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Donor Community

Strong roots, mutual growth

June 30, 2021

With strong roots in Manitoba soil, a commitment to community, and a workforce brimming with Red River College talent, Wawanesa Mutual Insurance has grown over the past 125 years into one of Canada’s largest mutual insurance companies – and a generous RRC partner and supporter.

Since 2009, the company has made significant donations to a number of College programs, awards and capital projects aimed at helping RRC students excel in business, management, and information technology.

That includes a recent $50,000 gift in support of the College’s 100,000 square foot, state-of-the-art Innovation Centre in downtown Winnipeg.

“Looking after one another is the essence of who we are at Wawanesa,” says Selena Hinds, Vice President of Culture, Community and Communications at Wawanesa Insurance. “That’s why Wawanesa is proud to support Red River College, its students, and the new Innovation Centre. Together with RRC, we share a commitment to making our community a better place to live and learn, and we know students and all of Winnipeg’s downtown will benefit from the new Centre and surrounding greenspace.”

Eighteen per cent of Wawanesa employees say they attended RRC, and more than 240 indicate an RRC connection on their education profile.

“We’re proud to have a partner and supporter who understands first-hand the value of supporting our students and grads,” says Kirk Johnson, Dean, School of Business & Applied Arts and Dean, School of Hospitality & Culinary Arts, Red River College. “Wawanesa has hired many talented RRC graduates over the years. I’m excited to continue working with Wawanesa as our Innovation Centre opens up new opportunities for our students in Information Technology, Business, the Creative Arts, and more.”

Support for the Innovation Centre Project is directed to the Elgin Avenue Plaza (shown above), a greenspace and pedestrian plaza located between Princess Street and Adelaide Street. The new outdoor space will include seating areas, recreational space, and power outlets for food trucks, entertainment and vendors. Students and community members can use the space to study, eat lunch, or host events such as concerts or maker markets. The greenspace is located across from the new Market Lands, a creative hub, housing and market space that will attract more people to live, work and play in the growing neighbourhood.

In addition, the company has provided a $10,000 annual donation to support RRC students since 2009. This year, eight Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Awards will be distributed to individuals in the Business Administration, Business Information Technology, and Business Technology Management programs, providing opportunities for students to achieve success in their education and into their careers.

Wawanesa is also a sponsor of RRC’s Girls Exploring IT technology camp program and previous capital campaigns at the College. “As a member of the community, we know how important it is to ensure accessible education,” says Hinds. “As an employer, we see great value in the education and training RRC provides.”

That passion for community support extends far and wide. Last year, Wawanesa increased its community giving by $1.8 million in response to COVID-19 – bringing the company’s total community giving in 2020 to $5.3 million.

Wawanesa takes its name from the small Manitoba town where it was founded 125 years ago by a group of farmers determined to keep insurance premiums down. Since then, the original “Wawanesa Insurance” has grown into one of the largest mutual insurance company in Canada, with growing operations in the United States. Its North American corporate headquarters remain here in Winnipeg, at True North Square – where, in the years ahead, its Manitoba roots will grow even stronger.