Positive Initiatives Propel RRC into Top Employer List for 8th Straight Year

November 29, 2017

WINNIPEG, November 29, 2017 – Does going to work make you happy? Three initiatives at Red River College (RRC) focused on staff positivity have helped the College land on Manitoba’s Top Employer list for the 8th year in a row.

Those initiatives include the wellness initiative known as Healthy Minds, Healthy College, a peer-to-peer recognition program, and a day-long professional development event called RED Forum.

“These are the kinds of programs that can engage staff, help them interact with each other and dedicate time to growing themselves. It’s important for us to provide these types of resources on top of things like a solid health benefits plan, pension, and vacation to ensure staff are motivated and feel proud to work at the College,” said Lindsay Allen, Acting Director, Human Resource Services, RRC. “These initiatives are positive incentives for self-improvement and peer recognition.”

Over the past year, major investments in the wellness and mental health of RRC employees have resulted in the creation of a new, full-time Mental Health Coordinator position, Breanna Sawatzky, who is responsible for the College-wide Healthy Minds Healthy College Initiative. The purpose of this new position is to ensure that RRC is a mentally healthy place to work and learn.

Healthy Minds Healthy College achievements over the past year include a #SICKNOTWEAK talk by TSN and Bell Let’s Talk Day speaker Michael Landsberg, who raised awareness and sparked real conversation about mental health with staff; the College-wide adoption of a new mental health training program from the Mental Health Commission of Canada, called The Working Mind; the second annual Get Movin’ Challenge in February that saw more than 320 employees take on a month-long challenge to achieve a minimum of 7,000 steps per day; and RRC’s first annual THRIVE Mental Health Awareness Week in October that delivered 23 events to staff across all campuses.

“Our employees – and students – are thrilled to see all this happening – the education, activities and conversation. They know help is available, and the conversation creates a greater feeling or normalcy,” said Laureen Janzen, Manager of Counselling & Accessibility Services at RRC. “We’re hoping to send the message that RRC is a place where everyone is encouraged to take care of themselves and each other – mentally and physically.”

This past year the College also launched Cheers for Peers – built on two years of research and consultation with over 150 employees. The result is a simple recognition experience between two employees using a handwritten card. The program was developed by a 24-member Staff Awards and Recognition Committee and is administered by a group of more than 16 Cheers Champions. Since launching, more than 1,600 cards have been written.

RED Forum is a new, full-day professional development event for all 2,600 full- and part-time RRC employees from all nine campuses. Focusing on Relationships, Education and Direction, the inaugural RED Forum was launched in May 2016. Sessions were delivered by employees and external facilitators on a broad range of professional development topics. The day is also an opportunity for staff who may only know each other by email to connect and get to know each other face-to-face.

For more information please visit:

Red River College Launches New Indigenous Language Programs

November 27, 2017

First of a kind language and culture courses part of RRC’s enhanced strategy to advance Indigenous achievement

For immediate release: November 27, 2017

Winnipeg, MB – Red River College is opening registration for two new Anishinaabemowin language and culture courses, created to help support the growth of Indigenous language revitalization in Manitoba’s schools and advance reconciliation efforts in the province.

The unique language and culture courses are part of a series of new initiatives that RRC will be undertaking in order to advance Indigenous achievement and support student success – one of the College’s key strategic priorities.

“As a College, we are taking the lead to provide more opportunities for educators to gain a deeper understanding of Indigenous language and identity, and help continue to strengthen partnerships with Indigenous learners in our community,” said Rebecca Chartrand, RRC’s Executive Director, Indigenous Strategy.

These new courses are the first of their kind to be offered by RRC and are being delivered by the School of Indigenous Education and Continuing Education. As a key signatory to the Manitoba Indigenous Education Blueprint, RRC responded to a need identified by the community to fill a gap in providing opportunities for educators in the province to learn to speak, read, and write in Manitoba’s traditional Anishinaabemowin languages. Bridging this divide will help continue to support and enhance Indigenous academic success.

“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has called for action to protect the right to Indigenous languages, including the teaching of Aboriginal languages as credit courses,” Chartrand said. “As a learning institution, it is critical for Red River College to incorporate Indigenous knowledge, perspective and content to create innovative and relevant programming in order to achieve this.”

The curriculum for the courses was developed through a working group with RRC, Seven Oaks, Winnipeg and Louis Riel School Divisions and Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre. The priority was to ensure the College could create new courses that would provide students with a deeper knowledge and understanding of Indigenous culture and language history.

