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Just one bursary to an Early Childhood Education student helps to change the lives of many young children

November 23, 2023

Many high school students don’t know which career they want to pursue once they graduate. That wasn’t the case for Kelliegh Rody, she knew what she wanted to do, and how to get there.

“It was something I grew up doing,” said Kelliegh. “I always took care of my siblings and other people’s kids. Being the oldest, I kind of took on that job of taking care of everyone. So, I wanted to put that work into an actual career.”

Kelliegh recently completed the Early Childhood Education program at RRC Polytech and graduated this fall.

Early Childhood Education is a two-year program that provides graduates with the knowledge and skills needed to create environments that encourage the emotional, social, and intellectual development of young children.

“Honestly, I think just changing the lives of children, especially if I work with children who are in foster care, because I’ve been in foster care. And I want them to understand that you have support for your life,” said Kelliegh about what she’s looking forward to after graduation.

Kelliegh was the recipient of a Youth in Care Bursary which provides one year of tuition to the recipient.

“I want them to understand that whatever they see in the news and hear about some people turning out bad or having something happen, that doesn’t need to happen. They have someone who cares about them,” she adds.

In May, a gift of $1.5 million from the Joyce Family Foundation was announced and provides an additional ten bursaries each year for youth in care and students who face significant financial barriers to education. The newly created Joyce Family Foundation Bursary will soon be available to students in 2024 to help remove barriers that Manitoba’s most vulnerable students face when transitioning to the College, including the cost of tuition, books and other services and supports.

The Joyce Family Foundation is a private, family foundation created by Canadian entrepreneur Ronald V. Joyce. The Foundation’s primary focus is to provide access to education for children and youth with significant financial need or facing other socio-economic barriers to success.

“My support worker told me to apply for the bursary. I did, and I got it. If I didn’t have [the bursary], I think I’d be struggling in my academic journey. Because I was struggling with a part-time job while in college last year – I couldn’t do both. It helped me out so I could stay in school full-time,” said Kelliegh.

RRC Polytech is a partner of the Manitoba Scholarship Bursary Initiative (MSBI), and the annual disbursement from the Joyce Family Foundation gift will be matched by the Manitoba government at a 1 to 2 ratio.

When asked what she would tell people about applying for the bursary, Kelliegh said, “I would tell people to apply for it, like use it if you can, because it’s definitely been really helpful.”

Kelliegh has employment lined up once she completes her practicum and noted that most of her peers do as well.

“That was one of my favourite things about RRC Polytech – how diverse it is. Coming from high school, you’re always with people the same age. And now, I have friends who are like 30-50 years old in my class and many international students, so it’s been really interesting to understand different culture and traditions,” added Kelliegh who is looking forward to sharing this love with the young children she’ll be working with.

To celebrate the Joyce Family Foundation, RRC Polytech alumni, artist, and business owner Shaun Vincent of Vincent Design generously offered to create a special token to honour the gift and what it means for the College.

Shaun’s design features Saskatoon berries, a summer fruit that is one of the earliest to flower and provides a place for bees to collect the nectar they need.

“I know what it’s like to struggle to pay for school,” said Shaun Vincent, adding that he wanted to find a way to honour both the recipients and donors in the expression of his design. “Especially when the recipients are youth in care, they need to know they have community support. Knowing that someone you don’t know has thought of your circumstances and wants to make a difference is so important.”

“Growing up in a family where finances were tight, I knew I wanted to create something to thank the Joyce Family Foundation for the opportunities they’re providing young people.”

In late October, RRC Polytech President and CEO, Fred Meier, had the opportunity to meet with Maureen O’Neill, Executive Director of The Joyce Family Foundation to thank them in person and present this meaningful, one-of-a-kind gift.

From left to right – Fred Meier, RRC Polytech President and CEO, Maureen O’Neill, Executive Director, The Joyce Family Foundation, Linda Rickeras, Finance Director, The Joyce Family Foundation.

Find more information on bursaries and how to apply here.

Walter and Maria Schroeder recognized for years of community support at 2023 Association of Fundraising Professionals Awards

November 15, 2023

November 15 is National Philanthropy Day, and two of RRC Polytech’s most prolific supporters are being celebrated for their years of philanthropy in Winnipeg and across Canada.

