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Province launches new training and recruitment initiatives to support disability services sector

November 30, 2020

The Manitoba government is introducing new training and recruitment initiatives to help ensure agencies that serve individuals with disabilities have adequate staff, while also creating employment opportunities for job-seekers, Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced today.

This work is part of the government’s broader plans to help  protect vulnerable Manitobans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic has put a serious strain on agencies that provide services and supports to Manitobans with disabilities, so we are introducing new initiatives to help bridge that gap on an urgent basis,” says Stefanson. “Today we are highlighting our plans to better protect Manitobans with disabilities by launching an online employment platform that will match eligible service providers with available positions. This will be supported by a recruitment campaign, as well as a new online training program that will help prepare workers for rewarding positions throughout Manitoba in disability services.”

There are more than 70 community-based agencies in Manitoba that provide residential care to adults with intellectual disabilities. They are experiencing significant staffing challenges related to COVID-19 and require immediate support to ensure they can continue to provide compassionate care to their clients.

The province is partnering with Manitoba Possible (formerly the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities) and their online platform, called envoyy, to connect agencies with job-seekers who have appropriate training and skills. The Manitoba government is providing $68,000 to strengthen envoyy with better technical support, customer service and related demands over the next six months. The province will also be expediting adult and child abuse registry checks for applicants to ensure they can be safely employed.

“Manitoba Possible is pleased to have the opportunity to work with the Government of Manitoba to meet this urgent and important need for Manitobans with disabilities and their families,” says Lindsey Cooke, director of provincial services, Manitoba Possible. “We are confident that by working together, envoyy will offer agencies and individuals an efficient means to connect with verified disability service providers in their area during these unprecedented times.”

Manitobans who are interested in working with adults with intellectual disabilities in a variety of roles, such as helping with daily household tasks, supporting life-skills development or providing companionship, can apply immediately at envoyy.ca. Agencies with available positions can sign up with envoyy and begin posting them on Dec. 10. Read More →

RRC grads working on frontlines critical to pandemic response

November 26, 2020

Polytechnic graduates have been critical to Canada’s pandemic response. Two Red River College grads are proving just that in Polytechnics Canada’s Faces of the Frontline video series.

Red River College is Manitoba’s only polytechnic, offering hands-on and applied learning to prepare students for the industries that await them outside campus doors. Faces of the Frontline features two RRC grads working in non-traditional frontline industries: Allison Enns (Architectural/Engineering Technology, 2017 and Construction Management, 2019) and Chad Corbett (Hospitality and Tourism Management, 2014).

“We’re always proud of our grads, but especially now as we see so many of them rising to the challenges the pandemic brings,” says RRC President Fred Meier. “Construction and hospitality may not be the first industries that come to mind when you think of the frontline, but our grads are here to show you how crucial they are to our safety and economy.”

Enns is a site coordinator at Akman Construction and Corbett is the co-owner and vice-president, operations at Block & Blade Restaurant and Bar. As frontline workers, both Enns and Corbett had to respond quickly at the onset of COVID-19 and have continued to adjust the ways in which they work to stay operational, while keeping Manitobans safe.

RRC grad Allison EnnsIn their video features, Enns and Corbett are quick to describe how their education at RRC prepared them to step up when Manitobans needed them most. Watch Enns’ feature here, and Corbett’s feature here.

“When the pandemic began, our member institutions and their graduates really stepped up,” says Sarah Watts-Rynard, CEO at Polytechnics Canada. “It was clear from the beginning that a large majority of Canada’s essential workers came from institutions offering applied, hands-on programs.

“Polytechnic institutions like Red River College don’t simply prepare grads for real-world working environments, they embed tangible skills and confidence in their students, preparing them to make a real and immediate impact. Faces of the Frontline highlights the important work our institutions and their graduates are doing during the pandemic, and we’re proud to include Red River College grads in this campaign.”

Red River College thanks all front-line workers for their vital efforts during the pandemic. RRC continues to educate and train the next generation of professionals who will keep our people safe and our economies strong.

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 →

Elder Mae Louise Campbell awarded honorary diploma for lifetime of advocacy

November 18, 2020

Elder Mae Louise CampbellElder Mae Louise Campbell is a healer, teacher, grandmother and advocate who has made it her life’s work to support and strengthen Indigenous women — both individually and collectively.

Today, Red River College is proud to recognize her contributions to the community by awarding her an Honorary Diploma in Indigenous Social Enterprise, with a focus on Community Development and Social Innovation.

“In an organization as large as Red River College, it’s special to find someone who is known, respected and beloved by an entire community, and Elder Mae Louise is all of those things,” said RRC President Fred Meier.

