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Canerector Foundation Supports Trades Success with Half Million Dollar Gift

May 14, 2024

The Canerector Foundation (the Foundation) is making a big impact for skilled trades in Manitoba with the recent announcement of a $500,000 gift to Red River College Polytechnic (RRC Polytech).

The gift supports the creation of the Canerector Foundation Scholarship in the Skilled Trades and funds the Girls Exploring Trades and Technology (GETT) Camp. The donation will be distributed over the next five years to provide continued support to students pursuing careers in skilled trades.

Amanda Hawkins, Director of the Foundation, says that they aim to support communities across Canada, including Manitoba and Winnipeg where Canerector has three businesses. This is the Foundation’s first gift to RRC Polytech, but it has a history of supporting students in skilled trades since its inception in 2019.

“I lived in Winnipeg while working with one of our companies in 2011, and still love the community there,” said Hawkins. “We are happy to see RRC Polytech’s focus on strategic workforce development and are excited to be a part of it.”

The Canerector Foundation Scholarship in the Skilled Trades supports 14 diploma and certificate programs in the School of Skilled Trades and Technologies. Recipients are selected based on their community involvement and engagement in mentorship activities. The first round of scholarships is scheduled to be awarded in the fall of 2024 and will support up to 27 recipients annually.

Two students working on a motorcycle in a shop classroom.

The Foundation also committed a portion of this gift to support the GETT Camp. This will give young women and girls between the ages of 12 and 14 first-hand experience with a variety of skilled trades at no cost to them or their families. This year’s camp is already full, and the Canerector Foundation’s support ensures this camp will continue to provide learning opportunities for young women in Manitoba for years to come.

A young girl and an instructor working on a carpentry project together.

Hawkins says exposing students to practical, valuable careers at a young age is important. She was first introduced to engineering during a presentation in her grade 5 classroom and remembers the impact it had on her. She appreciates how our program creates awareness of trades and technology and hopes that it will inspire many young people. 

“We’ve been working to increase representation in the trades by creating more opportunities for women and equity deserving groups who might not have considered a career in the trades,” said Derek Kochenash, Dean of the School of Skilled Trades and Technology. “This age is an important time for girls because they begin to make course decisions that affect future career choices. The Canerector Foundation’s support of the GETT Camp will help provide an environment where these young women can get inspired and curious about skilled trades and open to the idea of having a career in one.”

Todd Thompson, Carpentry instructor at RRC Polytech, shared his daughter and niece took part in the camp in 2022 and says it was nice to introduce them to various trades in a girls-only environment.

“All the instructors did such a good job showcasing their trades and opening the students’ eyes to the possibility of the trades as a career,” said Thompson.

Todd’s daughter Anna says, “I had so much fun meeting new people and making friends. I loved trying the different trades. The GETT camp gave me so many new and fun experiences!”

The GETT Camp has been so successful that shortly after it was announced for 2024 all the spots were filled. The Camp will take place in July 2024 at RRC Polytech’s Notre Dame campus.

The Canerector Foundation was established just five years ago and has invested in skilled trades education since the beginning.

“Skilled trades are the backbone of our economy and provide a lot of value to our communities,” said Hawkins. “Canerector was founded and built by tradespeople and hopes to bring attention to the wide variety of careers that begin with a skilled trades education. This gift is also our way of giving back to the communities that have supported us over our 75+ year history.”

RRC Polytech is proud to celebrate this half million-dollar gift and recognize the Canerector Foundation for its contribution and the impact it has for students, and the skilled trades industry in Manitoba, now and in the future.

Learn more about the GETT camps: Girls Exploring Trades and Technology : Red River College Polytechnic: Youth Initiatives (

Learn more about the Canerector Foundation awards: Awards, bursaries, and scholarships :: RRC Polytech Program & Course Catalogue

The Snow Sculptures Have Long Melted, But Collaboration and Climate Change Awareness Live On

April 29, 2024

This was the third year of RRC Polytech’s Snow Me the Money! contest where staff and students were asked to think about the impacts of climate change while partaking in a classic winter activity in Manitoba: making snow sculptures.

