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The future of Manitoba’s skilled trades and technology sector is diverse, inclusive, and right here at RRC Polytech

December 14, 2022

Manitoba’s skilled trades and technology sector is experiencing significant labour shortages, and RRC Polytech graduates – including those from underrepresented groups – are the key to sustaining and strengthening its workforce.

Panelist Jamie McMillan, KickAss Careers, speaking at the RBC’s Reaction by Collision School of Skilled Trades and Technologies Skilled Trades and Technology Week Kick Off

That was the message delivered to more than 250 students attending the kick-off event for National Skilled Trade and Technology Week at the Notre Dame Campus on November 2. A panel of industry reps who spoke at the event said they hope to build a stronger workforce by embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion (EDI) across the sector.

For instance, speakers at the event described how companies are changing the way they operate – by designing gender-appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment, updating hiring practices and policies, supporting employees from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, and more.

“So much has changed in our industry over the past 10 years. Companies have come to recognize that a strong, sustainable future depends on attracting and supporting people from groups often underrepresented in the trades, including women, Indigenous people, new Canadians, and people with disabilities,” says Derek Kochenash, Dean, School of Skilled Trades and Technologies at RRC Polytech. “As Manitoba’s only polytechnic, we have a critical role to play in bridging those gaps.”

The event was sponsored by RBC Future Launch as part of its Reaction By Collision series in partnership with RRC Polytech. Its goal was to build connections between skilled trades and technologies students and representatives from 16 companies that hire graduates in those fields.

“The world needs talent who believe in the power of their dreams like never before.  Canada stands at the cross-roads as we look to a horizon with the potential to shine bright through a restart,” shares Raj Patel, Vice President, RBC.  “To reach this horizon, Canada needs the people and skills to build and innovate for the future economy.  This is particularly true when speaking to skilled trades and technology.  But none of us can go it alone.  We are at our absolute best when we go together. That is why we at RBC proudly partner with Red River College Polytechnic in delivering RBC Reaction by Collision.”

One of the event panelists was Jamie McMillan from KickAss Careers, who became an ironworker in 2002 when women only represented two per cent of the workforce across Canada and the United States.  She talked about the strong determination it took to keep going and the people who didn’t let her give up.

For CNC Machinist Technician student Jesse Lindsey, the event affirmed his own convictions about the importance of EDI in the workplace.

“An interest in working with your hands is not limited to any sex, race, or creed,” he says. “I’m happy to see those who would otherwise feel unwelcome be encouraged to follow their passion.”

Automotive Technician student Mithat Singh says she spoke to several industry reps who highlighted promising career opportunities for women in a range of fields. She moved to Canada from India for a hands-on education that would hit the gas on her employment options.

“I’m the only woman in my class, but I’m treated like an equal. I’m excited that I could turn my love of luxury sports cars into a career after this.”

For Automotive Technician student Leon Mann, the event opened his eyes to opportunities outside his field he might consider pursuing after he graduates.

“My ultimate goal, however, is to return to my home community in Lake Manitoba First Nation with the certification I need to run my own garage and pass on what I’ve learned to others.” On the same day, RBC Future Launch also sponsored a parallel event at RRC Polytech’s Stevenson Aviation Winnipeg campus. There, panelists and representatives from several local, national, and international aviation, aerospace, and manufacturing companies underscored the wealth of opportunities available for qualified workers in those fields and related disciplines.


2022 Directions Conference smashes stereotypes and highlights future skills

December 6, 2022

Do you have the top job skills employees will need in the year 2025?

Kitan Amao, Director Senior Commercial Markets, RBC, joins students as one of the table mentors.

Students in Red River College Polytechnic’s (RRC Polytech) Business, Information Technology, Creative Communications, and Indigenous Education programs had the chance to find out at a unique roundtable event on November 3.

Part of RRC Polytech’s annual Directions Conference, the roundtable session moved students through a series of intensive discussions with local industry experts about the attributes needed to succeed in their chosen field as businesses respond to constant economic and technological change.

