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.
It’s been a long road to Rio for Paralympic athlete Chantal Givens, who’ll make history this weekend as part of Canada’s very first paratriathlon team.
But the Winnipegger got a bit of an assist from Red River College instructor Leon Fainstein, who for the last year has been working with Givens on modifications to the bicycle she’ll use when competing in Brazil this Sunday morning.
A Mechanical Technology instructor at RRC, Fainstein was first approached by Olympic rower Jeff Powell, now the general manager of the Canadian Sport Centre Manitoba. (Qualico vice-president John Daniels, a cycling-world acquaintance and one of Givens’ primary sponsors, recommended Fainstein to her team.)
With support from Don McDonald (Dean of Transportation, Aviation and Manufacturing at RRC) and program chair Bill Noakes, Fainstein worked with Givens — who was born without her left hand — on adaptations that allowed her to better grip her bike’s handlebar.
Together, they went through about 15 different iterations before arriving at the current model, which gives Givens the ability to better climb and descend hills.
“For most of the last year and at her Paralympic qualifying races, she has been using models straight from our 3D printer,” says Fainstein, who previously modified a wheelchair for use in wheelchair basketball while a Machine Shop student at RRC in the late 1970s. “The one on Chantal’s new bike in Rio is full carbon fiber layered over a core from that same printer.”
Givens, 38, is a three-time Canadian Paratriathlon champion and has twice placed fourth at the World Championships. Her Paralympic dreams were nearly dashed last summer when she fell from her bike and fractured her shoulder blade just weeks before a major event.
This year marks the debut of the triathlon event at the Paralympic Games. Givens’ team competes at 10am (CT) this Sunday.
Photo credit: Canadian Sport Centre Manitoba
Red River College has received the largest influx of research funding since its applied research enterprise was first founded in 2004. The new $5.9-million investment will allow the College to boost innovation capacity in Manitoba’s vehicle technology and food development sectors.
“This is a red-letter day for the College, our partners, and for Manitoba’s innovation outlook in general,” says Paul Vogt, president and CEO of Red River College. “These national awards acknowledge not only industry needs, but the ability of the College to deliver innovation services, and Manitoba as a place where leading-edge products are developed.”
The Hon. MaryAnn Mihychuk, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour (on behalf of the Hon. Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science) announced today that RRC will receive $3.6 million for advanced and sustainable vehicle technology research and $2.3 million for culinary innovation.
“These new funds will be transformational for our research programs in the areas of vehicle technology and culinary innovation,” says Vogt. “Manitoba is already a major player in the world’s heavy vehicle sector, while we are undergoing a bit of a renaissance in terms of commercializing new food products. In both cases, these funds will help us work with producers to develop and test innovations.”
The awards have already sparked the establishment of a new Vehicle Technology & Energy Centre (VTEC) that will house MotiveLab, a 3,000-square foot research facility focused on supporting Manitoba’s heavy vehicle sector. MotiveLab will feature a 1,000 HP engine dynamometer test cell and a drive-in climatic chamber (large enough to fit a bus, truck or farm vehicle) with an integrated 1,000 HP chassis dynamometer. Read More →
For the second time this week, a Red River College grad is poised to make history.
On Saturday evening, Danielle Doiron (Creative Communications, 2016) will become the first woman to call the play-by-play for a Canadian professional baseball team, when she covers the third inning of the Winnipeg Goldeyes‘ game against the Fargo-Moorhead Red Hawks.
The game will be broadcast on the Goldeyes’ flagship radio station (93.7 FM CJNU), as well as Kenora-based “The Lake” (89.5 FM).
Doiron is serving her second year as the Goldeyes’ media assistant, and also worked as a studio host and board operator during away broadcasts over the summer. Last winter, she received the Jack Matheson Award from the Manitoba Sports Writers and Sportscasters Association.
“Daniele has earned this [play-by-play] opportunity through her incredible work ethic and high-quality contributions to the Goldeyes’ organization,” says team broadcaster Steve Schuster.
“She has a bright future in the industry, and we are extremely proud to call her a part of our family. This is not only a monumental achievement for Danielle, but a significant milestone for Winnipeggers, Canadians and young women in general with career aspirations in sports media.”
Doiron is the second RRC alumna to make a foray into a male-dominated field this week. Last Saturday, Business Administration grad Amber Balcaen became the first Canadian woman to win a NASCAR-sanctioned stock car race.
(Photo credit: Edward Doiron)
You’re nervous, overwhelmed, possibly even panicked by the prospect of a new school year and related academic responsibilities.
Sound familiar? If so, you’re in good company. And thankfully, the Red River College Students’ Association has a full slate of DisOrientation Week activities scheduled to offset the chaos and confusion.
Starting Tuesday, you can work off some of that back-to-school stress at a series of parties and events aimed at reminding you that all work and no play … well, you know the rest. Read More →
The eye-catching artwork of two recent Graphic Design grads earned a high-profile reveal last week as part of a new downtown beautification project.
Urban Wallpaper, launched recently by the Downtown Business Improvement Zone (BIZ), aims to transform and enliven vacant windows, storefronts and construction sites using jury-selected designs from local artists.
So far, five downtown locations have been outfitted with urban art, including Donald and Kennedy Street sites featuring works by Isabelle Kilimnik (above) and Jesse Warkentin (work at left), both graduates of RRC’s Advanced Graphic Design program.
Downtown BIZ reps hope the new installations will not only improve the visual landscape downtown, but also combat impressions the district is uninviting or unsafe.
Kilimnik and Warkentin’s work was completed as part of their Visual Exploration class with RRC instructor Ken Stampnick.
Repeating a tradition first established last fall, organizers of RRC’s Student Refugee Program (SRP) welcomed a special addition to the College community yesterday.
Members of the program’s Local Committee were joined by RRC executive and staff from Diversity and Intercultural Services, to greet Wasim Alkabani (above), the second student to arrive at the College under a sponsorship with the SRP, an initiative of World University Service of Canada (WUSC).
Now a permanent Canadian resident, Wasim arrived from Lebanon on Monday afternoon. Fluent in both English and Arabic, he’ll begin his Applied Accounting studies at the Exchange District Campus.
Born in Syria and raised mostly in Dubai, Wasim has a Bachelor’s degree in economics from Damascus University. He’s interested in a career in business or finance — just like his SPR predecessor, Yves Ngendahimana (below, at right), who arrived last fall from Malawi as the program’s first sponsored student. Read More →
A Red River College grad burned rubber and blazed a new trail over the weekend, becoming the first Canadian woman to win a NASCAR-sanctioned race.
Amber Balcaen (Business Administration, 2013) drove her No. 10 Lee Pulliam Performance car straight into the history books Saturday night, pulling from the pack to capture the checkered flag at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Virginia.
The 24-year-old had previously found success on the local dirt track circuit, becoming the first woman in Manitoba to win a championship and carrying on the family tradition established by her father and grandfather, both accomplished racers in their own right.
Saturday’s win came during the second-last race of Balcaen’s rookie season on U.S. pavement, and bumped her to a third-place seat in the overall point standings. She’s earned top-five rankings in 10 out of 13 races this season, including podium finishes in the Limited Sportsman class of NASCAR’s Whelen All-America Series.
In a 2014 interview for RRC’s Going Places blog, Balcaen said her college experience gives her an edge over some of her racing-world competitors, especially when it comes to marketing herself and securing sponsorships.
“Not only is racing a sport, but it’s almost like a business where you need to be that full package,” she said then. “You need to be able to speak to people, you need to be professional, and then on the driving side of things, you need to be physically fit so you’re a good driver.”
Read more about Balcaen’s road to NASCAR.