Several decades’ worth of accolades and achievements were celebrated in style last week, as former students and current faculty — along with a host of community partners — gathered at Red River College’s 2010 Alumni Dinner.
The event — held Friday, Nov. 19th at The Fairmont Winnipeg — gave those in attendance a chance to pay tribute to their peers, among them entrepreneur John Gale, the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Gale, a 1980 graduate of RRC's Mechanical Engineering Technology program, was one of the driving forces behind the creation of a diamond drill bit that revolutionized the drilling industry in the mid-1980s. He’s currently overseeing a development plan that aims to turn the city of Kenora into a world-class business and tourist destination.
“It was definitely the most successful alumni dinner to date,” says Dale Oughton, RRC’s Alumni Coordinator, of the event, which drew more than 400 attendees.
“John Gale had the entire room in stitches, He was absolutely priceless, and very eloquent.”
As always, the event helped RRC raise awareness of its Alumni Program, the purpose of which — as Oughton explains — is to maintain relationships between the College and the graduates, while celebrating the achievements of alumni.
Emceed by Creative Communications instructor Steve Vogelsang, the event also featured tributes to RRC students Nikki Brown and Andre-John Camara, winners of this year’s Alumni Spirit Awards.
Money raised by the event will be used to support RRC’s Alumni Scholarships. A portion of the funds raised will also go towards the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute, the rooftop deck of which will be reserved for Alumni Association functions.
On Thursday, September 30, join us for the Red River College Alumni Wine & Cheese event at the Exchange District Campus (formerly Princess Street Campus). The annual event is a great opportunity to connect with friends, former classmates and instructors. This year, alumni will have the opportunity to meet RRC's new President, Stephanie Forsyth.
Date:Thursday, September 30, 2010 Time:5:00 pm - 7:00 pm Location:Loewen Atrium, Exchange District Campus 160 Princess Street, Winnipeg
Please confirm your attendance by contacting Melissa Warden at 632-2118 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was hot, humid beyond belief, and bugs of every shape and
size were crawling and buzzing around, but Red River College Medical
Radiological Technology instructor Jennifer Stayner couldn’t have been happier.
Stayner and MRT student Brandi Pollon traveled to Nicaragua during
the summer of 2009 with the Flying Doctors of Canada (FDOC), a
non-governmental, not for profit organization comprised of doctors, nurses and
other health care workers.
Doctor Benjamin Cavilla formed FDOC along with three other
doctors in 2006. During his medical training he traveled around the world
helping remote communities. It was in these situations that he noticed a
disconnect between non- governmental agencies and the communities they were
“Basically, what I saw was that these groups weren’t
addressing why the people were sick in the first place. If you don’t treat the
source of the illness and cure it, the people keep getting sick, so I started a
new sustainable approach to humanitarian efforts.”
This sustainable approach is key to the FDOC’s mission.
“We have a real goal of sustainability — at no point in time
do we want to go into a community and have that community rely on us,” says Dr.
Cavilla. “We want to go in and fix what’s wrong and leave knowing they’re on
Since their vision of sustainability involves more than just
treating the illness, FDOC builds water filters, gives lessons on proper hand
washing, and they also involve a diagnostic aspect. That’s where Stayner comes
Stayner has always believed in helping her community, so
when she was approached to work with communities within Nicaragua, she jumped
at the opportunity.
“It’s always been a goal of mine to find a way to do all
things I love which is teach, to x-ray, and do community work,” she says.
While in Nicaragua, Stayner and Pollon worked with the FDOC
doctors and volunteers in small clinics they set up. People would walk,
sometimes for hours, to get medical treatment.
“Some mornings there were 100 people there waiting for us,
mostly women and children. They would come from far distances to get health
care for their children,” says Stayner.
The partnership between FDOC and Red River College allows students
to gain valuable international experience, and Stayner is excited for her
students. “Getting here was hard work but rewarding, so rewarding,” she says.
“It’s a labour of love, and the students are so enthusiastic.”
One thing Stayner took away from the trip last August is the
positive spirit and generosity of the people she met.