“You don’t have to be strong in every area, but you need to know where to put in the most work to build those muscles,” says Business Information Technology (BIT) student Don Zhu, a member of the conference’s planning team.

For instance, building up leadership, negotiation, and communication skills can put  students ahead of job candidates or coworkers who struggle to demonstrate those qualities.

The roundtables were sponsored by RBC Future Launch as part of its Reaction by Collision initiative, a partnership between RBC and RRC Polytech aimed at helping students expand their networks, explore roles in various fields, and discover how industry is innovating and solving problems.

 “Opportunity is that special space where we can create exciting new tomorrows for ourselves today,” shares Laurie Cox, RBC Community Manager. “Opportunity is ours for the taking by knowing our worth and stepping outside of our comfort zone to form new connections.  A spark of opportunity also goes by another name – RBC Reaction by Collision.  It is the spark that brings industry and students together in a collision to grow networks and launch careers.”

More than 1,000 students and 200 industry representatives took part in this year’s conference. During the roundtable event, students circulated between four tables according to their field of interest while exploring four different skill areas in 25-minute sessions. Planners assigned topics to the experts hosting each table according to the skillsets most relevant to their industry.

“Diplomats”, for instance, promoted the value of leadership and negotiation in their field, while “Analysts” highlighted the importance of analytic thinking and problem solving. “Explorers” emphasized the need for employees capable of critical thinking and creativity. “Sentinels” championed resilience and emotional intelligence.

The roundtables also presented an invaluable opportunity for students to network with potential employers, and for industry representatives to get to know future candidates.

“This was the first in-person Directions Conference since the pandemic, and the energy was unbeatable,” says Amanda Gibson, a Business Administration student and planning team member.

Students eager to know more lined up to ask questions during the conference’s breakout sessions, where experts discussed topics such as growth and strategy, entrepreneurship, inclusive and diverse leadership, and digital transformation.

Students were also active on social media during the event, sharing their experiences and connecting with companies attending the conference, says Business Technology Management (BTM) student Victoria Llumiquinga Zaldumbide, who helped manage the conference’s marketing and social media.

In fact, Directions 2022 had students included in every aspect of planning and executing the event. A team of 60 volunteers managed everything from marketing and hospitality to session moderation and risk management.

“The college gave us the freedom to focus on topics we could relate to, and people really responded,” says Victoria.

One of those topics was the conference’s theme, Smashing Stereotypes, the focus of the morning’s panel discussion where speakers demolished preconceptions about the kind of people who work in particular fields and the pathways that lead to success.

BIT student and event volunteer Sam Lee says she was inspired by keynote speakers Cassandra and Stefanie Lepp, founders of The Tulepps, a grain farming operation in southwestern Manitoba.

“They smashed the stereotype that only men can run farms, drive trucks, get their hands greasy. They taught me that the worst anyone can say to me is no – and if they do, I go on to the next person until someone says yes and takes a chance on me. That was incredibly empowering.”

Campaign Update 2022

December 5, 2022

As 2022 comes to an end and Red River College Polytechnic’s (RRC Polytech) In Front of What’s Ahead comprehensive campaign turns one, we want to take a moment to thank you for your kindness and support. Your generosity is supporting a new generation of learners at RRC Polytech, while creating a better province for all Manitobans.

In just one year since publicly launching our fundraising campaign, staff, alumni, parents, friends, and countless supporters have embraced our bold course forward and we have raised $31.5 million towards our $60 million goal. Thank you for being a part of the largest fundraising initiative in our history.

Our goal this year was to increase campaign awareness with our community. It is with much gratitude and joy, we announce that our College community engaged more than 2,000 conversations around partnerships this year, which resulted in more than 700 supporters of our Comprehensive Campaign and over 300 of those being new donors to RRC Polytech. That’s more than 2,000 opportunities that are having a direct impact and helping us share the incredible accomplishments happening on campus, which include:

Your generous support has taught our students that we can achieve amazing things when we work collaboratively and with intention toward common goals.

