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College hosts dialogue on anti-racism in higher education

November 23, 2020

Racism continues to lurk in college classrooms and decision-making tables, but there are steps we can take as organizations and individuals to make our campuses safer and more welcoming for all members of our community.

That was the resounding takeaway from last Wednesday’s virtual platform discussion, Anti-Racism: A Dialogue about Transforming Higher Education, hosted by RRC and the Red River College Students’ Association. (You can watch a recording of the event here.)

Over 300 RRC students and staff participated in the online event. The discussion was led by panelists from across the country who brought diverse experiences, insights and perspectives to a lively and wide-ranging conversation about what post-secondary institutions — and the people who work and study there — can do to combat racism.

The large turnout reflected a high level of commitment to anti-racism as acts of intolerance and hatred continue to rise around the world, says Melanie Gudmundson, Chief Human Resources Officer at RRC.

“We’ve done a lot as a college to create policies and initiatives that protect and support the diversity of our students and staff, because that diversity — and the different points of view it brings to our College — are one of our greatest strengths. Our goal for this event is to hear some of those voices and inspire further, concrete action. There is still much work to do. The number of people who turned out for the event shows how high a priority this is for our community as a whole.”

Conversations about racism are never easy, she adds, but they’re essential to creating space for change.

“We may not know how to start the conversation, or what to say, but silence is not an option.”

Priyanji Mediwake, RRC’s Diversity and Inclusion Specialist and one of the event’s organizers, says some of these actions are already underway, including the recent launch of a new Equity, Diversity and Inclusion strategy, and recruitment plans to ensure greater diversity at the College and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) representation among senior, mid-level and front-line leaders.

“RRC’s new Diversity Champions team, which includes staff and faculty representation from each School and Department across the College, is another first step to enhancing conversations and actions.”

Leading the panel were Eternity Martis, an award-winning Toronto-based journalist; Jason Mercredi, whose work helps rebuild Indigenous governance systems; and Zilla Jones, a Winnipeg criminal defense lawyer who specializes in challenging abuses of police authority. Read More →

New training program launched to address workforce challenges at personal care homes

November 20, 2020

The Manitoba government and Red River College are partnering to support resident care in personal care homes during the pandemic through the launch of a COVID-19 health-care support worker micro-credential, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen announced yesterday.

“Ensuring the appropriate care and support is available to residents of Manitoba personal care homes is a top priority as we see the strain that COVID-19 is placing on personal care home workforce,” said Friesen. “We must do everything possible to ensure we have staff to support the care needs of residents in our long-term care homes. This requires an immediate increase in the available workforce and this new training program addresses this goal.”

The College will offer a week-long condensed, high-intensity training program that will train students to work as uncertified health-care aides (UHCAs) and create immediate employment opportunities for Manitobans, including students currently enrolled in a health sciences faculty or program.

These workers will support all members of the resident care team, assisting with resident care and support under the general supervision of a manager or nursing supervisor. Duties may include resident observation, companionship, redirection, stocking of supplies and more.

“As part of our continued efforts, we’ve established a Rapid Execution and Deployment Team that will continue to create new and innovative solutions to offer our expertise, facilities and network of campuses to support all Manitobans in response to COVID-19,” said RRC President Fred Meier.

“I am proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish to aid in our provincial response, and I want to commend our staff, faculty and instructors for continuing to step up and support our communities.”

The course will include a combination of virtual and in-class education, and consists of five days of theory offered virtually and two days of in-person skills education. Starting Nov. 30, it will be offered to students in Winnipeg, Selkirk, Steinbach, Winkler and Portage la Prairie, with opportunities to offer the course in additional communities in rural and northern Manitoba being explored.

Eligible students must be over the age of 18 and possess a minimum of a Grade 10 education. Experience in direct care is not a pre-requisite, and the course is being offered tuition-free with a commitment to provide service in a personal care home for a period of three months following completion.

