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Apprenticeship grad takes top honours at international culinary competition

October 10, 2019

Junior sous chef Darnell BanmanA Red River College grad served up the winning entry at a prestigious international culinary competition last month, spinning his home turf advantage into a mouth-watering win for Canada.

Winkler-born Darnell Banman, who completed his Apprenticeship Cook training with a Red Seal designation in 2014, beat out competitors from 22 other countries at this year’s La Chaine des Rotisseurs International Young Chefs Competition, which took place Sept. 19–22 in Calgary.

The black box-style challenge gives participants four and a half hours to create and prepare a four-course meal using surprise ingredients.

Banman’s winning menu included a pickerel bar with prawn mousseline, shallots, puffed skin and sauce beurre blanc, pan roasted beef tri tip with crispy potato, braised beluga lentils, jus and butter-poached quail breast, and for dessert, dark chocolate mousse, lemon thyme sable, poached saskatoon berries, candied acorn squash and peach gel.

“I was shocked, but also very excited when I found out I won,” says Banman, who currently serves as sous chef at the Winnipeg Squash Racquet Club, where he’s spent the last year prepping for both the national and international versions of the competition under the tutelage of Chef Cameron Huley.

“It’s always been something that I’ve dreamed of achieving.”

Darnell Banman in competitionThough he tried his best not to think about placing while the competition was underway, he says he figured he might have made it to the top three after being awarded the best kitchen score prior to the winners being announced.

In addition to the competition trophy and gold medal, Banman’s victory also saw him collecting a set of professional cooking knives, and five weeks of culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.

He says he feels equally fortunate to have spent the weekend meeting so many other chefs from around the world.

“Networking is incredibly important in this industry,” says Banman, who got his start working as a dishwasher at a Winkler golf course, and was later hired at the St. Charles Country Club, where he trained under executive chef Takashi Murakami, a member of the Order of Canada and a 2011 recipient of an honorary diploma from RRC.

RRC’s staff team pulls out a win for United Way Winnipeg

September 19, 2019

Earlier this month, Red River College staff and students rolled up their sleeves for United Way Winnipeg’s 16th annual Plane Pull — in which RRC’s staff team logged the fastest time for the Lockheed C-130 Hercules pull.

The team of employees — made up of administrative staff, educational assistants, instructors, and College leaders — pulled the plane 20 feet in 11.12 seconds. The RRC Stevenson Campus student team pulled the Boeing 727 the same distance in 16.45 seconds, for a sixth place finish.

“I was happy to be part of a great team from Red River College” says Joan Machendagoos, administrative assistant for Skilled Trades and Technologies at RRC. “This gave us the opportunity to meet staff that we only see in emails, and to bond as a team. Giving back to the community was a bonus.”

RRC's staff team pulling planeRRC’s Stevenson Campus was once again the proud facility sponsor, providing the campus hangar and volunteers for the fundraising event, which launched the 2019-20 United Way Annual Giving Campaign. This year, the organization announced it’s seeking a goal of $21.6 million for more than 100 agency partners, all of which benefit Winnipeg residents.

The Stevenson Campus — a 55,000-square foot training facility, complete with aircraft hangar — is home to RRC’s aviation and aerospace programs, making it the ideal location for the Plane Pull to take place each year.

“Next year we hope to have a few more teams so we can not only be the top team for the best pull time, but also have the highest fundraising teams,” says Machendagoos.

More than 80 teams participated in the 2019 Plane Pull, raising more than $88,000 towards United Way’s campaign goal.

Culinary grad hoping to plate a victory at prestigious international competition

August 15, 2019

A Winkler-born Red River College grad will represent Canada at a prestigious international culinary competition this fall.

Darnell Banman, who completed his Apprenticeship Cook training with a Red Seal designation in 2014, will face off against more than 20 chefs from around the world at the 2019 La Chaine des Rotisseurs International Young Chefs Competition, taking place in Calgary from Sept. 19–22.

Once there, he’ll be given four hours to create a four-course meal during a black box-style challenge in which chefs have to build menus using surprise ingredients. Banman (shown above, at centre) has some experience in this department, having won the national version of the same competition last October.

