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Indigenous Education

College to continue alternative delivery of programs and services; on-campus classes remain suspended until fall

April 3, 2020

Red River College will continue providing alternative delivery models for programs and services for the upcoming spring and summer terms, which means there will be no on-campus classes or public events until September.

Work integrated learning (practicums, clinical, work experience) will continue to be suspended except for those instances that can be completed using online or alternative approaches. Co-op/industry placements will continue at the discretion of the workplace employer.

Today’s announcement extends the timeframe that students, faculty and staff are expected to work off-campus in order to meet increasingly stringent public health directives aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Manitoba.

“We know this is a challenging time for students, faculty and staff,” says Dr. Christine Watson, interim president and CEO of RRC. “With public health advice changing regularly, we felt that it was important to make a decision that allows for planning certainty throughout the rest of spring and summer.”

Watson lauded the hard work, commitment and creativity of faculty and staff in making the transition to alternative delivery over the past few weeks.

“We have seen our faculty and staff re-imagine their work via technology in a way — and at a pace — that we never thought possible. I also know that we have students who are struggling to adapt to this new reality. We are thankful for all of those who are working together to find a way through this unprecedented situation.

“We would love to be able to re-open our doors and go back to the hustle and bustle of our vibrant campuses. But that simply isn’t an option. We also know that when we begin to rebuild our economy, Manitoba will need Red River College — students will need training to get jobs and launch their careers, and industry will depend upon our grads to fill their workforce needs.

“Our core mission has never been more important to the future prosperity of Manitoba.”

Watson said she is proud of and inspired by RRC employees. In addition to working remotely and taking care of family and loved ones during an uncertain time, many in the RRC community continue to go above and beyond the call of duty.

She cited several examples, such as the 14 Health Information Management students who are helping public health track the spread of the coronavirus data, the TACAM and Smart Factory equipment being used to manufacture wheel bases for IV stands, and the donation of nearly 1,700 N95 respirators from Safety and Health Services to help health-care workers on the front lines.

“Not everything we are trying is going to work perfectly — but what we’re doing is working and working hard to help our students, our employees and our province get through an unusual and unpredictable time. We know there will be disruption. We also know that if we persevere, we will be well positioned to quickly resume regular operations once it is safe to do so.”

The College continues to operate in accordance with public health directives and is in regular contact with the Province of Manitoba.

As the situation is fluid, the College will revise and update its operating procedures and policies as needed. This includes the possibility of re-opening RRC campuses to classes prior to September if public health advises that it is safe to do so.

The College will continually update faculty, staff and students; the latest information will always be available at rrc.ca/coronavirus.

Red River College welcomes students back — to virtual learning and delivery

March 24, 2020

This week, Red River College and its students took their first steps into new territory as courses resumed following a week-long study break.

The same social distancing practices public health authorities are asking everyone to follow to combat the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic — including cancelling all gatherings — make it impossible for students and instructors to gather in classrooms, workshops and other facilities where learning normally takes place. So, the College has turned to virtual program delivery to get the job done.

“Luckily, three of our greatest strengths as a College community are resilience, agility and innovation,” says Aileen Najduch, Acting Vice-President, Academic. “RRC leadership, faculty and staff came together last week to put those strengths to work in developing alternative forms of program delivery.”

Each program is different, and so is each approach to virtual program delivery. Some instructors are using online meeting platforms such as WebEx and Microsoft Teams to facilitate virtual classes and chats. Others are using Skype, Zoom, and YouTube group forums to connect and discuss course topics. Still others are sharing narrated PowerPoint presentations with students.

“I’ve already heard from an instructor who says the WebEx class they held for one of their Marketing courses this morning had full participation,” says Kirk Johnson, Dean, Business and Applied Arts, and Hospitality and Culinary Arts.

Many of RRC’s virtual program delivery tools were already in use before the COVID-19 outbreak. They’re simply being deployed more extensively now, says Johnson. For example, Business Administration students are using a networking app called Riipen to connect with real-world clients on projects.

