Alumni Engagement

Honorary Degree and Diploma

2018 Honorary Diploma Recipient – Ray St. Germain

June 7, 2018

Ray St. GermainAn award-winning producer, host and entertainer on more than 600 TV and radio programs — including Big Sky Country, Rhythms of the Métis, and the 1969 variety series Time for Living — Ray St. Germain’s engaging, creative and passionate storytelling style shines a spotlight on the history of Manitoba, while helping to build an understanding and appreciation of Métis culture across Canada.

Currently the host of NCI-FM Radio’s Métis Hour X2, St. Germain is receiving an Honorary Diploma from RRC’s Creative Communication program.

“Ray is someone who embodies the values of Red River College and serves as an inspiration to many of the creative young people who are receiving their diplomas alongside him today,” says RRC President Paul Vogt.

“This is the highest honour given by Red River College, and is reserved for individuals who have achieved considerable success in their lives. We have tremendous respect for Ray, who has dedicated his life to sharing the stories of Métis people, and opened the door for others to do the same.”

St. Germain is the 25th person to receive the award since its inception in 1995, joining such notable Manitobans as Sen. Murray Sinclair, the Hon. Duff Roblin, Chef Takashi Murakami, Gail Asper, Lisa Meeches and Ace Burpee.

“Storytelling has always been a part of who I am,” he says. “There are so many ways to tell stories and I’m proud to have been able to share mine in so many different ways and with so many different audiences. Even more so, I’m happy to have been able to pass these gifts along to my children, and encourage them to speak their truth through song.

“I am extremely honoured to receive an honorary diploma for such a highly regarded program, and from an institution that is making strides in the advancement of Indigenous education.”

For his contributions to Canadian culture, St. Germain has received an array of additional awards and accolades, including the Aboriginal Order of Canada, the Order of Manitoba, and the Order of the Sash – Saskatoon and Prince Albert. He has also been inducted into the Manitoba Aboriginal Music Hall of Fame (2005), and the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame (2010).

2017 Honorary Degree Recipient – Paul Charette

June 12, 2017

Paul CharetteHe’s a titan of industry, a paragon of philanthropy and a proud Red River College alum.

And for Paul Charette, recipient of RRC’s 2017 Honorary Degree, his most recent recognition comes exactly 50 years after he first graduated from the College.

The former CEO of Bird Construction, Charette graduated from RRC’s Civil Technology program back in 1967 (after receiving a $200 bursary from the Women’s Auxiliary of West Kildonan).

He added to his credentials with a Computer Programming degree in 1968, then worked for nine years with Manitoba Hydro on the development of the Nelson River and Manitoba Rolling Mills expansion projects.

In 1976, Charette began working for Bird Construction — first as a project coordinator, then as chief operating officer (1988), chief executive office (1991), and chair of the board (2001). During that time, he led the company through a period of substantial growth, increasing revenues from $90 million in 1988 to more than $1 billion in 2008, when he stepped down as CEO.

The Charettes are RRC’s most prominent individual donors, having over the years established two award endowments — which fund 12 student awards each year — and the Paul and Gerri Charette Manitoba Applied Research Chair in Sustainable Construction.

He also played a pivotal role in helping to establish the Construction Management Degree program at RRC.

In addition to his most recent honour from the College (which complements the Distinguished Alumnus designation he received in 2002), Charette has also received a number of industry awards, including the 2001 Ontario General Contractors Chairman’s Award of Recognition, the 2005 Toronto Construction Association’s General Contractors Section Bob Rae Memorial Award, and the 2006 Canadian Construction Association’s General Contractors Award of Excellence.

In 2010, he was named the Canadian Construction Association’s Person of the Year, and this year was named Colleges and Institutes Canada’s 2017 Outstanding Partner, an award that celebrates the close collaboration between colleges, institutes and their industry partners.

2016 Honorary Diploma Recipient – Eleanor Thompson

June 1, 2016

A longtime community leader will be recognized with the College’s highest academic honour for the lasting impact she’s had on the lives of children and families.