“During her 14 years with the College, she was invited by all 110 academic program areas to conduct and lead countless workshops, ceremonies and teachings. She is known and celebrated for her stories that underscore the importance of harmony, respect and resilience.

“Elder Mae Louise’s leadership has left an indelible mark on the College and the province of Manitoba, and we are pleased to award her this honorary diploma and recognize her important contributions.”

Cambpell’s knowledge and experience have been embraced by many. Her life lessons and unique ability to educate and share knowledge around Indigenous worldviews — creating dialogue outside of textbooks — has been imperative to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous members of the community.

She has been an instrumental figure supporting many initiatives and committees, both nationally and across Manitoba, including: Grandmother Moon Lodge, Clan Mothers Healing Village and Knowledge Centre, the Mayor’s Indigenous Advisory Circle, the Grandmothers Council of Manitoba (as a Wisdom Keeper), and the First Nations Advisory Committee to Canada’s Prenatal Nutritional Program. She served as an Elder and advisor for the Canadian Women’s Foundation on matters concerning the sexual exploitation and human trafficking of women and girls, and was the recipient of the 2016 Indspire Award in the category of Culture, Heritage and Spirituality.

The College announced and presented Campbell’s Honorary Diploma yesterday at the first ever Virtual Fall Convocation ceremony, during which more than 900 graduates from every RRC campus celebrated the milestone achievement. Read More →

RRC joins fight against COVID-19: New training launched to increase testing capacity in Manitoba

October 14, 2020

Red River College, in partnership with the Province of Manitoba, is proud to announce the creation of a new micro-credential course that will provide essential training to help increase COVID-19 testing capacity for Manitoba Public Health.

“Protecting the health and safety of Manitobans remains our number one priority,” says Premier Brian Pallister. “Our government is committed to expanding our COVID-19 testing capacity to reduce wait times to get a test. This partnership with Red River College will enable us to provide essential training opportunities to highly skilled health-care workers, who can now our efforts to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.”

The course — which takes as little as five hours to complete — is designed to train a number of health-care workers and students studying for careers in health care to safely conduct a nasal swab to collect samples to test for the virus. It will be offered tuition-free to students through RRC’s School of Continuing Education, and will be a blended delivery model, which will include essential theory offered through online delivery and a hands-on training component.

The course was designed to fit with a ministerial order that comes into effect today, enabling more health-care professionals and students training for careers in health care to perform this function at COVID-19 testing sites, including:

  • students in at least the second year of one of the following regulated health professions:
    • registered nursing
    • licensed practical nursing
    • psychiatric nursing
    • medicine at the University of Manitoba, including medical students and physician assistant students
  • students enrolled in an approved paramedicine or respiratory therapy program
  • people qualified to practice in one of the following regulated health professions in jurisdictions outside Manitoba or Canada (based on the presentation of valid credentials):
    • registered nursing
    • licensed practical nursing
    • psychiatric nursing
    • medicine
  • health-care aides
  • medical laboratory technologists
  • occupational therapists
  • physiotherapists
  • pharmacists

Read More →

Soup’s on! RRC partners with Winnipeg Harvest on healthy soup mixes for community, students

October 5, 2020

Thanks to a partnership between Red River College’s Prairie Research Kitchen and Winnipeg Harvest, nutritious Hamper Healthy™ soups will soon be distributed to vulnerable Manitobans. Students from RRC’s Culinary Arts program created the dehydrated mixes this summer, and officially handed off the donations — 3,000 packages worth — to Winnipeg Harvest this morning.

The partnership provided valuable work placement hours for RRC students and engaged them in a project that will deliver healthy, high-protein foods to people in need.

“When most local restaurants temporarily closed in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many students from RRC’s Culinary Arts program were unable to receive the work placement hours needed to graduate,” says RRC President Fred Meier.

“Our solution was to use more of our space to scale up the recipes and provide nutritious storable food for people negatively impacted by the pandemic. This partnership with Winnipeg Harvest and the generous support from our donors demonstrates the value of working together to support our community and find creative ways to support our students.”

The students safely worked alongside RRC research chefs to transform raw vegetables into three soup mixes: Mulligatawny, Chicken Noodle Vegetable, and Smokey Baked Beans. Dehydrating the soups was also a great way to process surplus vegetables from suppliers who were not able to use them during the pandemic. 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 →

Red River College to host Virtual Indigenous Celebration

June 5, 2020

Today at noon, Red River College will host a Virtual Indigenous Celebration on Facebook Live to recognize Indigenous students and their accomplishments. The event will be held in lieu of the annual Pow Wow to ensure staff and students maintain social distancing and safety during COVID-19 restrictions.

