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Help build a better future today

March 29, 2021

When I walked across the stage to accept my high school diploma years ago it was a surprise to everyone in attendance, including me.

Like many students, I struggled in school with marginal grades – supports for my style of learning were not easily accessible back then.  After graduation my beloved mother passed away and I found it increasingly hard to find focus and stay motivated.  I moved around a lot, had meaningless minimum wage jobs and lacked security or direction in my life. My gap year turned into a gap decade. When I was finally ready to go back to school, I didn’t have the necessary credits for admission to many post-secondary programs. But I found a supportive path at Red River College and was offered stepping stones towards a meaningful career –  I had found a home!

I was accepted into the Health Care Aide program and started to gain confidence in myself.  I had discovered that I could succeed at school and knew I wanted to go further. I took College Prep for Nursing to get my pre-requisites up to date, and finally I became a student in the Bachelor of Nursing program, proudly earning my degree in 2009. I could not have done this without the help of many people along the way.

I got my second chance – when you give to Red River College, you give people like me their second chance.

Attaining my degree set the foundation for my career in the ER, ICU and as a LifeFlight Flight Nurse – giving me the opportunity to impact people, save lives and grow into who I am today. Those experiences helped me become a Nursing Instructor at RRC – where I help students the way my instructors helped me – and land my first leadership role as a Clinical Resource Nurse at Health Sciences Centre ER.

Because of Red River College, I am in a role where I can empower students and nurses to change the lives of those we serve, even under the most difficult of circumstances. Looking back to where I started and where I am now brings tears of joy and pride knowing that my accomplishments have changed peoples lives.

Red River College set me on a path for a career I love.  The skills I gained and critical thinking through my schooling taught me that there is a lot of life to live.  As a nurse, you look after others, but you can easily forget to look after yourself.   It is important to take steps to nurture your soul. Hiking was my first step. It was likely the first time I did something just for me. It went from a hobby to launching the Hike Manitoba Project and writing and publishing TWO books – which has allowed me to share some of my favourite hikes with thousands of Manitobans and help build a stronger community.

My life is full because of the opportunities that opened up for me here at Red River College.  By investing in one person our community benefits and grows. Imagine the impact you would have by investing in many? I recently became a monthly donor to the College and launched a scholarship for nursing students. My decision to give back is an investment into our future.  Red River College is an institution that provides the support, guidance and inspiration students need to grow into the best versions of themselves.

I ask you to join me and support the lives of our students.

Red River College responds to urgent industry and community needs – as a nurse and nursing instructor during COVID-19, I’m proud to work alongside my peers on the frontlines. I’m proud to teach the next generation of students, because when they graduate they become the frontline workers of tomorrow.

Please give to Red River College today to make a difference in the lives of our students. Your gift helps to provide students with the technology, support, on-the-job training and mentorship they need to graduate with confidence. Students like me!

Together we can build a better future.


Jaime Manness
Bachelor of Nursing 2009


Innovation Centre Update – February 2021

March 1, 2021

Red River College’s new Innovation Centre in the heart of Winnipeg’s Exchange District is now more than 70% complete. We’re excited to share how the new 100,000 square-foot space in Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District is coming together.

The Innovation Centre, currently under construction at 319 Elgin Avenue in Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District.


Language Training Centre on the second floor of the historic Scott Fruit Building,


The ACE Project Space, on the first floor of the historic Scott Fruit Building.


A bridge connects the Innovation Centre to the Roblin Centre.


A bridge connects the Innovation Centre to the Roblin Centre.


Student work rooms are located throughout the building

MSBI Matching Until March 31, 2021

March 1, 2021

Many young learners in Manitoba have aspirations of graduating College but are unable to due to financial hardships. This is especially true over the last year – because of COVID-19 our Student Awards and Financial Aid office has seen an increase in students who need support to graduate. These are students who have lost their jobs, had a partner lose their job and have to choose between paying their tuition or paying their rent.

With this new opportunity from the Manitoba Scholarship and Bursary Initiative (MSBI), you can help more students succeed in their educational goals. Any new or additional student award donations made before March 31, 2021 will receive an equal match by MSBI.