Interested individuals must apply to the COVID-19 casual pool and select the location where they prefer to complete the training. The deadline to apply for the first intake of students is Monday, Nov. 23. Read More →

College’s COVID-19 micro-credential training in high demand

October 23, 2020

Today, Red River College and the Manitoba government announced three additional intakes to the COVID-19 micro-credential to further expand testing efforts in Winnipeg, with plans already underway to offer training opportunities to health-care professionals in specific areas of rural Manitoba.

“The health and safety of Manitobans remains our top priority as we continue to expand our efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 within our community,” says Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen.

“Increasing testing is key as we work to reduce wait times and improve access for all Manitobans, and this includes an adaptive and highly skilled workforce. Through this partnership with Red River College, we are training additional health-care workers to immediately redeploy to screening centres where their assistance is helping to reduce wait times and provide better service.”

The micro-credential, which trains health-care workers and students to safely perform a nasal swab on adults and children to collect samples to test for the virus, was announced earlier this month and is in high demand. In less than 24 hours, RRC filled the first three sections, while maintaining a wait-list of nearly 120 students.

The three additional intakes announced today will be offered weekly — with the first beginning on Nov. 9 — and will run until Nov. 27. These new sections are already filling quickly and RRC is on track to train over 180 health-care professionals and students to safely perform sample collections at authorized COVID-19 test sites, further supporting testing efforts in the province.

The first group of students, who started the course on Monday, will complete their training today and will be ready to enter the workforce as early as next week. Read More →

RRC adopts groundbreaking sexual violence reporting tool

September 30, 2020

REES posterRed River College has partnered with EVA (Ending Violence Across) Manitoba to launch a new online tool that will empower students, staff and instructors to anonymously report sexual assaults on campus, and access the support they need.

The College joins 10 other Manitoban post-secondary institutions in adopting the REES (Respect Educate Empower Survivors) reporting tool, offering a customized version of the platform that links to specific RRC supports, information and resources.

“Our students and staff have a right to learn and work in an environment that is free from sexual violence in all its forms. REES will help ensure that our campuses are safe places, and that survivors are heard and supported,” says Fred Meier, President and CEO, Red River College.

The REES platform also helps individuals who have experienced sexual violence complete a reporting form that captures all the key information about an incident through a secure online form.

The user chooses what happens next: they can keep the report for their personal records and never share it, or they can decide to provide a copy to their educational institution or to the police.

The decision to report is a personal one, says Jess Spindler, RRC’s Resource and Resolution Advisor.

“No one should feel pressured to do something that makes them feel uncomfortable, but reporting does mean the matter can be addressed. When you make a report, the College must look into the matter, support your safety, and take appropriate corrective action to stop inappropriate behaviour and prevent future reoccurrences.

“The current North American data tells us that 1 in 5 female-identifying students experience sexual violence while attending post-secondary. The real number is likely higher because sexual violence is significantly underreported. Statistics Canada has noted that more than 8 of every 10 sexual assaults in Canada are never reported to police.” Read More →

Getting it done, at home: Winkler Campus allows nursing student to reach career goals

September 15, 2020

Suzy DueckAfter dropping out of high school to help support her family, Suzy Dueck didn’t think she’d be someone who could pursue a post-secondary education.

But next spring, she’ll graduate from Red River College’s Bachelor of Nursing program at the Winkler Campus. Having the accessible option to study and train in her home community — without needing to move or commute to Winnipeg — is what she says gave her the chance to do it.

In 2014, Dueck took the first steps to becoming a college student by enrolling at RRC’s Winkler Community Learning Centre (WCLC) to receive her high school diploma.

“The instructors were very supportive — and the fact that it was self-directed was helpful. The flexibility to be able to come during the day or during the evening — there was always somebody there to answer questions and help,” she says.

Not long after Dueck graduated from the WCLC, RRC announced it would be permanently delivering its Nursing program in Winkler and Portage la Prairie beginning in Fall 2018.

“I quickly applied and I got in,” she says. “I did my anatomy and physiology, psychology, stats, pretty much all of the prerequisites were available in Winkler, which was amazing.”