RRC Polytech, along with the University of Manitoba, are pleased to have nominated Walter and Maria Schroeder for the 2023 AFP Awards in the Outstanding Philanthropist category. The Schroeders received the award at a ceremony this afternoon.

“Walter and Maria Schroeder’s work has truly been transformative, and today RRC Polytech is so proud to celebrate their contributions with our community as Manitoba’s 2023 Outstanding Philanthropists,” said Fred Meier, President and CEO, RRC Polytech. 

“The Schroeder Foundation has awarded hundreds of full post-secondary scholarships to institutions in Winnipeg – including more than 180 to RRC Polytech – which includes tuition, books, and wrap-around supports. The Schroeder Foundation students now also have the opportunity to participate in the Transition to College program, which helps them start their programs with the knowledge and confidence they need to succeed on day one.”

The Schroeder Foundation donates millions of dollars to organizations every year, with a focus on improving healthcare, providing economic education, and empowering youth and Indigenous communities across the country. The Foundation currently invests more than three million dollars annually in Winnipeg alone.

The Schroeders grew up in Winnipeg with a lifelong belief in helping others. In 1976, Walter founded a Canadian-based bond rating agency called Dominion Bond Rating Service, which became one of the world’s premier agencies. After selling their company, the Schroeders focused their energy on philanthropy and The Schroeder Foundation was born.

However, their journey of philanthropy originally began in 1955, when Maria came to Canada as a refugee after escaping across West Germany’s border. As a grade 11 student, Maria told her teacher at Daniel McIntyre High School that she was making the difficult decision to leave school to work and support her family. Her teacher then relayed the story to the school principal, who showed up at Maria’s home one evening and convinced the family to send her back to school. Over the course of the year, he provided financial support which empowered Maria to complete her education.

This story served as inspiration for the Schroeders’ own commitment to giving back. Since 2018, they have directly impacted a total of 194 unique students at the University of Manitoba and RRC Polytech. They have also provided scholarships to 67 students of the Sisler High School CREATE program to attend Vancouver Film School, and provided merit awards and scholarships to students at St. John’s High School and Sisler High School – amounting to more than 700 individual awards per year.

Brittany Smith, RRC Polytech’s 2023 Lieutenant Governor’s Medal recipient and graduate of the Legal Assistant Certificate Program experienced financial hardship and homelessness and described feeling as if her dream was slipping away until she received a lifeline in the form of a full tuition scholarship to attend RRC Polytech from the Schroeder Foundation.

“At the time, I could barely afford to eat so without the generous support of the scholarship I was granted, there was simply no way I would have been able to even think about attending post-secondary. I was so excited and felt so much relief when I was offered an option to work my way out of the tough spot, I was in. It motivated me to keep going and I cannot thank Walter and Maria enough for the impact they’ve made in my life.”  

The Schroeder Foundation provides fully-paid scholarships to RRC Polytech, which includes tuition, books, and wrap-around supports. The Schroeder Foundation students now also have the opportunity to participate in the Transition to College program, which helps them start their programs with the knowledge and confidence they need to succeed on day one.

“The first day, I remember being stressed out and I was even worried about getting there on time, but someone immediately recognized me and my stress went from 100 to zero in seconds,” said Jileen Easter, current Pathway to Business student and recent participant in the Transition to College program. “I didn’t have to worry about getting lost because everything was explained to me. I think if I had started college without the program, I wouldn’t have my student ID or know where I could go for lunch or anything,” she said.

“Schroeder students” begin their post-secondary journeys with the confidence that they have Walter and Maria’s support, along with an entire community cheering them on.

Schroeder Foundation Transition to College Students

To date, The Schroeder Foundation has donated more than $2 million towards six previous cohorts and helped support more than 180 RRC Polytech students achieve post-secondary success.

RRC Polytech has previously honoured Walter and Maria Schroeder with an Honorary Bachelor of Education degree in October 2022, in recognition of their dedication to removing barriers to education for Manitoba youth.

Serving up a future in hospitality: John Aisenstat Memorial Award to support Hospitality and Culinary Arts students

November 8, 2023

RRC Polytech President and CEO Fred Meier, Hy’s Executive Chef Jacqueline Hildebrand and Hy’s President and CEO Neil Aisenstat.

