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RRC Polytech launches new Orange Shirt Day design by local artist Peatr Thomas

June 21, 2022

Local artist Peatr Thomas, seated near one of his outdoor muralsRRC Polytech is proud to have worked with local artist Peatr Thomas on an original design for Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters, in support of the Mínwastánikéwin Truth and Reconciliation Award, created in partnership between the College’s School of Indigenous Education and its Campus Store.

Thomas is an Ininew and Anishinaabe self-taught, full-time multi-disciplinary artist from the Pimicikamak and Miskooseepi territories. A youth facilitator for many years, he is sharing passed-down knowledge, traditional teachings, culture and the healing process by creating visual forms of art.

“Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters and truth and reconciliation have become such a large part of the College community, and we can see how it has been embraced through the engagement and attendance of our events and workshops, but also through the funds we have raised for the Mínwastánikéwin Truth and Reconciliation Award and the Indigenous students we’ve been able to support so far,” says Carla Kematch, Truth and Reconciliation and Community Engagement.

Part of the values of truth and reconciliation is embedding Indigenous ways of knowing and being, and I’m so honoured that Peatr agreed to work with us to create an authentic piece of artwork that staff and students can feel proud to wear that is true to the meaning behind Every Child Matters.

“Peatr is an established artist in our community with a distinct vision — many will recognize his incredible murals throughout the city, and we are so grateful to him for sharing his art and teachings with us. I can’t wait to see this path for us grow and to create more opportunities.”

All proceeds from Orange Shirt Day sales, as well as those from Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirit designs, go towards the Mínwastánikéwin Truth and Reconciliation Award. The word Mínwastánikéwin is Cree and means ‘to set it right.’ This award seeks to advance Indigenous student achievement and since 2019 has distributed $1,000 awards each year via the College’s annual Truth and Reconciliation Week held at the end of September.

Peatr Thomas' new Orange Shirt Day designWhile consulting on the shirt’s design, Thomas met with RRC Polytech Elder-in-Residence Paul Guimond and an Orange Shirt Day committee to share what was important to convey, and to explore what the College seeks to achieve through its strategic direction: supporting Indigenous student success through supports, programs and initiatives like the 4 Seasons of Reconciliation training, the Blanket exercise, Truth and Reconciliation Week, and more.

Thomas says his design represents courage. “Courage to move forward. Courage to speak the truth. Courage to make changes for the better. The youth today will have a better chance at a great future with the protection of the Bear Clan, guidance of our ancestors, and having the room for growth. Remember and pay tribute to the young ones lost. Remember to honour the survivors.”

Read More →

College launches new IT program for Indigenous students as part of RBC Foundation gift

June 20, 2022

Today, Indigenous learners interested in pursuing a career in Manitoba’s information technology (IT) sector will have access to a new program offered at RRC Polytech, thanks to a $450,000 gift from RBC.

This most recent gift — alongside funding for other programs and platforms that connect diverse students to their ideas, potential, and one another — makes for a million-dollar friendship.

“When community partners like RBC connect with RRC Polytech to create globally needed programs, we’re ready to answer the call,” said Fred Meier, President and CEO, RRC Polytech.

“This new pathway program is designed to equip Indigenous Manitobans with the skills and support required to transition into selected programs at RRC Polytech. With the move to remote and hybrid work and heavy reliance on technology, the world of IT operations is growing every day, and RRC Polytech’s students are in high demand.”

RBC has been a longstanding partner of RRC Polytech, and today, both organizations are celebrating over $1M in support. These gifts have provided mentorship and internship opportunities for students through such initiatives as Ten Thousand Coffees and Riipen, and sponsorship for the annual Directions Conference. They have also made possible a series of Reaction by Collision events, the latest of which served as host to today’s announcement about the new Pathway to Information Technology Programs offering.

“We at RBC are delighted to support the new Pathway to Information Technology Programs with this gift,” said Kim Ulmer, RBC’s Regional President. “Representation in industry, access to education, and tapping into the incredible talents of Indigenous people matters to all of us. We are so proud to further deepen our longtime friendship with RRC Polytech, while helping give space to new and innovative ideas in areas of information technology.”      Read More →

RRC Polytech adopts 2SLGBTQIA+ acronym and raises Progress Pride flag

June 15, 2022

RRC Polytech has committed to embed equity, diversity, and inclusion into all work done at the College and is always looking for ways to advance meaningful change.

