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.”

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Careers in business: RRC Polytech program prepares grads to get hired by businesses, or start their own

June 16, 2022

Whether you’re selling a product, taking a product to market, working with people or looking to entice investors, a background in business provides a wide range of career paths to be followed.

This idea is at the core of RRC Polytech’s Business Administration program, a two-year diploma that allows students to follow an area of expertise — often directly into the workplace.

Business Administration graduate Paul Dorey, CPA, CGA used both his technical skills and the networks he established during his time at school to find what he calls his “forever home” at Talbot & Associates Chartered Professional Accountants, a Winnipeg-based accounting firm.

“One of my former RRC Polytech student colleagues reached out a few years ago and said, ‘Hey… why don’t you leave corporate accounting and come work for us at our public practice firm?’” recalls Dorey (shown above). “I decided to take a leap of faith and join him. It’s been six years since, and I’ll never look back.”

That kind of grad-to-grad connection is commonplace in Business Administration, where students spend the first term learning foundational skills before branching off into their choice of major: accounting, financial services, human resource management, marketing, and logistics and supply chain management.

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Careers in accounting: Certificate program opens doors to roles in a variety of businesses

May 18, 2022

Behind any for-profit business is a bottom line, and behind any bottom line is an accountant.

The skills required to exercise precision while dealing with finances are in high demand — something that RRC Polytech instructor Lise Nicole Wall understands well.

“It serves anyone well to have accounting knowledge, because every business has to have revenue and expenses, budgets and what-not,” says Wall.

RRC Polytech’s Applied Accounting certificate helps meet this demand through an eight-month program, consisting of two four-month terms, that provides a path for students into entry-level positions, both locally in Manitoba and across Canada. The program highlights “foundational accounting skills,” according to Wall, while emphasizing general business practices, mathematics, communication, computer skills and business software.

The work involved is demanding, but the program’s short timeframe means students can go from being good with numbers to starting their career in just eight months. This includes getting workplace-ready by honing skills like working in a group, respecting colleagues, managing time and communicating well.

“You’ve got your foot in the door,” says Wall of the opportunities provided.

“If you do well, the business doesn’t want to hire externally, they want to promote from within. So quite often, it’s just about getting into that corporation, that company, getting an entry-level position, and proving yourself before moving up.”

“[It’s] pretty great that after eight months you have a skillset and are desirable and ready to be hired, versus a degree, where you might not know where you’re being hired.”

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RRC Polytech hosts in-person Pow Wow for graduating Indigenous students

May 9, 2022

Last Friday, RRC Polytech welcomed back its in-person Pow Wow to celebrate graduating Indigenous students, with a day-long event that included a traditional pipe ceremony, drumming, dancing, singing, feasting and an Indigenous makers market.

Approximately 170 Indigenous students registered for the event, the largest number in RRC Polytech’s Pow Wow history. The event was also live streamed.

For the past two years, the College’s Pow Wow has been held virtually, with students signing up to be recognized in a live stream filled with Indigenous performances and messages of congratulations. Including the two virtual celebrations, this year’s event marked the College’s 22nd Pow Wow.

“Nothing can replace celebrating our students in-person and creating these memories that help mark a special moment in their lives and where their cultures are celebrated,” says Fred Meier, President and CEO of RRC Polytech. “Indigenous success is vital to all areas of our College and is just one of the ways we will contribute to the ongoing process of reconciliation. We’re seeing Indigenous students register for this year’s Pow Wow from across all programs areas: health, business, trades, and many in between.”

“This past fall, we launched our new strategic plan: In Front of What’s Ahead. Of the plan’s three commitments, the second is to commit to Truth and Reconciliation and pursue equity, diversity and inclusion in everything we do. Our work will begin with listening.

“Just this year, we have welcomed a Knowledge Keepers Council to help advise on our strategic initiatives, and we’ve welcomed Jamie Wilson as our Vice-President of Indigenous Strategy, Research and Business Development, which will increase our capacity for partnerships with Indigenous students, businesses and communities, and help further embed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action and training.” Read More →

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 →

Mockups and lockups: Manufacturing student creates new covers for on-campus bike lockers

May 4, 2022

You can’t make something from nothing. Unless you’re in manufacturing — then you can come pretty close.

Just ask Ryan Ross, a CNC Machining and Advanced Technology student who created durable weatherproof covers for RRC Polytech’s bike lockers.