On a warm evening this past July, dozens of guests gathered at the Hy’s Steakhouse patio in downtown Winnipeg. A typical summer scene, perhaps, but it wasn’t just delicious food and drinks that brought this group together: it was the desire to help future generations of Hospitality and Culinary Arts students at Red River College Polytechnic achieve their goals.

RRC Polytech is partnering with Hy’s Steakhouse to establish an endowment fund for the John Aisenstat Memorial Award, which will recognize and support second-year Hospitality and Culinary Arts students who have demonstrated exceptional academic standing, a genuine passion for the industry, and financial need.

The award is significant as it honours the memory of John Aisenstat, the former Executive Vice President of Hy’s Steakhouse, who was renowned for his unwavering dedication to the hospitality industry and his steadfast support of the staff who contributed to the success of Hy’s Steakhouse for more than six decades.

“Hy’s is thrilled to partner with Red River College Polytechnic on this new award supporting hospitality students. It is especially meaningful as it honours the memory of my brother John, who embodied true hospitality,” said Neil Aisenstat, President and CEO of Hy’s Steakhouse and Cocktail Bar. “We look forward to a great future of many fun events, and a strong relationship between Hy’s and RRC Polytech as we help foster the best and brightest in the industry.”

Hy’s Steakhouse and RRC Polytech both stand as defining pillars in Winnipeg, embodying the city’s spirit of community and ambition. Hy’s Executive Chef Jacqueline Hildebrand is a graduate of the College’s Culinary Arts program, further reinforcing the connection between the two institutions.

“The John Aisenstat Memorial Scholarship helps us put the needs of students first. With financial relief, students are empowered to concentrate on their education, without worrying about putting food on the table,” said Fred Meier, President and CEO, RRC Polytech. “This means our Hospitality and Culinary Arts students can continue to focus on what they do best: putting food on the tables of fine dining establishments across the country.

“RRC Polytech is committed to deepening partnerships to maximize prosperity across industry and community. This is one of the core commitments in our Strategic Plan; it’s a promise that guides much of what we do,” continued Meier. “Working with Hy’s Steakhouse not only supports the commitment to deepening partnerships, it directly affects RRC Polytech’s most important stakeholders: its students.”

More than $6,000 were raised at the fundraiser, which is slated to be an annual event. For more information about the award, please contact

The Schroeder Foundation helps ease first day nerves with the Transition to College program at RRC Polytech

October 20, 2023

As you enter the Red River College Polytechnic (RRC Polytech) front doors on your first day of classes, students walk past you in every direction, carrying their books, laughing with their friends, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Perhaps you are unsure which direction your class is, or who your new classmates are, or you may be especially nervous because you weren’t sure college was for you.

These are feelings many students are experiencing less of, now, due to the Transition to College program supported by The Schroeder Foundation.

Thanks to the generosity of Walter and Maria Schroeder through The Schroeder Foundation, select high school students are provided with fully paid scholarships to RRC Polytech, which includes tuition, books, and wrap-around supports. This is the second year The Schroeder Foundation students have had the opportunity to participate in the Transition to College program, which helps them start their programs with the knowledge and confidence they need to succeed on day one.

“The first day, I remember being stressed out and I was even worried about getting there on time, but someone immediately recognized me and my stress went from 100 to zero in seconds,” said Jileen Easter, current Pathway to Business student and recent participant in the Transition to College program. “I didn’t have to worry about getting lost because everything was explained to me. I think if I had started college without the program, I wouldn’t have my student ID or know where I could go for lunch or anything,” she says with a chuckle.

Jileen is one of the 30 students who participated in the most recent cohort of the Transition to College program supported by The Schroeder Foundation. This program is an eight-day intensive introduction to college life where students receive campus tours, are provided with access to the IT programs required, have sessions on time-management, writing, math, how to navigate stress, and have a chance to discover the supports they have access to while attending the College.

To date, The Schroeder Foundation has donated over $2 million towards six previous cohorts and helped support over 180 students achieve post-secondary success. 

