Trades keep stressing employability skills

January 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Welding students learn more than just technical skills at the Cloverdale campus. (Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison photo)

Welding students learn more than just technical skills at the Cloverdale campus. (Nathalie Hieberg-Harrison photo)

With the stock markets plummeting and job markets in disarray, Kwantlen’s trades and technology programs are marching to the same beat they always have.

“We’re doing what we’ve always done,” said Dana Goedbloed, dean of the trades and technology. “We’re stressing employability skills.”

Those skills, such as resumé writing, customer service and communication, are a vital part of every trade and technology department. The Cloverdale campus is home to 16 different programs, including appliance repair, plumbing and carpentry.

Gerard Valerty, an instructor with the 36-week farrier program, which teaches horse hoof care, including horseshoeing, said that although being skilled at your trade is a must, it isn’t what gets students jobs.

“When you rank skills that they need, customer service is way up here,” Valerty said, drawing an imaginary line at his shoulders, “and technical skills are way down here,” he said, pointing down to his knees.

The ferrier program runs a not-for-profit business, and Valerty expects his students to act professionally at all times. “Sometimes, I even leave the building and call here, just to make sure they’re answering the phone the right way,” he said.

Loc Hepburn a welding instructor, is teaching students training for one of the sectors that has seen a big downturn in employment opportunities. “Up until recently, quite a few of my students got jobs. But now, everything’s slowing down and it keeps getting slower and slower,” Hepburn said.

“I always make sure they have resumés and I go through them. I give them advice all through the course, and at the end we really ramp it up and make sure they have all those extra skills,” he added.

Although each program dedicates a portion of its time to helping students create resumés, practice their interviewing and communication skills, career counsellor Rick Hives is on-site to offer one-on-one support.

Liberal leader pitches party to students, community

January 24, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 


Scott Brisson (left) and Michael Ignatieff, during the Liberal leader's speech to students Jan. 15. (Nick Majors photo)

Scott Brisson (left) and Michael Ignatieff, during the Liberal leader's speech to students Jan. 15. (Nick Majors photo)

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff spoke to a crowd of nearly 300 gathered at Kwantlen’s Surrey campus Jan. 15 as part of his cross-country tour to woo the nation.

The former Harvard professor made his pitch on why he should be Canada’s next Prime Minister to an excited crowd of instructors, students and Liberal supporters who were free to submit written questions throughout the night.

For two hours the Etobicoke-Lakeshore MP spoke about everything from Gaza to the environment to post-secondary education. He stressed the need for increased university-research funding, saying that “the funny stuff in between our ears” is the “hope of the new generation.”

He spoke about the coalition too, but only to confirm that his party wouldn’t make a decision until they read the Conservative budget Jan. 27. He added that their main stipulations would be whether it creates jobs, saves jobs and helps those most in need.

While Michael Ignatieff spoke inside the G Building on the Surrey campus, a handful of people outside the building protested in support of Palestinians in Gaza. (Nick Majors photo)

While Michael Ignatieff spoke inside the G Building on the Surrey campus, a handful of people outside the building protested in support of Palestinians in Gaza. (Nick Majors photo)

Profile: Omid Davani

January 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Omid Davani. (Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison photo)

Omid Davani. (Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison photo)

Name: Omid Davani
Number: 21
Position: Guard
Height: 6’4
Year: First
Program: general studies
Hometown: Port Coquitlam
Favourite actress: Jennifer Aniston
Favourite basketball movie: Coach Carter
Favourite food: his mom’s lasagna

On Omid Davani’s basketball team, every person has a different character on the court and in the dressing room—there’s the star forward, the distributor, the big guy, the veteran and the list goes on. Davani’s role? The rookie.

And what a year this rookie has had so far. In 12 weeks of play, he’s averaging nearly 17 points a game, ranking him 10th best in the league. His rebounding average of nine a game is even better, placing him fifth.

The 18-year-old from Port Coquitlam had a modest start in basketball, joining his first team in when he was 13, where Davani admits that he had his work cut out for him: “I wasn’t very good at all. I sucked.”

Two years later, when he made the move to Terry Fox secondary school, he was cut from the junior team. But when someone quit the team soon after, he took their spot. Davani said, “from then on I appreciated any minute I got.” The work paid off, and he was named team captain in his senior year.