Taking care of our planet and being sustainable are core values of RRC Polytech. So much so that back in November RRC Polytech became the first post-secondary in Manitoba to sign the SDG Accord, committing to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – including urgent calls to action to tackle climate change across the globe.

A variety of initiatives are underway at RRC Polytech – from composting and print reduction, to conducting waste and transportation audits, and building a campus environment that embodies sustainable design – ensuring that a commitment to sustainability is at the forefront of everything that happens at RRC Polytech. This includes instilling these same values in the thousands of students across our campuses so they too can be sustainability-minded when they enter the workforce.

One way of inspiring these values outside of the classroom is with opportunities like the Snow Me the Money! contest, which was created in 2021 by Maria den Oudsten, a generous member of our donor community.

“Seeing students and staff come together to have fun in the snow while considering the importance of how we treat our planet is really amazing,” said Maria at the contest’s wrap-up celebration. “Climate change is having an impact even right here in Winnipeg and Manitoba. Our temperatures from summer to winter are drastically changing and these conditions over the long-term are leading to more extreme weather events like the drought conditions, floods and fires we’ve seen in recent years. These are serious impacts of climate change, and this is why we must take action now.”

A snow sculpture of a MACK brand truck.

The Snow building contest began as a passion project for Maria as a climate change awareness campaign showing the importance of preserving one of her most cherished winter activities – building snow people. The contest is an opportunity for classmates and colleagues to work together to help raise climate change awareness.

“I was really inspired by how Maria really loves winter and why she started this contest,” said Claire Tuazon, first year Social Innovation and Community Development student. “I hope we have more events where you get to appreciate the weather that we have here in Winnipeg.”

There was almost no snow on the ground when the call-out for snow sculpting teams to register began at the end of February. It served as a reminder that playing in the snow, even in a Winnipeg winter, might look different due to climate change.

With a huge snow fall the week of the contest, 20 teams set out to create incredible snow sculptures between March 4-7, 2024. Snow creations were lined up along the Jan den Oudsten Vehicle Research Technology Centre on Route 90 and other spots at the Notre Dame Campus as well as Stevenson Southport and the Steinbach Regional Campus.

“These sculptures serve as a visual reminder to celebrate winter and how our daily actions make a global impact,” said Fred Meier, president and CEO of RRC Polytech, at the wrap-up celebration. “As Manitobans, we’re bonded by the ability to make the most of the winter conditions we face, and this contest proudly demonstrated collaboration and teamwork. Elements that are critical to the success RRC Polytech has in training the workforce of today and tomorrow, but it also showcased that we care about the planet and helped to inspire us to build a better future.”

Maria and her late husband Jan den Oudsten, a pioneer and inventor in transit technology, presented RRC Polytech with a donation of $1.5 million in 2019 to support students and researchers in Manitoba’s heavy vehicle sector.

Over 50 participants were treated to soup, chili, and refreshments as a part of the wrap-up lunch, donated by Maria den Oudsten to celebrate everyone taking time out of their busy schedules to have some winter fun, show off creativity, teamwork, and raise climate action awareness in the Snow Me the Money! contest.

RRC Polytech’s Directions welcomes 500 students to annual business conference

April 4, 2024

Energies were high and the chatter around the room was loud at Red River College Polytechnic’s (RRC Polytech) annual Directions Business Conference where 500 students and 240 industry partners gathered at the Victoria Inn Hotel in late February to make connections, share information and explore new directions.  

“I wouldn’t say I was nervous going into it, but I wasn’t really sure what to expect or what it would look like, but at the end of the day, I was quite happy I went. It was really powerful to hear the keynote speakers and the guest speakers that were there,” said Shane LeBlanc, second year Business Administration student.  

The half-day conference connected students from Business Administration, Indigenous Education, Continuing Education and Hospitality and Tourism with professionals and industry leaders throughout Manitoba.  