“It was cool, coming full circle, being there last year listening to people talk all day to being a mentor,” said Rovic Climocosa, a Business Administration student and mentor in the Transition to College program. “I was able to give a lot of tips and advice, and honestly, remind myself of how far I’ve come since being here.”

“I mainly told the new students two things; I told them to always try your best to build connections, whether that be through some of the advisors or instructors or classmates – these connections will help you as you go through school together, and I told them the importance of time management. There’s a lot of schoolwork and you have classes, your friends and family, but you also need to make time for yourself to relax and reflect,” added Rovic.

A key component of the Transition to College program is the ability to ask current students questions, receive advice and make connections. Students also spend time with Indigenous support staff learning about the Seven Sacred Teachings, medicines, Truth and Reconciliation, and are given the time to create a star blanket together.

“It was so reassuring, to see students come over and be like ‘it looks and seems scary, but you’re going to get the hang of it,’” said Jileen. “It was practically like they handed me the experience and broke down each component of it. I was so happy that I could walk to the college on my first day and know what I’m doing.”

Students who participate in the Transition to College program are recipients of The Schroeder Foundation Scholarship, where their college program, text books and additional supports are paid for.

“Being a Schroeder student is knowing that Walter and Maria and this whole group of people believe in me and believe that I can make the world a better place. I guess that sounds kind of nostalgic,” said Rovic with a grin. “But, it gives me the feeling that I have something to give back to the community, so it’s nice.”

Rovic is currently in his third term of the Business Administration program, where he’s been able to work with a local business in helping them with a branding campaign and rebuild connections with their customers. Jileen plans on completing Pathway to Business then moving on to the Digital Media Design program at RRC Polytech.

To learn more about scholarships available click here or to help future students transition to college, make a gift here today.

Conquest Planning provides students with access to their future: RRC Polytech gifted industry-standard software

June 14, 2023

Business Administration is one of the most flexible programs you can take at Red River College Polytechnic (RRC Polytech). Do you want to develop marketing skills? Or work in personal finance? Or perhaps own your own business – Business Administration can help you get there.

Carol Liang, an international student, and soon-to-be graduate from Business Administration, selected RRC Polytech’s Business Administration program to help build off her existing career in analytics and e-commerce.

“Gaining more financial knowledge will help me to combine my experience as an analyst and what I’m interested in to help organizations to make informed decisions,” said Carol.

Part of the reason for the success of Business Administration is because RRC Polytech prides itself on ensuring students use the same technology, programs, hardware, and tools they would use in the workplace, so they’re prepared from day one.

“As a new immigrant to Canada I didn’t know a lot of the financial policies, or how to do my taxes, so I learned all of that while I was at RRC Polytech. It was really rewarding for me,” said Carol.

Personal Financial Planning, a Business Administration final year course brings together everything that students have learned about financial planning – tax, insurance, estate, and retirement planning – and use this information to help solve client problems or determine the appropriate strategies for their clients.

“There are all these aspects of planning that students are trying to bring together. And if you can imagine trying to deal with those individually and using a calculator to do this, it becomes quite taxing and a lot of work,” said Bruce Eyford, Instructor, Personal Financial Planning.

Enter Conquest Planning.

Conquest Planning is a financial planning software that allows both financial planners and their clients to input financial data with the goal of delivering hyper-personalized advice and strategies that address consumers’ unique needs.

“If I trained students with outdated software, it wouldn’t give them a competitive advantage in the marketplace, so I wanted to make sure we used a product that was modern and state-of-the-art,” said Bruce.

Conquest, a Winnipeg based company, recently gifted RRC Polytech software for the Personal Financial Planning and Financial Selling courses, valued at $208,000 in support of RRC Polytech’s In Front of What’s Ahead comprehensive campaign.

“We believe that supporting the next generation of personal finance specialists is incredibly important, not only for the industry, but for the success of our communities,” said Brad Joudrie, Chief Revenue Officer, Conquest Planning. “Graduates from RRC Polytech will be using Conquest Planning as they progress in their financial planning careers, so providing them access while they were learning was an easy decision. The future of personal finance is changing but the value of advice is not. We’re committed to creating a better financial future for all by arming current and prospective advisors with the right resources to deliver meaningful personalized advice .”

