Reflections on Growing the North

Reflections on Growing the North

GPRC Business students attending the Growing the North Conference with GPRC President Don Gnatiuk, Minister of Energy Marg McCuaig-Boyd, Minister of Economic Development Deron Bilous, GPRC Board of Governors Chair Natalia Reiman, and members of the Research & Innovation team

Thanks to support from members of the Grande Prairie Regional Innovation Network and generous sponsors in the community, 16 GPRC students from the Business Administration program were able to attend the 9th annual Growing the North business conference this year. Terrilyn Parent was one of these lucky students. Here’s what she took away from this unique learning experience.

“I was sponsored by the Swan City Rotary Club to attend the Growing the North Business Conference in Grande Prairie on February 21 and 22. As a current GPRC business student, I thought this conference was such a huge success and has been one of the best things I have been given the chance to experience firsthand.

The entire conference, start to finish, was very informative and inspirational. The speakers were all incredibly knowledgeable in their fields and great at public and motivational speaking. The catering provided by Evergreen Park was also a great bonus.

My favourite quote that will forever change the way I look at the world was when keynote speaker, writer and community builder, Chris Fields mentioned, “We need to be the pink shirt at a table full of white shirts.” This really made me look at my own self and no longer judge my creative skills, even if my ideas are different from those of my peers. I learned that it’s okay to allow my creativity to come out in my personal and professional life and not to fear my differences.

During this conference I was given the opportunity to network with so many business professionals as well as members of the Chamber of Commerce and local government leaders. This networking gave me a bigger perspective on how the economy is running in Grande Prairie and how businesses are trying to recover after the recession we just had. I also got to see how the economy has affected local businesses in all industries and was given some great tips on how to strategically survive through future recessions.

Many of the speakers touched on the topic of fearing change and how fear can inhibit professional and personal growth. This really hit home as I often fear changes in my own life and find I thrive best in routine. Changes often throw me for a loop, but now I see these moments of change have also brought about the most growth in my life and have shown how resilient I can be when it feels as if the world is crashing down. The speakers have influenced me to believe it’s okay to be brave during these challenging times and push through, even though I may not know what the result will look like.

One final takeaway from this conference that really hit home was a quote by Bruce Vincent, President of the non-profit organization Communities for a Great Northwest. He mentioned in his speech, “The world is run by those that show up and when people lead, leaders follow.” This reminded me that showing up in life is half the battle. Whether it’s class, work or some other area of my life, the important part is that I show up and give my best in all that I do. I also took this to mean that I need to look up to and follow those that stand out of the crowd if I want to one day be considered a leader in my own career.

Overall, I really feel like this conference has changed my perspective on life and will have a great impact on my future. I will be using this newfound knowledge and change of perspective in April as I embark on a new journey to pursue my business hopes and dreams. If you are given the opportunity to attend this conference, do not let the opportunity pass you by. It is worth the commitment and the time spent.”


– By Terrilyn Parent, GPRC Business Administration Student

GPRC Business student Terrilyn Parent poses with Brian Glavin, President Elect of the Swan City Rotary Club, who sponsored Terrilyn’s conference experience.
New GPRIN Coordinator Can’t Wait to Help Students with Innovative Ideas

New GPRIN Coordinator Can’t Wait to Help Students with Innovative Ideas

My name is Ejibola Adetokunbo-Taiwo, and I can’t wait to meet you!

I’m the new GPRIN/Student Projects Coordinator at GPRC. In a nutshell, that means that if students have big idea they’re not sure what to do with, they can come to me for help.

GPRIN, or the Grande Prairie Regional Innovation Network, is a system of support services for innovators, entrepreneurs, and small businesses in Grande Prairie and area. The network has partnered with GPRC to provide services for innovative student projects here at the College. My job is to help turn ideas into reality, connecting innovative students to the resources they need to succeed.

My passion is helping people move their innovative ideas forward. I’ve worked as a financial adviser and educator for small businesses and entrepreneurs at institutions around the world, from Nigeria and Cameroon to Halifax and Ottawa. Working with small businesses is both challenging and exciting. Often, people would come to me with a great idea but not the first clue about how to make it happen. My first piece of advice to them is always to write it down. So you have an idea? What are your goals? What challenges are you facing? How can you anticipate and overcome them? Put it all down on paper and come up with a plan.