“Language and culture is such an integral part of our identity and sense of self, so as a post-secondary institution it’s important to support and create more learning opportunities for Indigenous learners in our province and across the country,” Chartrand added.

“These courses will help fill an important gap that’s missing in our classrooms currently, and create more resources for students to take these skills and drive change in our communities beyond the traditional school setting.”

The courses are being delivered by merging two different styles of teaching with the goal to preserve these languages for generations to come. They will build a bridge between Western style teaching through a modern classroom setting and delivery style, while maintaining the authenticity and integrity of these traditional languages and oral teaching styles.

The Introduction to Anishinaabemowin Language and Culture will begin in February 2018 and Level Two course will be offered in the spring. Both will be offered on a part-time basis to K-12 educators in the province, or anyone who may be interested in learning more. The introductory course is geared to non- or semi-fluent speakers, and a more advanced Level Two course for intermediate and fluent level of Anishinaabemowin speakers.

Registration for the Introduction to Anishinaabemowin Language and Culture 1 and Anishinaabemowin Language and Culture 2 courses opens TODAY, Monday November 27, 2017 and is open to all educators or anyone who is interested in learning more.

Full course descriptions and registration information is available here:

RRC Nursing Students Celebrate Big Win at International Skills Competition

November 20, 2017

First time competitors return home as Top International Student Team

Winnipeg, November 20, 2017 – A pair of Red River College (RRC) Nursing students have returned home with some new hardware and a greater sense of pride in their work. Elyse Griffith (2nd year) and Rachel Rubin (3rd year) took first place amongst international student competitors, earning a Silver medal overall, in the 7th annual International Nursing Competition held in Shanghai, China.

“Being able to participate in this competition was an incredible experience, and I know I will be a better nurse for having participated,” said Rubin. “I was proud of how we represented RRC on an international level and showed what our students are capable of. It was a great opportunity to learn more about nursing in other countries and see the strengths of the participating students from all around the world.”

This was RRC’s first time sending a team to the competition, which is hosted by the Shanghai University of Medicine and Health Sciences (SUMHS) in cooperation with the Shanghai Nursing Education Group. To earn the Silver medal, Griffith and Rubin faced off against 15 student teams from around the world in their abilities to assess and react in a simulated medical situation.

The students were judged on their ability to properly assess a medical situation, the level of care and their response to their patients’ needs, how they moved and positioned their patient, their ability to perform various medical procedures, and if they were able to – in the course of administering care – teach their patient or a patient’s family member something new.

Training and preparing was rigorous and leading up to the competition, the pair met weekly with their instructors, Myrna Davis RN BN MEd and Sandy Alguire RN MN, and Chris Hofer, a second-year Nursing student selected as the team’s alternate, to train for the possible scenarios. Each week Davis and Alguire put the team through two possible scenarios, ensuring they would feel comfortable and knowledgeable in the competition.

“I was filled with a sense of pride observing the students during in the competition. They were composed, competent, and caring. The positive outcome validates the quality of our nursing program at RRC,” said Davis. “Our time in Shanghai allowed us to interact with and learn about many different cultures to improve our own cultural competence that we can share in the classroom.”

Griffith and Rubin agreed with Davis the best part of the competition was meeting other students and being able to share and learn knowledge.

“I appreciated getting to see nursing around the world,” said Griffith. “Canada and RRC are progressive and modern in their approach to nursing, but other countries do have different ways of doing things and there are tips and tricks we can apply to our practice.”

Participating in international competitions like this helps the College to continue building relationships and partnerships with other institutions from across the world. Students and instructors are given the opportunity to share knowledge and bring home new information and systems, allowing RRC to remain a leader in industry training.

The Nursing program at Red River College is a 32-month degree program including a senior practicum of 450 hours. The program is offered at RRC’s Notre Dame Campus, Portage la Prairie Campus and Winkler Campus. According to the latest RRC graduate report, 92 per cent of RRC Nursing grads are employed in their field.

RRC delivers tools to help build Indigenous communities

November 9, 2017

Unique community-based training underway in Lake Manitoba First Nation and Sagkeeng First Nation

For immediate release: November 9, 2017

Winnipeg, MB – Red River College has launched two programs designed to take education outside of the traditional college setting and into smaller, more remote Manitoba communities in order to help Indigenous learners gain the tools they need to enter careers in carpentry, plumbing and the trades.