The conference featured messages from RRC Polytech President and CEO, Fred Meier and RBC Regional Vice President, Chris White and keynote speaker Amanda Buhse, Graphic Design alumni and CEO of Coal and Canary Candle Company, a local luxury candle company.  

“Directions offers a unique relationship-building experience that benefits everyone who takes part,” said Fred Meier, President and CEO, RRC Polytech.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for students to grow and learn by connecting with an unparalleled network of industry leaders and proud alumni who are driving the economy and are making a positive impact in our community, and for our partners to network with the future leaders in their respective industries – some they may work alongside one day very soon.” 

A highlight of the event for students was the roundtable sponsored by RBC Future Launch, as a part of its Reaction by Collision initiative.  This partnership between RBC and RRC Polytech is aimed at helping students expand their networks, explore roles in various fields, and discover how industry is innovating and solving programs.  

Students circulated between four tables according to their field of interest and explored four different skill areas in 20-minute sessions. These sessions provided an intimate session where students were able to sit down with some of the top employers in Winnipeg and connect with organizations looking to hire new graduates.  

“It was a great opportunity to be able to have conversations like this.  For me, as a student, I would not have the opportunity to talk with people from RBC if it was not for events like this. I was able to clarify and understand their jobs, what they do and make sure that it’s something that I want to pursue,” said Lara Andrade, Business Administration student. 

“RRC Polytech Directions is a unique format bringing together the aspirations and curiosity of bright young minds with the experience of seasoned professionals and alumni,” shared Chris White, RBC Regional Vice President joined by 25 RBC employee volunteers. “Directions is a tremendous opportunity for students to make connections and shape their growth.” 

The conference also provided students an opportunity to participate in the RBC Headshot Lounge and the RRC Polytech Proud Alumni Panels where they heard from former students who are working in the industry.  

“They shared how they went from being students to where they are now in their career and they gave us great advice,” said Lara.  

Lara, an international student, started attending RRC Polytech after having spent a semester at a different institution in Manitoba and transferred to the Business Administration program at the College.  

“I really enjoy how things are more direct and hands-on, because that’s what I need. RRC Polytech gives you all the tools you need to be ready for the work environment. And this experience and having the ability to make these contacts is a perfect opportunity for students,” Lara added.  

The Reaction by Collision event series hosted one more event for the 2023/24 academic year, the RBC Reaction by Collision Indigenous Career Fair on March 21, where students were able to connect with employers from over 40 organizations who have job openings and opportunities for Indigenous students and graduates.  

Watch the short recap video of the Directions Business Conference here.

Snow Me the Money! Enter RRC Polytech’s Winter Engagement Contest

February 21, 2024

Snow-body embraces winter fun and teamwork like our students, faculty and staff – and now, with a little cooperation from Mother Nature, you can prove it! 

Snow Me the Money! is returning for a second year and in addition to teaming up with your classmates, colleagues or co-workers to create epic snow sculptures, (click to see last year’s recap) we’re adding a singing element to RRC Polytech’s Winter Engagement Contest.

It hasn’t been a typical Manitoba winter which highlights the importance of prompting climate action – so let’s bank on some snow and cold coming our way so you can show off your creativity and win cash and prizes.

Snow Building Element

Our goal, once again, is to create a welcoming “snow village” on the Notre Dame Campus (NDC) along Route 90 in front of the Jan den Oudsten Vehicle Technology and Research Centre (VTRC) and near the main entrance off Notre Dame Avenue.

  • Staff, students and faculty are encouraged to register teams (family members are welcome to participate) and our facilities staff will try to stockpile any snow reserves nearby so you can build your creations.
  • Deadline to register is EXTENDED TO MONDAY, March 4th, 2024, at 5:00 pm CT.
  • Snow building can take place at the assigned locations any time starting at 8:00am CT on March 4, 2024, and ending at 12:00pm CT on March 7, 2024.
  • Snap a photo of your finished work of art and email it in to be eligible for both judged and randomly drawn cash prizes.

 Singing Element (NEW!)

