Red River College receives CME Manitoba 2018 Partner Award

March 22, 2018

Winnipeg, Manitoba – Today, Red River College (RRC) is proud to accept the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) Manitoba distinguished Partner Award – recognizing the College as a leader in training, programming and applied research for the province’s robust aerospace and manufacturing industries.

“As Manitoba’s largest institute of applied learning we are proud to play a critical role in driving Manitoba’s economy,” said Paul Vogt, RRC President and CEO.

“Since we first opened our doors, the College has been central to the growth and success of our Province, and has continually responded to the ever-increasing demand for highly trained and highly skilled graduates to meet the needs of businesses and industry. We are honoured to be recognized by CME Manitoba for our efforts, and to accept the Partner Award this evening.”

Each year, CME Manitoba’s Partner Award is presented to an organization that has made a notable contribution to the Manitoba manufacturing and exporting community.

It recognizes partners and service providers who demonstrate a measureable impact on the growth, sustainability or mission of manufacturing companies. Recipients are widely recognized for their integrity, dedication and collaboration in service to manufacturing.

“One of our key priorities at the College is to foster strategic partnerships that allow us to drive research and innovation by matching industry problems and needs with College expertise, resources, capabilities, and facilities,” said Vogt.

“These partnerships are the backbone of the advancements we are seeing in the aerospace and manufacturing industries here in Manitoba. We must continue to grow and compete here at home, and on the global stage, with the latest research, state-of-the-art technology, and a highly trained workforce that has the knowledge and skills to meet the needs of industry today, and the future.”

RRC President and CEO, Paul Vogt, will accept the award this evening on behalf of the College at the 2018 CME Gala Awards Dinner, held at the RBC Convention Centre during Manitoba Manufacturing Week.

Innovation Centre worth federal support

March 19, 2018

Red River College’s new Innovation Centre. (Rendering by Diamond Schmitt Architects)

(Originally published in the Winnipeg Free Press on March 17, 2018)

By Paul Vogt

The new Innovation Centre that Red River College is building in Winnipeg’s Exchange District has been making headlines recently but for all the wrong reasons.

The Winnipeg Free Press has covered extensively the uncertainty this crucial project is facing due to unrealistic construction deadlines set by the federal government. Despite raising alarm bells with Ottawa in recent weeks and months, RRC is still waiting for a resolution.

This is unfortunate because the better story is what the new Centre will bring to our city and our province – what it will mean to the students it will serve; to the surrounding cluster of start-ups and leading edge industries in Innovation Alley; and to the unique, urban ‘gem’ the revitalized Exchange District is quickly becoming.

The $95 million, 100,000-square-foot Innovation Centre, announced last April, is merely Red River’s latest contribution to the ongoing revitalization of our historic Exchange District.

(Rendering by Diamond Schmitt Architects)

It started 15 years ago when RRC took a risk and opened its first building on Princess Street, bringing 2,000 students, faculty and staff downtown and creating a catalyst for the renaissance that has been taking place in this iconic neighborhood ever since.

That building, later named the Roblin Centre, set a high bar for RRC’s presence in the Exchange, preserving the architectural heritage that makes the area a unique and appealing destination while incorporating modern classrooms, labs and equipment. Behind the facades of the old mercantile shops, a state-of-the-art campus was built for students in computing, business, design and communications.

Five years ago we did it again, taking the old Union Bank Tower on Main Street – vacant and derelict for 17 years – and transforming it into a leading-edge culinary and hospitality training school with dining areas and a 90-bed student residence. Now known as the Paterson Global Institute, the school has helped spark an emergence of exciting new restaurants in the area, many involving RRC alumni.

(Rendering by Diamond Schmitt Architects)

Our new Innovation Centre will live up to the standards of its award-winning predecessors. It will be located on a site that includes an old market warehouse on Elgin Avenue. It is a century-old structure built to serve for another century. Our design will preserve this heritage building in its entirety, while incorporating a new structure that is modern, green and outfitted to meet the needs of 21st century education.


The very design of the new facility is central to the Innovation Centre story. It is also the story of Red River College and how we have always been about turning major challenges into new opportunities and historic pivot points.