“On one of the last days we were in a small town, one of the
women cooked for us. She killed a chicken, and made rice and beans; it was
clearly a lot for her, and she made a wonderful meal. It was very touching to
have people in the community care for us as we were caring for them.”
Two Red River College students got the opportunity of a
lifetime during the summer of 2009 to help those less fortunate and in need.
Jamee Wiebe, a Dental Assisting - Level II grad from the RRC
Winkler Campus, was one of two students who got the chance to travel to
Guatemala for 11 days as part of a mission trip in July 2009. She, along with fellow
student Kaitlin Ward and Dental Assisting instructor Brian Minaker, joined a
group made up of dentists and doctors from across Canada and the United States.
The group was based out of the Guatemalan city of Quetzaltenango (more commonly
known as Xela), but traveled to smaller communities in the surrounding area.
“We would go to a different town each day. I would help set
up and assist the dentists during the dental procedure,” says Wiebe, who
graduated last December and now works as a dental assistant at a dental clinic
in Winnipeg. The highly mobile group took three portable dental chairs and two
traveling units to perform fillings, as they visited the various communities.
They worked with the local population to promote good dental
care as well as perform fillings and tooth extractions.
“I found out that there are a lot of people in Guatemala
who, if they have a toothache or cavity, just get their teeth pulled out
instead of going to a dentist to get fillings,” says Wiebe. “It really makes
you appreciate what we have here and not take it for granted.”
The trip to Guatemala gave the students a chance to learn
about a different culture and get hands-on work experience that they’ll never
forget. Wiebe says it was an eye-opener for her and she plans on doing
something similar in the future. However, she’s quick to point out that even
with the beautiful scenery and hot weather, this trip was more than just
basking in the sun.
“It wasn’t anything fancy; that’s for sure. We were roughing
it out there, but it was worth it.”
When people think of Red River College, many see a school
focused on training the next generation of skilled trades people.
They see a school that is expanding its state-of-the-art
facilities. They see a school working with industry to conduct applied
research. What many don’t see are some of the smaller, but just as important,
aspects of the College that aren’t always in the spotlight. RRC’s international
work is one of those hidden gems.
RRC’s international efforts started in 1987 when it began a
partnership with Shenyang Institute of Engineering in China. Since then, the
College has developed partnerships with scores of institutions in countries
across the world.
David Leis, Vice-President of Business Development at RRC,
whose portfolio includes International Education, says there are two primary
reasons the College is involved in partnerships worldwide. “Many of our
international partnerships help enhance our core business of delivering high
quality education to our students,” says Leis. “And as a leader in applied
learning, we are able to bring a considerable amount of expertise to schools
and countries around the world.”
Currently, RRC is actively engaged in partnerships in five
countries. Some of the affiliations involve student exchanges, while others
deal with RRC staff and faculty using their expertise and providing training
outside of Canada.
The College’s International Education department opened its
doors in 1994,welcoming a
Malaysian student as the College’s first official international learner. This
year, over 300 international students will come to RRC for an exceptional
education and to experience Canadian culture. The benefits of international
education are tremendous, both for international and Canadian students.
One of the reasons why international students come to study
in Canada is to improve their English, which helps them get better jobs back
home. RRC’s Language Training Centre is one of the premier facilities in Canada
and is well equipped to provide students with the best possible English
training. International students also learn about Canadian culture and receive
the same high quality education as their Canadian counterparts.
“Red River College is the preferred destination for
newcomers to Manitoba,” says Leis. “With exceptional language training and a
wide-range of hands-on programming, RRC helps international students make the
most of their time in Manitoba.”
As for Canadian students at RRC, International Education has
opened doors to new opportunities for them. RRC has several partnerships with
schools around the world that include student exchanges, which allow College
students to not only get hands-on work experience, but also learn about new
cultures and develop a global network of contacts.
Innovative and entrepreneurial, John P. Gale made his mark
in the mineral drilling industry before turning his attention to real estate
A native of The Pas, Gale began his career setting up remote telephone systems
in Northern Manitoba after obtaining a Certificate in Radio and TV Servicing
from Keewatin College.
Seeking greater challenges, he moved to Winnipeg to pursue a diploma in
Mechanical Engineering Technology from Red River College. Gale graduated in 1980
and began working in research and development for Midwest Diamond Drilling.