  • Teams are also encouraged but not obligated to submit a video recording of them singing the song Tell me Where the Snowmen Are by Ria den Oudsten, sung to the tune of Tell Me Where the Flowers Are composed by Pete Seeger for an additional chance to win. 
  • Sheet music and instrumental audio will be provided and may be used in the recording.
  • Professional recording equipment is not required, smartphone recordings will be accepted.
  • You do not have to build a snow sculpture to submit a singing video.

Deadline and Celebration    

  • Deadline to submit your entries to Lisa Moore is noon CT on March 7, 2024.
  • Winners will be announced at a lunch hour wrap up celebration at NDC on Friday, March 8, 2024.
  • Chili, soup, and hot beverages will be provided.

You must register properly to be eligible to win prizes. Assemble your team, collect each member’s email address and decide on a team name. Elect a team captain who will formally register your group by completing this form. Prize money will be awarded to the captain on behalf of the team. You may also register as an individual.

A full list of rules and regulations for participants can be found HERE.

Our judge is Maria den Oudsten, a generous member of our donor community who has a passion for snow and has been organizing similar competitions through her Sweet Sorrow Snowman Foundation
for years. Her main goal with these competitions is to raise awareness about global warming and to encourage climate action around the world.

Her family’s generosity for helping spread the word is extended to you in the way of prize money for the most creative, elaborate and impressive designs and her favorite rendition of the song.

The team that builds Maria’s favorite snow sculpture at NDC will split $1000 and the runners-up will be awarded $500. The winning team between EDC, Stevenson and the Regionals will also split $1000 and the runners-up will be awarded $500.

*Teams from EDC are encouraged to come to NDC to build your masterpieces where space and snow are more accessible. Teams from Stevenson and some of our regional campuses can take part at designated locations on their property.

Another $1000 will go to Maria’s favorite singers from any campus. Even if you can barely carry a tune don’t be shy and have fun with it, as a little effort and creativity could still make your team the winner!          

Four more prizes of $250 will be won by participating teams selected at random. If you register and submit an entry your team will be entered in the draw, so everyone has a chance to cash in – Snow Me the Money!

Our Advancement Team will gather other prizes and souvenir shwag to reward your efforts, but every participant will feel like a winner as you show off your creativity and collaboration skills, enjoy a break from your daily routine, beautify the campus and encourage climate action around the world.

There is snow time to waste, so choose your “winspiration” – an animal, an object, a landmark, a symbol, a vehicle, a superhero or an abstract interpretation of a feeling or emotion – big, small, short or tall, hopefully we’ll get enough snow to build them all!

Captains, please register your teams HERE

Snow Me the Money 2024 – Rules and Regulations

February 21, 2024

You’re invited to team up with your classmates, colleagues, or co-workers to create an epic snow sculpture and show off your singing voices for a chance to win cash and prizes in RRC Polytech’s Winter Engagement Contest – Snow Me the Money!

This year, in addition to the snow-building contest, participants will get to take part in a singing contest, singing their version of the original climate change anthem, “Tell Me Where the Snowmen Are” to help raise climate crisis awareness and win additional prizes!

  • Registration

You must register to be eligible to win prizes. Participants can register as a team or individual to participate in the snow-building and singing contests.

To register as a Team:

  • Assemble your team, collect each member’s email address and decide on a team name.
  • Elect a team captain who will formally register your group by completing the entry form that includes each team member’s name and email address.
  • Team captains must be a student or staff member at RRC Polytech, but anyone is eligible to participate as a team member: family members, friends, etc.
  • Prize money will be awarded to the captain on behalf of the team.
  • There is no limit on the number of members per team.

Individuals can register by completing the entry form. RRC Employees and students are eligible to register as individual participants or students are eligible to register as individual participants.

The registration deadline is EXTENDED to Monday, March 4th, 2024, at 5:00 pm CT.

The contest is free of charge, and no purchase is necessary to register.