Conquest Planning has been used in Personal Financial Planning since September of 2021 and was introduced to Financial Selling this past fall.

“I feel grateful that we have the chance to use Conquest Planning because, as I understand, this is an industry standard tool,” said Carol. “It’s very easy to use and user friendly and automatically creates chats and analysis that we would share with clients.”

Bruce agrees. “It’s an excellent program and has this AI strategic advice manager that really helps students because it makes recommendations for them to think about potential strategies,” added Bruce.

Conquest Planning has provided RRC Polytech full versions of the software that allows students to truly experience what the software can provide clients.

“I always want to prepare students to the best of their abilities and to be successful after graduation, and providing them access to Conquest Planning not only achieves this goal, but helps them better understand how artificial intelligence-powered tools represent the future of finance,” said Bruce.

Carol is currently looking for employment and is ready to take on whatever challenge comes her way. “I want to use what I learned at RRC Polytech and contribute to the company. I am looking for an analyst related role at a financial institution, I love working with data and with stakeholders and if I can combine all of this, I will feel very satisfied,” added Carol with a smile.

RRC Polytech accepting award applications from inner-city scholars

May 30, 2023

Students entering IT and business programs at Red River College Polytechnic have the opportunity for their education to be covered thanks to the generosity of community leader Gary Coleman.

The Gary Coleman Award for Inner-City Scholars helps students build successful careers on their own and removes barriers to post-secondary education, from enrollment to graduation.

The award is available to graduates of eight inner-city schools in Winnipeg who have been accepted into RRC Polytech’s Applied Accounting, Business Administration, Commerce Industry Sales and Marketing, Business Information Technology, Data Science and Machine Learning, IT Operations, and Information Security programs. Recipients are free from the worry of financial barriers as the award covers the cost of tuition, program fees, books, and supplies.

With the help of this award, young students can hone their skills in three of RRC Polytech’s IT and business-based programs, receiving the high-quality learning they need to become leaders in their careers.

How to Apply

See RRC Polytech’s Awards, Bursaries and Scholarships and scroll down to the “Gary Coleman Award for Inner-City Scholars” heading for more information.

Eligible students are encouraged to complete the application form and send it to The application deadline for the upcoming fall term is Friday, July 7, 2023.

NOTE: The application for the winter 2024 term is November 30, 2023.

Eligibility Requirements

The Gary Coleman Award for Inner-City Scholars will support two students who:

  • Graduated in the previous 24 months from one of the following high schools:
    • Argyle Alternative High School
    • Children of the Earth High School
    • Daniel McIntyre Collegiate
    • Gordon Bell High School
    • B. Russell Vocational High School
    • Sisler High School
    • St. John’s High School
    • Technical Vocational High School
  • Have already been accepted into one of the following RRC Polytech programs:
    • Applied Accounting (Certificate)
    • Business Administration (Diploma)
    • Commerce Industry Sales and Marketing (Certificate)
    • Business Information Technology (Diploma)
    • Data Science and Machine Learning (Diploma)
    • IT Operations (Diploma)
    • Information Security (Post Graduate Diploma)

Gary Coleman is the president and chief executive officer of Winnipeg-based Garibaldi Investments Ltd., his family office. Gary divested his main operating business, Big Freight Systems Inc. in 2017, after leading the organization for over 30 years. His family office is involved in industrial and commercial real estate as well as investments in crypto and web3 businesses. Gary graduated from Red River College Polytechnic in 1981 with a diploma in Business.

“I was extremely fortunate to grow up in a family that instilled a strong work ethic, that together with a vision for growth and the ability to attract exceptional talent, allowed our company to grow into an international operation. Attending Red River College Polytechnic played an important role in my journey as my Business studies provided me with many of the required foundational business skills.”

“With this scholarship, I hope to help students who have the ambition, desire and drive to change their station in life, but are lacking the one key component to achieve their dreams- the financial resources for a college education.”

Lenovo supports RRC Polytech Indigenous Learners

May 9, 2023

A requirement for acceptance to the Pathway to Information Technology (Pathway to IT) program is to have access to a computer. Not just your uncle’s old computer that hasn’t been used for three years, but one with certain memory and speed requirements. Thanks to a recent donation from Lenovo of 43 laptops (ThinkBook 15 Gen4), valued at $50,000, Pathway to IT students, no longer need to worry about this requirement.

