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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 →

New training program launched to address workforce challenges at personal care homes

November 20, 2020

The Manitoba government and Red River College are partnering to support resident care in personal care homes during the pandemic through the launch of a COVID-19 health-care support worker micro-credential, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen announced yesterday.

“Ensuring the appropriate care and support is available to residents of Manitoba personal care homes is a top priority as we see the strain that COVID-19 is placing on personal care home workforce,” said Friesen. “We must do everything possible to ensure we have staff to support the care needs of residents in our long-term care homes. This requires an immediate increase in the available workforce and this new training program addresses this goal.”

The College will offer a week-long condensed, high-intensity training program that will train students to work as uncertified health-care aides (UHCAs) and create immediate employment opportunities for Manitobans, including students currently enrolled in a health sciences faculty or program.

These workers will support all members of the resident care team, assisting with resident care and support under the general supervision of a manager or nursing supervisor. Duties may include resident observation, companionship, redirection, stocking of supplies and more.

“As part of our continued efforts, we’ve established a Rapid Execution and Deployment Team that will continue to create new and innovative solutions to offer our expertise, facilities and network of campuses to support all Manitobans in response to COVID-19,” said RRC President Fred Meier.

“I am proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish to aid in our provincial response, and I want to commend our staff, faculty and instructors for continuing to step up and support our communities.”

The course will include a combination of virtual and in-class education, and consists of five days of theory offered virtually and two days of in-person skills education. Starting Nov. 30, it will be offered to students in Winnipeg, Selkirk, Steinbach, Winkler and Portage la Prairie, with opportunities to offer the course in additional communities in rural and northern Manitoba being explored.

Eligible students must be over the age of 18 and possess a minimum of a Grade 10 education. Experience in direct care is not a pre-requisite, and the course is being offered tuition-free with a commitment to provide service in a personal care home for a period of three months following completion.

Interested individuals must apply to the COVID-19 casual pool and select the location where they prefer to complete the training. The deadline to apply for the first intake of students is Monday, Nov. 23. Read More →

New high-tech composites training centre takes off at RRC

October 22, 2020

Red River College is set to launch the careers of the next generation of skilled aerospace workers, thanks to a cutting-edge lab at the Notre Dame Campus. Using new technology from the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), the Advanced Forming Training Centre enhances the skills of Canada’s highly trained aerospace workforce. The Centre will also serve as a composite forming training hub for small- and medium-sized businesses.

The Advanced Forming Training Centre places RRC at the forefront of Canada’s aircraft component production industry. Composite materials make aircraft stronger, lighter and more fuel-efficient — ultimately, a cost-effective method that creates a significant reduction in process defects — and those trained at RRC will lead the charge in this new technology.

“RRC has long been at the forefront of innovation in the aerospace and manufacturing sectors, and working with partners like the National Research Council only strengthens what we do and ensures the widest audience possible will benefit from our state-of-the-art facilities and expertise,” says RRC President Fred Meier.

With a slew of modern equipment and facilities already under its belt, the new training centre is another feather in the cap for RRC’s Technology Access Centre for Aerospace and Manufacturing (TACAM), which last year opened the Smart Factory, an applied research space, experiential learning facility and technology demonstration site that showcases emerging technologies.

“We’re honoured to now be home to advanced composite forming systems developed by the NRC,” says Meier. “The collaborative transfer of skills and knowledge from the NRC team and TACAM provides a foundation to commercialize this unique emerging technology. We look forward to this ongoing partnership that will benefit Canada’s manufacturing industry for years to come.”

The NRC’s high-precision forming process propels Canada to a world leader in this emerging sector, and the organization will work with RRC to identify the best fit for the technology within the Canadian and global aerospace industries, and to transfer the advanced forming technology to the private sector. Read More →

RRC adopts groundbreaking sexual violence reporting tool

September 30, 2020

REES posterRed River College has partnered with EVA (Ending Violence Across) Manitoba to launch a new online tool that will empower students, staff and instructors to anonymously report sexual assaults on campus, and access the support they need.

The College joins 10 other Manitoban post-secondary institutions in adopting the REES (Respect Educate Empower Survivors) reporting tool, offering a customized version of the platform that links to specific RRC supports, information and resources.

“Our students and staff have a right to learn and work in an environment that is free from sexual violence in all its forms. REES will help ensure that our campuses are safe places, and that survivors are heard and supported,” says Fred Meier, President and CEO, Red River College.

The REES platform also helps individuals who have experienced sexual violence complete a reporting form that captures all the key information about an incident through a secure online form.

The user chooses what happens next: they can keep the report for their personal records and never share it, or they can decide to provide a copy to their educational institution or to the police.

The decision to report is a personal one, says Jess Spindler, RRC’s Resource and Resolution Advisor.

“No one should feel pressured to do something that makes them feel uncomfortable, but reporting does mean the matter can be addressed. When you make a report, the College must look into the matter, support your safety, and take appropriate corrective action to stop inappropriate behaviour and prevent future reoccurrences.

