was extensively renovated in 2010 and reopened in 2011. Manuel has published more than 500 historical articles and has lectured at the Penticton campus as part of the OC Speakers Series.
“Education has always been an important part of my life and work so this is a huge honour,” says Manuel. “I’ve dedicated myself to preserving the history of the region and to sharing that history with others because I am a firm believer that if we don’t know where we’ve been, we’ll keep making the same mistakes.”
Manuel also started the Brown Bag lecture series, which is still going 30 years later at the Penticton museum.
“I started the brown bag lecture series, which is still going 30 years later,” said Manuel. “I was one of the few people who are really privleged to have my hobby be my job.”
Manuel also experienced a lot of what is now history, watching the changes as boats and trains were left behind in favour of highways.
“I played hookey to ride the last passenger train out of Penticton when I was 17,” said Manuel, who also was the last person to live aboard a CPR tug, hired as a watchman when they ceased operation in 1972.
“I ended up being on it for six months. That was what I call my Tom Sawyer summer,” said Manuel, explaining that the boat was moored off downtown Penticton, near the Incola Hotel, the beach and friends.
Terbasket has been a passionate proponent for education for people of all ages and backgrounds in the Okanagan for more than 30 years.
A member of the Okanagan Indian Band and renowned indigenous educator, she serves as executive director of the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society in Kelowna, an organization which provides support for the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being of all peoples, through the development of community based services. The society provides support for families with children aged five and under who may be at risk for developmental delays. Skemxist Pre-School culturally-based preschool helps equip children with skills they will require for Kindergarten. Family and elder counselling, and poverty and family legal services are also provided. The Society also operates i spa-us ki-low-na Heart of Kelowna, an 86-unit affordable housing project in the heart of downtown Kelowna.
Terbasket was a driving force behind the creation of the college’s aboriginal career fair that began in 1995 and continues to this day. She hasalso served on the Okanagan College Board of Governors (1999-2001) and in 2013 was named by the college as one of the 50 people who made a difference in the development of the institution. In 2012 Terbasket received the Education Advocate of the Year Award from the Association of B.C. Deans of Education.
She credits her mother, who overcame tremendous adversity in a lifelong pursuit of continuing her education, as one of her greatest role models.
“I draw great inspiration from her journey in education,” said Terbasket. “My mother is 84 now and taught the Okanagan language until she was 82. When I see our youth struggle, I try to guide them to education, to find something they are passionate about and want to pursue. I’m honoured to be recognized for being an advocate for education in our community.”
Shepherd has been actively engaged in improving quality of life in the City of Kelowna for nearly 40 years, as a volunteer, educator, mentor, business owner, long-time councillor and two-term mayor. She has championed numerous causes for youth, families, women, the environment and health, including CATCH (Community Action Toward Children’s Health), Soles4Souls, Arion Therapeutic Farm, and East meets West. She also served as an Honorary Chair of the Red Cross fundraising campaign and was a member of the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation’s Be a Lifesaver campaign.
Shepherd holds a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from UBC and has been a business owner and manager of a medical practice since the late 1970s. She served as a Kelowna city councillor from 1996-2005 and as mayor from 2005-2011. In the last few years she has received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Kotler United Way Humanitarian Award and the Anita Tozer Memorial Award.
Shepherd’s connection to the college dates back to her early years on council. Since the early 2000s she has volunteered with the Okanagan College School of Business and Enactus OC as a mentor and judge for student competitions, and has also been an advocate for the Women in Trades Training (WITT) program. She has also instructed a course on pharmacology to nursing students at the college.
“I am deeply moved by this honour,” said Shepherd. “The College opens doors to education for so many people, not just in Kelowna but throughout the Okanagan. I consider it a privilege to be an advocate for OC and to be a part of the college community.”
Shepherd will address graduates at the morning ceremony on Saturday, June 3 in Kelowna. Manuel will speak during the afternoon ceremony a few hours later and Terbasket will deliver her address in an evening ceremony on June 29.