Eleanor Thompson, Director of Development at Urban Circle Training Centre, received RRC’s 2016 Honorary Diploma in Community Development/Community Economic Development.

As co-founder of Urban Circle, Eleanor has worked tirelessly for nearly 30 years to provide accessible, culturally appropriate education and training to Indigenous people in Winnipeg.

She’s a strong advocate for programs that are grounded in Indigenous culture, and that lead to employment in stable sectors with potential for growth. As such, Urban Circle partners with RRC on certificate programs in heath care, family support and early childhood education — many of which lead to advanced studies in social work and education.

In recent years, Eleanor served as one of the driving forces behind the development of the Makoonsag Intergenerational Centre on Selkirk Avenue, a 52-space early learning facility for the children of Urban Circle students. She’s also a member of the Premier’s Advisory Council on Education, Poverty and Citizenship.

“She has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to providing culturally relevant and respectful educational opportunities to empower the social and economic development of her community,” says RRC’s Dr. Christine Watson, Vice-President, Academic and Research.

“Her belief in the transformative power of education truly reflects the mandate and values of Red River College.”

2015 Honorary Diploma Recipient – Dave Angus

June 1, 2015

Dave AngusEach year, Red River College awards a Red River College Honorary Diploma to an individual who demonstrates high standards of excellence in their personal and professional achievements, and whose involvement in the community is widely recognized.

David Angus is committed to the Chamber movement. He volunteered as board chair and in 1999 was hired as President and CEO of The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.

He currently serves on the Manitoba Museum Board of Governors; Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council; and JPAC (Joint Public Advisory Committee) for the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, a national committee of three countries working to protect the environment.

Under his leadership, the Winnipeg Chamber has increased its membership to the highest level in its history and has been recognized by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce as an Accredited Chamber with Distinction. The Chamber has also received recognition by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives for being in the top 10 Chambers for membership growth.

The Chamber has been instrumental in bringing a World Trade Centre to Winnipeg; establishing Leadership Winnipeg, Yes! Winnipeg and the BOLD initiative: a grassroots public policy campaign designed to mobilize the community behind forward-thinking BOLD ideas to increase prosperity in Winnipeg.

2015 Honorary Diploma Recipient – Ace Burpee

June 1, 2015

Ace BurpeeEach year, Red River College awards a Red River College Honorary Diploma to an individual who demonstrates high standards of excellence in their personal and professional achievements, and whose involvement in the community is widely recognized.

Ace Burpee has worked in radio for over a decade in almost every capacity and is currently host of the ever popular Ace Burpee Show on 103.1 Virgin Radio.

In addition to hosting his own show, Ace hosts a nationally aired Top 20 countdown program, writes a column in Metro Winnipeg and hosts Manitoba’s top rated cooking show – Great Tastes of Manitoba.

Ace, who very proudly hails from Cooks Creek Manitoba, is also well known for the hundreds of charitable events and causes that he donates his time to every year. He is an in-demand event host, public speaker and event organizer. His initiatives have helped to raise millions of dollars for local and international charities over the last several years.

His reputation in this town is of a man who never sleeps because he’s too busy helping others. It would be difficult to name a cause in Winnipeg that has not in some way, been touched by his efforts.

For his commitment to community and making Manitoba a better place, Ace has received many acknowledgments.

Ace is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his service to our community, he is the recipient of a Hero of Mental Health Award from the Canadian Mental Health Association, he has received a Volunteer Manitoba Award for Outstanding Community Leadership and last year, was recognized as a Manitoba Hero.

2014 Honorary Diploma Recipient – Larry Vickar

June 1, 2014

Larry VickarRed River College awards a Red River College Honorary Diploma to an individual who demonstrates high standards of excellence in their personal and professional achievements, and whose involvement in the community is widely recognized.

Larry Vickar has been in the automobile industry for 44 years, serving in numerous capacities and working his way up from office, finance, credit and sales positions to partnership in one dealership.