Now 31, Dueck had been working jobs in customer service, fitness and hospitality — which allowed her to make a positive impact on people’s daily lives — when her husband, Albert, planted the seed in her mind that she might enjoy being a nurse.

“I ended up working in a care home and I really fell in love with taking care of people and making a difference,” she says. “My husband is my biggest fan, he’s actually a firefighter and he feels very passionate about helping people. He’s the one that has been pushing me to do more — I feel like he’s my cheerleader and the person that nudges me to push myself beyond what I thought I could do.” Read More →

New RRC president hits the ground running, with an eye to the future

September 3, 2020

Fred Meier has spent his first few weeks as Red River College’s president and CEO focused on making connections and building momentum towards a fall academic term unlike any other in the College’s 82-year history.

Adjusting to any new leadership role can be challenging enough. But taking the reins during a time of global upheaval and transformation amped up the need for Meier to make every minute count.

“I arrived on day one knowing I was joining an institution that has shaped the lives of many Manitobans and contributed a great deal to our province’s economy,” he says. “What I saw right away was a community of people who have innovated and adapted unbelievably fast to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to keep our students learning.”

Knowing how deeply students and industry partners depend on RRC for skilled training, workforce needs and applied research, Meier invited the Hon. Ralph Eichler, Minister of Economic Development and Training, on a tour of RRC’s Notre Dame Campus to highlight how the College has prepared its facilities to safely welcome back students for hands-on learning.

“The Minister told me he was impressed by the work we’ve done. I was impressed, too, by the ingenuity of our staff and students and their dedication to moving forward safely.”

Meier says that his leadership vision places a heavy premium on engaging employees, and on ensuring faculty and staff are listened to, valued and supported in their work.

At the end of August, he unveiled the College’s new online Staff Forum, a website designed for employees by employees to connect them with information, resources and collaboration tools quickly and easily.

“Strong internal communication and collaboration are the bedrock of our success as an organization. While this has always been true, the disruptions to our business by COVID-19 make employee engagement a higher priority than ever. Adopting new tools, technologies and strategies to share and learn from one another will continue to be near the top of my list.” Read More →

RRC welcomes new Vice-President, Finance and Administration

August 18, 2020

Red River College is excited to announce that Lynn Zapshala-Kelln has been hired as the institution’s next Vice-President, Finance and Administration.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Lynn to our team,” says RRC President Fred Meier. “Her expertise and extensive background in Manitoba’s post-secondary system and our province’s public sector will strengthen Red River College’s capacity to keep moving forward in a time of change, and help us continue to do what we do best — produce job-ready grads to help businesses innovate and stay competitive in our new economy.”

Zapshala-Kelln joins the College after holding the Vice-President (Administration) role at the University of Manitoba, where she provided leadership in all administrative areas, including financial, business and investment interests, ancillary services, security, fair practices and legal affairs, physical plant and property, risk management, human resources (including labour relations) and information systems and technology services.

At RRC, she will oversee all current aspects of the finance and administration portfolio, including finance and campus services, capital projects, campus planning and sustainability. She will work directly with the College’s Chief Information Officer and Executive Director, Finance and Campus Services.

“I am a collaborative leader and I look forward to getting to know my team, building on RRC’s successes, and overcoming our challenges as we continue to face this pandemic,” says Zapshala-Kelln.  “Red River College has done a tremendous job modernizing their systems to better support our employees and our students. I look forward to building on that success so we can continue to support the academic mission of the College to ensure that our people — and most importantly, our students — continue to shine.”

Zapshala-Kelln previously served in the senior ranks of the Province of Manitoba’s civil service for almost two decades, and has extensive board experience. A Chartered Professional Accountant, she holds a Bachelor of Administration degree from the University of Regina.

She will start her new role at RRC on Tue., Sept. 8.

Students throughout Manitoba face pandemic head-on: Regional campuses committed to meeting industry demands

August 12, 2020

Much has been made over the last few months of the rapid changes, pivots and personal sacrifices made to minimize the impact of COVID-19-related disruptions on students at Red River College.