While we still have important work ahead of us and many critical targets to reach, we are grateful for the support of our staff, donors, alumni and friends. Only through your investment is RRC Polytech able to produce job-ready graduates, who are ready to be tomorrow’s innovators, professionals, leaders and change makers. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of our students and we invite you to celebrate our donor community here.  

Wishing you a safe and healthy holiday season.

Sincerely,
Fred Meier, President & CEO and David Petis, Executive Director, Advancement

“Donors like you make life brighter for us and I can only hope that one day, I too will be able to bring a smile to future students.”

Scholarship recipient

“Thank you so much for everyone’s generosity who made this bursary possible and was able to provide a student like me support.”

Scholarship recipient

How one donation can turn into an investment for Manitoba’s future

November 29, 2022

“It was January 2020 when I arrived for my education,” said Manraj Kaur, former international student and Red River College Polytechnic (RRC Polytech) Electrical Engineering Technology graduate, “And right after COVID hit.”

Some students would be nervous about starting an engineering program without the support of their family in a new country with a global pandemic on the horizon – but not Manraj. Her family back home owns a company that makes different kinds of roads, so she was raised in an environment with large machinery and mechanical work.

Manraj Kaur, Electrical Engineering Technology graduate.

“I always wanted to be an engineer, and I chose electrical because that was the one which fascinated me most,” said Manraj. “[and] RRC Polytech makes you ready for the after-school things,” said Manraj on why she enrolled at RRC Polytech and how she knew she would be ready to hit the ground running after she finished her program.

When asked about her favourite part of learning at RRC Polytech, Manraj quickly responded with the instructors.

“The teachers would give you thousands of assignments, and as a student you feel like you couldn’t do them, but then they always help you push through it. So, the teachers give you work and motivate you at the same time,” said Manraj.

Manraj received four scholarships while studying at RRC Polytech, including two general awards that are fully supported by individual donors. Your support on Giving Tuesday goes towards furthering these awards and supporting the next generation of learners.

“There’s so many other things we are a part of at the college, you’re not just developing your hard skills, but the soft skills that you get from talking to other people, going to events, and other things,” said Manraj about her experience at RRC Polytech over the last three years.

Manraj is currently employed as a Junior Electrical Designer with a new job lined up next week as a Junior Electrical Technologist.

“It’s just the start of my career and it sometimes feels overwhelming because I am the least experienced person working here. I constantly apply what I learned in school, but I am also constantly learning. I want to be good at what I do, and obviously the more experience you have, the more valued you are,” said Manraj when asked what she wanted to achieve now that she’d graduated.

It has been one year since launching RRC Polytech’s largest fundraising initiative where staff, alumni, parents, friends, and countless supporters have embraced the College’s commitment to transform today’s learners into a force for change. Your generosity shows students that we can achieve amazing things when we work collaboratively toward common goals.

Manraj is just one example of this force for change. Just before getting ready to cross the stage and collect her diploma a few weeks ago, she shared her appreciation of the financial support she received with the donors who made it possible, and more recently she shared why she thinks it’s important that RRC Polytech’s community support the College.

“Giving to RRC Polytech is basically giving to yourself, and students in return. The students coming out of [the College] are gonna be the future of Canada, I would say at least Manitoba. So, it’s like investing into your own city’s future,” said Manraj. “Some students want to study but then due to resources, lack of money, they are not able to. But they have the potential to do everything. It’s not like donating to RRC Polytech – it’s like donating to society.”

Only with donors is RRC Polytech able to produce job-ready graduates, who are ready to be tomorrow’s innovators, professionals, leaders and change makers. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, there’s another day to celebrate – Giving Tuesday.

During this time of year, Giving Tuesday is an opportunity to celebrate the spirit of the season, and support RRC Polytech and creating a positive impact on the next generation.

Click here to give today.

National Philanthropy Day Donor Spotlight: Kevin Gill

November 15, 2022

Red River College Polytechnic (RRC Polytech) loves to hear success stories from graduates making a mark on their community. It’s particularly special when they include RRC Polytech as a part of their story. Kevin Gill, Founder and President of the Staffmax group of companies, has done just that.

