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Alumni Engagement

News, Profiles and Events

From college halls to city walls: graphic design grad creating art and connecting communities one mural at a time

April 26, 2021

If you’ve spent any time walking, biking, or driving around Winnipeg, chances are you’ve seen Jordan Stranger’s work.

Large-scale murals in his colourful, pop art style grace the walls of The Forks Market, FortWhyte Alive, and Winnipeg’s North End. He has designed logos for Festival Du Voyageur, held exhibitions at aceart inc and Graffiti Art Gallery, painted the Niakwa Trail Bridge, and hosted half a dozen workshops throughout the city.

As an artist, Stranger has played a large role in creating accessible public art and showcasing culture in Winnipeg. And to him, it’s purely a community act.

“Public art is extremely important. To have that colour, culture, and vibrancy when you walk down your street, it makes your day. Once I’m done a mural piece, it’s not mine anymore. It’s for the people, for whoever needs to see it. It’s expression. We need to be able to share our deepest feelings and truest emotions through art, words, audio, music, and voice. That’s why art is so valuable, because it allows us to connect as people.”

Art has always been a part of Stranger’s life. His father, Wayne Stranger, is an accomplished bronze sculptor and studied fine art at the University of Manitoba. He remembers his grandparents, uncles, and aunts all with creative endeavours of their own.  

“I was exposed to art a lot,” said Stranger. “I was always drawing and sketching my favourite Dragon Ball Z characters, Pokémon, and cars from photo books. I was also always building things—I love using my hands to make stuff. That comes from my dad.”

In high school, Stranger took an interest in apparel design and screen-printing courses, but it wasn’t until he attended Red River College’s graphic design program in 2010 that he was first exposed to the industry.

The program’s learning curve was steep, said Stranger, especially when it came to technology. He had never used a MacBook before attending the program (in fact, on the first day, he wasn’t entirely sure how to turn it on). Alongside the training in technology, techniques and philosophy of graphic design, Stranger found the program’s supplementary lessons on marketing, public speaking, and exposure to the interview process incredibly useful.

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Graphic design grad talks ‘pro’crastination with Winnipeg creatives

April 23, 2021

RRC grad Shaun Vincent
Shaun Vincent, RRC grad and owner of Vincent Design Inc.

More than a decade ago, CreativeMornings was launched out of a desire for ongoing, accessible events for creative communities to connect. Today, these communities gather in 223 cities across 67 countries — including right here in Winnipeg.

The Winnipeg chapter of CreativeMornigns not only celebrates our city’s creative talent, but also promotes an open space to connect with like-minded individuals. From design legends to hometown heroes, speakers are selected by each chapter based on a global theme. April’s theme? Procrastinate – why we put things off, and how can that help or hinder the creative process.

Winnipeg’s Shaun Vincent, Red River College grad and owner of Vincent Design Inc., will be leading a talk about being a professional procrastinator during a pandemic on Friday, April 30 from 8 – 9 a.m. CT. Registration is open and the virtual event is completely free.

Vincent graduated with an advanced diploma in Graphic Design in 2003, and is a graphic designer and marketing strategist with more than 18 years of experience. He applies his deep knowledge of graphic design to creating work of enduring strength and quality that stands out in the field.

With roots firmly planted in his hometown of Winnipeg and the Métis community, Vincent has earned a reputation for his steadfast commitment to each client and project, high professional standards, a personable working style, and his careful intention to create authentic, memorable work that speaks volumes.

Vincent has also been recognized for his volunteer work throughout the city and currently sits on numerous boards including youth mentorship, Indigenous leadership groups and community centre development.

The motto of CreativeMornings is “everyone is creative, everyone is welcome” – a perfect fit for Friendly Manitoba. Don’t procrastinate – register now to attend Vincent’s presentation on April 30.

New Communication Management program will give communicators professional edge

April 14, 2021

Advanced business and project management skills at core of new program

Red River College’s new post-diploma Communication Management program targets advanced business and project management training to help professional communicators “level up” in their careers.

