On a sunny, snowless November afternoon, students, faculty and administrators gathered at Red River College’s Medicine Wheel grounds to make history at the first on-campus Sweat Lodge ceremony.
In keeping with RRC’s strategic priority to advance Indigenous achievement — by weaving knowledge, philosophy and cultural perspectives into programming content and campus culture — the new Sweat Lodge facility, including fire pits and change rooms, marks the first step in the College’s ceremonial grounds expansion plan.
“I had a vision in 2004 of having a Sweat Lodge at Red River College available for students and staff, and that vision has now become a reality,” says Elder Jules Lavallee. “It’s a legacy for everyone to enjoy, and will help to heal for years to come. It was an incredible opportunity for staff and students to work together with the same purpose.”
Led by Lavallee and Mae Louise Campbell, RRC’s Elders in Residence, last week’s ceremony saw 17 people making their way into the Lodge for the inaugural sweat.
The structure, which represents the womb of Mother Earth, was made with willow branches collected and prepared in the days prior. Once the branches were in position, they were tied together and the frame was covered with canvas. The structure took approximately three hours to build, and was assembled in conjunction with Sweat Lodge teachings.
“Helping to put together the structure was a learning experience,” says a participating student from RRC’s Introduction to Trades Program. “Being Indigenous myself, it taught me some of the things that I did not know about these lodges and how they are built, and also how much work actually goes into it. It made me feel more connected to my ancestry.” Read More →
As of today, Red River College is one of four post-secondary institutions in Manitoba to offer a human resources training program recognized with a CPHR (Chartered Professional in Human Resources) designation from the Human Resource Management Association of Manitoba (HRMAM).
Graduates of these programs — in RRC’s case, the Human Resource Management Certificate offered through the School of Continuing Education — will be one step closer to receiving their professional designation upon graduation, and will be able to waive writing the National Knowledge Exam (NKE), the national standard of excellence for those working in the HR field.
“Red River College works in partnership with industry to provide relevant and timely programming that prepares our students to transition from college to career to meet the evolving demands in the workplace,” says Jo-Anne Shay, Dean of RRC’s School of Continuing Education.
“Accrediting our HR Management program opens doors to many career opportunities for our students, and provides industry with the necessary talent to make a real impact in their organizations.” Read More →
Once again, Red River College grads dominated the podium at this year’s Gold Medal Plates competition, with one now on his way to the Canadian Culinary Championships.
Jesse Friesen (Culinary Arts, 2009) took the gold medal at last night’s event, held at the RBC Convention Centre, while Melissa Makarenko (Culinary Arts, 2006) took silver. Friesen advances to the national competition, which takes place Feb. 3 and 4 in Kelowna.
A chef at Pizzeria Gusto, Friesen (shown above, at centre) won silver at last year’s event, while Makarenko (second from left), a chef at Resto Gare Bistro and Train Bar, won bronze last year.
Each year, the Gold Medal Plates event finds local chefs battling each other and the clock — with just 90 minutes to prepare and serve their creations to 500 assembled guests and judges.
The event also doubles as a fundraiser for the Canadian Olympic Foundation, which generates support to meet the technical, scientific, medical and coaching needs of Canada’s athletes.
A Red River College apprenticeship grad has made history, becoming the first deaf iron worker in Canada to receive his Red Seal certification.
Jonathan Anderson, 26, earned his iron worker credentials from RRC in 2015, and last spring wrote and passed his Red Seal exam. Over the weekend, he gathered at the Union Centre in Winnipeg to celebrate the achievement with friends, family and mentors.
Diagnosed as deaf shortly after his first birthday, Anderson attended the Manitoba School for the Deaf and St. James Collegiate, where he played hockey and football with the help of an interpreter, finding unique ways to communicate with this teammates.
“He learned to adapt,” Anderson’s mother, Bertha, told CTV News. “He couldn’t hear, but he always had his way of communicating.”
Anderson’s Red Seal certificate allows him to practice his trade anywhere in Canada. Since he began his career at the age of 17, he’s already worked on a number of high-profile job sites — among them, the Keeyask Generating Station, the Winnipeg Convention Centre and True North Square.
But the project he’s proudest of is the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, of which he told CTV, “My parents will say, ‘My son helped build that building,’ … I have children, and they’ll say, ‘Daddy worked there.’”