One of the programs – the first of its kind to be delivered by RRC at Lake Manitoba First Nation – involves 15 students completing level one carpentry apprenticeship training right in their home community, while helping renovate local infrastructure as part of their training. The other program at Sagkeeng First Nation is Intro to Trades and Pre-Employment Plumbing, which is being delivered through RRC’s mobile training labs (MTLs).

“These community-based training programs are an important example of how Red River College is helping create more pathways to post-secondary education for Indigenous learners in Manitoba. This is one of our key priorities,” said Rebecca Chartrand, RRC’s Executive Director of Indigenous Strategy.

“Classes like the one in Lake Manitoba First Nation provides learning opportunities to students who might not be able to access education otherwise. It allows students to remain in their homes and stay connected to family and other support systems, while receiving vital training and doing hands-on work in their community and the surrounding areas.”

The Lake Manitoba First Nation training is a 12-week program delivered in partnership with Apprenticeship Manitoba combining theory, safety training and practical learning. It is being delivered in a classroom within the community’s middle school industrial arts and shops area. Many tools and supplies are being provided by the College, and the students are being taught by an RRC instructor and journeyman carpenter.

“I have always enjoyed working with my hands, so it’s been great to learn a trade that’s in demand everywhere and be able to complete this training right here at home,” said 23-year old Kevin Choken, one of the students who was born and raised in Lake Manitoba First Nation, where he lives with his wife and children.

“It’s encouraging to gain experience using our training and problem solving skills to find solutions for these projects. Carpentry is something I can see myself doing for the rest of my life, so I hope to continue my education and training in the future, and contribute to the renovations and development of my community.”

Lake Manitoba First Nation has been a key partner in the project and hired the students to work on renovation projects and complete apprenticeship training hours within the community. Over the last few months, students have been accumulating practical experience hours conducting interior renovations, replacing windows and doors, and repairing roofs.

The program focuses on the study of material sciences and training on the use of hand and power tools and stationary machinery. The 15 students – including two young women – have been learning skills such as how to layout buildings using a builder’s level, and mixing and pouring cement for slab work, walls and floors.

Once training is complete, students will have their level one carpentry certificate, which allows them to apply for carpentry work or pursue more training in the future.

RRC’s mobile training labs (MTLs) hit the highway every academic year to support the delivery of quality trades training and classroom-based training to rural and northern Manitoba communities. The portability of the training labs allows RRC to deliver nationally-recognized trades training such as automotive, carpentry, electrical, machining, pipe fitting, plumbing, welding and industrial mechanics, based on the training needs of the specific community.

Each year the College uses the MTLs to support the community-based delivery of two five-month Introduction to Trades programs for rural and Indigenous learners. The program at Sagkeeng First Nation was completed in September, and the Pre-Employment Plumbing Program – which wraps up in spring 2018 – will be followed by Intro to Trades programs in Selkirk in January 2018, and Steinbach and Winkler over the 2018/19 academic year.

More information about Red River College’s Mobile Training Labs is available here.


Red River College Leads Western Canada in Applied Research

November 2, 2017

For immediate release: November 2, 2017

Red River College is now the top research College in Western Canada, according to Canada’s Top 50 Research Colleges, an annual ranking conducted by Re$earch Infosource Inc. which was released today.

“It’s fantastic to once again be recognized for our overall research efforts and successes in building research and innovation capacity for Manitoba,” said College President Paul Vogt. “Our research programming has never been more important as we work to support the increasingly sophisticated needs of current and future graduates, employers and industry.”

This has been a marquee year for the College, with major infrastructure announcements for both its Exchange District and Notre Dame campuses. Applied research has been the impetus for much of this recent growth.

“We now have so much research-related activity happening at the College – all in response to expressed needs by industry and our community,” said Ray Hoemsen, RRC’s Executive Director of Research Partnerships & Innovation. “Being recognized as the top Research College in Western Canada validates that we are not only playing a key role in economic development; but also that our knowledge, expertise and facilities are highly relevant.”