Our mandate is to provide students with job-relevant skills; to produce graduates who can hit the ground running wherever they are hired. We are, in fact, a little obsessive on this point. We survey our students six months after they graduate and the results show that 94-96 per cent of our grads are employed in the fields they were trained for.

We also get high marks from employers, but are also constantly reminded that we cannot rest on our laurels, that RRC must keep changing in order to meet the needs of our students, employers and match the accelerated pace of today’s workplace.

Across all sectors of our economy, workplaces are undergoing rapid transformation, driven by the introduction of new technologies and process or product innovations. Employers are looking for technical skill sets that match their innovation strategies. They are also looking for a more general set of skills – the so-called “power skills” – that contribute to an employee’s resilience and adaptability. These include the abilities to problem-solve, work effectively within a team, communicate well and acquire new competencies as needed.

Our response to these emerging needs is college-wide, but the new Innovation Centre is where the changes will be most apparent. Modeled on a similar facility recently opened at Waterloo University, our Innovation Centre is designed to facilitate an approach known as collaborative- or problem-based education – where teams of students learn by working directly or “colliding” with local firms, social enterprises and entrepreneurs.

In one sense, we are just doubling down on the college’s existing strength, which is our close industry partnerships. The growth of Red River’s applied research program – to the point that we are now the top applied research college in Western Canada – has added a new dimension to our partnerships, supporting Manitoba companies and enterprises in product and process development.

At our Exchange District Campus we work closely with Innovation Alley (now North Forge) to provide entrepreneurs and start-ups with facilities and expert advice. The pay-off to the college, of course, has been to expose our students to leading-edge innovations and the real-world challenges of getting ideas off the ground. The Innovation Centre will feature this form of collaboration on a much grander scale.

In another sense, this is about the changing face of education. The Innovation Centre won’t have many traditional classrooms, where rows of seats are aligned to face “the sage on stage.” The rooms are designed for collaboration, with open space to mingle, wall-to-wall whiteboards, and connected alcoves where industry partners can set up shop and become part of the learning process.

(Rendering by Diamond Schmitt Architects)

The Centre will bring an additional 1,200 students to the Exchange District. It will allow us to accommodate rising demand for our existing programs in computing, business and communications.  We will also be bringing our language training programs to the Exchange and adding new programs in Indigenous entrepreneurship and social enterprise. Most importantly, we will be breaking down boundaries between our program areas, offering RRC students the opportunity to acquire different combinations of skills, with an emphasis on problem-solving and innovation.

This model of education is taking root across Canada and North America. If Red River College loses this opportunity, we run the risk of falling behind other jurisdictions when it comes to modernizing and innovating our college system. We need the federal government to honor its promises to Manitoba and ensure our students and employers have the same competitive advantage as others across the country.



Red River College shows a ‘ladle’ love with creation of new soup for Stone Soup Fundraiser

March 14, 2018

Culinary Arts instructor and students collaborate on holiday season inspired soup in support of child nutrition in Manitoba

Winnipeg, MB – The Soup’s on today at Manitoba Hydro Place as Red River College (RRC) Culinary Arts students join 11 other talented Winnipeg chefs and restaurants for the sixth annual Stone Soup Fundraiser in support of the Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba.

Chef instructor Karl Oman and Culinary Arts students Sophie Thibodeau and Colin Stone will serve up over 40 litres of a brand new ‘Holiday Sweet Potato Turkey’ cream-based soup. It’s packed with turkey and cranberry flavours and was created and prepared by 17 first year students who are currently learning short order style cooking. The soup will be served with a stuffing flavoured focaccia bread created by RRC Professional Baking and Patisserie students.

“The Stone Soup Fundraiser is a great opportunity for our students to work together and to apply their learning and culinary skills to make a difference for those in need,” said Chef Instructor Karl Oman. “This is just one of the many ways we work to give back to the community. Whether it’s through our work with Siloam Mission, or delivering the After Schools Leaders Program for at risk youth, we’re a community partner and we’re very proud to help encourage people to come down, try some delicious student-made soup and support such an important cause.”

The event will run from 11:15am – 1:15pm today at Manitoba Hydro (360 Portage Avenue) in the Main Floor Gallery. Judges will be present to sample all the soups and select a winner, and the public is also invited to select a favourite for the People’s Award. The cost is $10 per person and includes samples of soup from three different chefs or restaurants participating.

