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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

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 →

Manitoba Metis Federation increases support for Métis students at RRC

March 10, 2021

Red River College has been able to support more Métis students in need, thanks to an additional donation by the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) and the Louis Riel Institute (LRI).

The Louis Riel Bursaries are available to any full- or part-time RRC students requiring financial assistance who hold citizenship (or are eligible for citizenship) with the Métis Nation. Since 2014, the bursaries have helped 174 Métis students achieve academic success.

The MMF’s donation has been matched by the Manitoba Scholarship and Bursary Initiative (MSBI), making more than $400,000 available and enabling the College to support more than 80 students who have applied for this year’s bursary

“This generous donation comes at a pivotal time for many students,” says RRC President Fred Meier. “The immediate assistance makes a direct impact on the lives of students who are working hard towards completing their education, but may be struggling due to COVID-19 or other factors. A bursary can be a critical support and the motivation a student needs to keep going and focus on training for their future career.”

Meara Grant, a fourth-year student in RRC’s Bachelor of Nursing program, received the bursary this year and said it was a huge relief.

“I have been struggling to pay my bills and manage good grades throughout school, especially with times like these,” she says. “This support has taken a tremendous amount of stress off of my shoulders. It has allowed me to focus more time on my clinical placement, and pursue my dreams as a nurse.”

Grant will be completing her senior practicum in the Selkirk Regional Health Centre’s emergency department next month. After graduation, she plans to work as a nurse for a few years before returning to school to obtain her Masters of Nursing and become a Nurse Practitioner.

“Education is so important for our Nation’s growth and prosperity,” says MMF President David Chartrand. “The Métis government in Manitoba has worked hard to get to a place where we can provide our youth with the necessary funding for their education, so they have the chance to find meaningful work and achieve greater financial security.”

Since establishing the bursaries, the MMF and LRI have provided $800,000 to Métis students at RRC as part of the mission to advance education and training for Metis people in Manitoba, and to foster an understanding and appreciation of the culture, heritage and history of the province and its Métis people. Read More →

College honours Manitoba icon and celebrated community hero: Gabriel Langlois to receive honorary diploma

February 19, 2021

For the last 35 years, Gabriel Langlois has undeniably been one of the most well-known and beloved Manitobans at any sporting or special event across our province.

And while it’s often his presence and enthusiasm for Winnipeg that captures attention, it’s his integrity, devotion to volunteering, community spirit and uplifting positive attitude that captures hearts. These qualities have moved Red River College to award Langlois the Honorary Diploma in Community Development at this year’s 2021 Virtual Winter Convocation ceremony.

“Red River College awards an Honorary Diploma to an individual who demonstrates high standards of excellence in their personal and professional achievements, and whose involvement in the community is widely recognized,” says RRC President Fred Meier.

“Gabriel Langlois has made significant contributions to our community and is celebrated by many for his tireless engagement efforts and friendly demeanour. When Red River College received his nomination, it included letters of support from leaders across Manitoba, which reinforced his devotion to volunteerism and the positive impact that he continues to have on our communities. While ‘Dancing Gabe’ may be Manitoba’s number one fan, there is certainly an entire community of us who are fans of the contributions he makes to our province every day.”

The list of Langlois’ awards, accolades and achievements is long, and includes the Premier’s Volunteer Award, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, and the City of Winnipeg Community Service Award.

This past September, his volunteer accomplishments culminated in his being awarded the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers, which recognizes the remarkable achievements of Canadians from across the country in a wide range of fields. He has also demonstrated his integrity and trustworthiness over the past 35 years as a volunteer and part-time employee of the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg.

“Gabriel Langlois is a Manitoba icon, devoted volunteer and inspiring community hero. He reflects the very best of our community — and the best of Red River College, with our commitment to learning, respect, inclusiveness, integrity and community values,” says Dr. Christine Watson, RRC’s Vice-President, Academic. Read More →

College partners with province on solutions to COVID-related workforce challenges in education

January 8, 2021

The Manitoba government is taking action to bolster substitute teachers and educational assistants to sustain classroom education and supports through the 2020/21 school year, Education Minister Cliff Cullen announced today.

“As the pandemic continues and in-class learning continues we recognize the demand that this is placing on Manitoba’s classrooms,” said Cullen. “Manitoba Education, along with the Manitoba School Boards Association and school divisions, identified the need to address staffing shortages and reached out to Red River College to explore innovative ways to support in-class learning through the 2020/21 school year.”

The government will support two condensed training programs, created by the College in collaboration with the Manitoba Association of School Superintendents in response to the staffing needs identified by school divisions across the province. These programs are designed to provide consistent and quality training to the individuals hired by school divisions to address COVID-19 staffing challenges in Manitoba’s classrooms.

The Basic Classroom Skills for Limited Teaching Permit Holders program will provide short-term, basic training to prepare individuals hired on a temporary basis to successfully teach in a classroom environment. The Educational Assistant Essentials program will provide short-term, entry level training to new EAs who would then work under the direction of teaching staff.