Kevin Gill, Founder and President of the Staffmax group of companies and member of RRC Polytech Board of Governors

“I’m a proud graduate of RRC Polytech’s Business Administration program and was recently appointed to the Board of Governors where I want to contribute to the continued success of the College,” says Kevin. “It’s important to me that I recognize how my education helped me grow my career and give back where I can.”

“But my support of RRC Polytech also helps my recruiters,” says Kevin. “Staffmax wants to provide the best talent to fill roles across the country and if we support the best grads, we can get the best employees.”

Kevin founded Staffmax in 2007 when he saw a gap in how companies recruited and staffed positions. Growing from one office in Winnipeg to locations in Canada, USA, Australia, and Europe, Staffmax has become of the largest staffing and recruiting agencies in Canada.

“As an alumnus and now Board member, it’s important for me to give back to an organization that makes a difference for the future of our province,” says Kevin. “I love Manitoba, it’s why I made the headquarters of Staffmax here, and I know that this province has so much talent and opportunity and I want it to grow and succeed.”

“Finding ready, reliable, and experienced employees for all types of roles is our priority at Staffmax and the grads that come from RRC Polytech continuously meet the emerging needs of employers,” says Kevin. “When Staffmax was looking for community organizations to give back to, RRC Polytech was at the top of my list.”

Staffmax Staffing and Recruiting recently pledged $150,000 to RRC Polytech to create ten years of one $1,000 scholarship for Welding and two $1,000 scholarships for Business Administration as well as support for the College’s In Front of What’s Ahead Comprehensive Campaign.

“As an alumnus and now Board member, it’s important for me to give back to an organization that makes a difference for the future of our province,” says Kevin. “I love Manitoba, it’s why I made the headquarters of Staffmax here, and I know that this province has so much talent and opportunity and I want it to grow and succeed.”

As we celebrate National Philanthropy Day on November 15th, Kevin’s story is an important one and highlights how giving back can make an incredible difference. Only with the support of the community, is RRC Polytech able to enhance student experiences, strengthen and transform learning models and help shape the future for students. Simply put, RRC Polytech’s community helps build the foundation on which we are transforming today’s learners into a force for change. Thanks to all who support RRC Polytech, you allow the College to create an impact for generations.

From Circuit Boards in High School to a Full Scholarship at RRC Polytech

October 13, 2022

The Schroeder Foundation Removes the Financial Burden for Winnipeg Student

Fili Domingo loved his high school electronics course – one where he made circuit boards and put them together to create a machine. He liked to assemble things and loved the world of electronics, but he didn’t know how to make that passion a reality.

“I only knew about this program [Electrical Engineering Technology] because a friend told me about it,” says Fili. “He was planning to take it as well, and I looked into it, and I knew it was what I wanted to do.”

He had a clear goal in his mind, but unfortunately wasn’t sure how he would be able pay for the program.

“I applied for scholarships through a general form at Daniel McIntyre Collegiate and the next thing I know I got a call for the Schroeder Foundation scholarship,” said Fili.

The Schroeder Foundation has a partnership with RRC Polytech and has provided over 135 high school students with full scholarships to RRC Polytech as well as additional funding for textbooks and supplies. For Fili, this meant three years of tuition, books, and other related mandatory academic program fees.

Walter and Maria Schroeder, founders of The Schroeder Foundation, grew up in Winnipeg and have dedicated themselves to helping others. After they sold their company, one of the world’s premier bond rating agencies, the Schroeder’s focused their energy on philanthropy. They devoted their resources on improving health and education services across Canada with a particular interest in supporting Winnipeg’s high school students in the North End.

He had never heard of the Schroeders or what the scholarship included, but once he did, he was speechless.

“What? Huh? You’re covering that big an expense for this many students? I was truly speechless for the next 10 minutes,” said Fili when he heard that he was one of the recipients.

Beyond financial support, recipients of the Schroeder Foundation scholarships with wrap-around supports like additional tutoring, mentorship, and guidance. The Foundation also provides an academic coach who checks in with the students and their families and support networks to make sure they are transitioning well into college life and provides them with resources to make sure they can focus on their academic goals. Each cohort of students is part of an in-person Transition to College Program where they visit and become familiar with the campuses, learn about college services, and can connect with their peers.   