Click here for information about the Stone Soup Fundraiser.

Winnipeg Jets exec talks mental health with Red River College students

March 13, 2018

RRC welcomes Craig Heisinger (Zinger) as part of Healthy Minds Healthy College initiative

Winnipeg, MB – Today, Winnipeg Jets senior executive Craig Heisinger (Zinger) traded the local hockey arena for an auditorium full of Red River College (RRC) students and staff, eager to hear his personal connection with mental health and why it is so important to keep the conversation going.

Heisinger’s visit is part of RRC’s Healthy Minds Healthy College initiative, which was established four years ago with a goal to create a healthy college community, to better meet the mental health needs of the students, staff, and faculty, and to enhance mental health literacy within the College.

“Events like this are an integral part of our Healthy Minds Healthy College initiative because it lets those who may be struggling know they are not alone, and there are supports available. Mental illness knows no boundaries – it affects all of us, from post-secondary students, to NHL hockey players,” said Breanna Sawatzky, RRC Mental Health Coordinator. “We are honoured to have such a well-known and respected member of the hockey community, and the mental health community here today to help us keep the conversation about mental health awareness on campus going.”

Craig Heisinger (Zinger) is the Senior Vice-President & Director, Hockey Operations/Assistant General Manager of the Winnipeg Jets. He was also very close with Manitoba Moose forward Rick Rypien who struggled with mental illness and ultimately died in a tragic event. Rick’s legacy lives on through the True North Youth Foundation, Project 11, and Zinger, who visits countless local schools every year sharing Rick’s story and raising awareness for mental health.

“Every time I have the opportunity to speak to schools about mental wellness it helps remove the stigma,” said Heisinger. “I commend Red River College for their commitment to mental health awareness among students and staff on campus. The Healthy Minds Healthy College initiative provides the tools and supports for students to practice their own positive mental health, and to know that they can reach out for help when needed – this is a true sign of strength.”

All students, staff and faculty members were invited to the event, which was held over the lunch hour at RRC’s Notre Dame Campus and live-streamed to the greater College community. Those in attendance were treated to a self-care pizza lunch sponsored by the RRC Students’ Association.

RRC Partnership Creates Access to Opportunity for Newcomers in Thompson

March 8, 2018

English language training for newcomers in Thompson is now possible through a partnership with Red River College’s (RRC) Language Training Centre and University College of the North (UCN).

“We’ve welcomed about 200 people to Thompson in the last year, and many of the newcomers have valuable skills to offer – the only barrier keeping them from the kind of job they’re qualified for is language,” says David Williamson, Acting Dean of Access at UCN. “Partnering with Red River College means we are giving our newcomers access to knowledge and resources that will help them confidently integrate into our community.”
As of today there have been 65 applications to the Language Training Centre in Thompson, with 48 students already beginning their training.

“What this partnership allows us to do is provide the students with the language and communication skills they need in order to achieve their professional and educational goals,” said Anna Janik- Kelly, Program Manager for Thompson and Arborg at the Language Training Centre. “We want to help them become thriving members of the Northern community, who can use their skills and experience to enrich and strengthen the workforce and help fill some of the labor market gaps.”

The program is an expansion of the Language Training Centre in Winnipeg, which sees approximately 1,000 students per year improving their English to enroll in a program at the College, gain employment, or to become more independent in everyday life. The Centre also offers English for Specific Purposes programs, which focus on learning English in a way that will further training opportunities, or employment in a specific job market. Over the past year the Centre has expanded to Arborg, Steinbach, Selkirk and Thompson – areas which were identified as having the most need for a language training program.

“In the past two months since the program has begun we’ve felt a new burst of life on campus,” said Williamson. “We’re hoping to spread the word about what the Language Training Centre can provide, and welcome more newcomers to improve their skills.”

Through the partnership in Thompson, UCN is providing space for the classes, space for an administrative assistant, storage, laptops and access to printing and photocopying – all of which are essential to helping the program run smoothly.

