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Donor Impact Report: December 2019

December 6, 2019

Student success happens when each individual has the facilities, equipment, skills and supports they need. In every industry exists an opportunity to move things forward – to make it better.

With your help, Red River College has made significant strides in 2019 to ensure our students succeed and partnerships with industry are strengthened. Here are a few of the many highlights from the past year:

Red River College opens new Prairie Research Kitchen

Darin Brecht and Ralph Eichler, Prairie Research Kitchen

Darin Brecht, Interim RRC President, and Ralph Eichler, Prairie Research Kitchen

Red River College is helping to feed Manitoba’s vital food and agriculture industry through the recent opening of its new Prairie Research Kitchen.

RRC’s newest research facility — and third Technology Access Centre (TAC) — brings together food scientists, culinary arts students and industry on the 11th floor of the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute. The kitchen supports industry growth through new product development and by providing culinary students with food science skills required by this crucial economic sector.

Food and feed processing is the largest manufacturing sub-industry in Manitoba, accounting for 26 per cent of sales in 2018. Many of the companies working in this area are small and medium-sized enterprises, which the Research Kitchen can work with to help bring new ideas and products to life.

“The Culinary Research team at RRC has been with me from the start,” says Hailey Jefferies, president of Prairie Fava. “It has been invaluable to brainstorm with the team and quickly test some of the ideas. This has helped shape my business and our direction.”

The opening of the Research Kitchen makes RRC the only college outside of Quebec with three federally funded TACs. Its launch speaks to how rapidly the College’s work with industry has grown in 15 years, when applied research first began at RRC.

For more information on how you can support projects at the Prairie Research Kitchen, contact Lauren Konrad, Donor Relations Manager, at

25 years of Indigenous Education at RRC

Indigenous graduation ceremony

Red River College is quickly becoming the college of choice for Indigenous learners in Manitoba. This year, RRC will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its School of Indigenous Education.

With expanded student supports, new and innovative programming, and an increased financial commitment through a partnership with Indspire, the College continues to grow its commitment to Indigenous student success.

“Forty-three per cent of our students come from other post-secondary institutions — this suggests we should have been their first choice,” says Rebecca Chartrand, Executive Director of Indigenous Strategy at RRC. “We are the step before employment, or where people come to upskill. We’re focused on Indigenous achievement at the College, and it’s important that we look back to see where the successes have been, but also where we need to go next.”

Over the last two years, Indigenous Education has grown by adding new staff, supports and programs that ensure Indigenous peoples have the opportunity to grow into every sector.

No matter which field students choose to pursue, they can learn more about Indigenous culture, participate in ceremonies and connect with Elders at RRC, where enhanced and holistic wraparound supports ensure students are supported — both inside and outside
the classroom.

“Our role is to train people for employment,” says Chartrand. “But from an Indigenous perspective, we want our students to achieve wellness as much as we want them to achieve academic success.”

Price Family Foundation donates $525,000

Aileen Najduch, Jessica Burzminski, Gerry Price and Derek Kochenash

Aileen Najduch, Jessica Burzminski, Gerry Price and Derek Kochenash

Students in RRC’s Engineering Technology programs now have the chance to earn life-changing scholarships, thanks to a pair of local philanthropists.

Dr. Gerry Price, chairman and CEO of the Price Group of Companies, and his wife Barb have committed to donating $525,000 to RRC over the next five years.

Their scholarships will recognize high-achieving Engineering Technology students, providing them with the financial support needed to minimize time spent working to pay for tuition and rent, or simply to survive.

“If you can barely keep food on the table and have a part-time job just to survive, you might not be able to put your best effort into school,” says Dr. Price. “Students need to put in long hours, but if you’re broke, you’re in trouble because you need to eat and sleep, too. We want these scholarships to provide more time for students to focus on their studies, so they can be the best they can.”

Through the Price Family Foundation, the Prices already fund approximately 200 scholarships each year, and are particularly committed to supporting those who don’t always have champions — children, single mothers and families in distress.

Jessica Burzminski (shown second from left, above), a 2018 Manufacturing Technician grad, says she benefited greatly from similar supports while a student.

“The one thing I am most thankful for … is the ease it gave me,” she says. “I have no family here in Manitoba that were able to help support me financially, and when I was finding it difficult to work and study, these generous offers helped me to pursue my studies and goals.”

With this announcement, the Prices will now support an additional 40 to 60 students every year. Our thanks to Gerry and Barb for their support and generosity.

RBC supports ACE Project Space and new Innovation Centre

Students in ACE Project Space

Red River College extends its sincere gratitude to RBC, for the recent contribution of $300,000 in capital to support the College’s ACE Project Space and the new Innovation Centre.

