Shane Koyczan named for Okanagan College honour

Penticton slam poet Shane Koyczan is one of Okanagan College alumni named to receive major honours at the alumni association dinner next month.

Penticton slam poet Shane Koyczan is one of Okanagan College alumni named to receive major honours at the alumni association dinner next month.

Koyczan will be joining George Abbott, the provincial minister of education, as recipients of awards marking their distinguished careers.

Abbott, who was first elected as an MLA in 1996, is the recipient of the distinguished alumni award, marking his public service as a politician, but also as an educator.

Koyczan, however, has been selected as the recipient of the Young Alumni award, honouring his success in the art world with his writing and spoken word performances, “bringing a nation together through spoken word.”

Koyczan is well known for his performance at the opening of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics when he shared his poem for Canada, We Are More, in front of millions of viewers. The poem struck an emotional chord with Canadians as a heartwarming and at times tear-evoking homage to the nation.

Koyczan attended Okanagan College’s Penticton campus in 1998, where he took courses in the Associate of Arts degree program and excelled in creative writing. He moved to Vancouver the following year and immersed himself in the world of slam poetry, where he quickly made a name for himself and attracted a dedicated following.

He won the US Slam Poetry Championship and Canadian Spoken Word Olympics; he has been featured on BRAVO television, NPR, BBC, CBC and ABC (Australia) radio. His first published collection, Visiting Hours, was the only work of poetry selected by both the Guardian and the Globe and Mail for their Best Books of the Year lists. Koyczan has a new novel in verse, Stickboy, which focuses on issues of bullying.

“That both Minister Abbott and Shane Koyczan were students at Okanagan College and continued on to be so successful in their chosen career paths is a testament to the educational foundation that Okanagan College provided to them,” said Kara Kazimer, Okanagan College Alumni Association president.

Abbott and Koyczan will be honoured at cocktail reception event at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 6 in the Centre for Learning at the Kelowna campus of Okanagan College.

Tickets are now available to the event at a cost of $55 per person. For more information, contact Katerina Hay at 250-862-5630 or khay@okanagan.bc.ca.