As well, all RRC students have free access to LinkedIn Learning, an enormous database of online courses — a virtual asset Johnson says instructors will rely on more heavily in the months ahead. Although the College cancelled all practicums to protect the safety of its students, some programs are developing virtual practicum activities and experiences, including case studies with industry partners.

In addition to switching to alternative program delivery, RRC has reminded students that College supports and services are available online or over the phone if they need help coping with stress or anxiety, or if they require special accommodations for completing coursework. The College has also launched a coronavirus webpage to serve as a resource and news hub for staff and students.

For now, says College leadership, the “how” may have changed, but the “what” remains the same: helping students achieve their academic goals. RRC has committed to its alternative program delivery model until May 1, when the winter term ends. How the College proceeds from there will depend entirely on the pandemic, and the advice of provincial, national and international health authorities.

“Even though our hallways have never felt emptier,” says Najduch, “the compassion and creativity we’ve seen from our community gives us great hope that we will get through our current challenges and emerge stronger than ever.”

RRC recognized as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers

March 9, 2020

Canada's Best Diversity Employers logoRed River College is proud to have been named as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for 2020.

The College joins 74 other Canadian organizations recognized by Mediacorp Canada Inc. for leadership in creating inclusive workplaces for employees from five diverse groups: women, visible minorities, persons with disabilities, Indigenous peoples, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) peoples. Today’s award marks the fifth year RRC has been recognized with this distinction.

“This award is an honour because equity and inclusion are at the heart of our workplace culture,” says Melanie Gudmundson, RRC’s Chief Human Resource Officer.

“Red River College is home to thousands of staff and instructors from all backgrounds and virtually every corner of the globe. Each brings unique perspectives, experiences and connections to our classrooms and work spaces. That diversity is one of our greatest strengths — and it’s why we work so hard to provide a welcoming, safe and equitable work environment for all members of our Red River College family.”

Over the past year, RRC advanced a number of programs and initiatives to encourage diversity and inclusivity at the College, including a Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy that will serve as a roadmap to fostering a safe campus environment by ensuring everyone has the chance to work, learn and access services in an inclusive and welcoming manner. The College hired Priyanji Mediwake, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist, to execute this strategy.

To kick off this initiative, a College-wide Diversity Matters poster and communications campaign promoted diversity as one of RRC’s greatest strengths. The campaigns invited staff and students to self-identify as belonging to one or more designated groups: women, racialized persons, Indigenous peoples, persons with a disability, and people of all gender identities. Data from the campaign will be analyzed and used for bench-marking, and will inform upcoming Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plans for the College. The College has assembled a Diversity Champions network to help support and lead this work.

“In the coming year as we build and execute these action plans, I foresee a lot of exciting and impactful initiatives coming out of this foundational work,” says Mediwake. Read More →

Design for mural celebrating Indigenous traditions unveiled

February 12, 2020

A canvas of colour representing traditional Indigenous teachings and local history was unveiled today at Red River College.

The painting, created by Anishinabee artist Jackie Traverse, will be one of the main design features of the College’s new 100,000 square-foot Innovation Centre, currently under construction on Elgin Avenue in the Exchange District.

The piece will span approximately 1,000 square-feet across the inside and outside of the building’s fourth floor ceiling, and will be visible from blocks away.

“I’ve been wanting to tell that story about Indigenous people having a right to be in the downtown area for so many years,” says Traverse (shown above, third from left). “If you just wait long enough, your visions, and your beliefs in your heart will find a way to come to fruition. And I’m thankful Red River College picked me to do this.”

Traverse is a multi-disciplined Anishinaabe artist who works predominantly with paint on canvas. She was born in Winnipeg and knew she wanted to be an artist from the time she was four years old. A graduate of the University of Manitoba’s Fine Arts program, Traverse is known across Canada for her powerful art, which speaks to the realities of being an Indigenous person.