He now heads up the Vickar Group of Automotive Dealerships, which consists of six operating companies representing four manufacturers – General Motors, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Isuzu – and employs over 300 Winnipeggers.

Vickar attributes the success of his businesses to the collaborative efforts of his staff, who work together to serve their mutual customers with respect and with the attitude that they wish to be the “places” where Customers Send Their Friends. That, as their mission statement reads, says it all!

Having been taught from an early age that sharing one’s time and resources was the right thing to do, Vickar has served – and continues to serve – his industry and the local and international general communities. He has previously served as President of the Manitoba Motor Dealers Association and the Transcona Rotary Club, to name a couple.

Vickar has worked at the local, provincial, national and international levels, championing worthwhile initiatives, some of which are focused in areas of great need. Currently, he sits on the Executive of the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba, The Jewish National Fund, St. Boniface Hospital Foundation and the Manitoba Hydro Electric Board. Read More →

2014 Honorary Diploma Recipient – Lisa Meeches

June 1, 2014

Red River College awards a Red River College Honorary Diploma to an individual who demonstrates high standards of excellence in their personal and professional achievements, and whose involvement in the community is widely recognized.

Lisa Meeches is one of the most dynamic and respected producers in the film industry, who happens to be an Ojibway from Long Plain First Nation. One of her recent projects, four-time CSA nominee and two-time winner We Were Children, is widely praised by residential school survivors for its power to heal, while general audiences have been moved by this truth of Canada’s colonial past.

Meeches has produced numerous projects for critical acclaim, among them: 500-plus episodes of The Sharing Circle, Canada’s longest running Aboriginal television series; Tipi Tales, a Parent’s Choice award-winning children’s series; and Elijah, a Gemini Award-winning movie-of-the-week.

Meeches conducts her film industry work through her three companies: Eagle Vision Inc, Meeches Video Productions, and Century Street Distribution.

She also devotes considerable time to other causes. Since its inception eight years ago, Meeches has been critical to the success of the Manito Ahbee Festival, where she has acted in the capacity of board chair on a volunteer basis until recently stepping down to assume the role of executive director. She also sits on the national board of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Meeches has been the recipient of many local, regional and national awards for her exemplary contributions in culture, media and entrepreneurship. Among her many accolades, she is a past recipient of a National Aboriginal Achievement Award.

True to her heritage, Meeches practices the customs of her faith and is a renowned champion fancy shawl dancer.

2012 Honorary Diploma recipient: Stella Blackbird

June 1, 2012

Stella BlackbirdStella BlackbirdEach year, Red River College awards a Red River College Honorary Diploma to an individual who demonstrates high standards of excellence in their personal and professional achievements, and whose involvement in the community is widely recognized.

Known and respected throughout Canada for her wisdom, gentle spirit and tireless dedication to the community, Stella Blackbird has a special ability to build trust and understanding across cultures and nations.

An Elder and Red Eagle Woman from the Turtle Clan, Stella has served as an Elder, Traditional Healer, Medicine Teacher and facilitator for healing programs and teachings across Canada and the U.S. She has devoted years to the women of Keeseekoowenin First Nation (where she resides), and to women and men in neighbouring First Nations communities, providing counselling and healing and leading traditional ceremonies. Stella also provides teachings at Medicine Eagle Camp, which she helped establish on the sacred ceremonial grounds of the ancestors near Riding Mountain National Park.

Stella has a vast knowledge of traditional medicines, which she shares with those from all nations and backgrounds. Earlier in her career, she served as Resident Elder for the Ontario Native Education Counselor Association in Sudbury, and provided health services for the Ojibway Tribal Family Services Sacred Circle in Kenora. She also served for years in the Third Canada Rangers of the Canadian Armed Forces, providing traditional teachings and survival skills to youth and adults at Camp Borden.

