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Designer genes: College and partners launch new genetic mapping initiative

March 22, 2019

This week, Red River College became the first educational facility in Western Canada to unveil its own next generation sequencing (NGS) device, thanks to a new partnership aimed at putting the power of genetic mapping in the hands of the general populace.

Genome360 is an initiative launched by not-for-profit group Genome Prairie and a consortium of funding partners, with the goal of building a hub for genomics and phenomics capabilities in the province. Bolstered by a $2.3-million investment, the initiative aims to propel Manitoba to prominence in the genomics sector.

iSeq100 equipmentIncluded in the investment is the College’s new iSeq100, a small but powerful machine — not much bigger than a microwave — that allows for improved DNA mapping and could open up new developments in medicine and agriculture.

Designed for simplicity, the iSeq100 allows labs of all sizes to sequence DNA rapidly and with high accuracy. The equipment will provide RRC students with the hands-on training needed to excel within laboratories and to thrive as practitioners in this growing field.

“One of Red River College’s strengths is having the ability to introduce and train our students on new and emerging technology,” says RRC President Paul Vogt. “The addition of the iSeq100 will ensure that students graduating from RRC will have the knowledge, confidence and experience to meet the needs of industry today, and into the future.”

Also on display at this week’s announcement was a prototype Molecular Biology Interactive Learning Enterprise (MOBILE) lab — developed in partnership with Westward Industries to demonstrate and offer organizations access to field-deployable devices. The electric-powered MOBILE lab (shown above) provides storage, transport and sufficient workspace to bring the laboratory into the field or the classroom.

“The Genome360 initiative provides a unique combination of capacity and expertise for the wide distribution and democratization of advanced genetic technologies in the province of Manitoba and beyond,” says Dr. Simon Potter, Genome Prairie’s Chief Scientific Officer. “We look forward to working with the community to realize the economic and social benefits inherent in this exciting venture.”

Transportation trailblazer makes milestone $1.5M donation to Red River College

March 15, 2019

A transportation pioneer will help Red River College train the next generation of industry achievers, and ensure the viability of Manitoba’s skilled workforce for decades to come.

Jan den Oudsten — founder and former president of New Flyer Industries, and inventor of leading-edge transit technology — along with his wife, Maria den Oudsten, is donating $1.5 million to RRC, one of the largest gifts the College has ever received from individual donors.

Maria and Jan den Oudsten with RRC President Paul Vogt“I spent much of my life in an industry I am passionate about, and am incredibly humbled to be able to give back and inspire the next generation of learners,” says den Oudsten (shown above, with Maria and son Bob). “Working and living in Winnipeg was the best time of my life. Winnipeg has the best bus builders in the world, and it is my hope that with this gift that reputation of excellence can continue for many more years.”

RRC is celebrating the transformative gift by officially renaming its Heavy Equipment Transportation Centre. The 60,000-sq.-ft. training and research facility will now be proudly known as the Jan den Oudsten Vehicle Technology & Research Centre (VTRC).

The expansive complex was built in 2008, and was one of the first education centres in Manitoba to receive LEED® Silver certification from the Canada Green Building Council. Every day, close to 170 students at VTRC are trained in transportation technology programs such as Heavy Duty Mechanic, Truck Transport Mechanic (apprenticeship), Trailer Mechanic (apprenticeship), Outdoor Power Equipment (certificate and apprenticeship) and specialized training for General Motors.

VTRC also works with industry partners such as New Flyer to drive applied research in vehicle technology and development, and to support the transportation industry on energy conservation and alternatives (such as electrification), cold-weather testing and technology integration. Read More →

Coast Guard donates surplus helicopter to RRC’s Stevenson Campus

March 7, 2019

Red River College’s aircraft maintenance training got a welcome lift yesterday, thanks to the donation of a surplus Coast Guard helicopter that’ll help support the development of skilled aerospace industry personnel.

Today at RRC’s Stevenson Campus, the federal government presented the College with a Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm BO105 helicopter — one of 10 such assets being donated to training institutions across Canada.