The piece is inspired by The Forks — where the Red and Assiniboine Rivers meet. It will incorporate the 13 moons (which could be interpreted as rocks to represent the Grandfathers), people, bear paws, and the Oodena Celebration Circle. She hopes that each person who views the painting can find their own interpretation or meaning.

“I think it’s really important to have it in downtown Winnipeg,” she says. “A lot of people don’t know the history and don’t understand why there are so many Indigenous people in the Portage Avenue and downtown area. Our people have had a history with this place for thousands of years. It’s in our blood memory and our DNA. We’re drawn to the place of our ancestors and the footsteps they left behind.” Read More →

New art installation for Innovation Centre celebrates Indigenous history

December 18, 2019

When Jackie Traverse was 13 years old, she would sneak out of school to watch an artist paint a Jackson Beardy mural on Selkirk Avenue. Now, 37 years later, she’ll be creating the artwork for a prominent corner of Red River College’s new Innovation Centre, a 100,000-sq.-ft. building in Winnipeg’s Exchange District.

“As a kid I remember thinking, ‘Just wow.’ It was such a big deal for me to see a building with Native artwork being put on it. It was the first time I had seen something like this, on this scale, that felt like it was for me,” she says. “So for me to be doing the same thing now, it makes me proud.”

Traverse is a multi-disciplined Anishinaabe artist who works predominantly with paint on canvas. She was born in Winnipeg and knew she wanted to be an artist from the time she was four years old. A graduate of the University of Manitoba’s Fine Arts program, Traverse is known across Canada for her powerful art, which speaks to the realities of being an Indigenous person.

The College collaborated with the Winnipeg Arts Council in the search for an artist for the project, which will be featured both inside and outside the building’s fourth-floor ceiling, spanning approximately 1,000 sq.-ft. The large overhanging parapet, a gesture to the historic warehouse architecture, was a perfect canvas for a piece of public art to be seen from blocks away, and to act as a lantern atop the new building.

Out of the five artists who were shortlisted to present, Traverse’s concept and story won over the panel.

“The concept she presented was very powerful and resonated with us,” says Patrick Kuzyk, chair of RRC’s selection committee. “One of the goals of the Innovation Centre is to create a hub where students, businesses, entrepreneurs and community members can come together and collaborate on ideas. Her concept depicts a traditional gathering place and we were inspired by the connection.” 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 →

RRC to welcome Bear Clan Patrol founder for presentation on personal safety

November 21, 2018

James Favel, founder and executive director of Bear Clan Patrol Inc., will host a presentation on personal-safety best practices this Fri., Nov. 23, at Red River College’s Exchange District Campus.

The presentation will also explore the role and function of the Bear Clan Patrol, and how students and staff can get involved in their communities. It’ll be hosted by RRC’s Indigenous Education department, and will provide a safe, inclusive environment in which attendees can learn from Favel’s growing — and widely celebrated — volunteer-based organization.

The College is committed to the safety of all its staff and students; engaging community experts like Favel is just one of the ways RRC is working to enhance and maintain personal safety.

The initiative also falls under one of the College’s strategic goals: to strengthen partnerships with Indigenous communities and advance Indigenous achievement.

Operating out the Ndinawe Youth Resource Centre in the city’s North End, the Bear Clan Patrol is comprised of volunteers who work with the community to increase security in the inner city in a non-threatening, non-violent and supportive manner. The Patrol is a community-based solution to crime prevention, one that provides a sense of safety, solidarity and belonging to both its members and the communities they serve.

Favel’s presentation takes place at noon in Room P107 at the Roblin Centre.

Photo credit: Nardella Photography

College to launch first post-secondary course on cannabis in Manitoba

October 15, 2018

Red River College is rolling out a new Cannabis 101 course — the first of its kind to be offered by a post-secondary institution in Manitoba, and one of few available across the prairies.

