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Going green: College launches Energy Advisor program to support sustainable energy efforts

July 13, 2021

Female energy advisor takes outdoor meter reading.Red River College, in collaboration with the Manitoba Environmental Industries Association (MEIA), is the first post-secondary institution in the province to launch an Energy Advisor program.

The 15-week, part-time micro-credential program was developed to meet the need for Energy Advisors (EAs) to help deliver the one million EnerGuide rating services for eligible homes in Canada, as per the federal government’s Greener Homes initiative.

With the roll-out of the government’s Greener Home initiative and the nation-wide shortage of EAs, there’s an increased demand for specialized training, and in turn an immediate opportunity for employment for skilled labourers in Manitoba.

“The Energy Advisor micro-credential program was created to address and meet industry demands,” says Dr. Christine Watson, RRC’s Vice President, Academic and Research. “By leveraging the in-house expertise at RRC’s dynamic research facilities — including the Building Efficiency Technology Access Centre (BETAC) — along with our partners at MEIA, we’re delivering specialized skills training to prepare Manitobans for immediate employment in the growing sector of sustainable infrastructure.”

The micro-credential courses are targeted for Manitobans currently working in the fields of construction, trades or engineering, to provide necessary up-skilling. The program was designed to help learners acquire the knowledge and specialized skills to get certified as an EA and pass the Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) federal examination.

Once NRCan-certified, EAs can also add other NRCan services to their qualification, including EnerGuide for Multi-Unit Residential Buildings and ENERGY STAR for New Homes. Read More →

Library Services’ Warm Up Week recognized by American Library Association

June 21, 2021

Red River College Library Services’ Warm Up Week is one of five projects to receive the 2021 American Library Association (ALA) Presidential Citation for Innovative International Library Projects.

Warm Up Week was developed by RRC Library Services, in partnership with College stakeholders, to provide support and mental health services for RRC students. The event was conceived to address the many challenges the pandemic has posed to post-secondary institutions, including students’ experiences adapting to changes in course delivery, staying connected with their peers and instructors, and obtaining mental health and academic supports from home.

For 500 RRC students, the Winter 2021 semester was delayed by one week to hold the first-ever Warm Up Week, Jan. 4 to 8. The week-long event gave faculty time to pivot to online program delivery and provided students with a supportive online environment to develop co-curricular and academic skills, helping ensure their success heading into the winter semester.

“To address challenges the pandemic has added to students’ academic experience, the College continues to develop innovative solutions to support our students,” says Arnold Boldt, Executive Director, Academic. “Warm Up Week is an important initiative that addresses mental health concerns while also boosting students’ confidence and preparedness in their educational journeys.”

The event consisted of seminars, workshops, help desks and self-guided learning opportunities. Some of the Warm Up sessions included: Technology Skills for Online Success, Online Learning Strategies, and Intercultural Competence.

Partnerships with the School of Indigenous Education, Mental Health and Wellness, the Centre for International Education and Global Partnerships, Employment Services and the RRC Students’ Association provided access to additional supports such as Indigenous Elder drop-ins, resumé-writing workshops, mindfulness sessions, and more. Read More →

Business Administration grads named 2021 Lieutenant Governor’s Medal recipients

June 18, 2021

Every year, Red River College awards up to four Lieutenant Governor’s Medal awards to graduating students who excel in academic and technical achievement, involvement in College and/or community activities, and good character.

This year, Red River College is proud to award two winners who embodied every aspect of the award:

RRC grad Laura Dyer with certificateLAURA DYER: Business Administration – Marketing

The COVID-19 pandemic and the transition to online learning was a challenge for many students — Laura Dyer included. Throughout the last 15 months, Dyer remained committed to her studies – completing her final exams with a cumulative GPA of 4.23, and to her community throughout her academic journey.

Community involvement has always been important to Dyer. She has been a volunteer with Motion Ball for Special Olympics and Larche Winnipeg, organizations supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities, for three years. She describes these volunteer experiences as life-changing because of the selfless and kind people she has had the honour to develop relationships with.

She is also an active member of the RRC community, participating on both the women’s soccer and futsal teams.

Recognizing the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic was having on people’s mental and physical health, she volunteered her time as an online fitness instructor five days a week to provide home workout videos to individuals in the community.

Dyer is described by her nominators as an ambitious, motivated, enthusiastic leader, and an “outstanding performer with a shining personality.”

RRC grad Sadie Tait with certificateSADIE TAIT: Business Administration – Accounting

After a successful career working as an insurance broker, Sadie Tait was ready for the next challenge and enrolled in the program at RRC’s Portage la Prairie Campus.