The ACE Project Space is an interactive workspace where students, entrepreneurs, non-profits and corporations collaborate to bring unique ideas to life. Under the guidance of staff and faculty, students of the Business Information Technology, Business Technology Management and Information Security programs work with industry clients to create prototypes, products and services that can be introduced to market.

The experiential model used in the ACE Project Space will be applied to all programs in the College’s new Innovation Centre, set to open in 2021. The Innovation Centre will bring together students from different programs to work together with businesses and entrepreneurs on real-world products and solutions.

RBC’s gift was made through its Future Launch program, which will invest up to $500M over the next 10 years in programs and opportunities that help youth gain work experience, grow networks, acquire new skills and enhance their mental well-being.

Red River College: By the Numbers

Funding the Future: A record-breaking $3,252,316.68 in student awards were distributed in 2019.

Innovation: Five new learning facilities opened in 2019: The Smart Factory, Gene Haas Innovation Lab, Prairie Research Kitchen, MotiveLab, and Jan den Oudsten Vehicle Technology & Research Centre.

Industry Partnerships: 916 students completed industry-relevant co-op learning programs in 2018-19.

Holiday greetings

Warmest wishes for a safe and happy holiday season, from the Development team at Red River College.

Your investment makes a significant difference in the lives of Red River College students. Help us to elevate student success by making a gift and joining our growing philanthropic community. For all inquiries and giving support, please contact the Development office at 204.632.3031.

What’s New at RRC: Fall 2019

October 10, 2019

Innovation Centre

Innovation Centre – Coming Soon to the Exchange District Campus

On the Horizon

Construction has begun on the College’s new Innovation Centre — a 100,000-square foot facility in the heart of Winnipeg’s Exchange District.

Close to 1,200 students and staff will train at the Innovation Centre, focusing on industry-led applied research, Indigenous entrepreneurship, social innovation and enterprise. Programs expanding within the new facility include Information Security, Digital Media Production, Business, and Game Design. Read More →

Giving from within: Business Administration grad launches award to honour nephew

September 26, 2019

Flávio Raphael was studying for his midterms earlier this year when he was hit with the devastating news that his two-year-old nephew, Yuri César, passed away in a tragic playground accident.

“I was lost and I didn’t know what to do,” says Flávio, a native of São Paulo, who along with his fiancée Talita, immigrated to Winnipeg in 2017 so he could study Business Administration at Red River College.

“I sent an email to the (Business Administration program) chair and all of my instructors and told them what happened. Then, I bought a last-minute ticket to Brazil.”

With some assurance from RRC’s administrative staff, Flávio was able to attend his nephew’s funeral without the stress of his midterms hanging over his head. He was able to focus on being in the moment to support his family in a time of need. He went on to graduate from the program with honours this past April, but he and his family remained broken after experiencing such an inexplicable loss. Read More →

From hardship to hope: Former refugees honoured for courage, strength and determination

August 2, 2019

Ahmad Salem, RRC Peace Award winnerWherever he goes, Ahmad Raseen Salem carries memories of his homeland, and of the people and places he once knew so well. He misses the scent of jasmine in the air, the sounds of kids playing in the street, even the neighbourhood grouch, a shopkeeper named Ali who had a habit of “screaming on the kids all day long.”

That world was destroyed seven years ago, when his family home was bombed by Syrian government forces, killing nine of Salem’s neighbours, five of whom were children under the age of six.

Now 28, Salem was separated from his family for three years, as he moved first to another Syrian province and then to Turkey, where he found work as an English-Arabic translator and was eventually able to have his parents and two younger sisters join him.

Since arriving in Winnipeg as Mennonite church-sponsored refugees in December 2016, the family is building new memories in their adopted country, and Salem says he’s found a home of sorts at Red River College’s Exchange District Campus, where he hopes to one day teach other newcomers.

A new graduate of RRC’s Youth Recreation Activity Worker program, with plans to return to RRC this fall as a student in the Child and Youth Care program, Salem is a recipient of one of two $1,000 Peace Awards, presented annually to students who came to Canada as refugees or refugee claimants.

Peace Awards honour the “courage, strength and determination of students who were forced to flee their homes and countries under threat of persecution, conflict and violence” and who have “persevered in reaching their educational goals, while overcoming challenges and adapting to a new life in Canada.”

Salem and fellow $1,000 Peace Award recipient Kohplorsay Desjardins, an Educational Assistant program graduate, exemplify those qualities, as does Murhambo Basimike, a Municipal Engineering Technology student who was presented with a one-time bonus Peace Award of $750. Read More →

Culture of Giving at West End Radiators

August 1, 2019

A whiteboard in the meeting room at West End Radiators (WER) outlines the company’s core values; Integrity, Quality Service, Fun, Innovation and Teamwork. According to Wayne Feeleus, Owner and General Manager of WER, the employees who come to work each day embody these values. While they are happy to be there doing their job, they are even happier to contribute to something greater than themselves.