“I remember coming into this program and I told myself ‘I can do everything solo,’ and I’m going to be the guy who goes home and studies for hours,” says Fili.

But this mindset lasted two weeks. Like his entire academic career, nothing was done without the support of others. Fili said he wanted to understand more, so he reached out to classmates and teachers, and everything started going uphill.   

“I learned that opening up takes you so far,” says Fili. He’s now helping to guide the next generation of Schroeder recipients by passing along tips, experiences and offering advice as they enter the College.

Fili is in his final four months of his program after completing a paid co-op at Technology Access Centre for Aerospace & Manufacturing (TACAM) last summer where he said he valued everything he learned from his older experienced colleagues who were able to pass on so much information.

From not knowing how to pursue his passion after high school to passing advice on to the next generation, Fili recognized how important community is in being successful and is so grateful to Walter and Maria Schroder for leaving him speechless that day.

“My number one goal is to get a job in my field,” said Fili. He also hopes to become a mentor, showing other students how their dreams are possible, additionally he plans on pursuing further  education in the field he is passionate about to continue his journey.

In 2022, the Schroeder Foundation donated $300,000 towards supporting the fifth cohort of scholarship recipients to attend RRC Polytech.

Number TEN Architectural Group builds up an RRC Polytech student with a scholarship and co-op placement opportunity

September 7, 2022

Manitou a bi Bii daziigae at the Exchange District Campus was created by Number TEN Architectural Group in partnership with Diamond Schmitt Architects Inc.

Architecture melds the worlds of art and construction; it connects function with aesthetic, and it takes the right set of skills to jump into this world.

Number TEN Architectural Group (NTAG) strives to design places that make life better and in spring 2023 they will be making life better for one RRC Polytech Architectural Engineering Technology student with a $1,000 scholarship as a part of a $30,000 donation towards an endowment fund.

“At Number TEN, we are passionate about creating spaces that work, beautifully. We love working with people who go the extra mile, strive for design excellence, and push themselves to achieve more. The students that graduate from RRC Polytech are these people,” says Doug Hanna, Partner of Number TEN Architectural Group. “As lifelong learners who see the value in a strong foundation, we are proud to support students as they develop their skills and become contributors to the design community in Manitoba.”

The scholarship will be offered to a student enrolled in their first year of Architectural Technology program or second year of the Architectural Engineering Technology program and have outstanding academic achievement. The successful scholarship recipient will also have an opportunity for an interview at NTAG for a co-op placement.  

“Any opportunity that students can have to remove some financial hardship is welcome and truly appreciated,” says Shari Bielert, Chair, Civil Engineering Technology. “There are only a few architecture specific scholarships available – and with this gift, students are not only supported in their academic journey, but it can be an incredible launch into their career as well.”

Students in the architectural programs develop practical skills with the knowledge of architecture, engineering, and construction of buildings. The programs provide opportunities to gain work experience in relevant industries through co-op work terms.

“We hope this this new scholarship will not only encourage students to pursue a career in the building industry, but also help ease the financial burden that can come with being in post-secondary,” added Hanna.

Number TEN Architectural Group in partnership with Diamond Schmitt Architects Inc. worked with RRC Polytech to create Manitou a bi Bii daziigae at the Exchange District Campus. This building is one of the most advanced and forward-thinking buildings in Canada with little to no net carbon emissions. The project included the re-use of the historically designated Scott Fruit building and an above-ground pedestrian walkway connecting it to the Roblin Centre. In 2018, NTAG also designed the Skilled Trades and Technology Centre at the Notre Dame Campus.

Learn more about Awards, Scholarships and Bursaries, including how to apply.

Portage Mutual Insurance Creates Endowment Fund for Indigenous Nursing Students at RRC Polytech

August 18, 2022

Students in the Bachelor of Nursing program.

Being a community partner means different things for different organizations – and for Portage Mutual Insurance, it means that when they see challenges in the community, they want to be a part of the solution.