The new course will be officially announced at this week’s Cannabis Legalization conference, taking place Fri., Oct. 19, at the Roblin Centre, where industry experts, medical professionals, regulators, educators and investors will gather for a series of keynote sessions and discussion panels.

The conference will focus on the province’s budding cannabis industry, growing partnership opportunities with First Nations and the Métis Nation, and ways Red River College can assist with formal education and applied research.

“The federal and provincial governments have encouraged Indigenous partnerships and participation within this industry,” says Rebecca Chartrand, RRC’s Executive Director, Indigenous Strategy. “We were approached by our community leaders to establish safe and regulated educational programming that supports entrepreneurship and growth in the cannabis and hemp industries.”

The conference will take place just days after the legalization of recreational cannabis in Manitoba, while the new course is slated to launch on Nov. 6. Both have been in development for months through a working group established between RRC’s School of Indigenous Education, Indigenous community leaders, and the province’s Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority.

The introductory course will explore the business behind cannabis — looking at everything from safety and regulations, to public policy and education, to the training and skills required to pursue a career in the industry.

It’ll focus on five key modules: legislation, regulations, licensing and bylaws; the anatomy and physiology of cannabis plants; cannabis production; the distribution and sale of cannabis; and responsible use of cannabis.

Summer internship opens doors for RRC grad

September 13, 2018

School may have been out for summer, but the learning certainly didn’t stop for Theressa Genaille.

After graduating with honours last spring from Red River College’s Aboriginal Program for College Enrichment and Transition — a program recently relaunched as the College Transition program — Genaille was selected for an eight-week paid internship at the Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce (ACC).

In that time, she was able to take the knowledge and skills she gained in the classroom and put them to work supporting the daily operations of the ACC.

“As the first person in my family to pursue post-secondary education, it was really important for me to enter into a learning environment like Red River College,” says Genaille, “where instructors and advisors took the time to understand my individual needs and provide the supports I needed to achieve my academic goals and thrive in my studies.”

In addition to her achievements in the Transition program — created to help students enhance their core competency skills in areas such as reading, writing, math, science and technology — Genaille’s education and volunteer experience made her the ideal candidate for the ACC Internship, funded by the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development.

“Theressa’s name was put forward with glowing recommendations from her instructors due to her volunteer experience, positive attitude and great work ethic — and from the moment she joined our team, we could certainly see why,” says Darrell Brown, Chair of ACC’s Board of Directors, and a proud RRC grad himself.

“We were so fortunate to work with Theressa and have her support to move important initiatives forward. In turn, we were able to provide a supportive learning environment for her to experience the daily operations of the ACC, gain a deeper understanding of the business community as a whole, and apply the valuable skills she learned as a student.” Read More →

Elder Mae Louise Campbell honoured with Folk Festival’s Glass Banjo Award

July 11, 2018

A well-respected member of Manitoba’s Indigenous community — and a longtime support to Red River College students — was honoured this weekend by the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

On Saturday evening in Birds Hill Park, Elder Mae Louise Campbell took to the Folk Fest main stage to accept the Glass Banjo Award, which recognizes those who’ve made extraordinary contributions to the festival, now in its 45th year.

An Ojibwe-Metis Elder who’s served as one of RRC’s Elders in Residence for the last 13 years, Campbell is known for helping people incorporate ancestral Indigenous knowledge into various aspects of their lives, and for the warm and generous spirit she employs while offering help, healing and growth.

She was one of the first Indigenous artisans in the Folk Fest’s Handmade Village, and helped build early connections between the festival and other Indigenous artists. Each year, she greets artists and audiences alike at the festival’s welcoming ceremony and opening blessing — and says one of her most memorable Folk Fest moments was when seven eagles flew overheard while she was performing those duties in 2016.

In recent years, Campbell has served on the City of Winnipeg’s Mayor’s Indigenous Advisory Circle, and received a 2016 Indspire Award for her contributions to Culture, Heritage and Spirituality.

(Photo courtesy of the Winnipeg Folk Festival.)