Designed for Creative Communications grads who specialized in Advertising and Marketing Communications or Public Relations and Communication Management — or professional communicators with similar education and work experience — this in-depth program combines essential theory with exceptional applied learning opportunities to boost career potential, making grads of this program more employable and promotable.

RRC Instructor Melanie Lee Lockhart
Melanie Lee Lockhart | Creative Communications instructor

“We cover a lot in the two years students spend with us in Creative Communications. With this new post-diploma program, we’re building on the solid education and experience our grads already have so they can lead strategy, projects, and teams effectively,” said Melanie Lee Lockhart, RRC Public Relations instructor and Communication Management program coordinator.

Whether you’re a Public Relations grad looking to upgrade your skillset and take your career to new heights, or you have been working in a communication management role for the past few years and want a competitive advantage, this program is uniquely suited for communicators who want to progress to the management level.

Professionals with backgrounds in advertising or marketing will also gain advanced skills in public relations not previously learned in school or in the workplace.

The pandemic has made the importance of professional communicators even more apparent than it was before – and it isn’t over. So, we’ll begin by offering this program part-time and primarily online this fall, so you can build your business acumen without taking a pause from your career.

The deadline to apply for the first year of Communication Management is June 4 and the program has a competitive application process. To learn more, those interested can contact Melanie Lee Lockhart at

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RRC buildings present full circle experience for Masonry grad and industry trailblazer

April 12, 2021

Bricklayer Nina Widmer is no stranger to forging her own path, having gone from quick study to trades leader in the past six years.

Widmer’s fingerprints are, quite literally, on some of Manitoba’s most remarkable masonry restoration projects. With Alpha Masonry Ltd., where she’s worked with her father — German-born master craftsman, Alfred — since the age of 17, Widmer has been a part of historical restoration projects such as the University of Winnipeg’s Wesley Hall and the A.A. Heaps Building (Bank of Nova Scotia).

Recent highlights for Widmer also include an interior restoration of the ornamental ceiling in the Millennium Centre — one of the city’s finest gala venues. Another project, just outside the city, was the restoration of the perimeter defense walls and gun ports at Lower Fort Garry, one of the province’s most popular spots for taking a stroll back through time.

“It was an amazing project. It taught me a lot of old-school techniques of slaking lime and all that fun stuff — that was a really neat project to be a part of.”

Passion for the trade comes through immediately when talking to Widmer, and she credits a childhood spent with her father on different restoration projects for falling in love with all things masonry.

“Watching him replicate ornamental masonry units that were deteriorating, and reinstalling the new unit that he had made — that seamless recreation of the facade was not only intriguing but also mind-blowing at that age,” said Widmer.

“Now that I’ve learned his craft by working alongside him, restoration projects are always my favourite because I get to put my skills to the test and see if I can replicate and restore as well as he can.”

The passion came with hard work, too, as Widmer blazed her own trail in Red River College’s Masonry apprenticeship program; graduating in 2014, she is Manitoba’s first female Red Seal Mason. In 2017, she was awarded Apprenticeship Manitoba’s Journeyperson of the Year – Urban after being nominated by her trade peers.

Widmer chalks these accomplishments up to self-belief and dedication to the craft, which was certainly part of her RRC experience.

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Free virtual event: Master Networking Skills to Launch Your Career

April 1, 2021

You’re invited! Ten Thousand Coffees is hosting a free workshop on April 8, 2021 at 12:30 p.m. CT to help you master networking skills that will launch your career or take your career to new heights.

We all know the best time to network is when you have a job (instead of when you want to find a job!). In today’s virtual reality, this is hard to do, particularly if you don’t know how. In addition, we know that fear and nerves can get in the way when trying to network at a first job or internship. At any stage of your career, networking can be challenging, especially when we can’t meet face-to-face.

Join expert networkers for this Office Hour on how to master networking skills to launch your career. This session will cover why it’s so important to build networks that will catapult your growth and career success. You will also have the chance to workshop the skills to become a superstar networker in a virtual environment – an essential soft skill that will be handy forever!

The event is free and open to all Red River College students and alumni. Whether you’re already a member of the Red River College Café or new to our mentoring platform, you’re invited to enhance your networking skills at this workshop event.

