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Q+A With RRC President Stephanie Forsyth

April 30, 2012

At Red River College, we value a healthy environment and express this through promotion of creativity, wellness, flexibility, safety, and sustainable learning. RRC President Stephanie Forsyth is a strong proponent of health, wellness, and life balance.

She recently provided some insight into her personal beliefs, attitudes, and activities on the subject. In addition to elaborating on some of the ways she likes to relax while enjoying precious downtime, Stephanie also shared her thoughts on community, ideas about wellness at the College – and even her favourite snack.

This is the first of a two-part series featuring a Q+A with Red River College’s chief executive.

Looking for part two? Read it here.

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Q: What are your favourite recreational activities? 

A: I like to take part in a number of different activities when I have time. I’m a real outdoors person and enjoy everything from fishing and kayaking to walking and hiking. I’m often in Assiniboine Park, on my bike or with Bella, our Black Lab.

I’ve also taken up boxing; it is great exercise — so when I can find the time, I include it in my fitness schedule. I do some no-contact sparring and shadowboxing which always provides the opportunity to laugh at myself! It’s good cardio exercise and comic relief!

My busy schedule is a factor, but I make time for exercise at least three days a week. If I don’t make it a priority, I notice it. I need exercise – like everyone does – to give me mental clarity and keep the stress from my body.  My job has me sitting much of the day so I really have to make the time to counteract that lack of exercise at work. I feel much better about myself when I can balance exercise with work.

Q: How do you de-stress?

A: There are various ways to de-stress and exercise for me, is one of them. But I also meditate and do yoga. These last two methods really help me to stay grounded, reconnect with myself and engage in reflective practice.

Since coming to Manitoba, I have engaged in the ceremonies and sweat lodges of the local First Nations. The sweats in particular I find a healthy reminder of our connection to Mother earth as well as a way to cleanse the mind, body and spirit.

For over a decade, I have lived amongst First Nations family and friends where the year naturally cycles around food harvesting and processing. Fishing, berry and mushroom picking are a way of life and activities I enjoy. I find them relaxing; they  keep me connected to my community, the natural environment and the rhythm of the earth, not to mention serving as a source of healthy food. I find these activities relaxing and a real source of satisfaction. I also enjoy digging in and tending to my vegetable and flower gardens at home.

Having lived most of my life in rural Canada, I really enjoy the outdoors and getting out into the forest. It’s great to be living in a city like Winnipeg, where the proximity to the bush and lakes is so close.

I believe we need to keep in touch with what’s important in life. Work is a priority, but if you’re not keeping yourself healthy, then you can’t be your best at whatever you’re doing – whether that’s a job or studying or something else.

Q: Are there any foods you eat when you’re in a good or bad mood?

A: Popcorn and dark chocolate — for both good and bad moods. Thank goodness for Mordens! And popcorn, well who really needs dinner if there’s a bowl of fresh popcorn on the horizon?

Q: You’ve been a judge at the annual Chili Cup staff event. What are your thoughts on the experience?

A: Anything that brings together the College community is a positive thing; and if good food is involved — especially if I get to judge delicious chili recipes — then that’s even better! Events like these are great for building community and reminding us to get out of our work spaces and meet our fellow RRC colleagues. The physical layout of Notre Dame Campus in particular is challenging; we could work year after year completely isolated from our colleagues in other departments. So I think events like this are a great way of bringing us together; they provide an opportunity to socialize with one another and nurture the community within the College.

The Chili Cup is just one such event. The Wellness Committee has also run several potluck “challenges”. In February, for Heart and Stroke month, the Committee ran the Heart Smart Potluck to encourage staff to bring along healthy “heart-smart” food to a group potluck. I also find when I pop into different departments, I’m encouraged to see the level of community that’s taking root. For example, in the Diversity office, people are often bringing and sharing their lunches, with different types of ethnic cooking; it’s a great way to try new foods! And of course there are all kinds of other events all over the College that bring people together, like the School of Indigenous Education Halloween party, the annual Carpentry BBQ and the Greenspace Management Plant Sale. All of these fun activities go a long way toward making the College a fun and socially inclusive place to be.

Overall, I really support the Wellness Committee’s mandate to foster and sustain a healthy campus community for students and employees through the development and implementation of a holistic health and wellness program that is comprehensive, accessible and affordable.

Read part two of the Q+A with RRC President Stephanie Forsyth.