President’s Message

February 7, 2014

President's Message

First Class of Bachelor of Nursing Students Cross the Stage!

February has already been a busy and historic month for Red River College. On February 4th our first class of nursing students graduated from the Bachelor of Nursing degree program. What a pleasure it was to personally acknowledge each graduate and present them with their degree, and to learn that each and every one of our new grads have accepted employment in their profession right here in Manitoba! Not only is this great news for RRC but also it’s also excellent news for Manitoba’s nursing community.

RRC’s nursing degree curriculum was the ‘brainchild’ of Karen Wall, the Division Chair.  Dean of Health Sciences, Louise Gordon, notes that, “Karen had the vision to design the program in a model which teaches the entry level competencies, but is unique to RRC.” So if you see Karen on campus, please congratulate her and the entire Nursing team for a job exceedingly well done.

Many staff and external players were involved in the initiation and implementation of this new degree program – too many to mention in this Update, but I want to acknowledge the staff in the Health Sciences Division and the leadership of their Dean. Louise has been a tireless champion and resolute in her efforts to make this degree a reality.

The National Nursing examination results for this first class of degree graduates is also impressive. Our Bachelor of Nursing students scored higher on average than any other class in the province. The provincial pass rate on the National Nursing exam was 93 %; the pass rate for our first class of nursing degree students was 96%!  It’s an incredible achievement and a high benchmark for successive classes to reach.

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A Message to our 2014 Graduates

February 6, 2014
Students at Red River College's Winter Convocation - Centennial Concert Hall, Winnipeg, MB

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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Happy New Year!

January 7, 2014

President's Message

Welcome back, everyone and Happy New Year. I hope your time away from the College was time to be treasured, whether it was spent with loved ones, curled up with a good book, basking in the sun in a warm climate, checking things off your “to-do” list, or all of the above!

2014 promises to be a great year for RRC; from taking the next steps on the new Skilled Trades & Technology Centre, to expanding the reach of our master infrastructure planning efforts, to further integrating a shared leadership model throughout the College, along with moving forward on the many projects associated with our 2012-2015 Strategic plan. I am excited about the work that is ahead of us.

In speaking with many of you this morning, it’s obvious that the cold weather has not dampened your passion as we welcome back our students. It’s great to see and hear the halls buzzing once again with conversation, laughter, study moments and camaraderie.

Still, it is difficult to rationalize warm greetings with this record-breaking cold weather that has challenged each of us in some way. So please, let’s not forget that even though the holiday season has passed, so many people still need our help in terms of food, shelter, warmth and protection. Be sure to reach out to others where you can, and help identify those who may need help but cannot necessarily speak for themselves. The Students’ Association Food Bank continues to take donations.

In the meantime, I wish you the very best for the coming week and remind you to follow me on Twitter at #rrcprez

Best wishes for a terrific 2014!


Year-End Reflections

December 19, 2013

President's Message2013 has been an extremely momentous year for Red River College. So many successes, new partnerships, and new opportunities have allowed us to continue to be leaders in post-secondary education and a pioneer in applied research.

And, amidst it all, Red River College turned 75! What a terrific opportunity to showcase – to our partners, donors, students, and staff – how our College has and continues to make a positive impact to Manitoba’s economy and in the lives of so many people. The 75th anniversary allowed us to reflect on where we have been and where we are going. When I look back at 2013 and see what we have accomplished together, I am so proud of what has been accomplished.

The year started off with an historic achievement as we opened the much anticipated Paterson GlobalFoods Institute.  And yet within only a few short months of opening we were signing an historic agreement with the international Paul Bocuse Institute Culinary Alliance in France, becoming Canada’s only hospitality and culinary arts school to do so.

Throughout the year we also welcomed the support of many private and corporate stakeholders for student awards, program partnerships and capital donations. We celebrated investments into our infrastructure such as the gifts from Maxim Truck & Trailer and Bison Transport for our Heavy Equipment Transportation Centre. This type of ongoing support signals confidence in RRC and illustrates industry’s commitment to the success of the College and to the success of our staff and students.

With respect to investment, the Province of Manitoba’s Speech from the Throne this fall made jobs and skilled trades training a provincial priority and introduced new incentives for Manitobans pursuing apprenticeship training. Skills development is an area in which we lead, meaning the College will play a dominant role in helping to build a skilled workforce of 75,000 people by 2020.

The Throne Speech also set in motion the launch of the first phase of our new Skilled Trades Technology Centre (STTC). This $60 million project will create an additional 100,000 square feet of learning space for skilled trades through the next several decades. The Skilled Trades and Technology Centre is a first and vitally important step in the realization of the Notre Dame Campus Master Plan.