Classes administered by the Language Training Centre are five-months in length, though students can continue taking a class if they feel they need additional training.  The programs are provided at no charge to students, with costs covered by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Red River College recognized as national leader for diversity in the workplace

March 2, 2018
Manitoba’s largest institute of applied learning awarded Best Diversity Employer award in 2018

Winnipeg, MB – Today, Red River College (RRC) is proud to be recognized as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for the fourth year in a row. RRC joins 70 other organizations across the country highlighted as employers that stand out through their efforts to create diverse and inclusive workplace.

“We often spend the majority of our waking hours at our places of work, that’s why creating an environment that is open, welcoming, and safe for all our staff and students is a priority for the College,” said Melanie Gudmundson, Chief Human Resource Officer. “Equity and inclusion are embedded in our practices and demonstrated throughout the College – it’s part of the fabric that makes up our College community. We’re honoured to be recognized with this distinction once again.”

There are a number of programs and initiatives that encourage diversity and inclusivity that the College was recognized for this year, including RRC’s Indigenous workshop series’ developed and delivered  by the College’s Elders in Residence; LGBTT* initiative; Healthy Minds, Healthy College Initiative; Girls Exploring Trades and Technology (GETT) Camp Program; and a workforce audit to determine representation of designated group members in the RRC workforce.

New and noteworthy achievements this year include the addition of Rebecca Chartrand, Executive Director of Indigenous Strategy to the College’s leadership team. This new role is responsible for leading and developing RRC’s Indigenous strategic framework that will guide the College to a bold, inclusive new future, creating new pathways to support Indigenous achievement and student success.

The College created a new online Gender & Sexual Diversity Awareness Course – the first of its kind in Canada – which provides 24/7 access to awareness building courses and training to all staff and students.

RRC also completed an Inclusive Campus Climate Review that gave members of the College community a voice in shaping and developing an inclusive and supportive workplace for everyone at RRC.

As the College continues to make improvements in the area of diversity and inclusivity, a new Inclusion Coordinator position has been created. This new position will be responsible for leading the College’s ongoing commitment to inclusion with a focus on Indigenous recruitment and retention strategies, while also coordinating RRC’s ongoing work coordinating the College’s Accessibility initiative that will enable RRC to continue to be an open, safe, and supportive environment.

“We continue to see expansions across the College with the opening of new campuses, and rapid growth and enrolment in program areas like our School of International Education,” said Gudmundson. “We must look ahead for more effective ways to integrate, expand, and enhance Diversity and Intercultural services across the College and support more staff and students than ever before.”

To read more about Red River College’s 2018 Best Diversity Employer award click here.

Cupcakes, Condoms and Education: Students at RRC Learn about Healthy Relationships

February 13, 2018

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, students at Red River College (RRC) had the opportunity to talk about intimate relationships and related issues, such as the importance of consent, in an interactive workshop designed to promote greater health and well-being.

The Cupcakes and Condoms workshop was facilitated Klinic Community Health and the Sexuality Education Resource Centre (SERC) and brought to the College as part of the Healthy Minds Healthy College (HMHC) Initiative. Breanna Sawatzky, Mental Health Coordinator at RRC, said it’s important for students to have access to workshops like this so they can feel empowered to make healthy decisions and know how to protect their well-being.

“We know that strong healthy relationships, whether intimate or platonic are key to personal well-being,” she said. “The Public Health Agency of Canada found that Adults with strong relationships are more likely to report high life satisfaction and good mental health. Conversely, experiencing disrespect, harassment, abuse, and sexual assault take a toll on one’s mental health and well-being and are risk factors for developing certain mental illnesses.”

Through the HMHC initiative, RRC hosts several events per year with the aim to meet the demands of students, faculty, and staff with mental health problems and illness while promoting wellness, recovery and resilience for all. For Sawatzky, whose role was created in 2016, that means creating a comfortable environment for students, and staff, to learn and share.

“When students are here at College, we want them to be safe from harassment, abuse, and assault; to know what to do if they experience these; and importantly, know how to form and sustain healthy relationships,” she said. “Klinic and SERC are leaders in promoting sexual health through education so they’re a natural fit to educate our students on these important topics. Including free cupcakes, supplied by Lilac Bakery, and condoms for all who attend is a way to make this learning fun and enjoyable.”

