A trio of community builders — all champions of different causes — are being recognized this year by Okanagan College with the institution’s highest commendation.
Mollie QuilQuil Sneena Bono, an advocate for Aboriginal peoples, Rick Thorpe, a dedicated public servant, and Patrick Waunch, a recognized construction leader, are to be named Honorary Fellows of Okanagan College in June.
“Each of these remarkable individuals has contributed significantly to our region, province and country,” notes Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “They have done it in diverse ways and richly deserve the honor our College is bestowing on them.”
Bono, Okanagan/Similkameen, is a School District 22 trustee, a recipient of the Community Leadership Award (2017) in Vernon, and an active mentor for the Social Planning Council. She has served several terms as a Council Member for Okanagan Indian Band and has also served as a member of Okanagan College’s Vernon Campus Regional Advisory Council. Since her retirement, Mollie has been working with the Social Planning Council and other allies in Vernon to advance Reconciliation and Healing.
Waunch has been the chair of the British Columbia Construction Association, chair of the Southern Interior Construction Association, chair of the Trade Contractors Council for the Canadian Construction Association, is a recipient of the Canadian Construction Association Community Leader Award, and has a long association with Okanagan College (serving as chair of the Program Advisory Committee, helping fundraise for the new Trades Complex in Kelowna, and being an active donor to the College and other community organizations). His dedication to apprenticeship for trades led to the Southern Interior Construction Association establishing the Patrick Waunch Scholarship Award that provides $3,500 annually to a mechanical trades apprentice at Okanagan College.
Waunch is the President and CEO of Rambow Mechanical Ltd. He holds red seal tickets in plumbing and steam fitting, as well as tickets in first class gas fitting, hydro-pulse boilers and installation for ground source heating. He holds gold seal certification in project management and superintendent.
Thorpe was a member of the legislative assembly from 1996 to 2009, representing the Okanagan-Penticton and Okanagan Westside ridings and serving in cabinet for eight years and as a member of treasury board for nine years (five as deputy chair). Before his election, Thorpe held several executive positions in the brewing industry in Canada and internationally, and he was involved in repositioning the B.C. grape and wine industry and was a partner in a successful B.C. winery.
After retiring from the B.C. legislature, Thorpe served on a number of Boards of Directors, including the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, the Canadian Snowbirds Association, the Summerland Charity Shops Society (Penny Lane), Agur Lake Camp Society, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of British Columbia and Yukon. He was on the Board of Management for the Canada Revenue Agency for six years, four as chair.
He is a chartered professional accountant and a certified management accountant. He has been awarded the fellow of Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada and the fellow of the Society of Management Accountants of Canada.
“Yasmin and I continue to watch the growth of Okanagan College, and over the past 22 years have witnessed first-hand what access to higher learning close to home means for our students here in the Okanagan,” says Thorpe. Yasmin was named an honorary fellow in 2012 for her role in promoting children’s literacy and literature and for her service to the Okanagan.
“I’m very proud to be associated with Okanagan College, an institution which is focused on playing a very important role for our students within the Okanagan and Similkameen,” says Thorpe.
The Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends Scholarship, established in 2006, has awarded $112,250 to 53 students entering Okanagan College.
“As an employer, I know first-hand how important the trades training is that Okanagan College provides,” says Waunch. “I have witnessed the investments of time, energy and resources that have led to OC becoming B.C.’s second-largest trades training institution and know the impact that has had on the construction community of our region. I’ll wear the title of honorary fellow proudly.”
“I’m honored that the College has chosen to acknowledge my life’s work to bridge cultures. Limlimt,” says Bono. “It has been easy for me to support and provide input into the work Okanagan Colleges does with indigenous people and others,” she adds. “I have witnessed positive changes and appreciate that the College community is looking for new and creative programs that meet the needs of students and support the further success of indigenous students.”
“There is a history of revolution in my family and this honour is another part of a lifelong journey that will only serve to strengthen my commitment to making our world in the Okanagan and beyond a better place.”
Since 2006, Okanagan College has been presenting Honorary Fellow Awards to deserving individuals (40, including Bono, Thorpe and Waunch) as part of its annual convocation ceremonies. The awards recognize distinguished achievement or service and the recipients represent a broad spectrum of regional, provincial, national and international contributions. The awards acknowledge a diverse array of people, from those who have advanced literacy among youth to individuals whose work has helped create awareness and appreciation of Aboriginal culture.