Moving forward, the College will use the acronym 2SLGTBQIA+ to respectfully acknowledge members of the Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and the countless affirmative ways in which people choose to self-identify community.

The College is placing Two Spirit People at the beginning of this evolving acronym, out of respect for their longevity, and their importance and status in Indigenous beliefs and traditions, after consultation and collaboration with our Elders in Residence and Knowledge Keepers Council.

“I’ve always advocated to recognize Two Spirit first because if we are going to talk about truth and reconciliation within Canada and recognize and acknowledge Indigenous people, including Two Spirit people, we should put them at the beginning. I’ve never understood why we are at the end,” says Barbara Bruce, O.M., All My Relations Inc., and RRC Polytech Knowledge Keepers Council.

“Placing the 2S at the beginning of the acronym is recognizing the original peoples of Canada — First Nation, Métis Nation and Inuit Two Spirit people — and it’s acknowledging who those people are. I think everybody should embrace this stance.” Read More →

College honours pioneering doctor who worked through AIDS crisis to save lives

June 14, 2022

With a career spanning multiple decades, Dr. John Richard Middleton (Dick) Smith has made an enduring mark on the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in Winnipeg.

Smith was one of the first doctors in Winnipeg to support patients diagnosed with HIV and AIDS, saving countless lives through treatment and education. Now, RRC Polytech is celebrating his efforts by presenting him with an honorary diploma in Community Development.

“Dr. Smith represents the embodiment of caring and giving back to your community — a value we work to instil into every one of our grads,” says Fred Meier, President and CEO of RRC Polytech.

“We are proud to honour Dr. Smith for his tireless work advocating for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. His work teaches us if something doesn’t yet exist in the world but is necessary and positive, then be fearless and pursue it.”

Smith moved to Winnipeg from England in 1972. After seeing the need for specialized health care and safe spaces, he helped found the Winnipeg Gay Community Health Centre, the Village Clinic and Nine Circles Community Health Centre. He brought his activism and leadership to other roles as President of the Manitoba College of Family Physicians and President of Medical Staff for Misericordia Hospital.

“Receiving this recognition from RRC Polytech is a great honour,” says Dr. Smith. “Working with people has been the touchstone of my career and I’ve been so fortunate to forge many valuable connections here in Winnipeg while doing something I love. I hope that RRC Polytech graduates find something they love to do and find wonderful people to work alongside.”

In 2016, Dr. Smith came out of retirement to help open a multidisciplinary organization called Our Own Health Centre, which specializes in providing medical and well-being care to members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Read More →

Province to add 30 new training seats to RRC Polytech’s Nursing program

June 9, 2022

The Manitoba government is investing over $830,000 to add 30 new nurse training seats to help sustainably increase the number of nurses working in the province in the years to come, Health Minister Audrey Gordon and Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration Minister Jon Reyes announced yesterday.

“Our government is strengthening health care,” said Gordon. “Investing in nurses who are an integral part of our health-care team is building our province’s health human resource capacity. We have been working closely with post-secondary institutions to sustainably increase the capacity of existing nursing programs throughout the province.”

“Our government’s multi-faceted action plan is responding effectively to labour market shortages in the health-care system that were amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Reyes. “This investment brings us even closer to fulfilling our July 2021 commitment to add 400 seats in nursing programs at post-secondary institutions across the province.”

Funding will add 30 new seats to the Nursing program at RRC Polytech. It will help renovate necessary learning spaces, add laboratory equipment and support new staffing, supplies and other operational needs, the ministers noted.  

“The work we do at RRC Polytech anticipates and aligns with the nursing and health-care needs of Manitoba, and this announcement recognizes the importance of investing in post-secondary institutions that provide highly trained graduates,” said Fred Meier, president and CEO, RRC Polytech.

“We are ready to grow and expand our programs as needed to prepare students to contribute on day one and in turn strengthen our province. We expect that all 30 seats will be filled by the end of the 2022-23 academic year.”