February 12 to 16, 2018 is also SERC’s 15th annual national Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness week, with the theme of ‘Minding our Business’: Sexual Health & Mental Wellness, highlighting the interconnectedness of mental health and sexual health in our bodies and within our communities. The group will be hosting a number of events in Winnipeg and Brandon as well as posting self-care tips on social media.

To learn more about RRC’s Healthy Minds, Healthy College Initiative, click here:

Red River College’s ongoing research on early child development receives National Award

January 18, 2018

RRC’s Science of Early Child Development is now used in more than 43 countries worldwide

For immediate release: January 18, 2018

What began as a research project at Red River College to bridge the gap between current research in child development and to create educational tools  and resources to support frontline workers, has now received a national award from the Canadian Association of Research Administrators (CARA) recognizing the global impact it has had around the world.

“This award is particularly exciting as our primary goal in developing the Science of Early Child Development (SECD) is to make the rapidly expanding science engaging and accessible to those who make a real difference in children’s lives,” said Jan Sanderson, research chair, School of Health Sciences and Community Services. “Our team has had the opportunity to work with many amazing committed partners around the world who are now using SECD to develop the next generation of champions for young children.”

As part of their work, researchers at Red River College were able to point to significant and emerging scientific evidence that spoke to the benefits of creating experiences that would support brain development in children starting in prenatal and carrying-on into the first years of a child’s life.

Prior to the work undertaken at Red River College, this emerging knowledge was not being widely disseminated to caregivers and frontline workers, especially in remote and low-income regions around the world.

It’s this evidence and lack of resources which was the driving force behind SECD and today, that global impact resulting from the project earned the inaugural Public Engagement and Advocacy Award from CARA an award that recognizes an individual, institution, team or project that established and maintained public engagement with research though an innovative approach.

CARA selected the SECD project for the award because of its tailor-made approach to addressing critical issues around early childhood development.

“The Public Engagement and Advocacy Award is new this year and we are thrilled to be recognizing the SECD project at Red River College,” said CARA President Deborah Zornes.

This initial SECD resource became a core “living text book” in multiple educational programs in Canada and led to the creation of an online SECD course that is widely accessible.

Since then the program has evolved into an international knowledge mobilization initiative, making current research engaging and accessible. In 2010 the team partnered with the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) to modify and contextualize the resource and course for low- and middle-income countries. Since then the AKDN has trained over 70 practitioners in SECD internationally, who in turn serve as tutors and instructors in their communities.

To date the resources are in use in over 43 countries with portions translated into Arabic, Bangla, Kiswahili, Mandarin, Portuguese, Tajik, and Russian.

Current projects involve partnering with the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre and the Martin Family Initiative to support projects in First Nations communities in Canada. The research team is also developing online workshops to support a new national home-visiting program in Brazil.

Students to Reach Newly-Designed Heights at Red River College

January 16, 2018

Red River College students interested in the technical aspects of building design will soon bring their ideas to life through a new program.

Beginning in the 2018/19 academic year the College will be offering the renewed Architectural Technology diploma program, designed to prepare students for success in careers related to the fields of architecture, engineering, and construction.

Many of the skills students will acquire through these programs are in high demand in sectors across the province.  According to recent surveys, 98 per cent of Red River College graduates choose to stay and work in Manitoba, a trend that helps meet the needs of our province’s economy.

“As industry evolves in Manitoba, it’s important that Red River College continue to redesign, and create new programs that not only anticipate the changes that are emerging in industry, but create programming that allows our students adapt to the change as they enter into a meaningful and rewarding career,” said Paul Vogt, president & CEO, Red River College.

“Staying ahead of the curve and engaging with industry ensures that we can be agile in program development and continue to provide relevant training that ensures the success of our students and the many industries that we support.”

This new program replaces the current Building Design Technology program and was developed following extensive consultation of representatives from a wide range of industry employers and participants. A new curriculum was produced to address the current and future needs the architecture, engineering, and construction industries.

“The new Architectural Technology program will more closely align with the current needs of the AEC industry, providing graduates with the knowledge, skills and capabilities to join the workforce in a contributing role, while continuing in the life-long learning experience inherent to our world,” said Stephane Chappellaz, certified architectural technologist at Crosier Kilgour & Partners Ltd. and chair of the program’s partner advisory council.