In her first year in the program, Tait excelled — achieving perfect scores on several exams and tutoring her peers. When the College transitioned to online learning as a result of the pandemic, Sadie maintained her high grades and transferred to the Steinbach Campus for her final year to pursue an accounting major.

The summer before her final year, she learned she was pregnant with her first son. She maintained her grades and worked hard to complete her program online, and she and her husband welcomed him into the world two weeks before she completed her final exams in April 2021.

While completing her studies, Tait served as an elected councillor for the Municipality of North Norfolk, worked part-time, and volunteered for several organizations in her community, including the MacGregor and District Kinette Club, the MacGregor-Austin Senior Support Program, the MacGregor Curling Club, and the MacGregor Chamber of Commerce.

She received five glowing letters of recommendation in support of her nomination, describing her as a leader, professional, hard-working and an essential asset to her community.

Graphic Design instructor named Teacher Award of Excellence recipient for 2021

June 17, 2021

Graphic Design instructor Darren StebeleskiEach year, the Red River College Students’ Association presents a Teacher Award of Excellence in recognition of an instructor’s outstanding teaching practices and dedication to students.

Typically, the RRCSA receives approximately 100 submissions for this award. This year, they received over 450 submissions from students whose instructors made a difference in their learning — in a year like no other.

The 2021 RRCSA Teacher Award of Excellence has been awarded to Darren Stebeleski, a Graphic Design instructor in Creative Arts, who has been with the College for 10 years this August.

After a successful career working in the graphic design industry, Stebeleski was drawn to teaching because he realized he enjoyed talking about and studying design even more than he liked practicing it. It was then that he pursued his master’s degree with the goal of teaching design.

When asked what inspires and excites him most about teaching, Stebeleski says he loves introducing students to the idea that design is everywhere around us.

“I love teaching my students the rules of graphic design in the first year, then watching them skillfully bend — and even break — these rules during the rest of their time at the College.”

“What inspires me personally is graphic design that is done in the service of people, versus commercial or corporate work. I am always interested in the work being done in the area of social justice, work that is helping to amplify the voices of people’s movements or that is demanding an end to an injustice.” Read More →

Students, staff partner with Solidarity Kitchens to provide meals for food banks across Canada

June 3, 2021

La Tablée des Chefs and its partners — among them, culinary students at Red River College — have announced the launch of the second phase of the Solidarity Kitchens initiative, which will produce over 500,000 meals for food banks across Canada, with production primarily located in Winnipeg, Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.

La Tablée des Chefs is a charity whose mission is to fight against food insecurity and educate young people to develop their food autonomy. Its Solidarity Kitchens initiative began at the start of the pandemic, when the organization was approached by suppliers, farmers, restaurants, hotels and large venue sites who wanted to donate food that would otherwise go to waste. La Tablée des Chefs worked with distributors to deliver the food to revived kitchens, where the food would then be cooked and frozen.

Solidarity Kitchens has already made a significant impact, providing meals to Quebec food banks and community organizations across the region, with 2 million meals cooked and delivered from April to December 2020. This year, the goal is to cook and deliver more than 2 million servings to community food distribution networks in Canada by 2021. The start of this national initiative has been made possible with support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, which provided $1.3M in funding to launch Solidarity Kitchens.

“It’s been inspiring to see how Solidarity Kitchens has already helped so many vulnerable Canadians during the pandemic,” says Jean-François Archambault, CEO and founder of La Tablée des Chefs. “We want to sincerely thank all of our valued partners for their support in bringing this initiative to life and joining us in the fight against food insecurity.” Read More →

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

Canadian Animal Blood Bank celebrates 25 years; partnership with RRC thrives

May 25, 2021

From skilled trades to health sciences, Red River College’s Notre Dame Campus (NDC) is home to a wide variety of growing talents. What many might not know is that, in a quiet corner of the campus’s mall level, dogs have been giving blood and saving lives for a quarter century.

The Campus is home to the Canadian Animal Blood Bank (CABB), an organization launched in Winnipeg that’s become the national leader in collecting and distributing life-saving canine blood donations to veterinary clinics across the country. This year, CABB celebrates its 25th anniversary.

“We have a really swanky lab here, considering we basically started in a closet,” says Beth Knight, CABB laboratory director and RRC grad, with a laugh.

“It was a storage space and it’s phenomenal how we’ve grown. For that, Canadian Animal Blood Bank can never thank Red River College enough for what they’ve done for us, because they give us a roof over our head, a phone, computers, a parking lot, access to a space — the gift they’ve given can never be totally appreciated.”