With Gale leading the way, the company revolutionized the industry through the
development of a new bit that was capable of drilling rock at three times the
speed of the technology it replaced.
Gale and three business partners subsequently bought Midwest
in the mid-eighties, forming a new operation called Dimatec Inc. The company
continued to develop innovative drilling products and manufacturing methods by
assembling a strong and capable engineering team coupled with the most current
Numerous awards were given to Dimatec as a testament to the strength,
dedication and professionalism of its employees. ISO-9000 Quality Assurance
certification, a "Best in Business" award from Manitoba Business
Magazine and membership in "Canada's 50 Best Managed Companies" were
highlights of a long list of accolades.
Gale decided to semi-retire in 2008 to spend more time on his beloved Lake of
the Woods. But after a few months the entrepreneurial bug bit again with the
opportunity to acquire a significant amount of property from the town's former
largest employer, AbitibiBowater.
Gale has since developed an ambitious plan to transform Kenora into a
world-class tourist and business destination, including the development of
several major new resort and residential properties over the next decade. He
recently sold his ownership interest in Dimatec to help finance the project.
Gale will be presented with the Distinguished Alumni award
at the RRC convocation ceremony at 7:30 pm on June 3rd.
Red River College hosted its annual Alumni Dinner on November 20th, where the two recipients of the 2009 Distinguished Alumni Award were honoured.
Dawna Friesen is a 1984 graduate of the Creative Communications program. After getting her start in broadcasting with local stations like CKX (Brandon) and CKND (Winnipeg), Dawna has gone on to work for the past ten years as a foreign correspondent for NBC News, based in London, UK.
Mervyn Gunter completed the Business Administration program in 1970. After a successful career with Royal Bank of Canada, Merv now owns Frontiers North Adventures, which operates the famous Tundra Buggy tours in Churchill, Manitoba.
Jessica Cable, a student at RRC's Exchange District Campus, penned the "letter of the day" in the Winnipeg Free Press on Oct. 21st. Cable wrote about her enthusiasm for the College's plan to transform the union Bank Tower into the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute, saying:
"It's great to see Red River is continuing to occupy these historic and vacant buildings, maintaining the heritage while converting them into incredible college campuses. Hopefully this conversion will be a catalyst to bring more people, more life, to the neighbourhood."
Red River College President Jeff Zabudsky used his most recent column in the Winnipeg Sun to talk about the other job that's keeping him busy these days: serving as Chair of the 2009 United Way of Winnipeg Campaign.
Zabudsky discusses the widespread impact of United Way in our community, and urges readers to participate in this year's campaign:
"There's never been a more important time to support United Way of Winnipeg. Without you, there would be no way."
The Winnipeg Free Press recently profiled Staci Dovbniak, a graduate of the Youth Recreation Activity Worker program that's delivered by Red River College and funded by the Boys and Girls Club of Winnipeg and the United Way.
A regular at the Knox United Boys and Girls Club when she was a child, Dovbniak has returned to the organization to work as a program facilitator at the Victor Mager Club in St. Vital.
Several hundred former Red River College students visited the Exchange District Campus -- some for the first time -- to celebrate at a special Alumni Wine & Cheese on September 29th.
The event was a good opportunity for former classmates to reconnect, and for our alumni community to learn more about some of the exciting work being done at the College, and our plans for expansion at both the Notre Dame and Exchange District Campuses.
John Gale, a 1980 graduate of Red River College's Mechanical Engineering Technology program, is being called the "Donald Trump of Kenora" for his ambitious plans to turn the Northwestern Ontario city into a vacation mecca.
As mentioned in a recent Winnipeg Free Press profile, Gale has plans to oversee up to $1 billion in development in Kenora, including a five-star resort and conference centre, a theme park, new lakefront cottage lots and an RV park.
Gale is making his bold move into real estate development following a successful career in the diamond drilling industry. In the 1980s Gale helped develop a new technology for diamond drilling, and eventually became a 50% owner in Winnipeg-based drill manufacturer Dimatec Inc. He sold his stake in the company last year.