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Students, staff partner with Solidarity Kitchens to provide meals for food banks across Canada

June 3, 2021

La Tablée des Chefs and its partners — among them, culinary students at Red River College — have announced the launch of the second phase of the Solidarity Kitchens initiative, which will produce over 500,000 meals for food banks across Canada, with production primarily located in Winnipeg, Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.

La Tablée des Chefs is a charity whose mission is to fight against food insecurity and educate young people to develop their food autonomy. Its Solidarity Kitchens initiative began at the start of the pandemic, when the organization was approached by suppliers, farmers, restaurants, hotels and large venue sites who wanted to donate food that would otherwise go to waste. La Tablée des Chefs worked with distributors to deliver the food to revived kitchens, where the food would then be cooked and frozen.

Solidarity Kitchens has already made a significant impact, providing meals to Quebec food banks and community organizations across the region, with 2 million meals cooked and delivered from April to December 2020. This year, the goal is to cook and deliver more than 2 million servings to community food distribution networks in Canada by 2021. The start of this national initiative has been made possible with support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, which provided $1.3M in funding to launch Solidarity Kitchens.

“It’s been inspiring to see how Solidarity Kitchens has already helped so many vulnerable Canadians during the pandemic,” says Jean-François Archambault, CEO and founder of La Tablée des Chefs. “We want to sincerely thank all of our valued partners for their support in bringing this initiative to life and joining us in the fight against food insecurity.” Read More →

RRC president, board chair release statement on Kamloops Indian Residential School

May 31, 2021

Statement from Fred Meier, President and CEO, Red River College, and Loren Cisyk, Chair, Red River College Board of Governors:

Last week we learned the remains of 215 children were discovered in a mass grave on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School at Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation in British Columbia.

The discovery of the remains of these innocent children is horrifying, heartbreaking and harrowing. It is a solemn reminder of the pain and suffering caused by the dark truths of Canada’s Residential School system — a history that is not so distant and continues to impact Indigenous peoples, causing generational trauma across our country.

In an act of remembrance to honour the lives lost, Red River College has lowered the flags at all of our campuses for nine days, and beginning Tuesday, with the guidance of our Elders, we will light a sacred fire at our Notre Dame Campus that will burn from Tuesday to Friday.

We must continue to acknowledge and discuss the legacy of the Canadian Residential School system, and to honour the victims. As the Red River College community collectively honours and mourns these innocent lives lost, we will continue our work to strive towards reconciliation, as we face these painful truths and strengthen our commitment to the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

This news can elicit strong and extremely painful emotions for many. We must allow space for grief and pay attention to our mental health. Staff and students can visit rrc.ca/wellness to access supports.

Those seeking support can contact the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line: 1.866.925.4419, or the 24-hour Crisis Line: 1.866.925.4419.

Fred Meier, President and CEO, Red River College

Loren Cisyk, Chair, Board of Governors, Red River College

Canadian Animal Blood Bank celebrates 25 years; partnership with RRC thrives

May 25, 2021

From skilled trades to health sciences, Red River College’s Notre Dame Campus (NDC) is home to a wide variety of growing talents. What many might not know is that, in a quiet corner of the campus’s mall level, dogs have been giving blood and saving lives for a quarter century.

The Campus is home to the Canadian Animal Blood Bank (CABB), an organization launched in Winnipeg that’s become the national leader in collecting and distributing life-saving canine blood donations to veterinary clinics across the country. This year, CABB celebrates its 25th anniversary.

“We have a really swanky lab here, considering we basically started in a closet,” says Beth Knight, CABB laboratory director and RRC grad, with a laugh.

“It was a storage space and its phenomenal how weve grown. For that, Canadian Animal Blood Bank can never thank Red River College enough for what theyve done for us, because they give us a roof over our head, a phone, computers, a parking lot, access to a space — the gift they’ve given can never be totally appreciated.”

CABB was started in 1996 as the brainchild of Dr. Ken Mould, a Winnipeg-based veterinarian who saw the need in Canada for canine blood banking, instead of requiring vets to travel to the U.S. border for dated, substandard product. Since the organization’s beginning, when they worked with just a few local veterinary clinics in Manitoba, they’ve expanded into several provinces.