Top 10 highlights of the past year at RRC:

  • Unveiling the new $95-million Innovation Centre, which will bring together students, instructors, researchers, industry, and community members to work on commercialization projects for startups and SMEs. It will also enable social enterprise and Indigenous entrepreneurship.
  • Breaking ground on the new Smart Factory and expanding RRC’s Centre for Aerospace Technology and Training (CATT) with a major $10 million investment in 2017 by Western Economic Diversification.
  • Officially opening RRC’s ACE Project Space, where students in the Applied Computer Education department now work in an interactive space alongside industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and community organizations to bring new products and services to life.
  • Starting construction on MotiveLab™, a climatic chamber with integrated chassis dynamometer test facility that will have an operating temperature capability of between -40°C and +50°C for testing buses and other on- and off-highway vehicles.
  • Celebrating the work of Culinary Research & Innovation and industry to develop new products such as Piccola Cucina’s Hemp Macroon, which won the silver medal for best new food product at the Great Manitoba Food Fight 2017.
  • Recognizing RRC’s Science of Early Childhood Development as a global leader– training ECE’s across Canada and in dozens of countries around the world, and working in partnership with the World Bank and the Aga Khan University.
  • Receiving $1.75 million in federal funding for the Technology Access Centre for Aerospace & Manufacturing (TACAM) to provide applied research, technical service and training needs. RRC is the only College in Western Canada with two NSERC-funded Technology Access Centres – TACAM and the Building Envelope & Technology Access Centre (BETAC), which serves the building construction sector and strives to improve the energy efficiency of new and existing commercial buildings.
  • Winning a prestigious Synergy Award for Innovation in 2016 (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council or NSERC). The award recognized the College’s pioneering work with Manitoba Hydro on sustainable building and transportation technology.
  • Welcoming more than 600 visitors to the College’s successful first-ever Applied Research & Innovation Day. The second annual event will be held on April 5, 2018 to showcase the research capabilities of the College, its students and industry partners.
  • Winning a Manitoba Excellence in Sustainability Award for the category “Innovation and Research for Sustainability” in 2016.

Troubleshooting the Right Connection at Red River College Networking Event

October 27, 2017

For immediate release: October 27, 2017

Students in Red River College’s Business Technology Management (BTM) program will usually describe networking as the communication between computers – but tomorrow, they’ll be making a different kind of connection with Manitoba businesses who can gain new talent to stay innovative and competitive.

Manitoba’s first BTM Talent Mash, presented in partnership with RRC and the Information Technology Association of Canada Talent Division (ITAC Talent), will take place on Saturday, October 28 at RRC’s Roblin Centre in the Exchange District. The day will give students, industry representatives, and RRC staff the opportunity to talk about the BTM program and how graduates can help to bridge the gap between the business and technology functions of an organization. Speakers representing many industries will discuss the roles, skills, and career paths of business analysts and other related professionals in their organizations and also highlight the successes and impacts these they’ve made on the industries that they’re working in.

RRC’s new 28-month BTM diploma program’s first students will graduate in December and this event will be a great opportunity to showcase their skills to potential employers. RRC is the only post-secondary institution in Manitoba to offer a program like this, to support Manitoba’s business and technology sectors.

“The program focuses on hands-on learning and includes a co-op or industry project term so students can apply the business, technology and management skills they’ve learned in a relevant industry-setting,” said Kirk Johnson, Acting Dean of Business and Applied Arts, Hospitality and Culinary Arts. “Our relationship with industry professionals helps ensure that the College remains in step with ever changing industry needs. We want to be sure that we not only preparing our students to be career-ready, but future ready, and to excel upon graduation.”

Industry professionals will also be invited on tours of RRC’s ACE Project Space at the event. This interactive work space connects students, industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and/or community organizations, using cutting-edge technology to bring unique ideas to life.

The BTM Talent Mash includes a keynote speaker, panel discussions, and a networking event:

10:00  Welcome and Opening Remarks – Paul Vogt, President and CEO (RRC), Kirk Johnson (RRC), Jan Hall (ITAC Talent), David Jones (RRC) 
10:15  Keynote Address – Loren Cisyk (ISC) and Chair, RRC Board of Governors
11:15  Business Analyst Alumni Panel*

  • Mitchell Heintz, Business Analyst – Unionware
  • Andrew Liebrecht – Business Analyst, BIRD Construction
  • Marta Chukh, Business Analyst, Norima Consulting and Wawanesa Insurance
  • Tia Hatch, Senior Business Analyst, National Leasing

12:00  Lunch break
1:00  Industry Panel*

  • Ashleigh Lodge, Team Lead Application Development, Neovation
  • Kevin Haines, Principal Consultant / Senior Business Systems Analyst, Online Business Systems
  • David Hodge, Executive Vice-President and Chief Information Officer, Great West Lifeco Canada
  • Alyosha Boldt, Product Coordinator, Skip the Dishes

1:45 – 3:30  Networking session
2:30 and 3:30  Tours of the ACE Project Space at 321 McDermot Avenue 

*All panelist bios are available here

Now in its fifth year, BTM TalentMash events have grown to include five cities across Canada, including Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton and Winnipeg. For more information visit:

New scholarships aim to give RRC students a financial boost

October 23, 2017

Red River College scholarships, bursaries and awards available for 2017-18 school year; Apply now!