“I am proud that these Coast Guard helicopters will help develop students across the country, allowing them to have practical and hands-on experience,” said Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson, federal Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, in a written release. “These assets have a lot of history and are part of the Coast Guard’s heritage. I am glad that they will benefit generations to come in building high-level maintenance expertise.”

The copters were in service with the Coast Guard for more than 30 years, the first having been purchased in 1985, and the last in 1988. The fleet played an essential role in supporting programs such as icebreaking, marine communication, navigation aids, environmental response, waterway protection, science, conservation and protection.

The helicopter donated to RRC will be used as part of aerospace and aviation training at the Stevenson Campus in Winnipeg, where it joins a fleet of roughly 12 planes and helicopters, most of which were also donated by industry and government partners.

“They are teaching tools, and this hangar is a classroom,” said RRC President Paul Vogt (shown above at right, with MP Doug Eyolfson). “This campus is ground control, and we are steering students with a clear path forward to a rewarding career by providing them with the training, knowledge and skills that this fast-paced and ever-changing industry demands.”

“After 30 years, this incredible piece of equipment may be retired from active service in the Coast Guard fleet, but its next chapter and journey is just beginning here at RRC.”

Culinary instructors to rep RRC at showcase celebrating International Women’s Day

March 5, 2019

A quartet of Red River College instructors will join prominent chefs from across the city for an annual culinary showcase celebrating International Women’s Day this weekend.

Culinary Arts and Professional Baking instructors Chantalle Noschese, Kimberly Cooke, Lylah Erkau and Melissa Hyrb (shown above, from left to right) will represent RRC at this year’s Women, Wine & Food fundraiser for the Women’s Health Clinic (WHC) in Winnipeg.

The event — which takes place Friday night at the Manitoba Museum — was first cooked up by RRC alum Kelly Cattani (Culinary Arts, 2005), now the chef at catering service Bluestone Cottage.

Working with Janet Hamel, Director of Development at WHC, Cattani coordinated both the event and its all-female lineup as a means of benefiting the community-based clinic, which has supported women through health services, education and advocacy since 1981.

Come Friday, participating chefs will serve up a mouth-watering menu of canapes, which will then be paired with wine and beer tastings from local vendors.

Members of the RRC team won’t be the only participants with ties to the College. This year’s lineup of chefs also includes Culinary Arts grads Jackie Hildebrand (Hy’s Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar), Connie Klassen (Pizzeria Gusto), Melissa Makarenko (Resto Gare Bistro & Train Bar), Kristel Pastorin (The Grove), Tara Podaima (Little Sister Coffee Maker) and Chinnie Ramos (Mon Ami Louis).

Design student infuses Indigenous culture into Jets and Moose logos

February 8, 2019

Leticia Spence says she’s disappointed when designers resort to using general symbols or motifs, like a feather or a circle with four points, to represent Indigenous cultures.

Which is why Spence, a Graphic Design student at Red River College, wanted to take a more authentic approach when collaborating with True North Sports + Entertainment (TNSE) on versions of the Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose logos to celebrate Indigenous culture.

She made a point of doing research, reviewing artifacts, learning from modern Indigenous artists and asking members of her own family and community, Pimicikamak First Nation, for help when she started the design process.

The logos are being used to promote two special hockey games: the Winnipeg Jets WASAC (Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre) Night on Sat., Feb. 16, and the Manitoba Moose Follow Your Dreams Day on Sun., Feb. 17.

Leticia Spence's Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose logos“Each tribe has a visual language to express their views of the world,” says Spence. “I wanted to show that we’re united by including motifs, symbols and patterns from many different Indigenous cultures and tribes in the logos.”

Josh Dudych, creative director for TNSE, says Spence helped them create a fully branded program with WASAC, including they weren’t sure what to do for the theme nights in partnership with WASAC, but in working with Spence, were able to create a full branding program that would get fans excited and show their respect for Indigenous culture.

“Through Leticia’s expertise we gained a much better understanding of how nuanced Indigenous art is, and how we can use it to celebrate Indigenous communities and engage with them,” says Dudych.

