Marilyn Alexis from the Vernon branch of Okanagan College has been nationally honoured for her work helping to build connections between the college, the North Okanagan community and Indigenous people and their culture. (Okanagan College - photo)

Okanagan College Aboriginal planner wins national honour

Marilyn Alexis from Vernon campus honoured for leadership excellence

Okanagan College’s Marilyn Alexis is being honoured by colleagues across Canada for her work helping to build connections between the college, the North Okanagan community and Indigenous people and their culture.

This week Alexis, an Aboriginal transition planner at OC’s Vernon campus, was named the gold medal winner for the Leadership Excellence Award for Non-Managerial Staff at the Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) 2019 Awards of Excellence in Niagara Falls.

“Marilyn has brought incredible energy and vision to Okanagan College,” said Jane Lister, regional dean of Okanagan College Vernon campus. “She has been instrumental in recruiting Indigenous students, she’s dedicated hundreds of hours to create a beautiful indigenous garden on our campus, and she’s been a leader in hosting events in honour of women who have experienced abuse or trauma.”

The CICan Awards of Excellence recognize best practices from institutions across the country, as well as individual leadership and achievements. There are three levels of recognition: Gold, Silver and Bronze.

Alexis was grateful to be honoured at the awards.

“Thank you CICan, it is a great honour to accept this award,” said Alexis. “I’m still in complete disbelief…winning this award is my biggest accomplishment.”

Alexis has been an integral part in championing the college’s Indigenous initiatives and has made tremendous efforts to share the indigenous culture and build lasting relationships between OC and the community.

READ ALSO FROM 2012: OC garden tracks conservation

One of Alexis’ greatest achievements is leading the creation of the Kalamalka Garden, located at the Vernon Campus. It contains indigenous food plants from the Okanagan territory, as well as other native species indigenous to this area, and it was developed to be a community teaching resource of the region’s indigenous plants used by the Okanagan Indian Band.

“Marilyn has created a warm welcoming place where Indigenous learning can occur in a hands-on interactive environment that is directly connected to the land her ancestors used to live on,” said Jim Hamilton, president of Okanagan College. “Her efforts have been truly admirable and we are proud that she has received this honour.”

READ ALSO: Okanagan College launches Indigenous cooking training

Okanagan College believes in Working With, and Learning From, the Indigenous Community. The college values an authentic partnership that benefits all parties and enriches the education of learners.

“I have had many proud moments at Okanagan College,” said Alexis. “When I see our Grassroots Knowledge Keepers sharing their gift with students, staff and community, that is what I call building authentic relationships and transforming lives.”

For more information on CICan visit collegesinstitutes.ca.



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