“RRC’s annual Pow Wow has been a point of pride for the College for nearly 20 years and has been a tremendous way to honour, celebrate and make Indigenous culture more accessible for the College community. Although we are not yet able to be together physically, we still are, and will always be, dedicated to advancing Indigenous achievement and embedding Indigenous ways of knowing and being,” says Isabel Bright, Acting Dean, School of Indigenous Education.

“We are excited to create a place online that makes our students feel special, acknowledges their achievements, and holds space for Indigenous culture and teachings.”

The virtual event will feature messages from community leaders and dignitaries, senior leadership, instructors from the School of Indigenous Education, Indigenous Support Staff, and even some special performances that highlight the diversity of Indigenous cultures.

Students of First Nation, Métis and Inuit ancestry were invited to register to be recognized in the Celebration and receive a mailed gift, which includes the Indigenous stole they would have received at Pow Wow.

“It’s really important that we do what we can to help students mark this important moment in their lives,” says Bright. “The RRC Pow Wow is a powerful experience for those of us who work in Indigenous Education because it’s a space where Indigenous culture, knowledge, ceremony and protocol lead.”

“It’s important to show our students that these things hold a high value, and in turn celebrate those values within themselves. It says your achievements matter, and who you are matters. We want to ensure we are doing what we can to help students celebrate important milestones and remind them that they are part of a community.” Read More →

Tech support: RRC Entrepreneurs-in-residence find innovative ways to help communities during COVID-19

May 22, 2020

Innovation is their business, so it’s no surprise some of Red River College’s past and present partners have found innovative ways to help their communities cope with the COVID-19 outbreak.

The partners in question have all served as Entrepreneurs-in-residence (EiR), startup creators who team with RRC students, instructors and staff and work at the College’s ACE Project Space to bring business ideas to life.

GO OIL CANADA

John Sparrow, for instance, recently made headlines when his business, Go Oil Canada, began offering free mobile oil changes to those working on the frontlines in the battle against COVID-19, including health-care workers.

“The idea started with one of our franchisees, and we adopted the offer across the company as a way to take positive action and give back to those who are working so hard to keep us safe,” says Sparrow.

Go Oil provides on-demand mobile oil changes to customers — including corporate fleets — across 14 Canadian cities. Since its services were already contact-free for the most part, the company didn’t have far to pivot to adapt to social distancing restrictions. In fact, Go Oil has witnessed a surge in bookings over the past couple months.

Sparrow served as an EiR in 2019, when students in RRC’s Business Information Technology (BIT) program helped develop and build Go Oil’s online scheduling and booking system.

“It’s not just about being profitable, it’s about being relevant, about showing people what a new world can look like and how even an oil change can be part of that.” Read More →

Instructors partner with local makers and hobbyists to fight COVID-19

May 8, 2020

Faculty at Red River College have stepped up to help produce ‘ear savers’ for Manitoba’s frontline workers.

Rob Ataman, Serge Broeska, Jesse Jamison and Nino Caldarola — all instructors in RRC’s Mechanical Engineering Technology and Manufacturing Technician programs — each volunteered to bring home one of the College’s four 3D printers, which are capable of producing the pieces. Ear savers are plastic adapters worn at the back of the head to hold medical masks in place and eliminate strain, irritation and blisters caused by elastic straps.

“When I got the call to make these ear savers, I jumped at the opportunity,” says Broeska, whose wife works as a physician at Health Sciences Centre. “As a technical college with a stellar reputation in the community, RRC is ideally suited to do its part and is contributing in so many ways. I felt this project was a no-brainer — a way to contribute while having to stay at home during this period of social isolation.”

The College has partnered with Winnipeg Fighting Covid, a group of local hobbyists and makers who are using their personal 3D printers to create, sanitize and deliver the ear savers, and other protective equipment (PPE). The group has received approval and guidelines from Shared Health Manitoba to create and distribute the ear savers, and currently has 121 printers signed on to help with the cause.

“We are Manitobans and when there is a need, Manitobans jump in to help,” says Marc Hache, a Winnipeg Fighting Covid volunteer. “Prior to our group’s formation, individual makers had — on their own initiative — sought out those in need, and printed and delivered well over 10,000 units.”

Hache says every partner approached has responded enthusiastically, and he is proud to be part of the worldwide maker community’s response to the crisis.

The RRC crew estimated they would be able to produce approximately 800 units per week, but wound up making more than 1,200 in the first seven days with the help of some friendly competition.

“There’s actually a bit of a competition going on among the instructors to print as many ear savers as possible,” Broeska says. “This project has really brought us together, where we can share ideas and have a bit of fun while we fight this pandemic.” Read More →