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RRC’s Response to COVID-19

March 24, 2020

A message from Dr. Christine Watson,
Red River College’s Interim President and CEO

Dear donors, alumni and friends of Red River College,

I am reaching out today to share with you our efforts to continue operating while protecting the health and safety of our students, staff, faculty and broader community during this time of unprecedented challenge and uncertainty.

We are taking every step possible to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to safeguard the RRC community. This has meant a rapid shift to alternative program and service delivery for students, which has allowed the majority of faculty and staff to work from home while we close our campuses to classes and public events.

This is allowing us to continue to do what we do best – train the next generation of Manitoba’s workforce, which we will be extremely important for our province and our country as we rebuild our economy following this crisis.

I am so very proud of our efforts. This would be a significant undertaking in the best of times, never mind where we find ourselves today as a community.

Responding to this situation, which is often changing by the hour, has us drawing on the values we hold dear at the College. By tapping into our spirit of innovation, flexibility, teamwork and problem-solving, we’re forging a new path to ensure our students can continue with their studies and their careers.

As Manitoba’s largest educator of health care professionals, we are also supporting this sector in their battle against COVID-19 by:

  • Providing 14 students from our Health Information Management program to help with vital record keeping and tracking the spread of COVID-19;
  • Donating 1,700 N95 masks to help combat serious shortages of essential safety gear for front line staff;
  • Offering to re-deploy our 3D printers, manufacturing equipment and labs to support the production of medical devices and supplies; and,
  • Providing unused advertising space to help public health increase its messaging to the community.

I am so inspired by the hard work, dedication, and creativity of our workforce here at RRC. This is a very difficult and stressful time for everyone, and it is incredible to see so many people rise to address the situation before us. We are very fortunate to have such a vibrant College community and as a partner, you are an important part of who we are and how we continue to stay strong at this time.

Your support as donors, alumni and partners have helped us grow into the robust and agile training institution we are today, which has positioned us to meet this challenge head on and continue to help our students become leaders in their chosen fields. Thank you for your support of our students, the College and each other during this difficult time.

We recognize the profound impact that this uncertain time is having on your own family, your work and your business. It is why we will continue to work diligently to support our students in continuing their studies and doing what we canto help the community ‘flatten the curve.’ We want to work together to support you the way you have always supported us.

Please stay safe and feel free to visit for the latest information on how the College is responding to this extraordinary situation.


Class of ’84 grad donation gives boost to RRC’s Directions Conference

February 6, 2020

Ron Margolis, Margolis Capital, and Tony Balaz, Kensington HomesIt’s a donation 35 years in the making.

Red River College grads Ron Margolis and Tony Balaz have gifted nearly $1,000 to RRC’s annual Directions Conference with money from a group project they helped complete in their graduating year – 1984.

[Editor’s Note: 1984 was the year the World Wide Web and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg were born, Steve Jobs launched a boxy little number called the Macintosh PC, and Bill Gates shared the cover of Time magazine with a floppy disk. Historical records indicate that 1984 was also the epoch of the cassette tape, pager, answering machine, and peak Murder, She Wrote.]

At that time, Margolis (shown, above) and Balaz (below) were studying Business Administration and working on a huge final project with a team of over a dozen other students. The group raised funds to pay for the layout and printing costs needed to produce their group’s business plan, only to find out, just before the plan was due, that the printing company couldn’t produce the accounting tables and wouldn’t be able to complete the job.

“Cut to a dozen of us hammering away on typewriters around the clock, trying to get this thing into some kind of presentable form when we should have been prepping our oral presentation instead,” Margolis recalls.

[Editor’s Note: 1984 was also before word processing and layout software were basic human rights.]

“The final result wasn’t pretty, but we ended up with something we could hand in.”

The money to cover the printing costs sat in the account in case it was still needed, and was then forgotten – until Margolis discovered the bank statement book in a pile of papers just over a year ago.

The discovery prompted Margolis, now president of Margolis Capital Group Inc., a commercial mortgage firm, to reach out to Balaz, another member of the group still living in Winnipeg. (Balaz is vice-president of Kensington Homes.)

“It made sense to both of us to donate it back to the College on behalf of our group, Seminar 13.”

They earmarked their donation for this year’s Directions Conference, which connects RRC Business and Applied Arts students with industry and business leaders through a series of speakers, information sessions, and a roundtable networking event. Obby Khan, local restaurateur and former Blue Bomber, will share his story of family, football and entrepreneurship at the conference’s keynote address on Thu., Feb. 6, inspiring the next generation of professionals and leaders.

“We love how this donation gives a group of our grads the opportunity to bring their Red River College experience full circle,” says RRC Alumni Engagement Officer Katrina Sklepowich. “We couldn’t be more grateful to this awesome group of people for boosting the impact of potentially career-shaping networking events like Directions for our students.”

Thinking of making a gift to Red River College? Donate now!

A Warm Welcome: RRC Technology Management student feels at home during first winter in Winnipeg

January 28, 2020


He’s getting his first taste of Canadian winter, but Khaldon Khaled Algundubi still finds Winnipeg warm and welcoming.

Algundubi is the latest student to enroll at Red River College as an International Education award recipient through Red River College and World University Service of Canada (WUSC).

Originally from Yemen, Algundubi comes to Canada from Jordan, where he earned a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from the University of Jordan.

The 25-year-old first touched down at Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport in August, when he was welcomed by members of RRC’s WUSC committee.

“They (RRC students and staff) keep asking me how it’s going with me and if I need any help. In fact, tomorrow I will meet Norman (Umali, RRC’s international student support coordinator) for lunch,” Algundubi says.

Left: Chair, Electrical, Mechanical and Manufacturing, Mark Blackner, with WUSC award recipient, Khaldon Algundubi and Interim President and CEO, Darin Brecht.

“There are really cool, friendly people here and I keep in contact with them or they call me to ask how I’m doing and what they can help with. Also, the instructors here are really friendly and care a lot about students. They give me advice on how to improve my skills and how to prepare for a professional career. I’m really enjoying being here.”

Algundubi is currently studying Technology Management at RRC’s Notre Dame Campus. A one-year advanced diploma program, Technology Management is for students with technical diplomas and degrees who wish to complement their technical know-how with managerial skills.

“It’s a bridging program, a suitable program for me since I already have a bachelor’s degree,” Algundubi says. “It is an advanced program that will help me to continue to master studies in project management. Project management is my goal.”

When he’s not studying, Algundubi says he enjoys exploring Winnipeg and trying new restaurants with his friends. When the weather gets a little colder, he plans to take a crack at ice skating.

Algundubi is embracing life in Canada, and feels like his new home has embraced him.

RRC International Students learn to Skate at Camp Manitou with the Winnipeg Jets (January 2019).

“The best description for Canada is it’s a peaceful country. It’s a country of immigrants, so when you arrive in Canada you don’t feel like you’re alone. There are a lot of people who share your experience that can understand you. They are very friendly here.”

Each year, WUSC partners with over 80 Canadian campuses and supports over 130 refugee students through higher education. Since 1978, the international development non-profit organization has helped over 1,800 students from 39 different countries to resettle and pursue further education in Canada.

In addition to WUSC, Red River College and local committee members, Algundubi’s journey to Canada was made possible with the support of such donors as Albert El Tassi, Scotiabank and the RRC Students’ Association, whose financial contributions make the program possible.

Those interested in joining the WUSC Local Committee as a member or a volunteer can contact Norman Umali , International Student Support Coordinator, at or 204.631.3345.

Profile by Jared Story (Creative Communications, 2005)

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 →