“It’s not just about coming to work everyday to make money, it’s about doing something more,” he said. “We want to be in the community and make a positive difference.”

One of the ways WER makes a difference is by incorporating a line item on their monthly financial report that is allocated to charity. Staff decide together each month where to donate the $1,000, and for the month of February they decided on Red River College.

“We have our first-ever co-op student from Red River’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program this summer and we couldn’t be happier with him,” Feeleus said. “We’re already trying to see if he can come back. This is the beginning of a new relationship for us, and we wanted to donate to thank Red River in their efforts for training the workforce of the future.”

Donations like this help students at RRC achieve success in their chosen careers by providing hands-on learning opportunities in state-of-the-art facilities. Recently, donations like this one helped the College to elevate the training experience for students in its skilled trades programs. The new Skilled Trades and Technology Centre is 104,000 square-foot complex outfitted with cutting-edge equipment and technologies that help students stay ahead of the curve.

“We’re a growing company,” said Feeleus. “We’re always looking for people and if the majority of students and grads at RRC are as impressive as our current co-op student, then that’s a place we’re going to look for new hires.”

Founded in 1960, and family-owned and operated since 1980; West End Radiators is a leader in the industrial radiator business. Over the years, it has grown from what was a ‘small mom and pop shop’ to being Manitoba’s only on-site radiator manufacturer and top of the market in industrial cooling system needs for clients in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Western Ontario.

Feeleus believes that the more you give, the more you get back – both financially, and in the goodness of life. It’s something that he teaches to his employees and that he hopes they pass along to their families.

“Our goal is to teach others to give,” he said. “If I give, I can only do what I can do.  If I teach 25 others to give and they teach their kids and spouses now we have something that can really make a difference.  We want to create a legacy not just a one-time donation.  This world needs more good people with giving hearts.”

Join West End Radiators in helping RRC students become the next generation of leaders in Manitoba’s skilled workforce.

Donate now

Samantha’s Story – Community-minded Nursing student earns Social Justice Activist award

June 25, 2019

Paying it forward is a recurring theme in Samantha Eveleigh’s life.

After suffering a stroke at the age of 18, she resolved to become a nurse so she could help others as she was helped during a year of rehabilitation. Now, she’s giving back — with interest.

The third-year Baccalaureate Nursing student is the 2019 recipient of Red River College’s Richard (Asher) Webb Social Justice Activist Memorial Award, in recognition of her work at Agape Table and North Point Douglas Women’s Centre, and her leadership in engaging friends, family and fellow RRC students in volunteer efforts.

Eveleigh, 27, says the award is particularly gratifying in respect to her work on behalf of Agape Table, where she has volunteered her time for the past two years, and for which she organized two food drives last year.

“I put a lot of volunteer work and a lot of effort into helping that vulnerable population, especially with food insecurity, so it really meant a lot to me,” she says.

“Growing up, I experienced food insecurity. My family was not really well off. They struggled a little bit in that aspect and so we actually had to use services like Agape Table to make ends meet, so to give back to my community really makes it come full circle. Now that I’m in that position, being able to give back is so rewarding.”

Agape Table serves subsidized weekday breakfasts and provides low-cost, nutritional grocery items for low-income and homeless clients. During volunteer shifts spent cleaning, assisting with food preparation or serving meals, Eveleigh saw there was a need for more non-perishable food items, so she decided to do something about it.

Last summer, she approached friends and family to help out, and together, they gathered 200 items. Buoyed by that success, she sought advice from RRC Nursing instructor and curriculum coordinator Tracey Fallak about mounting a holiday food drive at the Notre Dame Campus.

With support from Fallak and other instructors, she encouraged 10 more Nursing students to volunteer at Agape Table and to participate in the drive. Last December, they collected 700 items for Agape, double the original goal of 350.  Read More →

HAAS Innovation Lab Now Open at Red River College

June 3, 2019

Together with representatives from the Gene Haas Foundation and Thomas Skinner & Son, Red River College (RRC) proudly opened its new Gene Haas Innovation Lab on May 8, 2019. Outfitted with the most current and cutting-edge equipment from HAAS Automation, the new space will be used by students in programs like Manufacturing CAD, Manufacturing Technology and Precision Metal Manufacturing. It is an integral part of the College’s new Skilled Trades and Technology Centre, which will help train up to an additional 1,000 students every year.

“Today is about more than opening a lab. Thanks to the generous support from the Gene Haas Foundation – with strong advocacy on behalf of Red River from Paul Krainer (President and CEO, Thomas Skinner & Son) and a great relationship with Kathy Looman (Administrator, Gene Haas Foundation) – our students will graduate with the knowledge and training they need to enter their careers as leaders,” said Paul Vogt, President and CEO of RRC.