With this latest expansion, the Manitoba government has committed more than $30 million to establish 289 nursing seats that will support recruitment for the health-care system. The ministers noted work remains underway on the next phase of the plan to further expand training to meet the 400-space commitment made in 2021.

Learn more about RRC Polytech’s Bachelor of Nursing program.

RRC Polytech team finishes first in Sprint to Innovate challenge

May 5, 2022

RRC Polytech proudly owned the podium at the Sprint to Innovate Challenge last month, as teams representing the College won three of four available cash prizes.

Six Business Technology Management students teamed up as the North Latin Friends and outraced their peers to the finish line in the biannual 48-hour student innovation challenge, presented by the City of Winnipeg and held in cooperation with industry partners, the University of Manitoba and Tech Manitoba.

“Sprint to Innovate is a fun event that cultivates relationships between students and allows them to display technical and creative skills to potential employers,” says Dr. Jonathan Ziprick, Applied Computer Education instructor at RRC Polytech. “It’s a great opportunity for students to learn and practice the innovation process that is used for solving problems in industry.”

In Sprint to Innovate, industry partners provide real businesses challenges for student teams, who must choose an issue to tackle, work with a mentor to develop innovative business solutions over the course of a weekend, and then pitch their ideas to overcome the challenge to a panel of judges.

The competition requires teamwork, creativity and communication, and encourages participants to push the boundaries of conventional wisdom.

“The breadth of ideas, pragmatic approaches and workable solutions that students come up with in such a short period of time is impressive,” says Tyler Gooch, Director of Innovation & Technology for the City of Winnipeg. “As judges, it was difficult to select a winner because all the groups presented well-reasoned conclusions. In the end, we decided to reward a team that attacked their problem from a unique angle, forgoing obvious technology-based solutions to focus on a social innovation.”

With members hailing from Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Cuba and Ecuador, a cultural connection brought the North Latin Friends together as a team, and their shared experiences as new citizens inspired their response to the challenge — put forth by the City of Winnipeg — of how to encourage engagement and increase voter participation for the 2022 municipal election. Read More →

RRC Polytech hosts first in-person Skills Manitoba competition since start of pandemic

April 19, 2022

For the first time since 2019, RRC Polytech will host the Skills Manitoba Provincial Competition, welcoming more than 110 post-secondary students to its Notre Dame Campus to compete in skilled trades and technology contests representing a range of industry sectors.

This year’s competition — which had to be postponed a few days due to last week’s spring storm — runs April 19–22. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, RRC Polytech had hosted the provincial competition on campus every year since 1998.

“We’re excited to have Skills Manitoba back on campus. It’s an incredible opportunity to showcase the talent that comes out of RRC Polytech and our partner institutions,” says Derek Kochenash, Dean, Skilled Trades and Technologies. “The event highlights how well our students are prepared for careers in the trades and allows them to show off their talents to their peers and industry professionals.”

Each year, the competition provides the opportunity for nearly 500 high school, post-secondary and apprenticeship students to compete in events that test skills required in trades and technology careers. (This year’s secondary-level competition for high school students remained virtual, and was held from April 4–14.) Contests are designed by provincial technical committees made up of industry professionals and educators.

“Skills Canada Manitoba is working to change the perception of skilled trades and emerging technologies,” says Maria Pacella, Executive Director, Skills Canada Manitoba. “The young people who participate in these competitions will be the workforce of tomorrow. As we emerge from this pandemic, we all need to work together to showcase the economic and social benefits of a skilled workforce.”

Winners of the provincial competition form Team Manitoba, and compete at the Skills Canada National Competition in Vancouver from May 25–28. Read More →

New partnership produces strong weld

April 12, 2022

Fusing metal together is an art form for students in RRC Polytech’s Welding program.

They’ve learned it takes patience, precision and practice to join metals properly, and the resulting products have incredible strength and durability. A new partnership with West End Radiators is teaching them that similar principles apply when forging relationships, and that reinforcing bonds with industry benefits both students and prospective employers.

“Our success at RRC Polytech has been built on strong, dynamic partnerships — with communities, industry, employers and applied research partners. Our partners want to work with us because of our ability to solve problems, train talent and respond to labour market needs,” says Shylyte Bloodworth, Program Manager, Electrical, Mechanical and Manufacturing at RRC Polytech.