“The current North American data tells us that 1 in 5 female-identifying students experience sexual violence while attending post-secondary. The real number is likely higher because sexual violence is significantly underreported. Statistics Canada has noted that more than 8 of every 10 sexual assaults in Canada are never reported to police.” Read More →

Dining options at PGI now open and ready to welcome guests

September 3, 2020

Back to school never tasted so sweet. Today, Red River College opened the doors to the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute for diners looking to experience the hospitality and culinary skills students have to offer.

Located in the heart of the Exchange District, Jane’s restaurant and the Culinary Exchange are officially open for business again. Students are excited to apply their learning, and offer guests the chance to taste the latest and greatest in upscale, urban cuisine.

With the fall academic term underway, these openings offer more than just a spot to enjoy fabulous food — they’re an important part of the learning process for Hospitality and Culinary Arts students as they practice and refine their skills.

“Red River College has always been a cornerstone in Winnipeg’s hospitality and culinary industry,” says Kirk Johnson, Dean, Hospitality and Culinary Arts. “We’re excited to be open for business again, and provide a range of delicious dining and meal options for our community.”

Both Jane’s and the Culinary Exchange closed their doors in March at the onset of COVID-19. Since then, the College has followed public health guidelines to implement a number of measures so guests can again enjoy the mouth-watering options students are serving up.

“Our renowned chefs and culinary students are busy cooking up a storm in these kitchens,” says Karen McDonald, Chair, School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts. “In addition, our hospitality students are ready and eager to welcome guests back inside these elegant and vibrant locations.”

While guests can expect the same top-notch cuisine, some things will look a little different in the wake of the pandemic. Anyone who visits one of these locations will be required to wear a non-medical face mask (except while eating), sanitize their hands upon entry, and follow all physical distancing or other guidelines that have been put in place. Read More →

New RRC president hits the ground running, with an eye to the future

September 3, 2020

Fred Meier has spent his first few weeks as Red River College’s president and CEO focused on making connections and building momentum towards a fall academic term unlike any other in the College’s 82-year history.

Adjusting to any new leadership role can be challenging enough. But taking the reins during a time of global upheaval and transformation amped up the need for Meier to make every minute count.

“I arrived on day one knowing I was joining an institution that has shaped the lives of many Manitobans and contributed a great deal to our province’s economy,” he says. “What I saw right away was a community of people who have innovated and adapted unbelievably fast to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to keep our students learning.”

Knowing how deeply students and industry partners depend on RRC for skilled training, workforce needs and applied research, Meier invited the Hon. Ralph Eichler, Minister of Economic Development and Training, on a tour of RRC’s Notre Dame Campus to highlight how the College has prepared its facilities to safely welcome back students for hands-on learning.

“The Minister told me he was impressed by the work we’ve done. I was impressed, too, by the ingenuity of our staff and students and their dedication to moving forward safely.”

Meier says that his leadership vision places a heavy premium on engaging employees, and on ensuring faculty and staff are listened to, valued and supported in their work.

At the end of August, he unveiled the College’s new online Staff Forum, a website designed for employees by employees to connect them with information, resources and collaboration tools quickly and easily.

“Strong internal communication and collaboration are the bedrock of our success as an organization. While this has always been true, the disruptions to our business by COVID-19 make employee engagement a higher priority than ever. Adopting new tools, technologies and strategies to share and learn from one another will continue to be near the top of my list.” Read More →

RRC welcomes new Vice-President, Finance and Administration

August 18, 2020

Red River College is excited to announce that Lynn Zapshala-Kelln has been hired as the institution’s next Vice-President, Finance and Administration.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Lynn to our team,” says RRC President Fred Meier. “Her expertise and extensive background in Manitoba’s post-secondary system and our province’s public sector will strengthen Red River College’s capacity to keep moving forward in a time of change, and help us continue to do what we do best — produce job-ready grads to help businesses innovate and stay competitive in our new economy.”

Zapshala-Kelln joins the College after holding the Vice-President (Administration) role at the University of Manitoba, where she provided leadership in all administrative areas, including financial, business and investment interests, ancillary services, security, fair practices and legal affairs, physical plant and property, risk management, human resources (including labour relations) and information systems and technology services.

At RRC, she will oversee all current aspects of the finance and administration portfolio, including finance and campus services, capital projects, campus planning and sustainability. She will work directly with the College’s Chief Information Officer and Executive Director, Finance and Campus Services.

“I am a collaborative leader and I look forward to getting to know my team, building on RRC’s successes, and overcoming our challenges as we continue to face this pandemic,” says Zapshala-Kelln.  “Red River College has done a tremendous job modernizing their systems to better support our employees and our students. I look forward to building on that success so we can continue to support the academic mission of the College to ensure that our people — and most importantly, our students — continue to shine.”

Zapshala-Kelln previously served in the senior ranks of the Province of Manitoba’s civil service for almost two decades, and has extensive board experience. A Chartered Professional Accountant, she holds a Bachelor of Administration degree from the University of Regina.