“We’ve grown from one or two clinics to where we are now, with multiple sites across Canada that collect. We have Alberta, Ontario, Montreal — and we’ve recently started looking at expanding into the Atlantic provinces,” says Isabel Bright, current CABB board member and Dean of RRC’s School of Indigenous Education.

As the former Chair of Life Sciences (2011-2021), Bright has seen first-hand how the relationship between RRC and CABB has helped foster that growth, and goes a lot deeper than just brick and mortar. The clinic at NDC is a pragmatic learning opportunity for those in the College’s Veterinary Technician program.

“Students have an opportunity to volunteer and to learn about transfusion medicine from the experts at the blood bank,” says Bright. “There are also some conferences that we’ve shared together so students have an opportunity to learn and hear from experts in different parts of the country for the latest in blood banking and transfusion medicine.”

Read More →

Have laptop, will travel: New virtual projects turning RRC students into global citizens

May 3, 2021

The Government of Canada has chosen Red River College to take part in an innovative pilot project aimed at getting more students involved in international exchange opportunities, especially students facing barriers to working and studying abroad.

The Outbound Student Mobility Program, designed and administered by Colleges and Institutes Canada (CiCan), was launched last year to provide more Indigenous students, students with disabilities, and students facing financial need with opportunities to expand their perspectives and apply the global competencies they gain abroad to the careers they pursue back home.

At least, that was the plan.

Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has added a new challenge to the mix: accomplish all of the above, but without the need to physically fly students across borders.

Raeanne Hebert, a Business Information Technology (BIT) instructor at RRC, was about to travel to Brazil to help develop an exchange program there when the pandemic struck, halting the program in its tracks. However, development funding from the Outbound Mobility project gave her the opportunity to pivot the geographic exchange into a virtual one.

That initiative is now well underway: for the past three months, students in RRC’s BIT program have been connecting online with computer engineering students from the Federal Institute of Ceará (IFCE) to develop solutions for local entrepreneurs, including IT for a drone that delivers pesticides, a fitness and nutrition app, and an energy metering device for a power monitoring dashboard. They’ve completed three projects together so far.

“Students from both countries connect in RRC’s virtual Project Space and program together online for about four hours a day,” says Hebert. “They’ve been learning a lot from one another.”

Hebert says international exchanges — virtual or physical — are critical to opening students’ eyes to other cultures and ways of life, to breaking down stereotypes, and to strengthening relationships and connections.

They’re also vital to fostering innovation.

“When it comes to the future of IT, innovation is 1,000 per cent important. Exchanges like these help our students learn how other countries do things. They teach us innovative solutions to the problems we all face.” Read More →

Innovation Centre to feature new-to-North America sustainable solar energy technology

April 22, 2021

Red River College is leading the way in the use of solar energy-conducting technology, providing opportunities for students and local construction firms to grow their skillsets.

Next week, electrical and building envelope crews will begin the installation of approximately 400 Kromatix Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPVs) — the first of their kind in North America — along the exterior façade of the Innovation Centre, currently under construction in Winnipeg’s Exchange District.

“We’re proud to be the first institution in North America to welcome this sustainable technology — it’s only fitting that it’s installed on a building designed to cultivate and foster innovative ideas,” says RRC President Fred Meier.

“This is just one example of how RRC puts its values of sustainability into action, and demonstrates to our students there is always a better way of doing things, so long as you are open to new ideas and have the courage to ask, ‘How can we make this work?’”

Diagram illustrating Kromatix technologyDeveloped by SwissINSO, Kromatix is an opaque glass — colour-treated without the use of paint or tint — that is layered over the solar, thermal and electrical components of each panel. The technology results in aesthetically impactful panels that are optimized for solar energy generation.

When combined with the building’s 138 rooftop panels, the glass will allow the College to offset energy consumption by about 193Mwh/year, enough to power 18.5 average-sized homes for the same amount of time.

Diamond Schmitt Architects and Number TEN Architectural Group, who worked in tandem to design the new building, sourced the innovative product from Denmark. Using a procurement method called design-assist, subcontractors were brought into the project before the design was complete to ensure the vision was functional and achievable.

“It was really important for us to work with local tradespeople for the installation of the panels,” says Frank Koreman, Project Manager at Akman Construction Ltd.