After graduation, Davani made the move to the Kwantlen Eagle’s basketball club, and said it was like “going from a dog cage into the wild.” He admits the transition from a structured to free-flowing offense was weird and his increase in minutes on the floor has been a challenge. “It’s tough, but I’d rather be playing and getting injured than sitting on the bench,” he said.

Another thing that’s changed for Davani is his pre-game routine. “My philosophy this year was ‘new place, new changes.’ So, last year I had to do everything twice: tie my shoes twice, go to the washroom twice, wash my face twice, everything I did I had to do twice. But this year, because I changed everything, I don’t do that anymore.” Instead, his only routine is that he puts on his jersey halfway through the warm-up: “that way it’s not too sweaty.”

Davani said that basketball is his sport. “It’s in my DNA, I love it. The feeling you get scoring the tying point, getting that fast break or stealing the ball, being a part of the big play—it’s so much different than any other sport. It’s five guys playing as one. It’s unexplainable I guess.”

His goal is to one day play basketball internationally, and would like to tryout for the league in Iran, where his parents are from. But for now he’ll enjoy the perks of being a rookie: “I learn a lot from the older guys on the team…they give girl advice, too.”

This is the second in a series of occasional profiles of Kwantlen Eagles’ team members.

RELATED: Profile: Taminder Dhaliwal

KSA by-elections draw just over 200 student voters

November 3, 2008 by · 2 Comments 

Only 206 Kwantlen students hit the polls last week for the KSA by-election, accounting for roughly one per cent of the 17,000 registered at the school, down 21 per cent from last year’s general election turnout of 261 students.

Nathan Griffiths, Director of Operations for the KSA, said that the turnout was a disappointment. “It’s kind of sad,” he said, but added that, “ultimately, it comes down to where we put our resources and we can only do so much advertising.” He said that what the KSA always hopes for is more people running for each position, because that in turn leads to more campaigning and more student awareness.

Fred Schiffner, Chief Returning Officer of the by-election, disagreed. “I was disappointed more people didn’t vote. The KSA could have done a better job advertising. A lot of students wanted an explanation (at the polls); they didn’t know what they were voting for.”

Vanessa Knight won the only position not awarded by acclamation, and it was a tight race. Although she placed third in Richmond to competitors Ritesh Maisuria and Meirna Said, she was elected because of her strong showing in both Surrey and Langley.

Knight also swept the polls in Cloverdale, although only three people cast ballots at the trades and technology campus.

“I’m incredibly relieved I was elected, I definitely had doubts,” Knight said. “I’m excited to do some new awesome events and bring them to a university level.”

Five new campus representatives and four new campus officers were elected by acclamation to Surrey, Richmond and Langley, garnering 393 “yes” votes to 145 “no” votes altogether.

Griffiths said that the number of “no” votes stays fairly consistent throughout elections, but he isn’t sure of the reasons behind this. “To be honest, I’m not entirely sure why it’s that high.”

Schiffner said that this might have been due to confusion at the polls. He said some students didn’t read the ballot correctly and thought you could only choose one candidate instead of voting “yes” or “no,” while others left ballots blank or spoiled because they didn’t know the candidates they were voting for and weren’t prepared to offer “willy-nilly” support.

Liaisons for students of colour, mature students and students with disabilities were also elected by acclamation, garnering 496 “yes” votes to 96 “no” votes. “No” votes accounted for 16 per cent of the ballots.

Nominations close with no candidates for three positions, nine uncontested

October 22, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

The Kwantlen Student Association by-election will kick off Monday in Cloverdale, with 17 students vying for 22 positions. The by-election will also be held in Surrey Tuesday, Richmond Wednesday and Langley Thursday, with polling open from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Because of the lack of nominations this year, nine uncontested positions will be decided by a straight yes-or-no vote and an additional three will be left empty. There were no nominations for the women’s liaison, the First Nations student representative or the Newton-Cloverdale campus council position.

All candidates were asked to provide a 100-word statement on why they are best fit for the position. They are included below (courtesy of the KSA).