Spence came up with the concepts and designed the initial drafts, then worked with TNSE’s design team in their offices to complete the project.

“The majority of their team are RRC grads, so it was nice to be able to get advice for my future going forward,” she says. Read More →

Former Business student slays Dragons, lands lucrative deal for eyebrow-bar boutiques

February 8, 2019

Giovanna MinenniGiovanna Minenna, a former Business Administration student at Red River College, certainly knows a thing or two about raising eyebrows in Manitoba.

And the local entrepreneur — owner of boutique chain Brows by G — caught the eye of millions more people this week, when she and her husband and business partner, Scott Russell, entered TV’s notorious Dragons’ Den to make a pitch to some of Canada’s toughest and best-known investors.

The duo flew to Toronto late last year, but only recently announced to local media that they’d faced the infamous Dragons, leaving friends and clients anxiously awaiting the air date of last night’s episode.

During Minenna’s on-air pitch, the brow queen shared stories of her success here in Winnipeg, and asked for $400,000 for 16 per cent of her company in order to continue expanding across the country.

Her solid business plan and pitch prompted three of six Dragons to shoot fiery deals her way.

Jim Treliving, chairman and owner of Boston Pizza International, offered $400,000 for 20 per cent of the company, with an eye on helping the duo franchise. Manjit Minhaus, co-founder of Minhas Breweries, Distillery and Wineries, offered the same amount to help grow their cosmetic product line across the globe. Finally, renowned venture capitalist Arlene Dickinson matched her fellow Dragons’ offers, but with an added promise to build more corporate stores.

In the end, Dickinson tweezed out a successful deal.

But long before she was making pitches on TV, Minenna was shaping her career path right here at Red River College.

She says she started her educational journey like many her age — unsure of what she wanted to study or do for a living. She enrolled in university classes, but it wasn’t long before she realized she needed a career that sparked her creativity. Read More →

College appoints new Truth and Reconciliation Manager to lead in commitments to Indigenous Education Blueprint

February 7, 2019

Carla Kematch, Red River CollegeAs part of its commitment to advancing Indigenous achievement while strengthening ties between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, Red River College has appointed its first Manager of Truth and Reconciliation and Community Engagement.

Carla Kematch will lead the College in its commitment to Manitoba’s Indigenous Education Blueprint, a pledge to advance Indigenous education in the province — and to make Manitoba a centre of excellence for Indigenous education, research, languages and culture.

As one of nine post-secondary signatories to the Blueprint — which takes action on recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada — the College recognizes it has an important, proactive role to play in supporting reconciliation efforts in the province.

“A key priority for the College is to strengthen our partnerships and continue to advance Indigenous achievement in our communities, and education is the key to improving the lives of Indigenous people and to improving Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations across Canada,” says Rebecca Chartrand, RRC’s Executive Director, Indigenous Strategy.

“Our role as a college is to ensure we create the programs, supports and opportunities that allow Indigenous people to demonstrate their leadership and innovation in all facets of our society. We are looking forward to the skills, experience and perspective that Carla will bring to the team as we address Truth and Reconciliation throughout the College.”

Kematch arrives at RRC with 30 years’ experience working within Indigenous communities in a variety of capacities, including the development of training programs for staffs, community clients, board members and other partners, in areas such as policy development, needs assessment, implementation plans, and evaluation and delivery of group training. Read More →

Culinary students serve up victories at national chefs challenge in Toronto

January 31, 2019

In the immortal words of Guy Fieri, Red River College students Argie Garcia and Anthony Carino took the judges to Flavourtown during the Young Chef’s Challenge in Toronto last weekend.

Garcia (shown above, at right), a Level Two Apprentice Chef, finished in first place at the event, while Carino (at left), a Term 6 Culinary Arts student, finished second.

They were two of six student chefs from across Canada selected to participate in the challenge, hosted annually by the World Association of Chefs and Cooks.

