Liz Ashton Campus Centre Building

Celebrating extraordinary alumni - 2018 Alumni Awards

Camosun College is proud to announce its annual Promising and Distinguished Alumni Awards recognizing two extraordinary alumni who have made outstanding contributions in their fields.

Grace Salez  (left), Don Kattler (right)

Grace Salez (left), Don Kattler (right)

Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Grace Salez 

Artist, educator, community organizer

Multi-disciplinary artist, educator and community activist, Grace Salez is the 2018 recipient of Camosun College's Distinguished Alumni Award. Born in Europe, her parents survived the Nazi occupation of Poland before moving the family to Canada in 1949. She spent her formative years in Quebec and Toronto and later, as a mature student, she began her formal art education in Victoria at the age of 45 with a strong desire to practice social justice through art.

In 1994, Grace graduated from Camosun's Introductory Arts Program (now Visual Arts) before pursuing a BFA in film and multi-media at Emily Carr in 1997. Grace had an independent art practice in Video before working as a sessional instructor at the University of Victoria for 4 years. In 2010, she joined OPEN ACTION, an art performance group, and was invited to participate at the LIVE 2011 International Art Biennale Festival in Vancouver with other national and international performance artists. In 2015, Grace formed the collective Rezka Czasu: River of Time, and the collective created a one-woman performance at Victoria's UNO Festival in 2016.

In 2017, Grace joined an immigration and refugee group at ICA (Intercultural Association of Victoria). She formed a group with fellow artists to sponsor a single Syrian woman refugee through the ICA and they made a commitment to support her during her transition to Canada. That same year, Grace was honoured to be invited, as an artist who is an immigrant, to join the photographic essay exhibition presented by ICA, Bridging Conversations - An Intercultural & Intergeneration Project, at the Royal BC Museum.

Grace was a founding member and President of MediaNet, a not-for-profit organization for film and video artists and independent producers. She was the founding Member and Director of Dance for the Camera Program. She has worked with Antidote (network for racialized girls) using video art practices for engaging the girls to voice their experiences as young racialized girls. For Grace, her introduction to art at Camosun led her to realize she was part of a community of fellow life-long learners. "I'm honoured and humbled and wish my parents were alive to share this honour with me," she says.

Promising Alumni Award recipient Don Kattler

Mental health advocate and community leader

Mental health advocate and community leader Don Kattler is the recipient of the Camosun College Promising Alumni Award for 2018. Don graduated from the Mental Health and Addictions (MHA) program in 2014. He lives well with bipolar disorder and has lived experience with addiction. "I made a life decision to work in this field in order to use my personal life experiences to help others," says Don. He came to Camosun as a mature student with years of experience working with Victoria's marginalized community.

After graduating in 2014, Don was hired by Island Health and enrolled in the BA in Health and Community Services program at the University of Victoria. Currently, Don works for the Ministry of Children and Family Development as a Family Consultant for BC's Poverty Reduction Initiative. He's also a Peer Researcher for CrestBD, at University of BC, a Collaborative Research Team to study psychosocial issues in Bipolar Disorder. He is active in the BC mental health community holding many volunteer positions including sitting on the board of the BC Schizophrenia Society, Victoria Branch and as a member of the Mount Waddington Health Network.

Don has some good advice to Camosun students. "Take advantage of everything the college offers," he says. "Do volunteer work and be active in the community you live in." For him, Camosun is more than a learning institution. "It's a community that supports and encourages students to succeed. It's a school that cares."

Contact information

Camosun College

Communications Department