CABB was started in 1996 as the brainchild of Dr. Ken Mould, a Winnipeg-based veterinarian who saw the need in Canada for canine blood banking, instead of requiring vets to travel to the U.S. border for dated, substandard product. Since the organization’s beginning, when they worked with just a few local veterinary clinics in Manitoba, they’ve expanded into several provinces.

“We’ve grown from one or two clinics to where we are now, with multiple sites across Canada that collect. We have Alberta, Ontario, Montreal — and we’ve recently started looking at expanding into the Atlantic provinces,” says Isabel Bright, current CABB board member and Dean of RRC’s School of Indigenous Education.

As the former Chair of Life Sciences (2011-2021), Bright has seen first-hand how the relationship between RRC and CABB has helped foster that growth, and goes a lot deeper than just brick and mortar. The clinic at NDC is a pragmatic learning opportunity for those in the College’s Veterinary Technician program.

“Students have an opportunity to volunteer and to learn about transfusion medicine from the experts at the blood bank,” says Bright. “There are also some conferences that we’ve shared together so students have an opportunity to learn and hear from experts in different parts of the country for the latest in blood banking and transfusion medicine.”

Read More →

Colleges partner to deliver workforce training in goods movement and supply chain sector

May 4, 2021

Four colleges from across Canada have partnered to support economic recovery in their regions through the launch of a new industry training program in the supply chain sector, funded by the Future Skills Centre and developed by Mohawk College’s City School initiative.

Nova Scotia Community College, Mohawk College, Red River College and Vancouver Community College have partnered to deliver the Material Handling 4.0 pilot program, designed to help people transition into careers in the supply chain sector.

The program builds upon the successful training model used by City School in Hamilton, combining industry-driven training, individualized student support and practical work experience to provide comprehensive training services to people who face barriers to employment and education.

Upon completion of the program, participants receive a micro-credential and employment services to help them successfully transition into long-term, stable employment.

The Material Handling 4.0 pilot program will provide participants with six weeks of industry-specific instruction and a two-week paid work placement, complete with wraparound supports such as child care, all required PPE and supplies for work safety, and referrals to support services (legal clinics, housing, health, etc.).

This program will provide training for 243 people across the four participating colleges. Mohawk begins its first local cohort of the program today, and the partner colleges will launch their cohorts starting in Fall 2021.

Future Skills Centre (FSC) announced an initial investment of $1.95 million in the first phase of the program at Mohawk College in 2020 to develop and establish the program in the Hamilton area. Today, it is announcing an additional $1.1 million to expand the program to the three additional communities across Canada.

“As we continue to recover from COVID-19, our government is helping jobseekers upskill and re-skill to fill in demand jobs. Mohawk College’s Material Handling 4.0 project is helping workers transition into new job opportunities within the supply chain sector,” says Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion. “Further investments through the Future Skills Centre will allow new partnerships to expand the project’s reach and continue this important work.” Read More →

Have laptop, will travel: New virtual projects turning RRC students into global citizens

May 3, 2021

The Government of Canada has chosen Red River College to take part in an innovative pilot project aimed at getting more students involved in international exchange opportunities, especially students facing barriers to working and studying abroad.

The Outbound Student Mobility Program, designed and administered by Colleges and Institutes Canada (CiCan), was launched last year to provide more Indigenous students, students with disabilities, and students facing financial need with opportunities to expand their perspectives and apply the global competencies they gain abroad to the careers they pursue back home.

At least, that was the plan.

Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has added a new challenge to the mix: accomplish all of the above, but without the need to physically fly students across borders.

Raeanne Hebert, a Business Information Technology (BIT) instructor at RRC, was about to travel to Brazil to help develop an exchange program there when the pandemic struck, halting the program in its tracks. However, development funding from the Outbound Mobility project gave her the opportunity to pivot the geographic exchange into a virtual one.

That initiative is now well underway: for the past three months, students in RRC’s BIT program have been connecting online with computer engineering students from the Federal Institute of Ceará (IFCE) to develop solutions for local entrepreneurs, including IT for a drone that delivers pesticides, a fitness and nutrition app, and an energy metering device for a power monitoring dashboard. They’ve completed three projects together so far.

“Students from both countries connect in RRC’s virtual Project Space and program together online for about four hours a day,” says Hebert. “They’ve been learning a lot from one another.”

Hebert says international exchanges — virtual or physical — are critical to opening students’ eyes to other cultures and ways of life, to breaking down stereotypes, and to strengthening relationships and connections.

They’re also vital to fostering innovation.

“When it comes to the future of IT, innovation is 1,000 per cent important. Exchanges like these help our students learn how other countries do things. They teach us innovative solutions to the problems we all face.” 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.