Each chef was given three hours to create a three-course meal that showcased creativity, taste and kitchen organization. They also had to incorporate a set list of ingredients, including chilled salmon (appetizer), beef striploin (principal plate) and dark chocolate and tea (dessert).

“These two talented young chefs had world-renowned judges scrutinizing all of the flavours they built and every move they made in the kitchen, so to have them both come out on top is an incredible feat,” says RRC Chef Instructor Gordon Bailey (shown above, at centre).

As the first-place chef, Garcia will now have the honor of representing Canada at the World Chefs Congress, taking place in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 2020. Carino’s talents also earned him an offer to join the Canadian Junior Olympic Chef Team in Prince Edward Island.

“Argie and Anthony demonstrated their technical skills and knowledge in the kitchen on the national stage, and they did so with such a high level of poise and professionalism. They represented the College and the province proudly,” says Bailey.

“To watch them grow over the last two years into the chefs they are today has been an incredible experience as a fellow chef, and as an educator. I look forward to seeing where their career paths take them – with this achievement, and as they build their craft in this business in the future.”

Business grad turned trucking magnate launches award for inner-city scholars

January 31, 2019

Students entering three business and I.T. programs at Red River College now have the opportunity for their educations to be covered, thanks to a new award for inner-city scholars launched by trucking magnate Gary Coleman.

The president and CEO of Big Freight Systems Inc., Coleman graduated from RRC in 1981 with a diploma in business. He recently established the Gary Coleman Award for Inner-City Scholars to help students build successful careers of their own.

“This scholarship program is a way of saying thank-you and giving back to the community, because the community has been very kind to me over the years,” says Coleman (shown above, at centre).

“I’ve been very fortunate throughout my life. I grew up in a family with a mom and dad who taught us that if you worked hard, you end up achieving over time. I was also fortunate enough to go to college, get an education and then go into the family business. I had some big dreams for the family business and we’ve been successful in accomplishing many of them.”

Coleman’s award is now available to graduates of eight inner-city schools in Winnipeg who have been accepted into RRC’s Business Administration, Business Information Technology or Business Technology Management programs. The award will cover the costs of tuition, textbooks and expenses for two students in the 2019-2020 academic year, and will expand to cover four students in subsequent years.

“Red River College is honored that Mr. Coleman has made this commitment for young students to hone their skills in three of our business-based programs — free from the worry of financial barriers,” says RRC President Paul Vogt (shown above, at left).

“It’s truly wonderful to see that Mr. Coleman, a proud graduate of our Business Administration program, has decided to give back and provide the same opportunities and education he received. These students will be receiving the highest level of hands-on training, and will make connections to get their foot in the door and take the steps necessary to become leaders in their careers.” Read More →

Paramedicine, Electrical Engineering grads earn Lt.-Gov.’s Medals for Proficiency

January 29, 2019

Congratulations to the most recent recipients of Red River College’s Lieutenant-Governor’s Medals for Proficiency, who’ll receive their awards as part of our 2019 Winter Convocation ceremonies on Feb. 6 at the Centennial Concert Hall.

Each year, up to four Lt.-Gov.’s 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:

RRC graduate Grace HartGrace Hart — A graduate of RRC’s Paramedicine — Primary Care Paramedicine program, Grace Hart is a big proponent of paying it forward.

Now 24, Hart grew up in Winnipeg, graduating from Fort Richmond Collegiate in 2012. She spent her childhood living in poverty, finding support through the charitable services of such organizations as Winnipeg Harvest, the Christmas Cheer Board and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Winnipeg.

“I was 12 or 13 and my bed just broke in half, so I was on the floor with an air mattress for about two months. We found out about Hands of Hope and got a bed through them,” Hart says.

“As soon as I got into junior high, I got involved with a philanthropy group and did a lot of volunteering. When I finished high school and started university, I got into Big Brothers Big Sisters of Winnipeg, and because I had a car, I started delivering for the Christmas Cheer Board.”

With a strong desire to help people, Hart entered the Nursing program at the University of Manitoba. However, an extended hospital stay put her on a different path. Read More →