The lab was made possible through a $500,000 donation from the Gene Haas Foundation in the early stages of planning for the STTC. The gift was integral in moving the project forward. Close to 100 guests from the manufacturing industry and Red River community attended the event and took part in a tour and demonstration of the new state-of-the-art space.

“The Gene Haas Innovation Lab stands on its own as an excellent example of an opportunity for industry to work with education to further develop manufacturing in Manitoba,” said Krainer.

“This lab is the culmination of more than 20 years of Red River College, Thomas Skinner and Haas Automation working together to provide the means to produce skilled workers that fit the needs of precision part manufacturing today. Gene Haas himself and his company have proven what can be done in manufacturing in the United States or Canada.”

The lab’s equipment includes everything from the VF-2 model, with 3 axis of travel, to the UMC 750 with 5 axis simultaneous machining capability and 3+2 machining. Training on this equipment is critical for students who will be entering an industry that continues to evolve every year.

Jessica Burzminski, a recent graduate from the College’s Manufacturing Technician program, and a three-time recipient of Gene Haas Foundation Student Awards, was on hand to speak about how her experience with hands-on training at the College helped her enter her career with confidence.

“The College having partnerships with industry organizations is so important. Being able to offer scholarships, mentorships and the right equipment to learn with is what makes Red River College the best place to study for all students. It’s important because students get the opportunity to try new things and see what they find fascinating and what they want to pursue in the career goals,” she said.

Thank you again to the Gene Haas Foundation and Thomas Skinner & Son for your generous support of student success at Red River College.

Jude’s Story

May 29, 2019

Jude Payumo is on the road to becoming an Automotive Technician after completing the one-year certificate program at Red River College.

Most of the program is spent in the shop, working on donated cars, engines and motors – as well as learning the basic purpose, construction, operation, and service of component parts and assemblies of vehicles.

“The shop is a good place for me to learn,” he said. “I had tried Computer Science before this but I wasn’t having fun. I like working with my hands and fixing things.”

Jude said receiving a scholarship from the Princess Auto Foundation was instrumental in allowing him to focus on his education and building his skillset.

“It helped me a lot. The scholarship is equal to about a month of full-time work for me, so it saved me a lot of time to study and to do the work I need to do.”

He had the opportunity to shadow a Red Seal Technician on his first work placement and gained a lot of knowledge and motivation for where he could end up in his future career. For his second work placement Jude requested to shadow an entry-level skilled technician to get a closer look at what his job would look like when he enters the workforce.

Outside of the automotive industry, Jude is a member of the Canadian Armed Forces as a reservist for The Royal Winnipeg Rifles.

In 2017, he volunteered to support provincial firefighters in the British Columbia wildfire firefighting operations, which spread over two hectares and evacuated more than 65,000 people.

“It was one of the hardest work I’ve ever done,” said Jude. “It was our job to mop-up the burnt grounds, to look for any hot spots, and extinguish smouldering trees.”

His experiences in life have helped him stay focused on his career goals and education, and he said he felt humbled to be selected for the Princess Auto award.

“I’m so thankful for the award and all it’s helped me be able to do,” he said.

To learn more about how our donors shape the College’s success and inspire students like Jude, please visit us online at and click on the impact of giving.

Trevor’s Story

January 12, 2019

After moving from one foster home to another, Trevor and his brother were placed in the care of a permanent guardian when he was six, but 10 years later, he found himself homeless and living from couch to couch.

“I’ve never really had a stable place to live for a while, and for most of my life, growing up, my parents suffered from addictions and couldn’t really take care of me and my brothers and sisters, so I went back and forth into foster care.”

Trevor Brass cookingTrevor now lives in what he considers to be his first stable home since he was a permanent ward – a transitional home for vulnerable young men. In exchange for volunteerism and a commitment to bettering his life, he has a safe place to sleep at night – allowing him to focus on bettering his future.

The 26-year-old is currently enrolled in a new pilot program, Culinary Skills Indigenous, with the intention of obtaining a career as a chef. For Trevor, having a career means not having to worry where he will sleep at night because he will be able to support himself.

“Cooking is always something I wanted to learn. I’ve mostly stayed away from cooking and will eat things that I can heat up in the microwave or a can of soup on the stove”.

Trevor has been able to learn how to prepare traditional Indigenous meals that have been passed down for generations. “A lot of those traditions weren’t passed down through my family – so I feel proud to be able to carry on these traditions. Things like wild rice, stews with moose meat, venison stew and some other things I’m looking forward to learning”.

Next year he plans to continue his studies at Red River College and take a second year of the Culinary Skills Indigenous program before he sets out on his career path.

Your gift will create a life-changing experience that will inspire, and enable talented students like Trevor reach excellence.

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