“Having a former student be the link to a new collaboration speaks to how quickly our graduates make an impact in the workforce.”

Gail Batoon was working as a labourer in shipping at West End Radiators a few years ago when he decided to upgrade his education and further his career. He quit his job and began RRC Polytech’s Welding program. In less than a year, he had been hired back in an elevated role as a welder.

“We value integrity, quality service and teamwork, so we were thrilled when Gail chose to return to us after his training,” says Wayne Feeleus, Director of Sales and Business Development for West End Radiators. “His workmanship is excellent and expanding our staff allows us to produce more parts that we can trust to stand up to Manitoba winters.”

A follow-up call with Welding Instructor Jason Church led to another return for Batoon — this time as a mentor in the classroom, with an added level of partnership for the company.

“It came together quickly; West End Rad needed a specific side bracket for radiators on Kenworth trucks,” Church explains. “They provided the raw materials and the design, and Gail visited the class earlier to provide a hands-on demonstration of what was required.” Read More →

RRC Polytech honoured for heritage preservation of historic Scott Fruit Building

March 29, 2022

RRC Polytech proudly accepted a Heritage Conservation Award for its recently opened Manitou a bi Bii daziigae space at Heritage Winnipeg’s 36th annual Preservation Awards last Thursday. The award was received in partnership with Number TEN Architectural Group and recognizes the project team’s special effort to protect, conserve and reuse the historically designated Scott Fruit Building in its transformation of the Exchange District Campus.

“This award celebrates the spirit of innovation that bonds education and industry, leading to progress in any era,” says Lynn Zapshala-Kelln, Vice-President Finance and Administration at the College. “RRC Polytech is proud to extend the legacy of such an historic site, knowing its modernization will keep its entrepreneurial spirit alive while allowing us to achieve our commitments to constantly transform our learning model, strengthen academic pathways for students and deepen community partnerships.”

Located on Elgin Avenue, the 100,000-sq. ft. Manitou a bi Bii daziigae (shown above, under construction) was designed to look to the future while respecting the past. Adapting and upgrading the nearly 110-year-old Scott Fruit Building included restoration of the original wood and steel windows, the cleaning and repointing of the brick façade and incorporating historic elements in the interior design of the new space.

“The Scott Fruit Building’s longevity is a testament to the value of innovation,” says Zapshala-Kelln. “By protecting and celebrating its heritage status, Manitou a bi Bii daziigae provides our students and staff with a tangible link to our community’s rich history of visionary thinkers, who serve as their role models as they shape the next century of advancement.”

Built using the latest construction technology of concrete and steel in 1914, the Scott Fruit Warehouse was considered cutting-edge in architecture and appliance capability at the time, helping Winnipeg become the wholesale centre of Western Canada. Read More →

From here to chair: Ellowyn Nadeau becomes first woman to head Winnipeg Construction Association board

March 8, 2022

It’s an announcement 118 years in the making: in February, the Winnipeg Construction Association (WCA) named RRC Polytech instructor Ellowyn Nadeau the first woman board chair in its history.

“This is about women in general — it shows we have a place in this industry,” says Nadeau. “We’re finally achieving an understanding that women can contribute in this field, and we want to. It’s an honour and a privilege.

Nadeau has a long history in construction. She’s been a Construction Management instructor at RRC Polytech since 2015, a Supply Chain Management Professional since 2010, and a professional civil engineer since 2000. Engineering runs in her family — her dad was a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Manitoba — but for many women and girls, construction has not been considered a viable option.

“There weren’t a lot of women in the industry in the 1990s,” says Nadeau. “Even now, there are more women in offices than in the field. The field is less welcoming to women — you’re constantly transitioning from crew to crew, job to job, and you have to prove yourself every time. As an industry, we have to work on that.”

Proving herself is something Nadeau has done. She is past chair of Manitoba Women in Construction, a member of the Committee for Increasing Participation of Women in Engineering, and a member of PEO International, a philanthropic organization providing educational opportunities for women. She joined the WCA board in 2015.

“The WCA has been very supportive, respectful, open and encouraging,” says Nadeau. “This is a culmination of the last couple years, but it’s just the start.” Read More →