For the fourth year in a row we were selected as one of Manitoba’s Top 25 Employers.  This comes on the heels of numerous other awards and recognition that reflect the calibre and the dedication of our employees to the College.

Another significant moment occurred just weeks ago, when over 100 leaders from the College came together for a full day to talk about and develop a shared vision for leadership.   This vision, in addition to the Envision and Enable programs that are offered at the College to support and develop current and future leaders will set the course of leadership for the next several years. Together, we will accomplish even more great things.

As we head into this holiday season, please join me in recognizing the efforts of staff and students who have taken the time to spread holiday spirit and benevolence throughout all the campuses. From the Winter Wonderland Celebration;  to the School of Indigenous Education’s Christmas Village; to the children’s Santa Claus Brunch, to the All-Charities campaign and the SA’s Student Food Bank, we have shown that spending time together and supporting our community is still a priority for all of us.

In closing, I wish to thank you for an incredible year and for holidays filled with rest,   warm memories, and quality time spent with family and friends.

Here’s also wishing the very best to you for 2014.

Keep safe,


Follow me on Twitter @rrcprez

P.S. If you are still trying to find that last minute, perfect gift for someone; why not consider a personalized Red River College Brick? It’s a way in which each of us can leave a visual, everlasting mark at the College while supporting the future success of Red River and its students. If you want more information contact Elena Grinshteyn at


RRC Students Excel at Applied Research Showcase

November 18, 2013

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.

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

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President’s Message October 2013

October 31, 2013

President's Message

October 2013

ACCC Skills Summit 2013

This month I attended the ACCC (Association of Canadian Community Colleges) board meeting and National Skills Summit in Ottawa where key stakeholders met to discuss solutions to Canada’s shortage of labour and mismatch of skills. Several common themes emerged from this Summit, not unlike the ones that surfaced during our conversations in Manitoba:

  • the need for providing greater understanding of career possibilities and pathways amongst high school students, but also for youth who have left or finished high school;
  • the need for accurate, readily accessible labour market information for students and all stakeholders engaged in education and training;
  • greater engagement of, and investment by, employers in education and training;
  • greater collaboration and conversation between colleges and universities, and between post-secondary institutions and industry;
  • focusing government policy and investment more equitably to colleges and institutes (e.g. universities are generally funded by government at a higher level than their college counter parts – this inequity needs to change);
  • heightened focus and investment on essential skills and access programs that will engage  learners who have not attained a grade 12 diploma;
  • a review and revamp of apprenticeship system; and
  • a concentrated focus on the engagement of Aboriginal youth and a recognition that when they are provided the opportunity to achieve a grade 12 diploma they fare as well as their non-Aboriginal counterparts in post-secondary education.

Many of the above recommendations, and others, also emerged earlier this year from our Manitoba discussions on Skills. During our Ottawa 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. For more information, I encourage you to visit to read more about the Q and A with the Minister.

Alumni Gala 2013

We’ve had a very busy month celebrating our 75th anniversary and many people have been involved to make it such a success.  Last Friday’s75th Anniversary Alumni Gala, capped off the celebrations; an event which is getting rave reviews from our alumni, sponsors and partners.

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Dissecting the Federal Job Grant Program

October 25, 2013
Students doing practical work in RRC's dentistry programs.

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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CEO Sleepout 2013 – My Night on the Streets of Winnipeg

September 27, 2013
Stephanie Forsyth - CEO Sleepout 2013

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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CEO Sleepout 2013 – Change for the Better

September 11, 2013
  • 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.

President’s Message – September 2013

September 4, 2013

President's Message

September 2013

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful summer – whether you were travelling, working, conducting research, completing an internship, catching up with family and friends… or all of the above! Whatever your experience, I hope it was enjoyable and relaxing, and helped you prepare for what will be another exciting and busy year as we get ready to celebrate Red River College’s 75th Anniversary!

Last week, I had the pleasure of welcoming some new (and some not-so-new) faces at an employee orientation. I’m always impressed by the calibre of people working at the College, and proud that we’re able to attract such talented and dedicated employees. I hope to make it around to as many classes as possible over the next two weeks, to reinforce our ‘learner-centred’ values and to hear from our staff and students about what’s on their minds and what keeps bringing them back to the College.

You can follow my visits on Twitter – my handle is @rrcprez – and in the meantime, I hope you won’t mind if I drop by your classes and departments to say hello, and to welcome students to the Red River College community.

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