“Our College community continues to draw on our unique experience and expertise — both with content development and highly skilled instruction in these areas — to create customized solutions to meet the urgent human resource challenges this pandemic presents across various sectors and industries,” said RRC President Fred Meier. “We will continue to leverage our skills and expertise to support critical and essential industries across Manitoba, and we are proud to work with our partners in the K-12 system to create solutions to address educational continuity and the pressing staffing needs identified by the Task Force as we navigate the home stretch of this unprecedented school year.”

Both programs draw on existing training provided by the College and will be offered online, both full-time and part time, in French and English, and will be accessible to individuals across Manitoba. Each program will be approximately 30 hours in duration.

School divisions will continue to hire interested, qualified individuals through their standard processes, and will refer candidates to Red River College for training. Intakes will begin January 18, 2021. School division job postings are available on the Manitoba School Boards Association’s website.

“We understand a key part of maintaining in-class learning during the COVID-19 pandemic requires that members of the school community remain home when sick,” said Cullen. “These programs are part of a $44-million commitment to assist, alongside hiring more teachers and staff and ensuring a safe and healthy learning environment for all students, teachers and staff.”

RRC partners with province to build rapid-testing capacity to protect Manitobans

December 16, 2020

Red River College has partnered with the provincial government to launch a new micro-credential that will build a skilled workforce to support Manitoba’s rapid-test strategy for COVID-19, Premier Brian Pallister and RRC President Fred Meier announced today.

“Our government’s number one priority in the face of this pandemic is to protect Manitobans and halt the spread of this deadly virus,” says Pallister. “With the launch of this new micro-credential, Manitoba will be well positioned to support the creation of targeted rapid testing initiatives to protect our front-line workers and the Manitobans they care for.”

The premier noted the province will launch a dedicated COVID-19 rapid testing service pilot for teachers in Winnipeg in the new year, which will help support the health and wellness of Manitoba’s school communities.

Students of the new RRC course will learn how to use best practices in testing performance for COVID-19 and the technical skills needed to support the launch of a Fast Pass rapid testing pilot for teachers in the new year. Participants of the free micro-credential can expect six hours of theory and a five-hour lab component, totalling 11 hours of instruction, conducted over five days.

“Our government is committed to partnering with industry leaders like Red River College to create made-in-Manitoba solutions that will help save lives,” says Pallister. “While vaccinations are beginning in Manitoba for targeted groups, we must continue to stick to the fundamentals and stay home to support our health-care and front-line workers at this crucial time in our fight against COVID-19.”

The first cohort of the RRC course is expected to start in early January, and will focus on skills needed to use the Songbird Hyris bCUBE and other rapid tests. The program is being offered free to eligible applicants with a foundation in science and/or working in a laboratory setting, including:

  • medical laboratory assistants or technicians with laboratory-related work experience
  • graduates of a science or chemical and biosciences technology program
  • graduates of a pharmaceutical manufacturing program
  • graduates with a bachelor of science degree with a major or minor in biology, biochemistry, biomedical sciences, chemistry, microbiology or zoology Read More →

Robots, rapid prototyping and R&D: College’s applied research enterprise ranks among Canada’s best

December 15, 2020

Red River College is one of Canada’s top five research institutions, as announced today by Re$earch Infosource in their annual ranking of the country’s top 50 research colleges.

The list saw RRC, Manitoba’s only polytechnic, jump nine spots from its placement at 14th last year. This is the highest the College has placed since coming in second in 2011.

“Red River College is a world-class institution that makes significant impacts to applied research every day, thanks to industry-driven partnerships and projects,” says RRC President Fred Meier. “Our research enterprise has been making a difference for more than 15 years, and this recognition is a testament to the contributions of our hard-working staff, students and faculty.”

Today’s announcement recognizes RRC’s work during the 2018/19 fiscal year, during which the College completed 105 research projects and employed 37 students for work that falls within the College’s four main research areas: advanced design and manufacturing, clean technology, digital technologies, and health, nutrition and social sciences.

Key projects include an ongoing partnership with Prairie Fava, a start-up business based out of Glenboro, Manitoba that promotes fava flour as a protein-rich gluten alternative; supporting Manitoba’s aerospace and manufacturing sector with an expanding fleet of “cobots” or collaborative robots; and helping to launch the “Genome 360” project with Genome Canada and a network of partners, with the goal of building a hub for genomics and phenomics capabilities in Manitoba.

The news comes on the heels of RRC’s recent silver win at the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) Awards of Excellence, held in a virtual ceremony on Nov. 29.

“Our work in applied research has an immediate impact and is needed now more than ever,” says Meier. “Being recognized on a national and international level not only reinforces our continued success, but recognizes the immense talent and expertise that we have at the College. Our ongoing collaboration with business and industry means that we’re solving problems and creating new and innovative solutions every day, and I invite industry to come work with us to experience first-hand what we have to offer. Read More →