“It has a lot to do with telling a story — everything needs to make sense,” Banman told the Winnipeg Sun. “There needs to be colour, there needs to be texture and flavour. You don’t want to duplicate ingredients — you want everything to be different.”

Banman got his first taste of the culinary life while working as a dishwasher at a Winkler golf course. Shortly after moving to Winnipeg, he was hired at the St. Charles Country Club, where he trained under executive chef Takashi Murakami, a member of the Order of Canada and a 2011 recipient of an honorary diploma from RRC.

“The passion that people pour into the dishes — it becomes very addicting,” says Banman, who’s been training for next month’s event in the kitchen of the Winnipeg Squash Racquet Club, where he was recently hired as junior sous chef.

Now in its 43rd year, the Chaine des Rotisseurs competition was founded in Sweden to support and promote young chefs. The Calgary date marks only the second time the competition has taken place in Canada.

In addition to the gold medal, this year’s winner will receive a five-week culinary course in Paris and a set of professional cooking knives.

Photo credit: La Chaine des Rotisseurs International Young Chefs Competition

Apprenticeship bricklayer to represent Canada at WorldSkills Competition in Russia

July 31, 2019

What started as a summer job for 22-year-old Antonio Neufeld has turned into two years of travel, mentorship and fierce competition.

The Red River College Apprenticeship student will represent Canada this month in the bricklaying category of the 2019 WorldSkills Competition in Kazan, Russia, where he’ll face off against 29 competitors from around the world.

“It all started when I came to the College for Level 1 (of the Apprenticeship Manitoba program),” Neufeld says. “I competed in the Skills Manitoba provincial competition here and it’s gone on from there.”

After taking the top spot at provincials, Neufeld earned the gold medal at the 2018 Skills Canada National Competition in Edmonton. He travelled to Halifax, Montebello and Ottawa for teambuilding and training, and to Australia with 13 other WorldSkills Team Canada prospects for a mock competition.

Antonio Neufeld, RRC masonry lab“It’s all been a great experience. Going to Australia helped because you got to see where the other competitors are at in their skill and get a feel for what the competition will actually be like,” he says.

Neufeld has been training with his instructor, Brian Gebhardt, every day for the last two weeks, with a focus on learning how to think on his feet.

“Antonio is the best man in Canada in his age category,” Gebhardt says. “His basic skills are very good, so what he needs to do is figure out how to approach and attack the situation, and use time management to complete the task. The projects they come up with at the WorldSkills Competition are very ornate in nature and require a lot of experience.” Read More →

New pollinator garden the ‘bees’ knees’ for sweeter honey yields this summer

July 29, 2019

The bees are back in town, and Red River College is sweetening the deal for its insect friends this year, having added a new pollinator garden to the grounds of the Notre Dame Campus.

For four years, the College has partnered with Beeproject Apiaries to bring hives of honeybees — not to mention the delicious honey they produce — to the rooftops of RRC. Urban beekeeping is one of the many innovative and green initiatives offered by the College as a way to engage staff and students in sustainability efforts on campus and at home, and has contributed to RRC being named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for the ninth straight year.

Pollinator garden, Notre Dame CampusBecause pollination is so important to the sustainability of honeybeew, the College opted to complete a new pollinator garden project under the leadership of its Grounds crew this year.

“Staff and student engagement is critical for the success of any of the sustainability projects that RRC initiates, and we’ve seen that many areas of the College are eager to get involved and make sustainability a priority within their departments,” says Sara MacArthur, RRC’s Director of Sustainability.

“We were fortunate to partner with the Grounds department, who went over and above to create this beautiful pollinator garden at the Notre Dame Campus for everyone — not only our pollinator friends, but also students and staff — to engage with and enjoy.”

The pollinator garden is located along the walking path on the southeast grounds of the campus, and features a number of diverse species of flowers and plants in order to support as many different pollinators as possible. These include: Read More →

College opens doors to new state-of-the-art Smart Factory

June 28, 2019

Today, with the help of collaborative robots Baxter, Sawyer and UR10, Red River College officially opened the doors to its brand new Smart Factory, a state-of-the-art learning facility and applied research space that will directly support Manitoba’s growing aerospace and manufacturing industries, and RRC’s applied research initiatives.