For immediate release: October 23, 2017

Red River College is unveiling a number of new scholarships and awards aimed at supporting Indigenous learners; students involved in social justice activities; and those are pursuing studies to support the environment.

Last year, a total of 2,300 financial awards ­­– more than $1.5 million dollars – were distributed into the hands of students as part of their Red River College education.

“Many of our students benefit from access to the numerous awards, bursaries and scholarships that are made available through the support of local businesses, industry partners, community organizations, and individuals, who have made an investment in our students,” said Paul Vogt, President and CEO, Red River College.

“This type of an investment not only benefits our students, it helps continue to support Manitoba’s economy as Manitobans are able to access the skills and training they need to join the workforce. We want to make sure students are aware of these awards are available this year.”

With nine campuses across the province, Red River College continues to be a popular choice – operating year over year at capacity, which amounts to about 22,000 students per year.

“Manitoba’s economy relies on the success of our students – as about 98 per cent of our alumni live and work here after graduation – and financial awards help alleviate the pressures that many students face. This is one of the ways we support student success – which is a key strategic priority at the College,” added Vogt.

Students who are still considering applying for a scholarship, bursary or financial award are encouraged to explore the full list of awards with eligibility requirements and application deadlines available here.

In addition to the support from countless supporters, Red River College thanks the Province of Manitoba for financial investments made towards matching funds available for students to pursue a post-secondary education at participating institutions in Manitoba.

New RRC scholarships and bursaries available for the 2017-18 academic year:

Richard (Asher) Webb Social Justice Activist Memorial Award
This $750 annual award is open to all full- and part-time RRC students.

This award was established by the family to commemorate Richard Asher Webb – a community activist who worked for social justice, equality and dignity for marginalized people.

After graduating from Red River College’s Computer Programmer program, Webb worked as the Information Systems Manager at the Village Clinic and coordinated Winnipeg’s first public conference on HIV/AIDS. He went on to become the Executive Director of the Osborne Village BIZ, a project coordinator for the B’nai Brith Human Rights Awards, and served many other capacities within Winnipeg’s gay community. Later in life, he returned to Red River College to study Business Administration.

He was an idealist who truly believed in a world where everyone was equal and those with privilege helped those without. Every day people take extraordinary actions to show leadership on social justice issues in and outside the classroom.

This award will be presented to a student who has demonstrated exceptional effort and ability to lead, organize and engage other students or members of the community to work for systemic change on issues of social justice, including but not limited to antiracism, public health, human rights, discrimination, antipoverty, and LGBTQ issues. Financial need may also be a consideration.

Application deadline is February 16, 2018

Frederick David Taylor IV Memorial Award
A minimum of $500 will be available annually to a Greenspace Horticulture Diploma student

This award was established by family and friends in memory of Frederick David Taylor IV, a 2014 graduate of Greenspace Management program at Red River College. Frederick – who was always passionate about the environment and outdoors – started Sustainable Organic Solutions after he graduated, which focuses on the environment and organic soil health amendments. This award was created to honour Frederick’s legacy going and to support students who share similar qualities.

Recipients will be selected by faculty based on commitment to the environment and sustainable Horticultural practices along with exemplary team work and leadership in the classroom.

Cindy Petrowski and Phillip Marsh Helping Hands Bursary
This bursary valued at a minimum of $500 and is available to a full-time First Nations or Metis student attending any program at Red River College.

This bursary was created by Cindy Petrowski, who graduated from RRC’s Stenography program in 1982.  She chose RRC because of its reputation then – and today – as a post-secondary institution that offers instruction in current and high-demand skills recognized and required by employers. Petrowski and partner, Phillip Marsh, created this bursary to support a First Nations or Metis student in their academic aspirations and help with the financial strain of obtaining a post-secondary education.

Application deadline is January 15, 2018.