And while many of those changes relate to operations at RRC’s primary campuses in Winnipeg, the same measures were in play at regional campuses throughout the province, where for years staff and students have been rising to industry demands at a growing rate.

“We believe in thinking big,” says Dr. Christine Watson, Vice-President, Academic. “By continuing to innovate and keeping a focus on the future, RRC now has eight campuses across the province — each equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and knowledgeable, talented instructors. By listening to Manitoba’s communities, we are empowered to support industry growth, employ more Manitobans, strengthen our communities, and extend the standards of RRC educations, which our province has learned they can trust.”

As Watson explains, the College’s commitment to establishing roots in Manitoba communities accounts for a significant part of its overall identity and impact.

“We need to provide pathways to education and training that meet students where they are, and where they want to go,” she says. “For some, the ability to live, study and work in their hometown is essential.” Read More →

Safety top priority as College prepares for students, staff to return to campuses

August 5, 2020

With the Fall 2020 academic term just around the corner, Red River College offered an on-campus preview today of what students can expect when they return to school next month.

Attended by the Hon. Ralph Eichler, Minister of Economic Development and Training, today’s media tour showcased a number of applied learning activities currently taking place on the Notre Dame Campus, and highlighted new measures the College is taking to protect the safety of an increasing number of students and staff coming back to school.

RRC President Fred Meier says the College’s response to COVID-19 — and the quick pivot to online and blended learning this past spring — has positioned RRC to continue to meet industry needs and help drive Manitoba’s economic recovery.

“COVID-19 has handed our province an unprecedented set of challenges to overcome. I continue to be impressed by how organizations across all sectors have found innovative ways to meet those challenges head-on,” says Eichler (shown above, at left). “Red River College adapted quickly to support its students, made valuable contributions to our community efforts against COVID-19, and — thanks to hard work — prepared itself to play a vital role in Manitoba’s economic recovery.”

The tour provided a look at the catch-up, hands-on training currently underway at RRC’s Skilled Trades and Technology Centre, along with its Indigenous Culinary Skills, Dentistry and level four Carpentry programs, and a tour and demonstration by students in the new Medical Radiologic Technology lab.

While the majority of catch-up training is happening at the Notre Dame Campus, Culinary Arts students are equally busy at the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute. Earlier this summer, a number of the College’s regional campuses welcomed students back to complete hands-on learning to wrap up their studies, as well.

“Although we’ve been working incredibly hard since March to deliver our programs online, we’re very excited to have people moving through our halls, our labs, our offices and classrooms again,” says Meier (shown above, at right). “As Manitobans, we have managed the impacts of COVID-19 better than many other regions, and that — along with the tremendous leadership and hard work of our employees — has made it possible for us to continue preparing students for careers in industries that will need their knowledge and skills more than ever.” Read More →

C.P. Loewen Family Foundation donates $50,000 to help southeast Manitoba students affected by COVID-19

June 17, 2020

John Loewen, executive director, C.P. Loewen Family FoundationRed River College students in Manitoba’s southeast region who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 can apply for relief, thanks to a $50,000 donation from the C.P. Loewen Family Foundation.

The College will award 50 bursaries, valued at $1,000 each, to students living in southeast Manitoba who complete a general scholarship application form and include a one-page statement outlining financial hardships they’ve faced due to the pandemic.

“This contribution from the Loewen Foundation will have a tremendous impact,” says interim RRC President Dr. Christine Watson. “We know that students have been struggling, and receiving this bursary could make the difference in someone’s decision to continue with their studies in the next term.”

“Red River College is thankful for the donors, staff, alumni and community members that have stepped up over the last few months to ensure our impacted students receive the relief they need.”

John Loewen, executive director of the Foundation, says the decision to donate was easy, and that he knows the support will have an immediate impact on students’ lives, allowing them to focus on their goals in education and training.

“If you consider a foundation and endowment as a rainy-day fund, well, it’s raining right now,” says Loewen (shown above). “We were very impressed with how quickly the College moved to support its students, and looked to past donors who could redirect their support.” Read More →