  • Snow Building Contest

Weather permitting, the goal is to create a welcoming “snow sculpture village” at the Notre Dame Campus (NDC) along Route 90 in front of the Jan den Oudsten Vehicle Technology and Research Centre (VTRC) and near the main entrance, off Notre Dame Avenue.

Teams from EDC will need to come to NDC to build their masterpieces where space and snow are more accessible.

Teams from Stevenson and our regional campuses can take part at designated locations on their campuses and submit their entries.

Snow building can commence at the assigned locations from 8:00 am CT on March 4, 2024, and end at 12:00 pm CT on March 7, 2024.

Snap a photo of your finished work of art and submit your entry to Lisa Moore by noon CT on March 7, 2024.

Teams are encouraged to use snow reserves that our facilities staff will stockpile (if available) to build their creations.

Participants must not interfere with the building of competing sculptures or deface, devalue, or destroy them.

Sculptures will not be monitored, and contest organizers are not responsible for any random acts of vandalism.

No power tools can be used in the construction of your sculptures.

Participants in the snow sculpture contest can also participate in the singing contest.

If there is not enough snow left to sculpt due to unseasonably warm temperatures as of March 1st, 2024, the snow-building portion of the contest may be altered or cancelled. Registrants will be informed via email.

Participants who fail to comply with RRC Polytech’s safety guidelines and our Respectful College and legal policies as outlined at may be removed from the contest.

  • Singing Contest

This year, we are also introducing a singing competition to the Snow Me The Money Contest with additional prizes to be won.

To participate in the singing contest,  teams/individuals will submit a video recording of the song Tell me Where the Snowmen Are by Ria den Oudsten, sung to the tune of Tell Me Where the Flowers Are composed by Pete Seeger. 

Sheet music and instrumental audio will be provided by email and may be used in the recording.

Professional recording equipment is not required, smartphone recordings will be accepted.

You can participate in the singing contest without participating in the snow-building contest.    

The deadline for emailing singing submissions to Lisa Moore is also noon CT on March 7, 2024.  

Winners will be announced at a lunch hour wrap-up celebration at NDC on Friday, March 8, 2024.

  • Prize Structure

$1000 for the most creative, elaborate and impressive design at NDC as judged by Maria den Oudsten.

$1000 for the most creative, elaborate and impressive design away from NDC as judged by Maria den Oudsten.

$500 for the Runners-up at NDC as judged by Maria den Oudsten.

$500 for the Runners-up away from NDC as judged by Maria den Oudsten.

Four prizes of $250 for registered teams (any campus) selected by random draw.

$1,000 for Maria den Oudsten’s favorite singing submission from all campuses.

The skill-testing question of (10 × 4) – (15 ÷ 3) =? provided on the entry form must be correctly answered to be eligible for the randomly drawn prizes. The odds of winning the grand prizes or raffle depend on the number of entrants.

Additional prizes may include small amount gift cards and various small tokens of participation.

Concord Projects empowers skilled trades and technologies students through $100,000 gift

February 20, 2024

Concord Projects, longtime supporter of RRC Polytech, continues to positively impact learners with the recent announcement of $100,000 donation that will support the growth and success of RRC Polytech’s skilled trades and technologies programs, including Architectural/Engineering Technology, Construction Management, and Structural Engineering Technology.

Morgan Johnson, Nolan Ploegman, and Fred Meier.

Nolan Ploegman, President and CEO of Concord Projects says that the gift was more than a strategic donation—it’s an expression of the symbiotic relationship between education and industry.

“We have about 33 staff members who are RRC Polytech grads, including some members of the senior leadership team. We always want to be intentional about the way we recruit the latest talent, including demonstrating appreciation for institutions like RRC Polytech for helping students get the training they need,” said Ploegman.

Concord Projects is invested in student success through the financial support they provide with awards, while also ensuring that as industry evolves, students have access to the latest tools and equipment they will use when they enter the workforce. Every few years, RRC Polytech is able to purchase new equipment and refresh lab spaces thanks to the generous support of donors like Concord Projects.