“Red River College has always been at the forefront of emerging technologies. The opening of the Smart Factory ensures that our students are well-equipped to face the challenges that the future workforce may hold, and to thrive in ever-changing environments,” says RRC President Paul Vogt (shown above, at right).

“These expansions have significant impacts in our community and beyond, as we provide unparalleled access to cutting-edge resources for our partners in the aerospace and manufacturing industries.”

Located inside RRC’s new Skilled Trades and Technology Centre, the Smart Factory is an experiential learning facility and technology demonstration site. It combines emerging technologies in metals additive manufacturing, collaborative robotics and autonomous factory vehicles, flexible robotic work cells, industrial automation, high-speed 3D laser metrology, industrial networking, and many more.

The new facility will enhance learning at RRC by allowing students to experience and work in factory settings. It will also provide Manitoba companies with access to state-of-the-art equipment, research and innovation expertise, and faculty and students — in order to evaluate, develop, demonstrate and implement new and emerging technologies.

The Smart Factory is the result of a $10-million investment — previously announced in 2017 — by the federal government through Western Economic Diversification Canada. In addition to supporting the development of the Smart Factory, this funding also supports the Phase 3 expansion of RRC’s Centre for Aerospace Technology and Training (CATT), located at StandardAero in Winnipeg. Read More →

Skilled trades students build multi-purpose shed for Oak Hammock Marsh

June 26, 2019

If you’re planning a nature walk along the trails at Oak Hammock Marsh this weekend, you may spot a new cabin-like structure along the path.

This week, staff and students from Red River College’s skilled trades apprenticeship programs donated a new multi-purpose shed they’d designed and built for the interpretive centre.

“As Manitoba’s largest institute of applied learning and research, we take a hands-on, learn-by-doing approach to education, and this shed is a true example of this at work,” says RRC President Paul Vogt.

“We are proud to donate this structure to the Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre, and to share the talent and craftsmanship of our students and staff with the community to use and enjoy for years to come.”

The shed project was an assignment for students in the Level 3 Carpentry, Level 2 Roofing, and Pre-Employment Electrical programs as part of their academic learning goals. Twenty-four students led by four instructors worked on the structure over five weeks between classroom theory sessions and time in the lab. The windows and doors were supplied by Jeld-Wen and the delivery of the structure was donated by Greg’s Tilt Deck Service.

“This assignment is such an important learning opportunity for the students because it’s often the first time many of them will work together across multiple trades disciplines to apply their knowledge in a collaborative way — much like they will once they graduate and go on to work in industry,” says Carpentry instructor Rob Masi.

“We thought it was a great opportunity to share the students’ completed work by donating the structure to a non-profit organization that could utilize it in a meaningful way, and we are thrilled that the shed has found a permanent home at Oak Hammock Marsh. We hope to work with more community partners who could benefit from a project like this in the future.” Read More →

No cutting corners: Apprenticeship Carpenters showcase skills at annual competition

June 20, 2019

It was a race against the clock, but the contestants who took their time fared best at Red River College’s annual Carpentry Competition.  

The 25th edition of the contest took place June 7 and 8 in the Skilled Trades and Technology Centre at RRC’s Notre Dame Campus. 

This year’s event featured nine graduates of the College’s Level 4 Carpenter Apprenticeship program, each battling to be the best builder. On day one, the competing carpenters wrote an extensive exam worth 30 per cent of the challenge. Day two of the competition saw contestants tasked with building an elaborate “hug bench” with limited time and materials. 

Alex Mackenzie, of PBR Construction in Niverville, Man., was named the competition’s top carpenter, while Walker Enns and Caleb Gossen finished second and third, respectively. 

“A couple guys went right to the last minute. Actually, the last two guys that finished at the last minute, literally, they placed first and second,” says Jeff Martens, the core instructor of the Level 4 Carpentry Apprenticeship program. 

“It’s amazing, the attention to detail. And of course, detail takes time. They used every second that they had.”

Mackenzie (shown above) won a $1,500 shopping spree courtesy of Bosch, while second and third prize were worth $1,400 and $1,000, respectively. The six other contestants all went home with $500 worth of portable power tools and accessories.  Read More →

Childhood Education, Construction Management grads earn Lt.-Gov.’s medals at Convocation

June 14, 2019

Congratulations to the most recent recipients of Red River College’s Lieutenant-Governor’s Medals for Proficiency, who received their awards as part of our 2019 Spring Convocation ceremonies on June 4 and 5.