Transitioning into the world of post-secondary education is a dream come true for me. It’s the intersection of all my passions rolled into one job. I love research—I’m a curious person, and I feel inspired when I meet new people and learn about their passions. A lot of students do not realize that research is not just for scientists; it’s for everyone. Whether you’re studying music, business, art – whatever it is, you can become involved with research that can change your community and even your world.

We live in a world where innovation is key, and we are constantly needing to come up with new ways of doing things. The world is evolving and becoming smaller—a true global village—thanks to technology. We need to keep up with that pace to sustain a better future. Our students have a big role to play in making sure we don’t get complacent and are always looking forward.

If I were to give advice to students, I would tell them to remember that your passions and hobbies are what will change your college, your community, and maybe even your world. I want to help students integrate their passions and skills into their course of study, help them feel fulfilled, and bring their ideas to where they can make a difference.

I’m excited to be here at GPRC and GPRIN, but what I’m most excited about is the potential of GPRC students. I can’t wait to empower them to build a bright future.

Working on a research project? Thinking about starting a business? Need help getting started? Visit Ejibola:

Ejibola Adetokunbo-Taiwo

Coordinator, GPRIN & Student Projects

Research & Innovation

Office E401-0, Grande Prairie Campus


Happy 10th Anniversary GPRC Research & Innovation!

Happy 10th Anniversary GPRC Research & Innovation!

We’ve come a long way from our humble beginnings back in 2007. When GPRC Research & Innovation (then called the Centre for Research and Innovation, or CRI) was first created, it was with an unshakable sense of optimism, even in the face of difficult times. We knew back then what ten years in business has confirmed to us today: there is something special about this college and this community.

Former PREDA Chair Jack O’Toole (left) shakes hands with GPRC President Don Gnatiuk at the GPRC R&I 10th Anniversary Celebration, September 22, 2017.

Some have called it the “entrepreneurial spirit” of the north; but whatever you call it, it’s been driving academic and economic success in the Peace Region for decades. It’s the reason behind the success of R&I initiatives like Pollutants to Products (which has earned two patents and is entering its commercialization phase), Community Enhancement Research (which has helped improve mental health crisis intervention systems in the city of Grande Prairie), and the GPRC National Bee Diagnostic Centre – Technology Access Centre (which has grown in capacity by over 1200% since 2013 and is set to triple in size and capacity over the next twelve months). Not only that, but GPRC R&I has been lucky to offer help to incredible students and faculty at GPRC campuses as they engage in meaningful, innovative research and scholarship with the potential to transform their communities.

Lab Technician Jamie Lee Martin takes guests on a tour of the GPRC NBDC-TAC laboratory, September 22, 2017.

It’s been ten years since we began, but we’re nowhere close to finished. We can’t wait to see where the next ten years will take us.

Dr. Weixing Tan demonstrates tailings separation technology to guests in the Pollutants to Products solarium, September 22, 2017.
The GPRC Community Enhancement Research team meets up with representatives from the RCMP and Alberta Health Services to discuss future research opportunities, August 23, 2017.
Winners of the Student Research Award (left to right: Demica Pusch, Anwar Tuhl, Brittany Cowen, and Kara Witow) with their mentors, Drs. Connie Korpan and Michelle Yeung.

Watch the live video of our 10th Anniversary Celebration here. Thank you to all who joined us.

Happy Anniversary, GPRC NBDC-TAC!

Happy Anniversary, GPRC NBDC-TAC!

On this day in 2012, the GPRC National Bee Diagnostic Centre – Technology Access Centre (NBDC-TAC) opened for business. To celebrate, we wanted to share a few things you may not have known about the NBDC-TAC; who they are, where they’ve been, and where they’re heading in the future.

The NBDC-TAC core staff. Left to right: Christy Curran, Patricia Wolf Veiga, Emily Ryan, Dr. Carlos Castillo, Jamie Lee Martin.