You have three options on how to designate your new/additional donation:

  • Both the new/additional donation and the matching funds will be directed to the general Red River College bursary fund – preference will be given to students who are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. (All donation levels)
  • Your new/additional donation and the matching funds will be directed to your award fund to provide assistance to a student (or students) who is experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19, and studying in the program area supported by your award fund. (Donations of $1,000 or more)
  • Your new/additional donation and the matching funds will be directed to your award fund to increase the award value for existing recipients of your award; divided amongst the 2020/21 recipient(s) of your award. (Donations of $1,000 or more)

All new and additional donations must also be distributed for students who qualify for financial assistance in the 2020/21 academic year – meaning your gift will make an impact right now.

Please call 204.619.0139 at your earliest convenience to discuss which option would work best for you. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thank you to everyone who has already made the commitment in supporting more students!

“I would like to express my gratitude upon receiving this bursary. Being a full time nursing student and a mom of three young children is very challenging, but thanks to your generosity, it makes my pathway much easier and allows me to concentrate on the program. On behalf of my children and my spouse I want to thank you again!”

-Ana, award recipient 2020

Last Snowman Contest on Campus

March 1, 2021

Students, staff and Route 90 Passerbys may notice some new snowy faces on campus as they pass the Jan Den Oudsten Vehicle Research and Technology Centre at the Notre Dame Campus.

A team of environmentally minded staff and students participated in the Last Snowman Contest, currently hosted by donor Maria Den Oudesten and a team of local supporters.

For more than 15 years, Maria has held the contest annually to help build awareness of climate change and the importance of preserving one of our globe’s most cherished winter wonderland activities– building snowman. After immigrating to Canada from the Netherlands, Maria is proud to have called Winnipeg her home. She feels that the ability to promote snowmen building is symbolic in preserving some of the globe’s coldest temperatures in one of Canada’s most renowned winter city of the North.

We hope Winnipeggers will feel inspired and visit our “Forever Frozen Red” snowman team as they drive by. We would like you to join Maria and her team of climate change advocates by inviting you to build your own snowman at home or at work before the snow runs out – a great teambuilding activity!

For more information about the contest and how you and your team can enter to win up to $4500 in prizes visit The Last Snowman Winnipeg Facebook Page or send your submission with an attached photo to

Jan den Oudsten appointed to Order of Canada

March 1, 2021

Congratulations to Red River College donor Jan den Oudsten for his recent appointment to the Order of Canada, an incredible honour. Jan was appointed for his inventive designs in bus manufacturing and for his contributions to the professional development of the next generation of transportation innovators.

Jan den Oudsten’s contributions to the vehicle research sector have made a significant impact around the world over his 50 years in the industry. He purchased New Flyer in 1986 and introduced his vision for European-style accessible low-floor technology to the North American transit market, ensuring all passengers – including those with significant mobility challenges – are able to travel on regular transit services in cities across the continent.

Den Oudsten was also involved in pioneering hydrogen fuel cell technology applications, and was the first to introduce a 60-foot articulated diesel-electric hybrid bus. In 1999, he unveiled the Invero, New Flyer’s state-of-the-art new transit bus design. Under his leadership, New Flyer expanded to over 2000 employees. Today, New Flyer has more than 44,000 buses in service, just over 7,300 of which are electric powered and 1,600 are zero emission.

In 2019, Jan and his wife Maria provided a transformative gift to RRC and officially renamed the College’s Heavy Equipment Transportation Centre. The 60,000 square-foot training and research facility is now proudly named the Jan den Oudsten Vehicle Technology & Research Centre (VTRC).

Wawanesa Supports Innovation Centre with $50,000 donation

March 1, 2021

Red River College is proud to recognize Wawanesa Mutual Insurance for its $50,000 gift to support the Innovation Centre and Wawanesa’s continued support for students in Manitoba.

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

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

Since 2009, Wawanesa has also provided a $10,000 donation annually to support Red River College students. This year, eight Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Awards will be distributed to individuals in the Business Administration, Business Information Technology and Business Technology Management programs, providing opportunities for students to achieve success in their education and into their careers.

Thank you to Wawanesa for the incredible support of students at Red River College.

Grads give back through new annual award

March 1, 2021

As Distinguished Graduates of RRC we felt it was important to support our alma mater on an ongoing basis. Stu also felt that, as a member of the Board of Governors, it was important to show his support for the College by contributing monetarily.

Throughout our careers we advised RRC on their IT programs, and we thought it was important to continue supporting those programs in other ways in our retirement.  When we thought about ways of giving to the College we went back to when we first attended, right out of high school, way back in 1977. We remembered how difficult it was from a financial perspective when you go right from high school to college and all you had for money was what you’d been able to save from part time jobs. It’s even more difficult when you’re paying your own way.