Portage Mutual Insurance is generously supporting Indigenous nursing students at RRC Polytech’s Portage la Prairie campus through a new endowment fund. The Portage Mutual Insurance Award for Indigenous Nursing Students was recently established with a $31,000 gift to RRC Polytech and will award one student with $1,000 every year.

“We care deeply about our community and want to give back in a way that encourages education and supports the needs of Portage la Prairie,” says John Mitchell, President and CEO of Portage Mutual Insurance. “This award supports our long-term commitment to provide access to post-secondary education for Indigenous learners, while supporting the community need for nursing students.”

A supporter of RRC Polytech since 2021, Portage Mutual Insurance strives to make a difference in the community of Portage la Prairie. The award is available to Indigenous students who reside in the city and surrounding community and are enrolled in the Nursing program at RRC Polytech. To qualify, students need to have a good academic standing and demonstrate financial need. Preference will be given to students who attend RRC Polytech’s Portage Campus.

“This partnership truly showcases the difference Portage Mutual Insurance wants to make in the community and how RRC Polytech can play a role in that goal,” says Isabel Bright, Dean, School of Indigenous Education. “Our Nursing program at the Portage Campus is growing and we are thrilled to be able to offer an opportunity for Indigenous students to excel in the program by removing some financial burden.”

RRC Polytech’s 32-month Nursing degree program at the Portage Campus begins a new cohort every three years, with seats open to residents of Manitoba’s Southern Health Region. Graduates are qualified to apply to become Registered Nurses (RN) and are eligible to work in all areas where the expertise of a professional RN is required.

“We really appreciate the relationship with RRC Polytech and what the College offers across the province,” said John Mitchell “We are thrilled to be a part of the future of nursing in Manitoba.”

Learn more about Awards, Scholarships and Bursaries, including how to apply.

A legacy of leadership: CTTAM establishes award to remember former Executive Director, Terry Gifford

August 10, 2022

Help Support Students Through Terry’s Legacy

Terry Gifford

Not every leader wants to turn a working partnership into something more, but that can’t be said about Terry Gifford – he wanted more, not just for his company, but for students and all others involved. After his first retirement from The Appraisal Institute of Canada, he worked as the Executive Director of The Certified Technicians & Technologists Association of Manitoba (CTTAM) from 2006 to 2016. Under his watch, CTTAM supported students, competition, and incentives at Red River College Polytechnic (RRC Polytech) more than ever before.

Gifford passed away in May 2022 and is truly missed. His colleague Dale Watts, former Dean of Industrial Technologies at RRC Polytech, says Gifford was always a huge benefactor in the relationship between CTTAM and RRC Polytech.

Gifford, a graduate of RRC Polytech’s Business Administration program, enjoyed volunteering on behalf of CTTAM at RRC Polytech’s model wind turbine building contest, an event co-sponsored by CTTAM, Skills Manitoba and RRC Polytech noted Watts. High school students were given materials and tools to build a model wind turbine, but the construction plan was up to them as a part of this event. The goal was to generate the highest voltage based on a fan blowing at it at varying speeds.

“Terry was a pleasure to work with and open to ideas like these to help foster interest in the engineering technologies. Over time, it did a lot for both CTTAM and RRC [Polytech],” says Watts.

A longtime supporter of RRC Polytech, CTTAM has donated over $156,340 to annual alumni initiatives and special projects like the Princess Street Campus Capital Campaign, the Global Emergency Student Support Award, the Electrical Engineering Program, the Shell Eco-Marathon Challenge, the CTTAM Instrumentation Student Games Project, the COVID-19 Emergency Student Support Fund and more.

Historically, CTTAM has also given out four $1,000 scholarships to students entering the second year of Civil Engineering Technology, Electronic Engineering Technology, Instrumentation and Control Engineering Technology and Mechanical Engineering Technology, based on academic standing.