“Working with local trades to learn and install the panels means we have the technology here in Winnipeg, and it can be passed along and shared for future projects. The teams working on this project are loaded with RRC grads, so it comes full-circle to have been taught in school and then bring back new technology for an RRC project.” Read More →

Going for green: RRC’s values and actions lead the way in sustainability

April 19, 2021

Red River College is committed to embracing innovation, taking risks and challenging the status quo in the name of sustainability.

As Earth Day approaches, these values ring true as the College plans to open the doors to its newest learning space — the Innovation Centre — later this year.

Located in the heart of Winnipeg’s Exchange District, the Centre is on track to be RRC’s fourth LEED-certified structure, with a goal of 100 EUI (energy use intensity) and a near net zero building.

“We’re a leader in sustainability and that’s because sustainable values are embedded in all we do,” says RRC President Fred Meier. “These values guide us as we develop environmentally friendly programs and design state-of-the-art buildings, such as the Innovation Centre.”

Part of the Centre’s design includes Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) that will be installed along the exterior. Designed by SwissINSO (based in Switzerland), the coloured panels — called Kromatix — absorb and conduct energy while also protecting the building from the elements. This installation will be the first of its kind in Canada, and will reduce energy consumption by an estimated 15 per cent.

Thanks to energy efficient technologies — including Power Over Ethernet (POE) lighting, Smart LSI Breakers, WIFI outlets and BIPVs — the renewable energy produced will also power the building.

“Staying true to our values continues to make RRC a champion of sustainability in our province and across Canada,” says Meier.

That leadership has been formally recognized for more than a decade now, as RRC also celebrates being named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers this week. Read More →

New Healthy Minds Healthy College Strategy released; learn more at online forum on April 9

March 31, 2021

Red River College is pleased to share that its new Healthy Minds Healthy (HMHC) College Strategy: A Roadmap for Action 2021-2025 has been approved and endorsed by Senior Leadership and the HMHC Steering Committee — who serve as a catalyst for moving this important work forward — and will carry the College forward for the next five years.

Many staff and students across the College have had opportunities to participate in wellness events and initiatives organized by HMHC — from therapy dogs to paint nights to presentations by guest speakers such as Jordin Tootoo (shown above). If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that supporting healthy minds and creating a healthy College community is so much more than the fun and visible events we enjoy on campus.

“The goal of Healthy Minds Healthy College is to promote an environment of support that provides a sense of well-being, belonging, connectedness and positive mental health for all students, faculty and staff,” says RRC President Fred Meier.

“We know that personal well-being supports academic and career success, and our personal well-being is often affected by the conditions in which we learn and work. Our HMHC Strategy: Roadmap for Action recognizes the strengths that are currently in place at RRC, while providing a path forward to guide the work that remains.”

While this work was underway prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, recent events have created new and different stressors, bringing mental health to the forefront of many people’s minds. Further, there is a risk of an “echo pandemic” of poor mental health, caused by widespread social and economic disruption.

The HMHC Strategy acknowledges the need to take a community-wide, systemic approach to promoting well-being. We have built in strategies to promote mental health and well-being amongst all community members, identified additional strategies to support those with concerns about coping, and outlined priorities to support individuals experiencing mental illness or crisis.

“Our HMHC Strategy focuses not only on building individual coping skills and encouraging help-seeking behaviour, but takes a systemic approach, aiming to create interpersonal and organizational conditions that foster positive mental health,” says Breanna Sawatzky, Mental Health Coordinator at RRC.

“The current strengths and future priorities highlighted in the Roadmap for Action do not belong to one College department or division, as we recognize that becoming a health-promoting institution requires organization-wide collaboration. Students, staff and faculty members all contributed to the creation of this Roadmap, including the selection of priorities.”

To learn more about the HMHC Strategy: Roadmap for Action and RRC’s immediate priorities, please join Sawatzky for: State of Mind: A Community Exchange on Friday, April 9, from 1–2 p.m. This interactive forum will include a short presentation highlighting key aspects of the strategy, followed by discussion.

College announces new programs and spaces to attract, grow and retain talent in Manitoba

March 24, 2021

Red River College is calling all videographers ready to roll camera on a career in digital film and media production, all developers and analysts looking to crack new codes in data science and machine learning, and all gamers ready to “level up” by turning their online passion into a job in game development and design — just a few of the new programs slated to launch this fall, many of them at the state-of-the-art Innovation Centre downtown.