Director of Events and Student Life (vote for one)

  • Vanessa Knight: In the three short months that I was Acting Director of Event, I really only had time to carry out the plans already layed out by my predecessor. I would like to hold more age-appropriate events for Kwantlen Students, such as club nights, polar tournaments and Banghra nights, as well as awareness and cause-oriented events like SEXPO, Love Your Body Week and an Environmental Fair. I’m also interested in the influence I would have as a member of Council, and helping in decisions regarding the U-Pass and KSA policy. Most of all I would like to help build a functional and exciting student life for Kwantlen.
  • Ritesh Maisuria: I would like to run for the position of Vice President of Events and Student Life, because I feel I would be able to improve the quality of events thrown and be able to better publicise them. This includes pub/club nights, fundraisers and on-campus events. I would like to help bring up student morale on all the campuses, giving students something more look forward to besides just their classes.
  • Meirna Said: I would like to get most of the students involved in creating and suggesting events they would like to see happening in their university. I’ve had experience putting successful events outside the KSA and I volunteered helping the KSA with their events. I’m very passionate about creating a student life within our university. If you’d like to see a better change in events and student life, vote for me and give me a chance to create change.

Surrey Campus Representative (vote for up to four)

  • Harmon (Sean) Bassi: I have always had a strong interest towards political structure teams. When I think of student council, I think of a team containing healthy bright people who come together and produce a various amount of activities that ensure every student at the school leaves with good memories. Having someone leaves with good memories is something I would enjoy being responsible of and will do anything in power to ensure this certain goal.
  • Will Davies: I am running for Campus Council Representative, primarily, because I want to work. I found out about the position through searching for work on campus and I believe this willingness to work will come through as a Campus Council Representative. If elected, I would not shy away from putting in the extra hours in order to represent the Surrey campus.
  • Harman Mann: I’m running for Surrey Campus Rep, so I can represent students and fulfill there desires with activities they enjoy doing. Also through events to keep our campus more lively and, most important, make it fun for my student friends at Kwantlen. I think I make a good Campus Rep because I’m well-organized, intelligent and easy-going.
  • Kari Michaels: I’m a second year student and I’m pretty awesome. I have been working as staff on the Surrey Campus Council for the past 6 months. In that time I’ve attended Council meetings, planned the Fall Welcome Event, movie festivals in the lounge and helped with other events. As a student, I’ve attended meetings of the Student Issues and Action Committee, the Events and Communications Committee and the Pride Commission. I’m actively involved in KSA activities and it’s important that students have that representation. Vote for me, I do stuff!
  • Harshil Pala: I believe that the KSA plays an amazing role in student life at the Surrey Campus. However, many students are not taking advantage of the services offered by the association, nor are they participating in the various events that are organized for them. My goal is to find out what it will take to better student life and involvement at the Surrey Campus. Also, I will fight to give students a voice in the planning process of anything in which they are affected.

Surrey Campus Officer (yes/no vote)

  • Bhupinder Mandair: I have always been the type of person that wants to help people in any way possible. I come from a politically active background and understand the issues that face our age demographic. There are numerous challenges facing students especially in times of economic uncertainty. Issues that are important to me including decreasing tuition & textbook fees as well as ensuring equal opportunities for all students. I believe this is an excellent opportunity to make a direct and immediate difference.
  • Jonathan Yaniv: Currently I am volunteering on/off with the KSA as student. I helped out quite a bit with the referendum to leave the Canadian Federation of Students. Just recently, I volunteered to sell tickets for the amazing event CramJam III. As a campus officer, I will be able to help out with events, help make events rock. The next event that I hope to help with is SHAFT. As an officer, I have more say in what the students want. I have a voice for the students. Right now, I have a voice for only myself. With me as campus officer, your voice will be heard!

Langley Campus Officer (yes/no vote)

  • Jared Busse: As a first-year student, I share the feeling of other first-years, a little overwhelmed. Getting involved in the KSA, after getting settled into the university life, was one of my top goals. Involvement is key in university to enjoy the full experience, and I wish to make sure everyone gets involved. Expanding one’s horizons is imperative today. I want to help myself and others to do just that. Please vote for involvement, for Jared Busse as Campus Council Officer.
  • Rachel Vanags: Running as an officer, I believe that I can speak for students, offer them help, and offer better representation during Council and within the school.
  • Ashley White: I would like to make students more aware of the services provided to them by the KSA, and assist the campus representatives and director in providing these services. I would also like to serve as a way for the students to be heard by presenting their issues, concerns and wishes to the Campus Council. I have often heard students say that they don’t know how to gain access to services or give input, and I would like to make them more aware of how to do these things. I can assist both planning and running KSA campus event.

Richmond Campus Representative (yes/no vote)

  • Andrew Kochhar: As a Richmond Rep I believe I can make a change on the Richmond Campus and help students with their day-to-day questions and concerns. I also believe I can help throw events and make the KSA a more student-friendly environment.