Joshua Shuttleworth

“I had taken my laptop to the people that I was applying to, to ask if my laptop is acceptable and if I can use it,” said Joshua Shuttleworth, current Pathway to Information Technology student. “Because I knew that I wasn’t about to go and buy a new laptop if mine wasn’t good enough.”

Joshua’s computer was deemed acceptable, but it was challenging for him and a classmate who both used computers with a different operating system.

“There’d be times when I was in class, and we’re trying to format this thing and the instructor would use keyboard shortcuts. And I would just manually go to where I had to go instead of using the shortcut, or I would quickly Google ‘how to do this on a different operating system’,” said Joshua as he chuckled about the memory.

Just over a month into the program, Joshua’s instructor began handing out Lenovo laptops to all students.

“I’ll admit at first, I was sketched out, and it took me awhile to understand that it was real, and we didn’t have to return [the computer] at the end. I was just very grateful, and it took a huge ease off my mind,” said Joshua.

“Our vision is to help create a world where every person has access to the technology that allows them to achieve their goals,” said Libby Richards, Community Engagement Manager, Lenovo. “Connecting students with technology is crucial in innovation and moving society forward. This program aligns with our goals and provides students with the foundational knowledge to be successful in the rapidly growing field of IT.”

Lenovo team members were able to tour Manitou a bi Bii daziigae and were able to see their gift in action, when meeting students in Pathway to IT.

“It’s clear to see why these students selected this program,” said Warren Beleyowski, Client Executive, MB/SK Public Sector, Lenovo Canada. “Providing them with laptops was an easy decision, as these students are going to be the ones who are meeting the ever-changing needs of tomorrow.”

Pathway to IT was created in partnership with RBC Future Launch as a preparatory and exploratory program to Indigenous Manitobans to succeed in post-secondary education and be ready for a career in information technology, information security, or IT operations.

Joshua joined Pathway to IT after hearing about it from his older sister who took Pathway to Business, Creative Communications and Digital Technology Programs.

“I tried university in 2018/2019 and I didn’t like it at all, but I really liked computer programming, which was one of the courses I took,” said Joshua. “My sister told me to check out the pathway programs and I found out about the Pathway to IT program, which was brand new, and I saw that it helps you get into Business Information Technology program after. They said you learn a lot about programming and software and computer stuff – and that was the stuff that I was interested in.”

Joshua is almost finished his first term of Pathway to IT, and once he’s completed, he’s planning on enrolling in RRC Polytech’s Business Information Technology program and eventually the Game Development – Programming program and hopes to work in game development one day.

The Window to the Future: Apprenticeship training makes a world of difference

May 3, 2023

An apprentice at Red River College Polytechnic only spends a few weeks in the classroom – the rest of the time is paid, on-the-job training. Recently Loewen Windows and Doors (Loewen) donated a display of premium luxury windows and doors to the Skilled Trades and Technology Centre, these displays are used for in-classroom learning by apprentice students. Five Loewen apprentices spent part of their time in the classroom building the display wall.

“Seeing the product and actually getting to do the finished millwork was really cool,” says Ashely Berard, Apprentice Cabinetmaker. “It was a different take on what I would usually do.”

“Having the model and the wall provided was very helpful, because you learn how to work around the issues that you only read about,” added Josh Johnston, Apprentice Cabinetmaker.

As the leading manufacturer of premium windows and doors in North America, Loewen understands the importance of quality materials and skilled artisans who meticulously craft each made-to-order piece. Their commitment to expert craftspeople has continuously resulted in an award-winning business. Apprenticeship training provides on-the-job skill development at Loewen with levels of technical training at Red River College Polytechnic (RRC Polytech).

“Coming to the College allows you to go through the whole spectrum of jobs and techniques and you can try new things,” said Josh. “It helps to develop new skills and learn the theory compared to just building, so you can adapt your knowledge that you’ve read into actual work you do.”

Ashley and Josh just completed their second level of training and are currently working full-time at Loewen before they return to RRC Polytech to complete their third of four levels this fall.