In memory of Terry, CTTAM is establishing The Terry Gifford CTTAM Leadership Award, which will beavailable to a student entering the second year of any of the following Engineering Technology programs: Civil, Electrical or Mechanical, including all related specializations. The recipient will be selected by faculty based on interpersonal skills, ability to lead teams with compassion, willingness to go the extra mile to help other students and excellent academic standing.

CTTAM will match the first $10,000 to support this initiative. To keep Gifford’s legacy alive, and support students in these programs, you can donate to this initiative here.

On the form, please select “Student Awards” enter “CTTAM” in the text box. Please then select that this is an “in memory” donation and enter “Terry Gifford” in the text box.

RBC Collision event celebrates Indigenous culture and entrepreneurship

August 8, 2022

Dancers performing as a part of the Reaction by Collision event.

RRC Polytech’s latest Reaction by Collision event treated visitors to a vibrant celebration that brought together Indigenous artists and artisans while highlighting the importance of entrepreneurship in Indigenous culture.

The June 20 event was sponsored by RBC Future Launch. A longstanding partner of RRC Polytech, the RBC Foundation added to the festivities by announcing a $450,000 investment in a new information technology Pathway program that will equip Indigenous Manitobans with skills and support to prepare for careers in the growing IT field. With this new gift to RRC Polytech, we proudly celebrated RBC Foundation’s overall giving, which now totals $1 million to support a variety of College programs.

“Inclusion is the cornerstone of innovation,” shares Herb ZoBell, RBC Vice President, Indigenous Markets. “When we create bridges between diverse voices and opportunity, we create an ecosystem where potential may flourish and where we as a nation can rise to meet the challenges of tomorrow. This celebration of Indigenous ingenuity, culture, and entrepreneurship demonstrates RRC Polytech’s shared values with RBC in action as together we shine a light on the power of diversity and the road to prosperity.”

The celebration was open to the public and filled Manitou a bi Bii daziigae, RRC Polytech’s newest building at its downtown campus, with dancers, fiddlers, throat singers, entrepreneurs and storytellers.

“We are so thankful for RBC’s generous financial support,” says Tracy Brant, Chair, Aboriginal Education and Access Programs. “Their partnership is helping to create pathways for our next seven generations in the IT sector.”

Right to Left: Jamie Wilson, Vice-President, Indigenous Strategy and Business Development, RRC Polytech, Elder Paul Guimond, RRC Polytech, Fred Meier, President, RRC Polytech, Herb ZoBell, RBC Vice President, Indigenous Markets, and Sean Rayland, RRC Polytech Alumni and Owner off Red Rebel Armour.

Jaime Richard, one of the event organizers and Manager, Indigenous Partnerships and Student Supports for the School of Indigenous Education, says she hopes Indigenous students thinking of pursuing studies at RRC Polytech see the college as a place they “can see themselves as a student and to know there is a team of wrap-around supports who are here to welcome them and walk alongside them throughout their educational journey.”

Isabel Bright, Dean of the School of Indigenous Education, says RRC Polytech is a place where Indigenous ideas and experiences in entrepreneurship are fostered and celebrated.

“Our strategic plan makes a huge commitment to incorporating Truth and Reconciliation into all its programs and operations. This event demonstrates how fervently the college is acting on that commitment.”

For alumni Sean Rayland, who graduated last year with a diploma in Indigenous Social Entrepreneurship, the celebration highlighted the importance of entrepreneurship in Indigenous culture, past and present.

“I can draw a direct line from the self-sufficiency of our ancestors living on the land and trading to the self-determination that comes with starting and running your own business.”

In 2018, Rayland made the choice to turn his back on a life of drugs, gangs and crime to earn a high school diploma and graduate from college. From there, he started his own line of Indigenous streetwear, Red Rebel Armour. During the event, he had the opportunity to meet First Nations leader Ovid Mercredi, one of his role models.

Rayland believes events like this, and venues like Manitou a bi Bii daziigae, are opportunities for all people to come together and exchange knowledge and ideas – from CEOs to people experiencing homelessness.

“It shows how we can live in the present with our cultures and our values, walking the Seven Teachings while building meaningful futures for ourselves. That’s Reconciliation at work.”

Enjoy highlights from the event below: