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Thirty education professionals from throughout the province have been named as finalists in this year's Premier's Awards for Excellence in Education.

"When we open the doors of opportunity for young people, we give them the chance to succeed and our whole province benefits," said Premier John Horgan. "This year's finalists have gone to incredible lengths to help B.C. students inside and outside the classroom. I commend these hard-working education professionals for their leadership, innovation and determination."

Launched in 2018, the annual Premier's Awards for Excellence in Education are an opportunity to recognize the contributions of public, independent and First Nations school system teachers, principals, vice-principals, school and district leaders, and support staff who go above and beyond to make life better for K-12 students in B.C. This year, 10 awards will be given, with six honouring teachers, two recognizing school and district leaders, and two honouring support staff members.

School District 58 Nicola-Similkameen is home to one of the three educators that was named a finalist for the ‘Outstanding New Teacher Award’.

* Grace Broadfoot, teacher, J.V. Humphries Elementary and Secondary school, SD 8 (Kootenay Lake)

* Robert French, teacher, South Central Interior Distance Education school, SD 58 (Nicola-Similkameen)

* Prabhjot Grewal, teacher, North Delta Secondary school, SD 37 (Delta)

“The district is very proud to have Robert brought forward as a finalist this year and we’re looking forward to letting people know the great work he’s doing here at KLC (Kengard Learning Centre), and also across the district,” said SD 58 Superintendent Stephen McNiven.

Karen Goetz is the Principal at French’s school and was the one who got the ball rolling on his nomination.

“Normally he’s teaching our senior math courses, but he also does our adult advising. So, he’s done a lot of good work at reaching out to community, to find out what the adults there need and to connect them with programs around the province. Just to help those people achieve their graduation,” said Goetz.

The reason Goetz began that quote with ‘normally’ is because the work French has been doing in the district goes far beyond his normal duties.

“He’s been involved in a robotics program that he developed with the elementary schools. He’s gotten himself involved in the trades. He stepped up to that at the school because he saw a need for it here, in helping mostly our senior and adult students look down that path towards trades and careers and how that can benefit their lives,” said Goetz.

“Just a good solid young teacher. He really has developed strong courses, we have post secondary universities recommending his courses to their students who need to upgrade. He’s one of these go to guys on staff that people feel a lot of comfort in talking to and to getting support from,” added Goetz.

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at Government House in Victoria on Oct. 4, 2019, the day before World Teachers' Day.

Winners will receive a $3,000 personal bursary for professional learning, a $2,000 contribution to their school community for professional learning and a commemorative work of art. Runners-up will receive a certificate of recognition signed by the Premier and Minister of Education.


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TMEP Pipe2

Back in June, the Trans Mountain expansion project was once again given the green light from the Federal Government to proceed.

While the project does have approval there are still several hurdles yet to be cleared. Locally in the Merritt area, the Lower Nicola Indian Band is still negotiating a contract with the corporation, the route transects multiple Lower Nicola Reserves.

The Coldwater Band has also said it intends to file an appeal in the Federal Court of Appeal. The band is worried about its aquifer as the pipeline also runs through their land.

With question marks a plenty still swirling around the project Robert Mellalieu, the Green Party Candidate in the riding, spoke to his belief that the pipeline won’t come to fruition.

“I think there might be some jobs moving through Merritt regarding that pipeline. However, I think we could have a lot more jobs if we were building wind turbines, permanent jobs,” said Mellalieu. “It’s going to be a tough sell for an industrial town where we’re going to have that pipeline sort of candy waved in front of their eyes and I just don’t think it is going to come to fruition.”

“I don’t see it, it just doesn’t make any economic sense. We don’t have any buyers for the oil. China doesn’t have a refinery that can handle diluted bitumen. So, these Chinese contracts and this profit is all fictional at this point, we haven’t seen any documentation of that,” said Mellalieu. “Even if we increase production which is just a crazy thing to do regarding CO2. The buyers I don’t think will be there that we’re hoping, we don’t have any contracts, we don’t have any other buyers.”

“It’s kind of like Canada is investing in blockbuster video. Everybody knows VHS tape is on the way out and we’re all streaming Netflix and yet we’re still trying to promote VHS. We have got to stop it, the whole oil industry is on its way out for many many different reasons and it’s time to move on. We’ve got to stop beating this dead horse,” concluded Mellalieu.


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Robert Mellalieu green party

(Photo- BC Green Party)

Recently Robert Mellalieu was officially acclaimed as the Green Party of Canada’s candidate for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

October’s election will be nothing new for Mellalieu who has previously run both Provincially and Federally for the Greens.

Q101 spoke with Mellalieu about why he decided to venture back into the political realm.

“I wanted to make sure that there is something left for my son and his kids. The long-term viability of these valleys is very very important, and it can be done. I think we just need that long-term economic look at everything,” said Mellalieu.

He also mentioned how some of his recent interactions have been with constituents.

“The more people that I talk to that think they’re conservative, I start asking about their values, and I’m going you guys are reciting the green party policy handbook, really you guys are green. And they don’t realise it. I’m finding that I can convert people by just asking people what their values are,” said Mellalieu.

Mellalieu himself was converted to the green party by his then 14-yearold son who was completing a school assignment.

“We’re not all left-wing nutjobs. I’m in the Green party because I’m a right-wing person,” said Mellalieu. “I really admire the economic polices and the long-term outlook. The current parties are looking at a 4-year outlook and an 8-year outlook, they’re just kind of pandering for the vote, anything they can. While the Green Party’s long-term outlook and investment strategies will last for hundreds of years.”

Mellalieu spoke to two issues in particular he believes need more attention.

“Homelessness is something that bothers me deeply as a Canadian. We live in such a rich country is so many ways and 15 percent of our population is living below the poverty line. Right here in West Kelowna we have about 140 homeless people and we aren’t treating them right, we aren’t treating it fast enough, we aren’t treating it as an emergency like we should be. That’s a personal thing that I think should be done and I think it’s an embarrassment that we aren’t doing more,” said Mellalieu.

“On the other side of the coin is the forests. It sounds like an environmental issue but really it’s more of an economic issue,” began Mellalieu. “We have not managed the forests properly. There has been a lot of things that scientists knew were happening, we have climate change. The forests are getting warmer, they’re getting drier, but we continue to do monoculture in the forest and plant trees to close, we don’t have meadows, we don’t have the fire breaks we should have. We just aren’t managing it properly and that’s not only affecting our forest industry but it’s also affecting our wildlife. It’s going to take 30, 40, 50 years to fix it.”

While this riding has been a Conservative stronghold recently, Mellalieu believes this year could be different.

“The green wave is happening,” began Mellalieu. “The left seems to be always splitting, where as this election with Maxime Bernier on the scene we might be splitting a little bit of the right, which is kind of hopeful. Dan Albas, I think he’s going to have a little bit of a fight because some of his standard votes are going to be going to Maxime’s candidate (Allan Duncan). We have some people that are just not happy with Scheer, so some of those votes are going to disappear for Dan. And we don’t have the Trudeau effect this time.”

“We might have a little bit more of a race in this riding, and all ridings for that matter. We are going to have five candidates that are going to be splitting the vote in different ways and the Green Party is within range. We’ve been up to 13 percent of the vote in this riding. So, we just need to grab that other seven to eight percent and we’re in the 20 percent range and that’s fighting distance,” concluded Mellalieu

Mellalieu also spoke to his beliefs that the Trans Mountain expansion won’t be built. Look for that article later this afternoon.


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With record-high levels of funding for more teachers and support staff, and smaller class sizes compared to two years ago, British Columbia students are getting better support in their classrooms.

"An investment in education is an investment in our future, and everyone benefits when students have the best possible chance to succeed," said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. "After years of underfunding and neglect, our government's investment in student success is starting to pay dividends in outcomes and opportunities, especially for students with special needs and Indigenous learners. And we aim to do more."

Schools are receiving $6.6 billion to support students during the next school year, $1 billion more than two years ago. This is a total increase of 17.1%, while enrolment has grown 3.2%. For the first time since 2006, all 60 school districts are forecasted to see an increase in funding for the coming school year.

This year SD58 Nicola-Similkameen will be receiving approximately $200,000 more in operational grant funding than last school year. Superintendent Stephen McNiven discussed how the extra funding will help offset other decreases.

“It does come with another factor for us, which is we are still experiencing a decrease due to being in funding protection,” said McNiven. “Part of coming out of funding protection is the 1.5 percent decrease we see each year. So, the $200,000 really helps offset some of that decrease we’re seeing.”

“The other factor is that what this (funding) helps with is the labour settlement funding increase as well that we have to provide,” said McNiven.

For the next school year, the ministry estimates school districts will receive $570.9 million to ensure appropriate staff is in place to support students with special needs, a 23% increase over the past two years. The number of classes with an educational assistant has increased by 37% in the past two years. Outcomes for students with special needs are showing steady improvements, with 71% of students with special needs completing high school last school year, up from 44% 10 years ago.

Targeted funding to support Indigenous students is estimated to rise to $89 million next school year, for a 27% increase over the past two years. Indigenous students in B.C. are completing secondary school at the highest rate ever, with a completion rate of 70%. This is 4% higher than the year before and 8% higher than it was four years ago.

“It helps us provide the service that we want to have across our district,” said McNiven. “It helps provide service to students because it means we don’t have to find the money elsewhere. That $200,000 is important to us.”


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The Merritt RCMP are asking members of the public to come forward if they believe their vehicle was damaged during the evening of Saturday June 29th.

The Merritt detachment provided the following information;

On June 29th just after 11:00 pm a Merritt RCMP officer was on routine patrol when he encountered an intoxicated youth on Coutlee Ave. The youth was observed jumping on top of a parked vehicle. The youth then took off running, the officer gave chase and apprehended the youth and arrested him for Mischief & Public Intoxication. 

The male was identified as a 16-year-old Merritt resident who was taken to cells and later turned over to his guardian.  The Merritt RCMP will be recommending criminal charges to the B.C Prosecution Service in relation to this incident.  

The Merritt RCMP are currently aware of damage to at least three vehicles in relation to this incident.  

If you have any additional information, please contact the Merritt RCMP at 250-378-4262 and quote file #2019-2963.


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