Anderson hopes his accomplishment will inspire others with hearing impairments to continue pursuing their dreams.
“I want to show that deaf people can work with people who are not deaf,” he explains. “You can succeed and prove them wrong. If they say you can’t, show them that you can.”
Red River College is #1 on the Prairies in research, according to the latest Top 50 ranking of Canadian research colleges.
It’s not the first time RRC has been recognized as a leading college research institution, having ranked previously in Research Infosources’s top ten for three years running, and having earlier this year received the prestigious Synergy Award for Innovation from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Governor General of Canada.
“We definitely appreciate the acknowledgement of our efforts, but the true value of this recognition is realized when we further spread the word that Red River College serves as a critical partner in innovation for so many organizations,” says Paul Vogt, RRC’s president and CEO.
“As we continue to make substantial investments in applied research and learning resources, we see increasing interest from industry partners for us to help them solve problems, innovate, and produce graduates with the advanced technology training needed for today’s globally-competitive environment.”
The College’s swath of research resources continued to expand this year when RRC received $5.9-million in federal funding – the largest influx of research dollars in the College’s history – from NSERC and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). This new investment allowed the College to boost innovation capacity in Manitoba’s vehicle technology and food development sectors.
“It’s exciting to see how far we’ve come in such a short period of time, and to witness the positive impact our work has had on so many projects throughout our province,” says Ray Hoemsen, executive director of Research Partnerships & Innovation at RRC.
Read More →
Today, Red River College and Skills/Compétences Canada (SCC) launched the twelfth National Skilled Trades and Technology Week (NSTTW), to create awareness for students and educators of the range of career opportunities available in skilled trades and technologies across the country.
“Careers in the skilled trades and technologies are of vital importance for Canada’s future economic stability and its standing in the global marketplace,” said Shaun Thorson, SCC’s Chief Executive Officer. “It is important that Canadian youth are informed about the many interesting and lucrative opportunities that are available to them in these sectors. During National Skilled Trades and Technology Week, students from across Canada will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities that highlight these potential careers.”
The two organizations hosted the official NSTTW launch at RRC’s Notre Dame Campus, where the Hon. Ian Wishart, Minister of Education and Training, and HGTV’s Sherry Holmes (Holmes Make it Right) kicked things off with a table-building competition for those in attendance.
Following the official program, students from Winnipeg and area schools took part in other interactive Try-A-Trade® and Technology activities, including welding, industrial mechanics, millright, carpentry, workplace safety, autobody repair, information technology, hairstyling and esthetics.
SCC also took the opportunity to announce the 2017 Skills Canada National Competition will be hosted in Winnipeg from May 31 to June 3 at the RBC Convention Centre. Read More →
Always on the cutting edge of culinary innovation, Red River College students are learning how best to “put it in pork.”
Last week, the College’s Paterson GlobalFoods Institute (PGI) played host to a product information showcase and meat-cutting demonstration by Manitoba Pork — the latest result of a longstanding partnership between the two organizations.
Susan Riese, manager of public relations and consumer marketing programs at Manitoba Pork, estimates the partnership is close to 20 years old, dating back to the first-ever Manitoba Pork Cook-off, a now annual event that allows RRC’s Culinary Arts students to show off their pork prowess in the kitchen.
“We want to encourage these young aspiring chefs to think of pork as the top choice protein [with] all the versatility and nutritional benefits that come with that,” says Riese. “Some day they’ll be in a position to influence or plan menus or maybe even have their own restaurants, so we’re just reminding them that it’s not always about beef and chicken — that pork has a place at the table.”
In addition to the cook-off, cutting demos and other workshops, Manitoba Pork has on-site recognition at PGI in the form of the Manitoba Pork Apprenticeship Lab.
Culinary arts instructor Cameron Tait (shown above, at right) works in the lab with tomorrow’s top chefs to change the public’s perception of pork.
“In North America, we tend to only look at primary cuts like tenderloin, pork loin and chops, [but] there are so many other really interesting cuts you can utilize on the pig,” Tait says while cooking up pork jowl, a portion that’s especially popular in Japan.