We decided we wanted to support a student, in particular one that is coming straight from high school who would have less opportunity to save money towards their college education. As well, we preferred to support a female student as there is a definite lack of women in the IT profession.

In supporting a student financially it is our hope that it can relieve some their financial burden to allow them to concentrate more on their studies in a very challenging program.  We hope that the successful applicants will benefit from the Business Information Technology program in the same ways that we did. We hope they build a good solid foundation of technical and soft skills that they can take to their prospective employer to start their lifelong journey of learning and growth. The difficult part of working in IT, which is also the most rewarding, is that the field is always changing and you must be a continuous learner in order to achieve real success.

We truly hope by providing this annual award that we are in some small way setting someone on a path to a challenging, rewarding, and successful career in IT.  We are excited to embark on this new stage of giving to RRC.

Stu and Heather Charles
Business Information Technology (1979 and 1981)

Big Bill memorial gift offers lasting lesson in good maintenance and mechanical care

March 1, 2021

Students in the Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic program have a leg up in their training thanks to Big Bill – a 2018 Peterbilt semi-truck generously provided by a family, which wishes to remain anonymous.

Sentimental efforts were made to create Big Bill – a gift that celebrates the passionate appreciation of a fondly remembered brother and friend who took dedicated pride and joy in maintaining heavy duty equipment.

“Our brother was kind and generous. He was an equipment guy and placed value in taking the best care of things. He had an affinity for good maintenance,” the donors said.

The decision to donate the truck to Red River College (RRC) was an easy one for the donor after learning about the heavy equipment programs offered through the Jan Den Oudsten Vehicle Technology and Research Centre. Program instructor Dietrich Schellenberg is grateful for the new learning tool. “Truck technology changes rapidly so it is really important to have newer vehicles here for the students to learn on,” he said.  “The Certificate students use it to practice removing wheels and brakes, the level 2 Apprentices use it to investigate how the truck communication system works and the Level 4 Apprentices spend time diagnosing the extensive emission control modules.”

Having equipment like this, with pieces students can take apart and put together, is crucial for students learning a skilled traded.

“It adds another valuable element in our learning environment to be able to see and hold the pieces we’re talking about; to see where they are on a truck and how they move and operate puts everything into perspective,” said Shelby Livetsky, educational assistant for the Transporation Heavy Apprenticeship trades. “We are so fortunate to have Big Bill with all of it’s modern and unique features as a valuable teaching tool for the next generation of truck mechanics.“

To help bridge a direct connection to students, the donor family launched a naming contest to have the truck named by on-site learners. The top three student-submitted ideas received a cash prize, and Big Bill was decided as the winning selection. A logo was designed by RRC graphic design student, Honglin Ye, and installed on the doors of the truck’s cab.

In addition to Big Bill, the family generously provided RRC’s Welding program with two welding simulators. The simulators are used to enhance technical skill-building and learning through virtual technology that mirrors the welding practice.

Gift-in-kind donations like this support the hands-on learning and training that give RRC students an advantage in their careers, and sharing the memory of a loved one adds significance. RRC is proud to be home to Big Bill and support enhanced heavy equipment maintenance and skill training.

If you are interested in providing a Gift-in-kind donation to one of RRC’s programs or celebrating a legacy, please contact

New Award Honours Nursing Career and Life of Christiane Bonin

January 26, 2021

Christiane Bonin was a lifelong nurse who loved the camaraderie of working on the front-lines and bringing a smile to the face of her patients.

When Christiane died last November, her daughter Lilian Bonin, had the idea to create a student award in her mother’s name – in recognition of Christiane’s dedication to nursing, and to support new nurses graduating from Red River College (RRC).

“Nurses are on the frontlines, they’re the ones working directly with patients and are so important to their care,” she said. “It’s a tough job, so my idea was to give people going into it support and acknowledgement that their work is valued.”

According to Lilian, Christiane made kindness into a career – and helping people feel good was something she carried into the rest of her life. Despite the heaviness of her work, she had a positive demeanor and a laugh that everybody could recognize. She rode her bike into work every day, and got outside as often as she could.