Students With Disabilities Liaison (yes/no vote)

  • Ken McIntyre: Raising the profile of the issues that affect students with disabilities is an ongoing process. I enjoy connecting with the campus community and want to continue to be a strong voice for students with disabilities at Kwantlen. Kwantlen offers good services to students with disabilities and I want to keep it that way. If elected I will continue to provide feedback to Kwantlen on behalf of students with disabilities to continue to improve the services the school and the KSA offer.

Students of Colour Liaison (yes/no vote)

  • Keshanth Sivayogampillai: As a student in Canada for 10 years, I have witnessed discrimination on many levels, and it is my hope that as your Student of Colour Liaison, I can aid those of you who have faced these issues first-hand. In my position, I will offer support and do everything in my power to resolve any conflicts related to race discrimination.

Mature Students Liaison (yes/no vote)

  • Robert Kovacic: I am not running simply to make promises I can’t follow through with, and I’m definitely not going to give things away so that you’ll vote for me. If elected to the post of Mature Liaison, I will serve my members as they were my own flesh and blood by being understanding, honest and empathetic.

Responsible gambling goal of campaign

October 6, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

A gambling addiction can ruin your life and destroy relationships, finances and any plans you have for the future, according to the Responsible Gambling Council. That’s why Know the Score (KTS), a gambling awareness campaign, will be talking with students at Kwantlen’s Richmond campus until Thursday.

The program, which targets students aged 18-24, was developed by the Ontario Responsible Gambling Council in 2001. Last year B.C. did a pilot of the program, and found that 86 per cent of students were likely to use the information they received if they needed it. Seventy-five per cent of students surveyed also said that the KTS program increased their awareness of warning signs and strategies to limit the risk of problem gambling.

Clarence Chan, a counsellor at Richmond Addiction Services, is part of the problem-gambling program in Richmond and leads the Know the Score campaign at Kwantlen. He said it’s important to dispel the myths of gambling at colleges and universities because young adults are at an increased risk to develop an addiction. “Nearly every student tells us that, oh yeah, they know someone that has a problem.”

For more information, visit or the Know the Score team on the Richmond campus between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. this week.

KSA calls for by-election candidates

October 2, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

The KSA is calling on students to run in the Oct. 27-30 by-election to fill 23 spots currently open at the student association.

Jobs range from director of events and student life to First Nations liaison. The only criteria are that you have to be a current Kwantlen student and, if running for a liaison post, you must “self-identify” with the group.

Nathan Griffiths, director of operation, said that running for a position is “the best way to create positive change in the KSA and at Kwantlen.” He encouraged those running to get out, talk with students and listen to their concerns. “There is a direct correlation between how much campaigning you do, how many people you talk to and the amount of votes you get.”

Students who want to run have to collect signatures from 25 Kwantlen students and fill out an application form, which can be picked up at any KSA office or downloaded from

A list of available KSA positions, and responsibilities that go with various positions, is available in the KSA by-election advertisement. (Link at right on this page.)

All nomination applications are due Oct. 15 at 2 p.m.

Full house hears, questions Surrey federal candidates

October 1, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

Independant John Shavluk from Newton-North Delta addresses the crowd Monday night. (Amy Reid photo)

Independant John Shavluk from Newton-North Delta addresses the crowd Monday night. (Amy Reid photo)

Kwantlen’s first all-candidates federal election forum was held Monday night in Surrey with a full house of more than 200 students, instructors and community residents.

The forum, organized by the school’s criminology department as part of its Hear the Candidates, Make Up Your Own Mind series, was set up like a town hall meeting so those in attendance could direct questions to the panel of politicians.

Wade Deisman, criminology instructor and coordinator of the event, said it was an “awesome” experience for those in attendance.

“Elections are an opportunity for there to be substantive proposals for change,” he said, adding that he hoped meeting with candidates face-to-face would facilitate that.

The 12 hopeful MPs in attendance each had five minutes for opening comments, which was followed by questions from the audience. Topics raised by candidates varied greatly, but the future of post-secondary education dominated discussion.

Many people waited in line for more than an hour to ask their question, and Deisman said that for his students asking questions about criminal justice issues, it often wasn’t worth the wait. “Nobody responded to the issue in any kind of concrete sense.”