“On a chicken, you’ve got legs, thighs and breasts, but on a hog, you’ve got everything from snout to tail. You can do moist cooking, dry cooking, curing, smoking, air drying, making hams, making pancetta, making sausages — it’s endless, really. I think it’s more versatile than beef, chicken, veal, lamb, everything. And it’s more affordable, too.” Read More →
A Red River College student has been hailed a hero for helping to raise funds that allowed an 11-year-old girl to undergo a lifesaving surgery.
Professional Photography student Samantha Lussier (shown, right) was honoured at last month’s Our Manitoba Heroes gala for raising $30,000 to send Allexis Siebrecht (left) to Toronto for a liver transplant last year.
Allexis was born with bileary atresia, a rare condition affecting one out of every 19,000 Canadians. Lussier first became acquainted with the girl after coming across a Facebook post seeking someone with O-positive blood.
Lussier’s blood type was a match, so — inspired by thoughts of her own younger siblings — she started the necessary tests to become an organ donor. But after flying to Toronto for further screening, she was informed her liver was unsuitable for donations.
Disappointed but undeterred, she instead began fundraising on Siebrecht’s behalf, selling handmade bracelets with the girl’s name and hosting a Bud, spud and steak event that generated $30,000.
Siebrecht, meanwhile, saw her health quickly deteriorating — but her prognosis improved after receiving word from Toronto that a suitable donor had been found.
After undergoing a successful surgery, Siebrecht met with Lussier for the first time in Winnipeg.
“It was definitely an emotional day,” Lussier told The Projector, RRC’s student newspaper. “This kid who could have been sick all her life was so energetic and happy. You’d never know she was sick. She is very inspirational.”
Siebrecht made a full recovery within days, and is now busy with dance classes and her school’s basketball and badminton teams. Lussier is set to graduate from RRC in 2017.
Photo credit: Joe Bryksa, Winnipeg Free Press
A Red River College apprenticeship grad was recognized at a prestigious culinary competition in England last week.
Mackenzie Ferguson, who in 2011 completed RRC’s Apprenticeship Cook (Level II) course, won in the “best kitchen” category at the Concours International des Jeunes Chefs Rotisseurs in Manchester. Ferguson’s award was based on his overall skills, appearance, presentation and cleanliness.
The black box-style contest — in which chefs must create and prepare a three-course menu using a mystery basket of seasonal ingredients — is open to competitors under the age of 27. This year’s event drew entrants from 22 countries and featured 12 international chefs as judges.
Now a Red Seal chef, Ferguson serves as the dining room chef at St. Charles Country Club, where he works under the guidance of world-renowned Chef Takashi Murakami, the inaugural recipient of RRC’s Top Chef Award.
Ferguson has racked up an impressive number of culinary awards over the years, including a bronze in the 2008 Skills Manitoba competition, gold medals at Skills Manitoba and the Culinary Arts Salon Competition in 2009, and a bronze at the Skills Canada contest the same year.
He earned the right to compete at the Canadian National Jeunes Chefs Rotisseurs by winning the Manitoba competitions in 2014 and 2015, and took top honours at the national level last year.
Photo credit: chainecanada.org (La Chaine des Rotisseurs Bailliage du Canada)
Students and staff from Red River College lent some much-needed muscle to fundraising efforts for United Way Winnipeg last week, helping to land nearly $50,000 for youth mentorship initiatives in the process.
At the United Way’s annual plane pull — hosted Friday at RRC’s Stevenson Campus — the College entered two teams, one made up of Stevenson students (shown above), the other of staff and executive.
The event drew a record 78 teams and almost 2,000 plane-pullers — all of whom did their best to move both a Boeing 727 and a CL-215 water bomber across the tarmac. Together, the teams helped to raise nearly $50,000 — funds that will be used to create more than 100 new mentorship opportunities for local children and youth.
At Friday’s event, 19-year-old Victor Golondrina spoke about his own experiences with a mentor, noting his mother struggled with poverty and mental health issues while raising him and his siblings. He found positive role models through the Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg, and today serves as a mentor to others through his work with West Broadway Youth Outreach.
“They gave me hope,” Golindrina said of his mentors, “and now I am giving it back.”
Learn more about United Way’s commitment to youth mentors, and see a full list of Friday’s fundraising and plane-pull results.