Since 1995, Stella has served as Elder for Urban Circle Training Centre in Winnipeg’s North End — one of the most successful Aboriginal training centres in Canada. She provides traditional teachings that transform the lives of students and their families, and has mentored many young leaders to ensure sacred teachings and the traditional way of life are not lost. Read More →

2011 Honorary Diploma Recipient: Takashi Murakami

June 1, 2011

Takashi MurakamiEach year Red River College awards a Red River College Honorary Diploma to an individual who demonstrates high standards of excellence in their personal and professional achievements and whose involvement in the community is widely recognized.

Widely and rightfully hailed as one of the most talented chefs in Canada, Chef Takashi Murakami, C.M., has spent the last 35 years elevating food preparation to an art form as Executive Chef of the St. Charles Country Club. Luckily, Chef Murakami’s lengthy tenure at St. Charles leaves ample room on his C.V. for the impressive array of awards and honours he’s amassed over the decades, among them a series of gold medals and a World Championship as a member and coach of Culinary Team Canada, a Chef of the Year designation by the Manitoba Chefs Association, membership in the Canadian Culinary Federation’s Honour Society, and a 2005 appointment as Member of the Order of Canada (making him one of only two chefs to receive this prestigious honour, and the only one from Manitoba).

Chef Murakami has also enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with Red River College over the years, having served on the College’s Advisory Committee for the last decade (the last three of which he’s acted as Chair), as a cooperative education employer for the College’s Hospitality and Culinary Arts students, and as a member of La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs—a capacity in which he trained Red River College culinary students taking part in the International Jeunes Chefs (Young Chefs) Rôtisseurs Competition.

A number of Red River College’s Culinary Arts instructors completed their apprenticeship training under Chef Murakami, who also developed the DACUM (Developing a Curriculum) analysis for the College’s Culinary Arts program. Most recently, he has signed on as a Chef of Distinction supporting the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute—future home of the College’s Culinary and Hospitality programs, and site of its first student residence.

We are proud to celebrate Chef Murakami’s many accomplishments by awarding him Red River College’s Honorary Diploma for 2011.

2010 Honorary Diploma Recipient – Polly Craik

June 1, 2010

Polly CraikEach year Red River College awards a Red River College Honorary Diploma to an individual who demonstrates high standards of excellence in their personal and professional achievements and whose involvement in the community is widely recognized.

As President and CEO of FineLine Solutions, Polly Craik is leading a highly successful Winnipeg-based customer-contact company to new heights.

Under Polly’s guidance, FineLine Solutions has carved out a niche market: coordinating donor, member and subscriber relationships for large non-profit organizations – as well as commercial businesses. The quality of their work is evident, as FineLine Solutions has received the prestigious Call Center Award of Distinction from both the Association of TeleServices International and the Call Management Association.
Over the years, Polly has continued to educate herself to become an even better entrepreneur.

She has completed “Birthing of Giants” and the “Advanced Business Program” both of which were sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This combined five-year educational program is limited to only a handful of entrepreneurs from around the world and is designed to teach business owners how to make their companies great. Polly has shared her knowledge and expertise by delivering presentations on customer service, retention and loyalty at numerous trade shows and conferences.

Polly is also actively involved in the community. She was the Chair of the 2007 Women’s World Hockey Championship, past Chair of the CentreVenture Development Corporation, and is a Board Member of the Business Council of Manitoba and a Member of the Premier’s Economic Advisory Council.

Due to her outstanding achievements, Polly has won several awards. In 2005, she made history by becoming the first female to be named Manitoba Business Magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year. Then in 2007, Polly was named one of the most influential women in sport and physical activity by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity.

Red River College is proud to present Polly Craik with an Honorary Diploma for the passion and innovative thinking that she exemplifies every day.

RRC Polytech campuses are located on the lands of Anishinaabe, Ininiwak, Anishininew, Dakota, and Dené, and the National Homeland of the Red River Métis.

We recognize and honour Treaty 3 Territory Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, the source of Winnipeg’s clean drinking water. In addition, we acknowledge Treaty Territories which provide us with access to electricity we use in both our personal and professional lives.

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