Krista Scherpenzeel, Talent Acquisition Specialist, Loewen and Carrie Jones, Director, Human Resource, Loewen in front of the display wall created by Loewen apprentices.

“Loewen works hard to create a culture where team members succeed,” said Todd LeRoy, Vice President, Manufacturing, Loewen. “We know that apprenticeship students have the know-how to be successful when they get here and we’re ready to help them grow into whatever role they’re hoping to achieve as their careers develop.”

Loewen’s apprentices are offered a top-up program where they can earn 95 percent of their wages while attending RRC Polytech for approved apprenticeship programs.

“When you go back to work [at Loewen], you’re utilizing all the things that you’ve learned in school and you’re like ‘oh, wow, why didn’t I think about doing it this way before?’ and you’re using your skills and you can feel and see your own progression, which is so important,” said Ashley. “Having the school experience give you the standards of what things should be, and it helps you connect your skills and quality with things like time management. School helps put it into perspective.”

Loewen recently pledged $40,000 towards RRC Polytech’s In Front of What’s Ahead campaign over the next five years. Funds will be used towards three key funding priorities including transforming learning and research spaces, amplifying RRC Polytech’s impact and enhancing the student experience.

“Partners like Loewen make such a difference to the College,” said Derek Kochenash, Dean, School of Skilled Trades & Technologies. “They not only provide apprenticeship opportunities, but they employ apprentices through their training and beyond; they have truly invested in the College’s future for all students.”

RRC Polytech currently offers over 35 apprenticeship trades through Apprenticeship Manitoba including three programs that partner with Loewen. Loewen has opportunities for students in almost all business areas, but consistently employs engineering, drafting, and marketing graduates.

“Our partnership with RRC Polytech isn’t just about filling vacancies,” said Carrie Jones, Director, Human Resources, Loewen. “Our partnership means we can invest in our community and support students in their education and in their career. Our province is changing and that means we need to support the future of today’s learners.”

Only through partnerships with companies like Loewen is RRC Polytech able to provide access to training, supports and certification of skilled students to help meet the needs of Manitoba.

Remembering Jan den Oudsten, a pioneer in transit technology

April 6, 2023

It was just four years ago that Red River College Polytechnic (RRC Polytech) celebrated one of the largest gifts in our history from an individual donor – that donor was Jan den Oudsten and his wife Maria den Oudsten and the gift was $1.5 Million to support students and research in Manitoba’s heavy vehicle sector, including transit.

Jan den Oudsten passed away on Wednesday, March 29 in the Netherlands, at the age of 92.

Jan den Oudsten was the founder and former president of New Flyer Industries and the inventor of leading-edge transit technology. He spent the latter years of his life supporting the next generation of heavy equipment and vehicle technology students, and he was a true pioneer in his contributions the vehicle research sector.

Through the generosity of the den Oudsten family, RRC Polytech’s Jan den Oudsten Vehicle Technology & Research Centre (VTRC) has been an integral part of milestone events including creating a course for electric buses for Winnipeg Transit and the Canada’s National Defense, as well as partnerships with Canadian Standards Association (CSA Group) to create Certification for Electric Vehicle Technicians.

“The generosity of Jan den Oudsten and his family have truly benefited thousands of students every year – our graduates are equipped with the skills and education necessary to become leaders in their fields because of the training they receive at VTRC,” says Fred Meier, President and CEO.

RRC Polytech’s Vehicle Technology & Energy Centre (VTEC), housed in VTRC, has helped develop the first electric Tundra Buggy and supported the testing on New Flyer Industries Group electric transit bus and coach, including the latest generation of hydrogen fuel cell bus. Many of these developments would only be possible through the philanthropy and support of the den Oudsten’s.

“We send our deepest condolences to Maria den Oudsten, their son Bob den Oudsten and their families. Jan den Oudsten’s innovative spirit, gift of leadership, and generous nature will be always remembered,” added Fred.

Den Oudsten’s contributions to the vehicle research has made significant impact around the world. Jan den Oudsten purchased New Flyer in 1986 and introduced European accessible low-floor technology to North American transit market. He was also involved in pioneering hydrogen fuel cell technology applications and introduced a 60-food articulated diesel-electric hybrid bus.

He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2021 for his innovations and contributions to the North American transportation market.