The roster of new programs includes:

“Red River College’s programs are uniquely designed in collaboration with employers to ensure our learners are prepared to be adaptive and creative — and to become leaders in their industries — at a time when these critical skills are more important than ever,” says RRC President Fred Meier. “The launch of new programs is about anticipating the needs of our workforce and designing programs that align with the labour market needs, so that we can continue to grow and retain talent right here in Manitoba.”

With the opening of the Innovation Centre and expansion of its Exchange District Campus, RRC is poised to introduce the most new programs ever launched at once.

All of the programs will expand the College’s capacity for putting students and industry partners to work on real-world projects geared towards solving problems — and creating opportunities — in important, emerging sectors of our economy.

“Innovation will be critical to our city’s future growth and business leaders have consistently told us they need access to a strong pipeline of talent to grow their companies,” says Dayna Spiring, President and CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg.

“RRC is developing the right kind of programs, innovative spaces and training that companies want and need. This is very important when we’re trying to sell Winnipeg to the world and attract new business and talent to our city. It also provides an incentive for local companies to expand, because they know they will have access to highly skilled workers when they need them.”

Once opened, the Innovation Centre will also house a number of RRC’s signature programs in such areas as Indigenous education, applied commerce and management, and creative arts, and will be the new home of its Language Training Centre and Applied Computer Education (ACE) Project Space.

“Red River College continues to be a key pillar in developing talent for Manitoba’s interactive digital media industry. We are thrilled that they are putting a strong emphasis on video game development with their newly designed programs, and it’s even more exciting that they will be delivered from this new state-of-the-art space,” says Louie Ghiz, Executive Director at New Media Manitoba.

“Our local game development sector is constantly evolving and has the potential for explosive growth with the addition of these new programs that will help train even more people. Together we can grow and thrive in alignment with the booming global video game development industry.” Read More →

Fusing passion and potential to spark careers in welding

March 3, 2021

Monique Moneas with welding equipmentSince she was a little girl, Monique Moneas has known she wanted to work in the trades.

Unfortunately, stigmas steered her in another direction for years — until she saw an advertisement for a welding program at Red River College that lit a spark inside her.

“I started reading more about the program and couldn’t get over how perfect it sounded for me,” says Moneas. “Growing up, you quickly learn there’s a stigma around women working in trades. I didn’t want to let that stereotype hold me back anymore.”

Moneas is now a student in the College’s Welding Pre-Apprenticeship program, a pre-employment certificate offering that guides participants to an apprenticeship track where they can begin working towards Red Seal certification.

“The program is open to people with little to no trades experience who want to enter the field,” says Aaron Brown, liaison and advisor to the program. “We provide students with the knowledge and tools they need to be successful as an entry-level welder”.

The program runs for a total of 33 weeks, during which students earn credit for their Level 1 technical training. It also includes an eight-week paid work placement where students can prove themselves on the job to potential employers.

Tuition, books, tools and personal protective equipment are also completely covered at no cost to students. Delivered in partnership with Conestoga College, the program is fully funded by the Government of Canada Skilled Trades Awareness Readiness (STAR) program. Read More →

College launches disposable mask recycling program

March 2, 2021

Red River College is tossing masks into the recycling bin and keeping them out of the landfill.

While a lot of people have chosen to wear reusable masks during the pandemic, many others are using disposable masks out of preference or necessity. Together, these masks amount to a staggering amount of waste.

To help keep people safe, RRC distributes more than 6,000 disposable masks every month to students, staff and visitors to its campuses. That’s why the polytechnic — which has continued to fuel the economy by providing hands-on training during the pandemic — is proud to launch a disposable mask recycling program.

“We’ve set up disposable mask recycling boxes at our Notre Dame Campus, located outdoors in high-traffic areas,” says Sara MacArthur, Director of Campus Planning and Sustainability. “As people leave our buildings, they can take off and toss their masks into one of the boxes to be recycled.”

Once a recycling box is full, it’s securely sealed and safely stored for 72 hours. After that, it’s sent to a facility in New Jersey, where the masks are disassembled, sorted and bundled for new use.

The metal nose pieces are smelted into bar stock and metal sheeting, the polypropylene face covering is crushed to make composite decking, shipping pallets and other products, and the ear bands are ground into a fine mesh to mix with other recycled products. Read More →