The program is a comprehensive, two year, direct entry program consisting of four 16-week semesters and a four month co-operative session between year one and year two. The co-operative will help to provide students with practical experience related to their chosen career. Graduates of this program will be job-ready through the hands-on learning delivered by highly skilled, industry-based faculty.

Rapid advances in building and construction technology have increased the need for industry professionals prepared to meet the demands of a dynamic industry. Students will experience a wide-ranging curriculum of courses that emphasize the learning and practical application of current design and construction techniques, architectural working drawings, building codes, construction specifications, contract administration, Building Information Modelling (BIM), and the mastery of modern technology used in industry.

“As the industry evolves, it’s great to see Red River College being responsive to that evolution by working with industry professionals to address the current needs of the architectural, engineering, and construction industries. Having this insight ensures that the new program caters to the many different aspects of the field students could move into, preparing graduates for the challenges they will face in their future career,” said Leighton Klassen, project manager at Colliers Project Leaders.

Registration for the Architectural Technology diploma program will be available February 1, 2018 at





Chekkit out: Red River College Entrepreneur-in-Residence connects businesses with customers through Wifi offers

January 9, 2018

For immediate release: January 9. 2018

Would a text message from a local coffee shop you visited offering a free coffee get you back in the door? With some help from RRC students from the College’s ACE Project Space in Winnipeg’s Exchange District, a new Winnipeg-based service believes the answer is yes.

Chekkit Wifi Marketing and Analytics (Chekkit) is the brain-child of Daniel Fayle, Myles Hiebert, Lee Klimpke, and Emily Franz-Lien and aims to help businesses build loyalty programs through a simple Wi-Fi login page and text messages.

Fayle, Hiebert, Klimpke, & Franz-Lien are currently housed in Red River College’s ACE Project Space as Entrepreneurs in Residence, where they have been working with Business Information Technology students to develop their product.

“The knowledge and resources available at ACE and in the Exchange District is immense. When we started, we had nothing and through ACE we have office space, networking opportunities, a boardroom to host meetings and demonstrations and a lot of support,” Fayle said. “The students we worked with were a big asset and we’re grateful to have been able to provide them with an opportunity to share their skills.”

Chekkit’s aim is to create the best first experience and to help create repeat customers for businesses who offer free Wi-Fi to their customers.

“In creating this product our question was, if someone walks in the door, how do you get them back in? Most people, their eyes are on their phones, and they’re going to log in to Wi-Fi,” said Fayle. “When they log in or when they leave, they can opt-in to receive great deals from the business they visited and brand they love, so the business can send them an offer that will make them want to come back.”

Hiebert adds that most business today look at Wi-Fi as something they just have to offer, without thinking about how they can leverage it to increase the value to the customer, and ultimately to use as a marketing tool and a revenue generator.
“Business owners have overlooked the inherent value of Wi-Fi networks, and the marketing potential here,” he said.

An advantage to the ACE Project Space is that it allows students to fulfill their learning outcomes while interning and gaining practical experiences with the Entrepreneurs-in-Resident and Kamaljeet Singh Dhaliwal and Victoria Reyes worked with Chekkit to help them develop and refine their service.

“The four-month term went really quick and I think that’s a result of good teamwork,” Dhaliwal said. “Daniel and Myles had a lot of ideas and worked with two developers (Emily Franz-Lien & Lee Klimpke) to bring them to life. My main role was to configure a router to support the service and Vicky worked on creating a login page. I also had the opportunity to practice finding bugs in the website and fixing them.”

Haider Al-Saidi, chair, Accounting and Computer Education, RRC, said he’s excited to see more projects like this coming out of the collaborative space.

“We’ve had 20 projects from entrepreneurs and businesses developed in the space this year,” he said. “It’s very exciting and I’m proud to be able to support people like Daniel and Myles from Chekkit, who have a great idea and just need a boost of support to get it off the ground. It’s an incredible experience for our students to be a part of something and to help a business solve a problem or issue that’s been holding them back.”

Chekkit currently has more than 30 clients in Winnipeg and have seen more than 15,000 unique logins. The next steps are to grow Chekkit into a nationally-used service before expanding into the international market.

For more information visit and follow @Wpgrewards on Instagram to find what rewards Chekkit is currently helping Winnipeg businesses offer their customers.