In addition to supporting RRC Polytech’s content delivery, Concord Projects helps students directly every year through the $2,000 Concord Projects Award, which is awarded to a third-year Construction Management student with volunteer involvement in the community to help offset the cost of tuition.

Derek Kochenash, the Dean of the School of Skilled Trades and Technology, recognizes that students rely on funds like the Concord Projects Civil Engineering Award to focus on their studies and not have to worry about juggling a job between classes.

“We’re very grateful for the gifts we get from partners like Concord Projects; they consistently step up to help us provide the education and training that contribute to RRC Polytech’s reputation in industry,” he said.

The 2023 recipient of the Concord Projects Award, Hayley Lecuyer, says the award definitely relieved some of the financial strain she’d been experiencing as a third-year Construction Management student.

“I felt super honoured when I found out I won and it was a huge confidence booster. With six courses every semester and work placements, it’s hard to fit working part-time into the schedule,” said Lecuyer.

Concord Projects regularly provides support to the community through the Concord Projects Foundation, which exemplifies the values and principles at its core: philanthropy, community and pride of employment. Their vision to enrich the quality of life for all people impacted by their projects is regularly demonstrated through their commitment to helping us provide first-rate education to tomorrow’s workforce.

RRC Polytech is proud to recognize Concord Project’s latest support by naming T2-18B on the second floor of the STTC “The Concord Projects Classroom.”

“We’re excited to establish more recognition at the College through the naming of the classroom; whether it’s our staff who take courses to upskill or students that could one day be part of our team, we’re looking forward to people seeing that mutual recognition of our partnership at the STTC,” said Ploegman.

RBC Reaction by Collision event equips skilled trades and technologies students with industry tools to launch their careers

January 8, 2024

On November 7, 2023, the South Gym at RRC Polytech’s Notre Dame Campus was abuzz with activity as hundreds of skilled trades and technologies students participated in the RBC Reaction by Collision event.

RBC Future Launch has supported future generations of workers in Manitoba for many years at RRC Polytech. The event was a unique opportunity for students to meaningfully connect with industry players and future employers through networking, gaining insights from the speaker series, and refining their interview skills at the RBC mock-interview booth.

This is the third year RBC has supported the RBC Reaction by Collision event series, having previously partnered with RRC Polytech on events such as the School of Indigenous Education Food, Fashion and Music event, and the RBC Roundtables at the Directions Conference.

Ade Akanni, a first-year student in the construction management program, described the event as an “eye opener.”

“It gives you exposure, so you have an idea of the career you want before you finish school,” he said. “It helps channel your strengths, so you can figure out where you want to go.”

Akanni, who’s originally from Nigeria and moved to Canada last year after living in the UK, has plans to work in construction project management following graduation. He was looking for a career that built on his strengths, after having previously worked in IT and construction.

His favourite part of the day was meeting with different companies to get a sense of how they manage their projects, and whether their business had room for growth.

Both Akanni and Andrew Dupré, a first-year student in the cabinetry level one accredited program, participated in the RBC mock interviews.

“It made me feel more comfortable and confident,” said Dupré, while gained a new perspective, as the interviewer gave him advice, identified his strengths, and provided advice on areas for improvement.

Akanni attended the “financial literacy for entrepreneurship in the trades” speaker session, led by Mehmood Batla, Manager of Business Markets at RBC.

“It was helpful. The speaker really broke down where you can get help and apply for grants when starting a business,” he said. “There’s support out there.”

Other speaker sessions included conversations on electric vehicle charging installation, a panel discussion on automotive industry changes, and the use of drones in construction.

Students were also invited to let off some steam throughout the day, playing games such as a beanbag toss, landscape puzzle, and Jenga, as well as tricycle races that took over the track overlooking the gym.

On top of the valuable connections the students made, Dupré also walked away with tickets to a Winnipeg Jets game – the result of his enthusiasm and participation at the event.

It’s safe to say that every student in attendance left the event well-equipped with the confidence and encouragement needed to kick-start a successful career in the trades. You can check out photos from the event here.

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

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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