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Building the Happy Medium

March 18, 2021

Jason Vitt co-founded Selkirk-based Mezzo Homes in 2016 to focus on providing affordable, yet high-quality, smaller-scale housing.

“We named our company Mezzo because it means ‘middle’ or ‘medium’, and that’s just what our Mezzo home is.”

After first exploring concepts as small as 200 to 300 square feet, Vitt and company came up with what is now their main model – a 764-square-foot home on a 48 by 60 foot lot, complete with generous storage space and amenities, such as in-floor heating and a deck, for $230,000.

“At the end of day, the home has to work for its environment,” Vitt said. “We live in Manitoba, we have four seasons, and homeowners need some space to store things.”

The Mezzo is making its mark as “tiny home” champions throughout North America and around the world continue to spark an architectural and social movement in response to growing concerns related to home affordability and environmental sustainability.

Vitt experienced the demand in Manitoba’s Interlake firsthand in spring 2018, when Mezzo Homes staged their first-ever Open House in Selkirk.

“We didn’t know what to expect. We planned to go from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on a Saturday. I got there early, and we started taking people through at 9 a.m. We lost count when we went over 500 people. Three people signed up to buy that day.”

Who wants a Mezzo? It seems the answer is “all kinds of people”

“We thought it would be seniors, retirees, and possibly first-time home buyers,” he said “Then we sold a home to a 40-year-old man living on his own. Some buyers are commuters to Winnipeg, others live and work in the Interlake. We realized there weren’t limits to who might be a customer.”

Mezzo Homes recently sold its 16th home in a Selkirk development. A second Mezzo development is underway in Gimli, with plans for 27 homes.

With his wife Amanda providing interior design services, Vitt says the duo keep in touch with Mezzo homeowners.

“That’s where we get great feedback. They’ve become our friends, really.”

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Patient-care courses continue to inspire Medical Radiologic Technology grad in decades-long career

March 8, 2021

It was always Hesam (Sam) Aminian’s plan to work in human health.

Back in Tehran, Iran, he studied dentistry at the National University of Iran (now Shahid Beheshti University), until shortly after the Iranian Revolution when he and his brother fled to Canada as refugees, first arriving in Toronto in July 1984.

Soon after settling in Manitoba, Aminian graduated from Red River College’s Medical Radiologic Diagnostic Technology program in 1990, and two years later, from the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program, which at the time was being taught at Health Sciences Centre (HSC). He continued his studies in ultrasound and was certified in Pediatric Echocardiography in 1993.

Aminian has since gone on to achieve an impressive near-30-year career with HSC’s Department of Pediatric Cardiology.

“[When I arrived in Canada], I thought about starting all over again from scratch in dentistry, but by then my wife and I were married, and I decided to take a shorter route to creating a career for myself,” Aminian explains.

“I looked around and one of the things that stood out to me was the Medical Radiologic program at Red River College. It was one of the main reasons we moved to Winnipeg —so I could apply and attend the course.”

The College was already a well-recognized institution in Canada by then, and the high employment rates of its graduates helped solidify Aminian’s decision to attend the program.

Throughout the program, he studied both the theoretical and practical components of the industry and completed his clinical work experience at Misericordia Health Centre (then General Hospital), where he found the training both rigorous and rewarding.

“It really was a tough program, but in retrospect, I wouldn’t wish for anything less than that. The instructors at both the College and the hospital were some of the toughest instructors I’ve come across. But through that, I found myself learning so much. The level of expectations was high, and thankfully I managed to meet them.”

Now, nearly three decades into the job, Aminian points to one particular program area that has helped him most. 

“What I will carry for the rest of my career are the patient-care courses that we took in the program. We learned how to interact with patients and people when they’re not at their best physically or emotionally. It stands out for me as something that carries over to anything I do.”

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Hospitality and Tourism grad builds comfort-food career from backbone of RRC training

March 8, 2021

It doesn’t matter whether you’re dining out, cooking at home or ordering delivery — comfort food has a way of creating conversation and bringing people together.

That’s the mantra of Laneil Smith, co-owner of Marion Street Eatery (393 Marion St.) and manager of the Marion Hotel, who, alongside her team, has been serving up the stick-to-your-bones dishes loved by Manitobans since taking over the famed location in 2014.