NBDC-TAC has been called “a CSI crime lab for bees” – when bees die, they get sent to NBDC for tiny bee autopsies. The scientists at NBDC-TAC perform diagnostic tests to determine which diseases, parasites, and pests may have been responsible for the bee’s demise. They can then report back to the beekeeper or apiculturist and give them information about the overall state of the hive’s health.

This service is essential to beekeepers and apiculturists. It allows them to keep tabs on the ever changing health of their hives. Knowing which pests and pathogens are harming the hives gives apiculturists the tools they need to take management measures. With bee health worldwide on a decline, it’s up to organizations like NBDC-TAC to offer as much information and expertise as possible to help bee populations survive and thrive.

NBDC-TAC: Front view, summer 2016.

A Look Back

Although only five years old, NBDC-TAC has already become widely known as “the benchmark for bee diagnostics.” The Centre has formed international partnerships in France, New Zealand, Peru, and the United States, while offering services to beekeepers and apiculturists from across the country. NBDC-TAC is one of only 30 Technology Access Centres in Canada, with funding provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Dr. Lou Gallagher, Senior Adviser from New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), referred to NBDC-TAC as “the gold standard” for bee diagnostics when she visited our facilities this August. Quite the honour for such a young, small-time research lab in small town Alberta!

Of course, NBDC-TAC couldn’t have done it alone. They’ve relied on partners like Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Beaverlodge Research Farm, funding organizations like NSERC, and the provincial and federal governments to achieve their successes. As they enter their sixth year of operation, NBDC-TAC looks forward to continuing to grow and strengthen these partnerships.

Dr. Carlos Castillo, Manager and Applied Scientist at NBDC-TAC, working in the laboratory.

The Next Five Years

NBDC-TAC’s 5th anniversary comes at an exciting time for the Centre. Their lab space is expanding, and will soon be shared with AAFC’s National Apiculture Research Program to allow for better collaboration between the two entities. The expansion project, which commenced in the spring of 2017 and is expected to be complete next May, will roughly triple the current lab space. Dr. Carlos Castillo, Manager and Applied Scientist at GPRC NBDC-TAC, said that with additional staff resources and new equipment, the lab will be able to triple its capacity from 20,000 diagnostics per year to 60,000.

The NBDC-TAC expansion is underway and will be complete in the summer of 2018.

Tripling in space and capacity so quickly may seem like quite the challenge, but our little bee lab in Beaverlodge is no stranger to taking on challenges. Happy anniversary, NBDC-TAC – we can’t wait to see what you will accomplish next!

Welcome, Nabil!

Welcome, Nabil!

We are happy to welcome Nabil Marouf as our new Research Project Coordinator at GPRC’s NBDC-TAC! Nabil is a scientist who has worked in Grande Prairie for near five years in various roles from public health projects manager and analytical support to psycho-social aid and training’s on resilience techniques against stress, a skill he put to use helping Fort McMurray residents and professionals in the aftermath of the 2016 wildfire.

Like most scientists, Nabil has nurtured a lifelong passion for learning and sharing. It was his eagerness for new experiences that first brought him to NBDC-TAC. “I’m a scientific adventurer who likes to learn and to be inspired. There’s nothing more inspiring than the noble task of saving the bees, at least to try to help.”

Part of Nabil’s mandate while he is here is to work on completing the National Survey of Bee Health, an NBDC-TAC four-year project that began in 2014. “It’s a challenge, another exciting one” said Nabil. The National Survey aims to establish a bee health database for Canadian beekeepers by collecting and analyzing bee samples from across the country. The project is the first of its kind in Canada, and will help bring Canada up to the same standards as other top-ranking beekeeping nations of the world.

Nabil is aware of the importance of his role to the success of its mission. To Nabil, bee health is more than just a science experiment: it is the future. “If we don’t care about the bees, we don’t care about the environment we’re living in. About what we are eating, what we are giving to our kids and the next generations. The bee is a good indicator of the health status of our environment. It’s definitively the future of the world!”

As Nabil tackles the newest challenge in his life, he is excited to do it alongside the outstanding team at GPRC’s NBDC-TAC – almost as excited as we are to have him here.

Welcome, Nabil!