All major parties had representatives at the event, with two Liberals, one Conservative, two NDPers and one Green there to explain and defend party policies.

Fringe paries were also represented, with candidates from the Canadian Action Party, the Progressive Canadian Party, the Christian Heritage Party and the Communist Party. Two independents were there as well.

Deisman said that once the forums concluded, the criminology department would try and stay in contact with the candidates to follow their policies on criminal justice issues. He added that they hoped to put on a similar event for the next provincial election.

An all-candidates forums was also be held in the Richmond Conference Centre Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. and the third in the series will be held at the Langley Auditorium Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m.

Westerman honoured for support of Kwantlen, students

September 30, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

Margaret Westerman, pictured Monday afternoon outside of her house on 126th Avenue in Surrey. (Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison photo)

Margaret Westerman, pictured Monday afternoon outside of her house on 126th Avenue in Surrey. (Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison photo)

Margaret Westerman, a retired teacher and active volunteer, has received an honourary membership from the KSA for her contributions to the university.

Westerman and her husband, Ernest, sold a large portion of their land in Surrey to Kwantlen in 1982. Although they could have sold it to developers, they opted instead for the university so that a campus could be built on the lot.

Kwantlen President David Atkinson said that without the land and support from the couple, the school would not be where it is today.

“Kwantlen has flourished,” he said. “If it had not had a sense of place, I suspect none of this would have happened.”

Westerman, who still lives next door to the school, was humbled by her honourary membership and was adamant that the students of Kwantlen have done far more for her than she has every done for them. She added that since her husband’s death in 1984, the presence of students and staff have had a calming effect.

“I’ve had 24 years alone in that house, but I haven’t felt lonely once…just seeing those students is what keeps me going.”

Ernest Westerman’s family set down roots on the land when they arrived in the province in 1919. In 1948, after the couple returned from their honeymoon, they built a house by hand to solidify those roots. The small house, on 126th Street between the two parking lots on the west side of campus, is still home to Westerman.

Westerman said that she has no intentions of ever leaving the house and wants to continue her relationship with Kwantlen.

“I hope to die there, and if I don’t, I hope my spirit dies there.”

KSA rejects no-fees referendum, changes the rules

September 18, 2008 by · 2 Comments 

(This article has been corrected in response to comments.)

Kwantlen students would have been able to vote to have all KSA fees reduced to zero if all had gone as planned for Robert Mumford. 

They won’t get the chance. In response to the former KSAer’s petition for the referendum, a quick amendment to KSA regulations has prevented the idea from ever going on a ballot. 

Robert Mumford

Robert Mumford

Mumford proposed a referendum question that, if approved, would have drastically changed the fee system that is now in place and that currently costs a full-time student $43.75 per semester. Under his new fee structure, that would have been reduced to zero. A second proposed referendum question would have asked if students favoured a new fee system that would have directed fees to groups other than the KSA. 

To have a question appear on a KSA referendum, you must collect 250 signatures from Kwantlen students. Mumford did that, and submitted the petitions to the KSA on Aug. 1.  

The first referendum question Mumford proposed was that fees for academic and trades students – excluding fees for the health and dental plans, and for the Canadian Federation of Students and the Canadian Federation of Students-BC Component – be reduced to zero.

The second question, which was based on students approving the first one, proposed a $3 per credit fee, with half of that going to the Kwantlen Foundation, one-third going to the Kwantlen Student Life & Development department, and the remainder being split between the Kwantlen Athletics department and the Kwantlen Learning centres.

On Sept. 4, according to minutes from their meeting, the KSAs executive board KSA council rejected Mumford’s petitions, stating that they were “not in order as the changes require specific amendments to the KSA’s bylaws.”

The board also voted to change its bylaws regulations so that no referendum question can be put forward “(seeking) to increase or decrease existing fees of the Society by more than fifteen percent in any given fiscal year.” 

A second change says that referendum questions that direct fees to any organization other then the KSA are not allowed.

Mumford believes his proposals would have resulted in almost no changes in a student’s day-to-day routine.

“I don’t think the students use the KSA for anything except for maybe a free agenda. Most of their events are basically just handouts of free food,” he said.

He noted that most students he spoke to reacted positively to the petition. 

“One girl said she would go on a date with me [if it went through]…. But basically, the reaction from most students was giggling or laughter,” he said. “They didn’t think it was actually possible to not pay the fee.”

A spokesperson for the KSA could not be reached for comment.