“We try to make everything on the menu something that people can relate to, or they can bring out a story within their table and their dining experience,” says Smith. “Whether it’s a meatloaf, a chicken pot pie or a chili, I think people within our province have grown up with those foods and they all have a story.”

While it’s true these foods have a special place at the dinner table, Marion Street Eatery has elevated the dishes from their homely roots and become a star of the St. Boniface dining scene. Whether it’s mac and cheese sweetened with honey mustard pretzels, or a spicy chicken wrap with chili lime peanuts and sriracha, there’s enough twists to keep mouths watering and bring locals back for more.

“Our motto is ‘simple food made good,’ and we really strive for that,” says Smith. “I grew up in a home where we ate a lot of meat and potatoes — home-cooked and hearty comforts that were fairly basic, but good food. Sometimes what people are looking for is for us to take something very simple, juice that up with flavour, and make that simple product good.

“So we took some basic comfort foods — foods that you would typically have at your dining room table or your grandma’s dining room table — and knocked it up a couple notches.”

Smith’s family has owned the Marion Hotel for more than 40 years and she had her eyes on the restaurant well before taking over the space seven years ago. (Before that, it had been leased to the owners of a Polish restaurant.) Smith credits her piqued interest with a love of the space — a cozy corner of the hotel’s footprint — as well as a love of food and the relationships that come through that shared experience.

“I was certainly drawn to restaurants,” she says. “I loved the diversity of the different types of foods that you can play around with, I love being able to give people an experience through food. I think so many people connect through food and drink. I think of relationships I’ve created through my past and usually they revolve around the dinner table in some form.”

She also credits her experience at Red River College — where she graduated from the Hospitality and Tourism Management program in 2006 — with turning that passion into a backbone of fundamental skills, as well as the tool belt needed to lead in a high-pressure environment like a restaurant.

“There’s a foundation that’s learned through the College. When I was in school, it was partly about creating skills, but it also built my strength and confidence to improve and excel within the industry. You see that students have that foundation now, that base and the eagerness of wanting to learn more.”

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Enter to win: Digital Marketing Day 2021

March 1, 2021

Contest closed – thank you for entering.

Enter for your chance to win one of four tickets to this year’s Digital Marketing Day, presented virtually by the Advertising Association of Winnipeg over two half days in March.

Learn from the most relevant speakers in digital marketing and advertising from across North America over two morning sessions on Zoom. You’ll hear from a variety of experts, including RRC grads Jillian Recksiedler (Creative Communications, 2006) and Natalie Bell (Human Resource Management, 2010) who will share their experiences and best practices in the digital advertising industry.

From local brand ambassadors to seasoned consultants, each speaker will provide insight from working in the field and each session is designed to enlighten and inspire. Take your knowledge to the next level – enter to win today!

*Contest now closed. Thank you for entering this giveaway – only winners will be contacted. Please stay tuned for future contests!

“Dancing Gabe: One Step At A Time” biography giveaway

February 22, 2021

Contest Closed – Thank you for entering.

To honour the incredible achievements of Gabriel Langlois, the recipient of an Honorary Diploma in Community Development, we are delighted to give away 14 copies of the biography Dancing Gabe: One Step At A Time by Daniel Perron, signed by both Gabriel and Dan. The contest is open to all RRC grads and alumni.

Thanks to a heartfelt nomination made by Gabe’s biographer, Daniel Perron, Red River College was moved to award Gabriel with an Honorary Diploma this winter to pay tribute to Gabe’s integrity, devotion to volunteering, community spirit, and uplifting positive attitude. And, while we only have 14 copies of Dancing Gabe: One Step At A Time to give away, you can also purchase copies of the eBook.

We encourage the RRC community to tune in to RRC’s 2021 Virtual Winter Convocation taking place on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 3:00 p.m. CST to help celebrate this milestone with Gabe and his family. You can learn more about Gabe’s accomplishments and his Honorary Diploma on the RED Blog.

*Contest now closed. Thank you for entering this giveaway – only winners will be contacted. Please stay tuned for future contests!