“In the beginning I had nothing to work with,” says Ross (shown, at right). “It all started with hours of CAD (computer aided design) to get an initial shape and feel for the part. Once I measured (the lockers), I realized my design fit quite comfortably and my second iteration was adapted to use the measurements.”

After he 3D-printed his designs and confirmed they were functional, it was time to research the right material for the job. Another challenge: using something he had not worked with before.

“For the past two years I’ve learned to be a machinist — to work with metals. To be in a project with virtually no machining and work with a different material entirely … it was definitely a bit of a culture shock,” says Ross. “It taught me a lot about the plastics manufacturing industry — it really shows you that even the simplest plastic piece has a lot of meticulous steps to perfecting the process.”

Ross chose to make the parts out of two pieces of polyurethane resin, as it’s tough, resistant to moisture and chemicals, and can be mixed with UV-resistant additives to boost life expectancy against the sun.

“I wanted to make something that was elegant and simple, but portrayed the College’s pride and grace through a single act of production,” says Ross. “It was hard to conceptualize in the beginning, but I got input from many instructors and fellow classmates and was able to finalize the design.” Read More →

RRC Polytech unveils artwork by KC Adams at opening of Roundhouse Auditorium

April 29, 2022

Today, RRC Polytech unveiled Anishinaabe/Nêhiyaw/British artist KC Adams’ Morning Star design — which is embedded within the floor of the College’s new Roundhouse Auditorium — at the official opening of the space at Manitou a bi Bii daziigae.

“KC Adams really captured what our College and this building represent,” says Fred Meier, President and CEO, RRC Polytech. “Not only did she so thoughtfully include distinct histories and cultures that are part of these lands, but she also integrated what type of learning will happen here. It pays homage to history, but it’s here in the present and looks to the future.”

Located on the second floor of Manitou a bi Bii daziigae, RRC Polytech’s newest building at the Exchange District Campus, the Roundhouse Auditorium is a 210-seat space that will be used for events, ceremonies and collaborative learning. It is sound-proof, ventilated for the use of traditional medicines, and features a curved, panoramic projector to display videos and create an immersive experience.

“This space brings together so many aspects of RRC Polytech’s guiding principles: transforming to meet emerging needs, committing to reconciliation and diversity, and deepening our partnerships to maximize prosperity,” says Meier.

“The uniqueness of the Roundhouse will create more opportunities to gather, innovate, collaborate and invite the wider community in. It’s spaces like this that set RRC Polytech apart and show we can be really proud of how our College continues to contribute to the changing landscape of the Exchange District, Winnipeg and Manitoba.” Read More →

RRC Polytech’s commitment to EDI earns national recognition

April 27, 2022

RRC Polytech has been named the bronze recipient for Excellence in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at the Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) Awards of Excellence, held this week in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

In the past year, RRC Polytech proudly implemented a corporate EDI action plan. This helped establish a network of Diversity Champions who encourage EDI engagement on campus. The College’s Academic Success Centre and staff designed multiple training programs, while Anti-Racism and Gender and Sexual Diversity Committees were created and have played an integral role in organizing events to further raise awareness and foster inclusion.

“We are committed to meaningful change by embedding EDI practices into everything we do,” says Melanie Gudmundson, Chief Human Resource Officer. “The College fosters a culture where every student, staff and faculty member feels welcomed, respected and valued by prioritizing Truth and Reconciliation and EDI through the commitments of our Strategic Plan. We take great pride in this acknowledgement, knowing that RRC Polytech students and employees will carry invaluable EDI knowledge and skills into their communities and workplaces to further advance change.”

RRC Polytech has made a public pledge to make Manitoba a centre of excellence for Indigenous education, research, languages and culture. To do so requires a journey of learning and unlearning, building partnerships with Indigenous businesses and organizations, and creating pathways for Indigenous learners and instructors.

To guide this significant and transformational work, the College continuously seeks strategic advice from its Elders-in-Residence, Knowledge Keepers Council, Director of Truth and Reconciliation, and new Vice-President of Indigenous Strategy, Research and Business Development.

The College also introduced a key landmark that will serve as a powerful inspiration to continue the commitment to embedding Truth and Reconciliation in everything it does. Manitou a bi Bii daziigae is a state-of-the-art building with an Anishinaabemowin name that honours the history of Indigenous peoples in Manitoba, represents the work and learning that occurs inside, and celebrates Indigenous tradition and artwork. 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 →