Students at Red River College’s Winter Convocation – Centennial Concert Hall, Winnipeg, MB
This week I had the pleasure of attending our winter convocation. As always, it was an amazing evening that brought together friends and family to celebrate the success of our graduates.
I always look forward to addressing our graduates. While I am sure many of you had a chance to attend the event or watch it online, I wanted to take a moment to share with you my parting thoughts to this year’s grads.
Like many Canadians, I have First Nations ancestry which I acknowledge and embrace. I am a member of the Tsimshian First Nation from Northwestern British Columbia. I belong to the House of T’axaye, from the Killer Whale Clan.
Indeed, Red River College comprises many cultures and nationalities. In addition to those of us who call Canada home, students from over 40 different countries study at Red River making for a rich, diverse, global community.
Increasingly RRC is emerging as a global institution; we are welcoming more students from other countries, we have initiated student exchanges opportunities for Manitoban students, we have launched overseas projects and fostered more than 25 international partnerships.
We no longer live in isolation of our international neighbours; increasingly our lives are entwined with the events and issues taking place elsewhere in the world.
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Last week, I traveled to Calgary where I cheered on RRC’s team at the annual Polytechnics Canada Applied Research Showcase.
Over 120 RRC Business Administration and International Business students collaborated on a project for this event. Their project was titled: Global Business Intelligence for Renewable Energy Solutions. Their goal was to deliver business intelligence to Manitoba’s renewable energy solutions industry, including small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), not-for-profit organizations, and the provincial government.
While over 120 students had a hand in this project only six were able to attend on-behalf of the College. The competition to get there was stiff and being selected to present the project to the audience at the showcase was even more competitive. After participating in multiple joint-presentations including a lunch and learn at the College; the lead presenter was chosen.
Stephanie Forsyth with Tatjana Brkic and the team representing RRC.
This year Aman Saxena, Priyank kumar Chaudhary, Ana Priscila Eichsteadt, Yueye Wang, Jing Shang and Manas Chopra attended and represented our College. Out of this year’s team, Aman was the lead presenter.
As part of the presentation Aman discussed the project in front of a very large audience that included three expert judges, as well as academic, government and research leaders from across Canada.
Led by their instructor Tatjana Brkic, the students used an innovative approach to assist these organizations with focused business research. Their work focused on SMEs, where acquiring key business intelligence is a major obstacle towards even considering international expansion. Read about their work at their blog http://www.blogs.rrc.ca/research/business
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Students doing practical work in RRC’s dentistry programs.
This week I was in Ottawa where I have been engaged in ACCC Board meetings, a National Skills Summit and meetings with Federal Ministers, Assistant Deputy Ministers and key industry stakeholders. During our meetings, we were fortunate to be able to sit down with The Honourable Jason Kenny, Minister responsible for Employment and Social Development, and Minister for Multiculturalism. We discussed, at length, the new Federal Government Job Grant Program. This program has potential, but also presents challenges to Canada’s Provincial Governments.
It is interesting to note that the Federal government has shifted significant responsibility to business and industry to solve much of the training issues their respective sectors face.
One example is the new Job Grant program that was announced by government earlier this year. The grant program seeks to provide incentives to businesses to make greater investments in post-secondary education by offering training grants.
This program outlines a 3-way partnership of funding:
• $5000 from the Federal government (which is a reallocation of the Labour Market Agreement (LMA) moneys previously forwarded to the Provinces);
• $5000 from the Province (currently the provincial governments have not agreed to the terms of this program);
• and $5000 from businesses.
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Stephanie Forsyth – CEO Sleepout 2013
Thanks to the many RRC staff that sent tweets and emails last night while sleeping out overnight to raise funds and awareness of Winnipeg’s homeless. It was a chilly night, but I did manage to get some sleep.
I was a bit nervous gathering together things I might need for the night. I have worked in downtown east side Vancouver with the homeless and in Northern BC; I know many who struggle to keep a roof, or anything that will pass for a roof, over their heads. I know this is the reality for some of our students. This constant search for shelter and food can lead to desperation and all too often does.
Throughout the night I was aware of the noise on the street, the vehicles, the people and the plane traffic overhead. I was acutely aware of how quickly the wind can drive the chill through my body even with layers on; and how hard, once chilled, it was for me to regain my warmth. I was thankful for yet another layer being offered to me by Carole Vivier from Manitoba Film & Music but even with it, I finally in the early hours of the morning, succumbed to my bedroll and the warmth of the down sleeping bag.
Who can sleep with the night noises? But I must have drifted off because a short while later I woke to the voices and exclamations of those who are unfortunately all too familiar with the noises and the cold and the absence of secure shelter. In a show of support and appreciation, restaurants in the immediate area had decided to send food over to the CEOs sleeping out on the street. It didn’t take long for the smell of crispy chicken wings to get carried on the infamous winds of Portage and Main to reach those living on the streets; soon our gathering significantly increased in size. The food was left for the homeless as CEOs silently stepped back. I watched as they encouraged our new neighbours to enjoy the food and enjoy they did. It was as if we had thrown a small party.
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- When: Thursday, September 26, 2013 (7pm – overnight)
- Where: 201 Portage Ave. (formerly CanWest Place)
This year I am volunteering my time to help raise awareness and funds in support of Winnipeg’s homeless. The CEO Sleepout is entering its third year and I am proud Red River College is again joining nearly 100 CEOs, community leaders and celebrities from Winnipeg to help draw attention to this worthwhile cause.
Homelessness is a significant social concern in Winnipeg, and like many of you, I am committed to working to make a change for the better. This commitment is reflected in the College’s Strategic Plan – the Plan makes clear our intent to work with community organizations to enhance our efforts to reach out to under-represented groups and support social progress. The CEO Sleepout is just one of the many initiatives that demonstrates Red River College’s commitment.
What attracted me to this event was its focus on raising funds, not only to provide the supports and skills needed to find employment in our community, but also to build employment opportunities. There are many who struggle to find a way into the workforce; funds raised from the CEO Sleepout have been used to successfully create pathways to employment and have brought many positive changes to people’s lives.
The CEO Sleepout was first developed to support the Downtown BIZ’s Change for the Better program. In 2011, they launched their first CEO Sleepout and generated the momentum they needed to move toward creating a 10-year plan to end homelessness. Last year, the CEO Sleepout raised $119,000, with proceeds going to support Siloam Mission, Red Road Lodge, and Graffiti Art Programming Inc.
This year, I’m hoping we can surpass that marker, and I am confident that I, along with many others, can make that happen. Throughout the rest of this month, I will be soliciting donations to help make this event a continued success. I will also be live-Tweeting (#ceosleepout) my experiences that evening, in the hopes of heightening awareness and encouraging more donations dedicated to empowering Winnipeg’s homeless.