To acknowledge Jan den Oudsten’s passing, RRC Polytech will be lowering flags to half-mast on Thursday, April 6, 2023.

Multiple Winners at Snow Me the Money!

March 1, 2023

Fittingly, teams comprised of staff and students snagged the top prizes at RRC Polytech’s Snowbuilding Contest – Snow Me the Money! But everyone involved got a taste of victory with a free lunch, souvenir books and plates, and the good vibes generated by working together on a fun outdoor project while raising awareness about climate change.

First place winners Snowcanics

The College community embraced the challenge of creating a “snow village” to welcome visitors along Route 90 in front of the Jan den Oudsten Vehicle Technology and Research Centre (VTRC) as well as near the main entrance of the Notre Dame Campus. Remote entries from our regional campuses were also submitted and rewarded.

In total, 28 teams and almost 200 individuals took time out of their busy schedules to have some winter fun between February 13 – 17, 2023, to show off their creativity and enjoy the company of classmates, colleagues, friends and family, while working together to beautify the campus at NDC and prompt action to slow climate change. 

Among the truly epic snow sculptures now on display you’ll find a campfire setting, a full-sized car, a massive owl, a turtle and an Indigenous drum circle, just to name a few. And of course, snow people of every shape and size including a hockey team, a snow judge, a snow tanner, and even a snow speaker at a podium with an ASL interpreter – bearing an incredible resemblance to RRC Polytech President and CEO, Fred Meier!

Teams pulled out all the stops to impress the event’s judge, Maria den Oudsten, a generous member of our donor community who has a passion for snow and has been organizing similar competitions around the world for years through her Sweet Sorrow Snowman Foundation.

Regional campus winner Tweedledee and Tweedledum

“I love encouraging people to embrace winter and celebrate its beauty with these competitions because it draws attention to the danger that climate change presents,” said den Oudsten. “Playing in the snow is something Winnipeggers often take for granted but without a collective change in our habits and behaviour, global warming could rob even the coldest areas of the planet of this joy. We must act now to ensure that these aren’t the last snowmen on earth.”      

Her family’s generosity for helping spread the word was extended in the way of prize money for the most creative, elaborate and impressive designs.

Maria’s favourite design and the winner of the $1000 first place prize was the Snowman Inukshuk built by the Snowcanics – a team of students from the Heavy Equipment Mechanic Program led by their instructor, Shelby Livetsky. 

“Taking part in this contest brought the class closer together as it allowed us to share our different cultural backgrounds, learn about teamwork, and most importantly have a ton of fun!” said Livetsky. “When our Indigenous students explained the importance of the Inukshuk and the significance the direction the arms point, our plan was set but we had to work together to make it a reality. It was such a rewarding experience for everyone that we named it Kuviasuk, the Inuit word for happy.”

Second place winner Team Munsters

Another staff and student team, Team Munsters was chosen as the runners-up at NDC. The Auto Mechanics class named after their instructor Chase Munsters won $500 for putting their coursework in the spotlight by building a full-sized sportscar with blue tinted windows.   

Team Tweedledee and Tweedledum from Steinbach was selected as the Regional Campus winner and will also share a $500 prize.

The contest lived up to its name by splitting another $2000 donated by the den Oudstens into eight prizes of $250 drawn at random during the wrap up celebration. Just making the effort to get outside and get involved paid off for the following teams:

  • Swagalicious
  • The Mighty Wheel
  • Snow Holds Barred
  • Goofy Goobers
  • Red Bean Shark
  • Just Me
  • Snowlutions
  • Manitoba Dreaming

Maria‘s generosity also included providing soup, chili and refreshments, Journey to Snowmanland photobooks and souvenir plates for all the competitors. Peak of the Market donated carrots so no snowperson was left without a nose.   

“Thank you to our eager participants for their passion and creativity, as well as the Culture Champions, facilities staff, and the organizing committee for adding to our culture of caring,” said Melanie Gudmundson, Chief Human Resource Officer. “This event was about building relationships as well as snow sculptures, so we’d also like to thank Maria and Jan den Oudsten for their ongoing support of the College and for reminding us to enjoy the perks of a Winnipeg winter here at RRC Polytech.”

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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