An Evolution of Education at Red River College

October 20, 2017

For immediate release: October 20, 2017

Chalkboards, overhead projectors and multiplication tables are some of the things that come to mind when the average person imagines a classroom – but that image is changing.

Today, 15 educators from across Manitoba will be at Red River College (RRC) to learn how they can incorporate drones, virtual reality and games into the classroom.

“These are the early adopters,” said Dr. Eva Brown, Emerging Technology Instructor in the Teacher Education department at Red River College. “Our goal with this is twofold. That is to prepare educators for the expectations and learning styles of their students and to show how educators can prepare learners for what is in front of them.”

Partnering with Manitoba Association of Computer Educators (ManACE), the workshop was developed by RRC instructors Brown and Daryl McRae, along with new media technician Jonathan Ferber from the College’s eTV Learning Technologies media lab as part of a year-long project funded by the College’s Program Innovation Fund. Focusing on emerging drone technology, the trio have been researching feasibility, interest, regulations and legalities for the use of drones at the College – as well as becoming certified drone pilots – to aid in the development of drone-based curriculum.

They partnered with media technicians Murray Toews, Dylan Smitzniuk who are leading the virtual reality and games components of today’s workshop.

“Evolving education is about sharing knowledge. Today, teachers are attending different workshops across the province to learn new skills and will share that knowledge in their classrooms, at their schools and across their divisions. We’re excited to have instructors from Red River College provide a session on emerging technology in the classrooms,” said Norm Gould, President of the Manitoba Teacher’s Society. “The fact is that most students in the K-12 system have grown up with technology in their hands. It’s important for us as educators to understand technology and adapt it to our lessons to meet the needs of our students.”

Today’s workshop will also encourage educators to learn about safety requirements and restrictions for these types of emerging technology. Drones especially have strict regulations surrounding safety and privacy.

In science fiction movies like Blade Runner, The Fifth Element and Star Wars, drones and augmented reality are a part of every-day life. While we’re not there yet, technology is evolving every day. Teenagers and adults who use the app Snapchat have recently had the opportunity to welcome a dancing hot dog into their real world environments and Uber announced its plans to launch flying taxis in Dubai, UAE and Dallas, Texas.

“Today’s learners are more familiar with technology than a pen and paper,” said Brown. “Their pen and paper is a tablet or a computer. We need to embrace technology as a mechanism for engagement and 21st century learning.”

Brown said she and the project team based their research on the New Media Consortium Horizon Report (Higher Education Edition), which forecasts which emerging technologies will be integrated into learning within the next one to three years. According to the 2017 report, drones are a technology that should be on the radar of educators across the world.

Some of the uses for drones already being implemented at other institutions include aerial video projects (Swarthmore College, USA), using drones in the repair and maintenance of infrastructure (University of Leeds, Ireland) and for engineering students to measure a variety of indicators such as humidity, temperature, barometric pressure (University of Chihuahua, Mexico).

A drone has been approved to be purchased for educational use at Red River College and will be used for training before instructors can implement it into their learning.

Pathway Program lays foundation for bright future in Manitoba

October 18, 2017

RRC’s Language Training Centre students put language and technical skills to work for Habitat for Humanity.

Winnipeg, MB – Today, students in Red River College’s (RRC) Language Training Centre’s Pathway Program to Construction Skills will lend a helping – and skilled – hand for the day at Habitat for Humanity as part of an introduction to practical training.

The students are refugee newcomers to Manitoba who enrolled in the Pathway Program to enhance their English language skills and gain practical hands-on experience, with a goal to gain full-time employment working in the construction sector once they complete their training.

Many of the participants were forced to flee their homes due to war from countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Sudan, and have made Manitoba home after receiving refugee status. Though many of them have had to leave behind everything they know – their experience working in construction and the skilled trades is something they’ve brought with them and, now they are hoping to put those skills to work as they begin their new lives here in Canada.

“Most of us can’t even begin to imagine moving across the world to a new place where we speak a different language, and not be able to pursue employment in a career or industry we’ve spent our lives working towards – but this is a reality for many of these students,” said Stuart Schwartz, Program Manager at RRC’s Language Training Centre.

“Other students may not have previous experience, but have the desire to learn. This program aims to bridge the gap and remove the language barrier by providing students with the essential language training, technical skills and experience they need to gain employment working in Manitoba’s construction sector.”