Each year, up to four medals are awarded to RRC students who best combine good character, academic and technical achievement, and involvement in College and/or community activities. This year’s winners are:

Adele Petri, Spring ConvocationAdele Petri — Early Childhood Education Workplace

Adele Petri helps kids to be the best they can be.

A graduate of RRC’s Early Childhood Education Workplace program, Petri is a supervisor at Starting Blocks day care centre in Stonewall. In 2015, she co-founded the Stonewall support group Families for Autism Awareness & Support.

In 2014, Petri’s son Tanner was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning autism spectrum disorder.

“When you’re a parent of a child that’s diagnosed with autism, you really aren’t given any direction. You really have to be an advocate for your child,” says Petri, 47.

“There wasn’t a local support group here in town, so that would mean parents would have to travel to the city. Parents are already tired, so we wanted to provide a safe place where they can come.”

Petri says the support group allows families to compare notes on how best to navigate the vast spectrum of autism information and services.

“It goes both ways. I see what the support does for other families and I’m also getting support from them,” she says.

As an early childhood educator, Petri believes her career goes way beyond babysitting.

“You’re there to bring out the best in children and foster all the things children need to flourish,” she says.

Allison Enns, Spring ConvocationAllison Enns — Construction Management

Don’t tell Allison Enns she can’t do something.

After she was told in university to drop every course that had “reading, writing and numbers” because of her learning disabilities, Enns did what anybody would do: she enrolled in the Civil Engineering Program at Red River College.

Years later, Enns is still putting it to her naysayers, having graduated from RRC’s Construction Management program. She is currently working as a site coordinator at Akman Construction.

“I applied to engineering at Red River kind of out of spite, and to prove to them and myself that my learning disabilities don’t define me,” says Enns, 24.

“The school helped me understand my learning disabilities. My GPA skyrocketed from university to Red River because I finally understood how my brain works.”

Enns, who has dyslexia, dyscalculia and ADHD, spoke at RRC’s recent REDx Speaker Series about her struggles and successes with learning disabilities. She was also a member of an RRC advisory group where she helped to create guidelines on how presenters should format workshops so that they’re accessible to everyone.

“Whatever limitations people put on you, your only real limitation is yourself,” she says. “You can be you to get where you want to be.”

Honorary Diploma recipient celebrates lifelong link to RRC

June 5, 2019

Marilyn Kenny, portraitFamilies, friends and guests of Red River College will gather this week to watch their loved ones cross the stage and accept their degrees, diplomas and certificates — signaling the completion of their academic journey as students.

As these 2,000 new grads look ahead to their careers, the College looks back on its history, and proudly announces former board member Marilyn Kenny as this year’s Honorary Diploma recipient.

“Marilyn Kenny has truly demonstrated a lifelong commitment to Red River College, and to learning,” says RRC President Paul Vogt.

“From her dedication to women’s employment initiatives to her work with the development of language training, Marilyn has been working shoulder-to-shoulder with the College for her entire career, and we are honoured to recognize her achievements.”

Kenny will receive her Honorary Diploma in Community Development/Community Economic Development. She now joins the ranks of fellow recipients such as Gail Asper, Ray St. Germain and Ace Burpee — all of whom have demonstrated high standards of excellence in their personal and professional achievements, and whose local, national and international accomplishments qualify them for such a recognition.

“I was honoured and overwhelmed when I learned that I had received the award — I think it was the first time anyone at the College has ever heard me speechless,” says Kenny. “When I look at where my career has taken me, Red River College has always been a part of it in some way or another — and I guess I’ve always been a part of Red River.”

Kenny says her career really began when she tried to help a little girl who’d been in and out of difficult situations and hospitalizations, but was unsuccessful because she didn’t have the proper credentials. She was later devastated to learn the girl had passed away.

Around the same time, she learned of RRC’s Social Welfare Services program, which her husband and family encouraged her to apply for.

“At the time I was driving in from Ashern in the evenings for my classes, but it felt like this was what I was meant to do. Red River College put the wind beneath my wings and gave me what I needed to keep going.” Read More →