“Being outside was a healthy way to deal with stress for her,” said Lilian. “She taught me to be kind, to have faith in the goodness of people, and – of course – that nature is healing. Whatever is going on in your life, go for a walk outside and you’ll feel better.”

It was this joie de vivre that helped her survive Stage 4 Lymphoma of the bone in 2001. Her doctors told her she would never walk again, but after spending a year in a wheelchair she went right back to her active lifestyle – the only exception being that she could no longer downhill ski.

“She grew up in the depression, with very little, and was grateful for everything,” said Lilian. “She was the first one in her family to graduate from high school and enter a career, and took courses until her mid-eighties – she was always learning. At a time when It was tough to be an independent woman, she did what she wanted.”

Christiane was at the hospital for treatment of a bacterial infection when she contracted COVID-19, from which she did not survive. And while she could not be by her mother’s side, Lilian is thankful for the hospital staff who kept her mother comfortable in her final days.

When choosing to create a scholarship, Lilian decided to support students in RRC’s bachelor of nursing program because of the hands-on training, and practical experience students receive.

“That was my mom, she was hands on,” she said. “My mother was so proud of being a nurse, and I am happy to share that with others through this award.”

The Christiane Bonin Memorial Award has been established by her family and friends in honour of Christiane Gabrielle Jacqueline Bonin, who dedicated 43 years of her professional life as an emergency nurse. Chris loved nursing and cared deeply for her patients; she was an “old school” nurse who prided herself on bedside nursing and easing peoples’ suffering.

Compassion and helping others came naturally in Chris’s day to day life and this award will concur and celebrate those qualities with future nurses graduating from RRC. This award, valued at a minimum of $1000, will be presented annually to a student graduating from the Bachelor of Nursing program. The recipient will have successfully completed Senior Practicum in an emergency setting and have expressed a particular interest in emergency nursing practice. They will also have demonstrated a high level of skill, sound academic achievement, and a caring and compassionate attitude with patients. Application forms will be available from the Nursing Repository and should be accompanied by a reference letter from a preceptor or faculty member. Applications will be accepted throughout the year, and the recipient will be selected annually in in the fall.

Success is Giving to Others: Albert El Tassi

December 11, 2020


The man responsible for manufacturing Red River College’s new branded face masks is no stranger to generosity.

Albert El Tassi, CEO of Peerless Garments, believes that helping people is the best thing you can do for yourself and for your community. Since immigrating to Winnipeg from Lebanon in 1969 he has made a strong commitment to supporting anybody in need – especially students, healthcare workers and refugees.

“Refugees are important in my life – everybody should have a shelter, everybody should have a roof over their heads. Refugees have been denied that. If you can save one life you can save an entire humanity,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what part of the world they come from, we don’t discriminate. If we can help, I’m there to help. If we leave this world better than when we came, I will be happy.”

El Tassi has been a champion of RRC’s Student Refugee Program since 2015, and has been instrumental in providing financial and cultural support for the students who have had the opportunity to study at the College through a partnership with the World University Service of Canada (WUSC).

On top of financial assistance, El Tassi has provided each student with a winter coat, shared important information about how to get around in Winnipeg, and introduced them to Winnipeg’s Muslim community through weekly services at the mosque he attends.

“I believe in education. Without education the world will be much darker,” he said. “I love helping students, refugees or not, so they can advance in life.”

Beyond RRC, El Tassi has donated to support students at the University of Manitoba, University of Winnipeg, and College Universite St. Boniface – he also opened Al Hijra Islamic School, Manitoba’s first Muslim-faith elementary school, in 1996.

He and his wife, Samira, have also donated to a number of charities dedicated to improving the lives of children and defending human rights in Manitoba and around the world.

Earlier this year, El Tassi was also part of an effort made by Winnipeg’s Lebanese community to provide relief and aid to those who were impacted by the explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.

“When you enjoy giving more than you enjoy receiving, then you enjoy life,” he said. “The amount is irrelevant. If you have an extra dollar, you can give an extra dollar.”

El Tassi said that he doesn’t expect anything in return from the people he helps, but is always happy to see a student succeed in their career and give back to their community.

“I encourage everybody to help humanity where help is needed,” he said.


RRC branded face masks available now:

Red River College branded facemasks are available in two styles at the Campus Store.

Black fitted masks are available for $6.79 and Navy Blue folded rectangle masks are available for $8.79. Both styles are two layer and non-medical with a molded nose strip at the top.
Order online at: