David Trifunov

Email: dtrifuno@mail.ubc.ca


A photo of students walking towards orientation activities.

Student orientation programs will be in full swing Monday as UBCO’s Create takes place as part of a welcome for students new to campus. Classes for the academic year begin Tuesday.

Next week, after an extraordinary few days in August, classes will resume for the fall at UBC Okanagan.

Students, faculty and staff are gearing up for a busy back-to-school period. More than 12,035 students are registered for classes this September and almost 3,200 are new to UBCO. Move-in day will continue as planned on Sunday, September 3 with more than 1,400 students arriving to move into their on-campus residences.

Create, the new-to-UBCO student orientation, takes place Monday, September 4 and all classes will begin as scheduled and in-person on Tuesday, September 5.

“This summer, more than ever, we have seen the strength, professionalism and values of the UBC Okanagan community on full display,” says Dr. Lesley Cormack, UBCO Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor. “When our campus was placed on evacuation order just two weeks ago, the campus rallied together to ensure everyone was able to leave the area quickly and safely. Through this adversity, we saw UBCO’s values as a compassionate community shine through once again—it’s something our incoming students can take pride and comfort in.”

As UBCO looks toward the beginning of a new term, Dr. Cormack also recognizes it has been a trying time for many people. The health and safety of all students, faculty and staff is paramount and UBCO’s Campus Operations and Risk Management team continues to communicate directly with the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations team.

“While classes will begin as planned and it’s clear that campus is safe to welcome students from across Canada and the world, we also acknowledge there are many people within our community still not able to return home. And we’ve all seen the devasting images of homes and properties lost to the wildfire,” she adds. “The arrival of our students to the region has always brought a renewed sense of vibrancy and of the limitless possibilities created by education. I know this will be true this year perhaps more than ever.”

She notes, that the UBCO community bonded as never before with many people reaching out to offer help and support for those who were placed on an evacuation order or alert.

“I continue to be impressed by the calibre and character of the people on this campus,” she adds. “When faced with adversity, we reached out and supported each other in ways that have truly amazed me.”

As the campus begins to get busy as students move in and classes begin, Dale Mullings, Associate Vice-President, Students says the university has many resources for students and help is available for those who may need it.

“We continue to prioritize the wellbeing of our students, whether they live on or off campus,” adds Mullings. “For example, we have a number of initiatives specific to our students and this year, due to the wildfire emergency, we initiated the student emergency fund to help those immediately affected by the wildfires, and an airport welcome booth with a complimentary shuttle Friday, September 1 through Monday, September 4.”

Wellness and Accessibility Services has expanded to provide a health clinic, counselling services, wellness education, disability services and a new multifaith Chaplaincy. Many other services that support the wellbeing of our students such as our on-campus and in-community recreation programs, safe walk program, security phones across campus, a student-led Emergency First Response Team and the 24-hour campus security patrols are also gearing up for the year ahead.

While classes begin next week, Dr. Cormack notes there will be accommodations for those who remain under evacuation orders and alerts and cancelled travel plans.

“We will continue to work closely with those affected by the Kelowna-area wildfires to ensure they have the flexibility they require to start the school year successfully.”

A valuable resource for people returning to the community is the UBCO Campus Alerts page and FAQ which can be found at: ok.ubc.ca/wildfire-response

The post UBCO welcomes students to campus for start of new term appeared first on UBC Okanagan News.

A photo of a woman offering support to another

Mothers with depression who reported higher levels of support felt less stressed and more competent in their parenting, says Dr. Sarah Dow-Fleisner at UBCO’s School of Social Work.

The proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” takes on new significance when a mother of a child is experiencing depression.

“Being a mother with depression carries increased risks for a child’s physical and psychological health,” says Dr. Sarah Dow-Fleisner, Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work and Director of the Centre for the Study of Services to Children and Families at UBC Okanagan. “But it’s not fated to be, especially if mothers have external supports.”

Dr. Dow-Fleisner’s findings, recently published in the Journal of Family Issues, have important implications for how social workers and clinical practitioners—as well as families and communities—can help.

While a lot of research focuses on the postpartum period during which the rate of depression among mothers is highest, Dr. Dow-Fleisner wanted to focus on depression occurring later in childhood. Her team used data from a large longitudinal US study to compare depressed and non-depressed mothers of nine-year-old children.

Her analyses revealed that mothers with depression were more likely to report parenting stress and less likely to view themselves as competent parents as compared to non-depressed mothers. They also reported engaging in more disciplinary tactics, including nonviolent tactics like taking away privileges as well as aggressive tactics like cursing or threatening the child. In terms of involvement, they were less likely to be involved at the child’s school, such as attending an open house. However, they were equally likely to be involved in home activities, such as helping with homework.

“Furthermore, mothers with depression reported fewer interpersonal supports and community resources than mothers without depression,” says Dr. Dow-Fleisner. “This is consistent with previous research.”

Interpersonal supports refer to both emotional and material help from others, such as a relative providing advice or emergency childcare. Community resources refer to safety and neighbourhood cohesion. Neighbourhood cohesion measures the willingness of neighbours to help and the shared values of the neighbourhood, among other social and trust factors.

“Notably, those mothers with depression who reported higher levels of support and cohesion felt less stressed and more competent in their parenting,” says Dr. Dow-Fleisner. “These positive perceptions translated to less psychological aggression-based discipline and more home and school involvement with their children.”

These findings fit with a resilience perspective, whereby mothers facing adversity like depression can still thrive as parents—especially when these protective factors are present.

“We want to help moms both address their depression and improve the child’s health and wellbeing—this is known as a two-generation approach,” says Dr. Dow-Fleisner. “As mothers may not seek out help for their depression alone, a child health check-up in a primary care setting is a good opportunity to screen for maternal depression and provide support in identifying interpersonal supports and community resources.”

Dr. Dow-Fleisner adds that supportive programs should go beyond addressing immediate parenting problems and instead build capacity. For example, a community-based parenting support group could help a mother to build a network of people who could provide material and emotional support as needed. Dr. Dow-Fleisner cites Mamas for Mamas as one such community-based group. Mamas for Mamas, with branches in Kelowna and Vancouver, builds community and provides material as well as other supports for mothers and other caregivers.

“Further funding of programs that empower mothers—including those experiencing mental health concerns—would go a long way in improving the health and wellbeing of children, mothers and families,” says Dr. Dow-Fleisner.

The post Mothers experiencing depression can still thrive as parents appeared first on UBC Okanagan News.

A helicopter dumping water on a forest wildfire

A helicopter with water bucket attacks a forest fire.

Spring rain may have dampened wildfires burning in BC and Alberta, but the dangers of dry forests and swollen rivers remain.

Wildfires are abundant in Alberta, while many areas in BC are on flood watch. It seems the changing climate is becoming less predictable and more volatile as each year passes. UBC Okanagan has several professors available to comment on heat, wildfires and associated issues.

Phil Ainsley, Professor of Environmental Physiology, Co-Director of Centre For Heart, Lung and Vascular Health, School of Health and Exercise Sciences

Areas of expertise:

  • Heat and pollution and their isolated and combined influence on physiology and human health
  • Effect of temperature and oxygen availability on physiology, pathology and performance
  • Acclimatization, adaptation and maladaptation to environmental stress

Email: philip.ainslie@ubc.ca

Call: 250-878-6171


Mathieu Bourbonnais, Assistant Professor, Earth, Environmental and Geographic Sciences

Areas of expertise:

  • Wildfire risk, suppression and mitigation
  • Firefighting and use of satellites for wildfire detection and monitoring

Email: Mathieu.Bourbonnais@ubc.ca

Call: 778-583-0272


Greg Garrard, Professor of Environmental Humanities, Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies

Areas of expertise:

  • Environmental literature
  • Culture and climate change (including skepticism)
  • The cultural ecology of wildfire
  • Political polarization

Email: greg.garrard@ubc.ca

Call: 250-863-2822


Kevin Hanna, Associate Professor, Earth, Environmental and Geographic Sciences

Areas of expertise:

  • Vulnerable infrastructure
  • Risk and disaster assessment wildfire management and policy
  • Climate change and risk events

Email: kevin.hanna@ubc.ca

Call: 250-807-9265


Mary-Ann Murphy, Associate Professor, Social Work Sociology

Areas of expertise:

  • Dealing with the emotional trauma of wildfires
  • Lessons from evacuees
  • What to pack when evacuating
  • Caring for seniors in extreme heat

Email: mary-ann.murphy@ubc.ca

Call: 250-807-8705


David Scott, Associate Professor, Earth, Environmental and Geographic Sciences

Areas of expertise:

  • Effects of wildfire on hydrology and erosion
  • Evaluation of fire site rehabilitation methods in terms of controlling erosion and sedimentation

Email: david.scott@ubc.ca

Note: Dr. Scott is only available for interviews via email.


Dwayne Tannnat, Professor, School of Engineering

Areas of expertise:

  • Landslides, rockfalls
  • Below debris field flood mitigation
  • Post-wildfire debris flow mitigation

Email: dwayne.tannant@ubc.ca

Call: 604-801-4301

The post UBC Okanagan experts ready to talk about floods, wildfires appeared first on UBC Okanagan News.