She will start her new role at RRC on Tue., Sept. 8.

Safety top priority as College prepares for students, staff to return to campuses

August 5, 2020

With the Fall 2020 academic term just around the corner, Red River College offered an on-campus preview today of what students can expect when they return to school next month.

Attended by the Hon. Ralph Eichler, Minister of Economic Development and Training, today’s media tour showcased a number of applied learning activities currently taking place on the Notre Dame Campus, and highlighted new measures the College is taking to protect the safety of an increasing number of students and staff coming back to school.

RRC President Fred Meier says the College’s response to COVID-19 — and the quick pivot to online and blended learning this past spring — has positioned RRC to continue to meet industry needs and help drive Manitoba’s economic recovery.

“COVID-19 has handed our province an unprecedented set of challenges to overcome. I continue to be impressed by how organizations across all sectors have found innovative ways to meet those challenges head-on,” says Eichler (shown above, at left). “Red River College adapted quickly to support its students, made valuable contributions to our community efforts against COVID-19, and — thanks to hard work — prepared itself to play a vital role in Manitoba’s economic recovery.”

The tour provided a look at the catch-up, hands-on training currently underway at RRC’s Skilled Trades and Technology Centre, along with its Indigenous Culinary Skills, Dentistry and level four Carpentry programs, and a tour and demonstration by students in the new Medical Radiologic Technology lab.

While the majority of catch-up training is happening at the Notre Dame Campus, Culinary Arts students are equally busy at the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute. Earlier this summer, a number of the College’s regional campuses welcomed students back to complete hands-on learning to wrap up their studies, as well.

“Although we’ve been working incredibly hard since March to deliver our programs online, we’re very excited to have people moving through our halls, our labs, our offices and classrooms again,” says Meier (shown above, at right). “As Manitobans, we have managed the impacts of COVID-19 better than many other regions, and that — along with the tremendous leadership and hard work of our employees — has made it possible for us to continue preparing students for careers in industries that will need their knowledge and skills more than ever.” Read More →

College marks 10th year as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers

June 16, 2020

For the 10th year in a row, Red River College has been named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers. To mark the milestone, the College is inviting staff and the public to use their backyard gardens to “grow a row” to help those in need.

“Red River College takes to heart the belief that sustainability is a journey without a final destination,” says Sara MacArthur, Director of Campus Planning and Sustainability at RRC. “We’re proud of today’s recognition because it highlights not only the past year’s achievements, but our long-term commitment to a greener future. Our staff and students planted the seeds of our sustainability initiatives, nurtured them, expanded our garden — and now we see the results flourishing.”

“Growing a better, greener future is a high priority for the entire Red River College community,” says Melanie Gudmundson, Chief Human Resource Office. “Our achievements are a testament to the leadership of our Sustainability team, who engaged and focused the efforts of RRC staff, students and partners across eight campuses and over an entire decade. We couldn’t be more proud.”

This year’s award recognizes RRC’s environmentally friendly policies and programs, and staff engagement in wide-ranging sustainability efforts such as reducing waste and energy consumption, campus greening, composting programs, community maker markets, environmentally friendly building management, and sustainable transportation.

The College is inviting everyone to join in this commitment by literally growing a garden of their own. RRC is once again participating in Winnipeg Harvest’s annual Grow-a-Row project by planting vegetables in their on-campus garden and donating the harvest to Winnipeggers in need, including Red River College students. Read More →

Award-winning flavours and fava on the menu at Prairie Research Kitchen

June 15, 2020

Red River College’s Prairie Research Kitchen has won the Canadian Association of Research Administrators’ (CARA) Research Partnership Award, for its ongoing work with Manitoba food start-up Prairie Fava.

The award ceremony was originally scheduled to take place at CARA’s annual conference in Vancouver last month, though the conference was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Prairie Fava has been a great partner of ours since the beginning. Working with them has showcased our ability to bring a chef’s experience and perspective to applied research,” says Mavis McRae, Director of the Prairie Research Kitchen, which is RRC’s newest federally funded Technology Access Centre.

“We’re so grateful for their support, and thankful to have grown alongside each other over the years. It’s an honour to be recognized for this mutually beneficial relationship.”

Hailey and Cale Jefferies co-founded Prairie Fava in 2015 as a way to tie their family seed business, Jefferies Seeds, into a new venture that showcased the duo’s passion for healthy food with their existing knowledge and experience in agriculture. Prairie Fava was recently awarded the Start-Up of the Year Award at the 2019 Manitoba Chambers of Commerce Business Awards.

“I can’t emphasize enough how valuable the research and development work done by the Prairie Research Kitchen team is for a small company like ours,” says Hailey Jefferies (shown above), the company’s President. “They provide great expertise while being cost effective. We have appreciated being able to leverage the creative talents of RRC students to do both market research and great food photography. We have not been able to find this kind of diverse food research elsewhere.” Read More →