One student eager to put his experience to work is Alazar Elyas. Elyas, who is originally from in Eritrea, moved to Winnipeg with his wife in June 2016 from Sudan. Prior to coming to Canada, Elyas worked as a plumber for close to 23 years.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands and my career in plumbing. When I came to Manitoba, I talked to many places and offered to volunteer for experience,” said Elyas. “At the start my English language benchmark was a level four, so there were safety risks due to communication barriers. I heard about the Pathway Program from the Immigrant Centre and enrolled to participate right away.”

The Pathway Program was developed by staff at RRC’s Language Training Centre and was first offered in March 2017 through the support of the Refugee Employment Development Initiative (REDI) for refugees and newcomers, and provided training to 21 students in the field of dry walling, masonry, and flat-top roofing.

The second cohort began training this fall, and today students spent the day using some of their new skills gained in the classroom to help Habitat for Humanity put the final touches, including landscaping and building a new wooden sidewalk, on a new home for a family in Winnipeg.

This introductory experience will serve as fundamental training for the students, and will not only give them an opportunity to practice their language skills, it will help assess professionalism, how well they work with a team, and their ability to comprehend instructions and work safely – all while supporting an important community charity.

“We feel very fortunate to have Red River College’s Pathway Program to Construction Skills students here today giving their time to help us build a strong community,” said Sandy Hopkins, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Manitoba. “We believe in success through collaboration and this is just another example of how we can work together to help our city grow, diversify and develop into a stronger and more vibrant place to live.”

In addition to providing important language and skills training. The Pathway Program also provides each student with a month-long paid, on-the-job experience with the goal to support long-term employment in the construction sector.

“It’s been great to join instructors in the classroom and learn and develop new skills in areas like carpentry and drywall,” said Elyas. “When I graduate I hope to gain full time employment and work alongside a skilled plumber so I can continue my learning. In the future, my goal is to return to Red River College and complete my plumbing certificate and perhaps one day, open my own business.”

Inaugural Celebration Dinner to Help RRC Students Experience the World

October 16, 2017

WINNIPEG, MB – You’ve heard the phrase ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ – but for one day next month, the more cooks the better.

On Tuesday November 7, Red River College’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts (SHCA) is hosting an Inaugural Homecoming Dinner for alumni of its Hospitality and Tourism ManagementCulinary Arts, and Professional Baking programs.

The event will celebrate the achievements of the school’s graduates while fundraising for the Student Travel Opportunity Fund, which will help Culinary Arts and Professional Baking students travel to national and international competitions, and will give new and exciting learning opportunities to Hospitality and Tourism Management students where they can demonstrate and grow their skills.

The fund has recently allowed two Professional Baking students to attend a four week-long course in Germany and for six Culinary Arts students to participate in the Cook the Books competition in Toronto.

“Participating in competitions motivates students to strengthen their technical skills, learn new techniques, and practice at elevated skill levels,” said Karen McDonald, Academic Chair for the SHCA. “Our programs are strengthened when students can participate in high-level competition, and bring back new skills they’re eager to share in the culinary labs. Similarly, students in Hospitality and Tourism programs benefit from educational travel by experiencing local cultures.”

As is demonstrated on OLN Canada’s show Departures – visiting a new country or region allows opportunities to develop deeper inter-cultural understandings, “which is essential to global citizenship and for individuals working in hospitality and tourism to be able to provide the best possible customer service,” said Laura Wiebe, tourism instructor at the SHCA.

“Travel in general opens one’s eyes to life beyond your personal experience; it’s our intention to provide those awe-inspiring opportunities for students that are simply beyond the classroom,” said McDonald.

The homecoming dinner will include an eight course dinner prepared by students and alumni guest chefs. Tickets are available on eventbrite.

Your light-used cookbooks are needed!

While the primary aim of the event is to celebrate the achievements of graduates, the SHCA is seeking donated cookbooks to sell at the event in order to replenish the Student Travel Opportunity Fund.

“There’s something satisfying about flipping the pages of a cookbook,” says Cassandra Watson, hospitality instructor and Homecoming Dinner co-chair. “Cookbooks tell stories through their photographs, and how the recipes are organized to complement each other. Not only is the fundraiser a good cause, I’m confident our attendees will sincerely appreciate the inspiration.”

Cookbooks can be dropped off at the security desk at the Main Street entrance of Paterson GlobalFoods Institute at 504 Main St. in Winnipeg between 7am and 9pm Monday to Friday until November 3.


This release is distributed on behalf of Red River College’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts.