Profile by Matt Ten Bruggencate (Creative Communications, 2013)
Derrick Sinclair had hardly held a wrench before he came to Red River College. Nor had he been to a sweat or a smudge. Now the Peguis-born 23-year-old has taken an engine down to its bolts, is hoping to sign his apprenticeship papers shortly, and has a second name – Eagle Speaks.
On top of that, he’s been asked by the College to come back as a tutor to mentor students who might be confused about where they want to go in life. Just like he was.
In his final year of high school, Sinclair was like a lot of grads – unsure of what he wanted to do next. He had an interest in mechanics, fed both by a desire to help extended family members “who were always having to take their vehicles into the shops, instead of working on them by themselves” and the draw of a culture glamourized in films such as The Fast and the Furious.
But there weren’t many opportunities on the reserve to get a firm grounding in mechanics or auto repair. Sinclair also suspected the reserve’s school hadn’t pushed him hard enough to prepare him for college life – either in terms of the academic content or having a rigorous class schedule. He was looking for a bridge to let him explore trades education as well as check out what it means to be a college student.
He found that bridge in the Aboriginal Program for College Enrichment and Transition, formerly the Biindigen (“Welcome”) Program. Continue reading
Profile by Matt Ten Bruggencate (Creative Communications, 2013)
Darrell Brown took the exact opposite path most kids dream of: he sold his arcade business and went back to school.
But the 47-year-old graduate of Red River College’s International Business diploma program (1998) hasn’t looked back, first founding a marketing company to connect European tourists with Manitoba First Nations, then a manufacturing company preparing office furniture orders for First Nations and government clients.
“I’m in business to make clients happy,” says Brown. “That, to me, is where it’s not about profit. It’s about delivering a good product or service.”
With a father in the army, Brown experienced the typical “base brat” upbringing, moving a number of times during his childhood, including two tours in Germany. His father’s final posting brought the family to Winnipeg, where Brown graduated high school, then worked for a major Crown corporation for 10 years. It wasn’t a great fit.
“I didn’t care for the union mentality,” he says. “I took (a) buyout, cashed in a boatload of RSPs and found a business to buy… Basically I was doing everything to make it happen.”
Brown’s arcade business, stocked with pinball machines and pool tables, had 15 locations at the height of its popularity. But this, too, wasn’t the fulfilling career he had envisioned. He wanted to take his career in a larger, more meaningful direction; one that tied in his native heritage. That’s when he found the International Business diploma at RRC. He sold the business and hit the books. Continue reading
Profile by Elizabeth Catacutan (Creative Communications, 2013)
Sabrina Rogers, a Continuing Education student in Red River College’s Youth Recreation Activity Worker program, wasn’t so sure she’d make it to graduation after she received some unexpected news months before starting her program. program, wasn’t so sure she’d make it to graduation after she received some unexpected news months before starting her program.
“I found out I was pregnant coming into the program,” says Rogers. “Because of that, I wasn’t sure if I’d even finish or if I was going to have to drop out. I almost felt bad because it was as if I was taking the seat from someone else who deserved it.”
Fortunately, she put all her doubts behind her and surpassed her own expectations. Today Rogers is not only a new mother to a beautiful, healthy daughter, Sophia, but is also only a handful of practicum hours away from completing her program.
“As my stomach kept growing it gave me more incentive and motivation to finish,” says Rogers. “I also wanted to do this for my family, instructors and everyone who supported me. My family wouldn’t let me drop out, no matter how much I wanted to at some points.” Continue reading
She’s an aspiring singer-songwriter with a long history of performing and caring for others — and she’s looking for a career that will allow her to share those considerable gifts with future generations.
No surprise, then, that Continuing Education grad Angel Simard has already found her way back to Red River College — to further bolster her Youth Recreation Activity Worker credentials via a diploma from RRC’s Child and Youth Care program.
We caught up with Angel to find out what led her to RRC in the first place, and how her experience here has inspired her to embark on a career path where she can continue helping others.
RRC: Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Pine Falls, Manitoba, but raised in Winnipeg.
What was your favourite thing to do as a kid?
The number one interest of mine was always music. I’ve always had a passion for music, whether it’s singing, songwriting, or learning how to play a musical instrument. As a young child I used to sit down with my grandfather everyday to listen to him sing Hank Williams songs and play guitar, and I would observe him and help him record himself on a tape cassette recorder. He was a talented singer/musician who always wanted to be a country star. The farthest he came to that was singing a tribute to Hank Williams at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville during the 1940s. Music has been passed down from generation to generation in my family and I believe it’s meant to be a part of me and I’m supposed to use that gift and not waste it, and to share that gift when I feel ready to and also to keep passing that gift down to young people. (Which I have done with some of the youth I’ve worked with in my child and youth care practice.) Continue reading
Profile by Matthew TenBruggencate, second-year Creative Communications. Originally published on the Going Places blog.
When Rita Flamand was a young girl growing up in Camperville, Manitoba, she wasn’t allowed to speak her Metis tongue at school.
“They told me it wasn’t a real language,” she recalls. “They said it was a bastard language.”
Michif draws its verbs from Plains Cree or Ojibwe, while its nouns and articles are usually French. Like the Metis, it is a blending of cultures with its own unique identity. Despite having the five basic components of an independent language – syntax, semantics, pragmatics, morphology and phonology — it has traveled a difficult road to receiving official recognition, partly because there is no cohesive written form of the language.
Flamand has been working to change that. Since graduating from Red River College’s Aboriginal Interpreter program in 1998, she’s has been working as a translator on projects ranging from provincial voting guides to children’s cartoons, bettering her understanding of Michif as she builds toward a magnum opus: a Michif dictionary.
“I have everything set out to publish,” Flamand says, “I’m just dealing with the copyright issues… And I’ve been so busy using the stuff I took from RRC — translating and translating.” Continue reading
— By Matthew TenBruggencate, a first-year Creative Communications student.
Impressions of Grant Maluga can be deceiving, particularly if your first meeting takes place on a football field. Six feet tall and broadly built, Maluga might come off as an intimidating presence. But nothing could be further from the truth.
“People might look at me and think I’m immature or tough or troubled,” he says. “But on in the inside, I’m soft as a teddy bear.”
Maluga moved to Winnipeg this past autumn to join the Winnipeg Rifles as a defensive lineman while taking Biindigen College Studies at Red River College. Biindigen (Ojibwe for “welcome”) combines introductory college programs with Aboriginal culture, language and history courses. Maluga says he feels at home.
“Everyone in Biindigen is friendly… you get a lot of one-on-one attention there,” he says. “A teacher the other day told me, ‘You’re more of a friend than a student.’”
Some people might be surprised at the momentum in Maluga’s life, considering the hurdles he’s had to overcome. When he was eight, his mother left the family home in Brandon; he hasn’t seen her since. He’s also had to cope with his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
She wanted to learn more about the history of Aboriginal people in Canada. Now, she’s helping to shape their future.
As Events Coordinator for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, RRC grad Janell Melenchuk (Aboriginal Self-Government Administration, 2010) plays an integral role in giving voice to survivors of the residential school system.
“I’m constantly learning,” says Melenchuk, one of hundreds of success stories who graduate each year from RRC’s School of Indigenous Education. “To be involved with this work — to meet with survivors and hear their stories, and to be part of something that will have an impact on Canada’s history — is really amazing.”
Formerly a resident of Creighton, Saskatchewan, Melenchuk enrolled at RRC because she wanted to learn more about Aboriginal culture, in particular, governance practices and the history of First Nations people in Canada. While a student here, she benefited from the attention and wisdom of her instructors, as well as the many resources made available by the College’s Aboriginal Student Support & Community Relations department.
“The support that you receive from the staff and the teachers is overwhelming,” says Melenchuk, who’s currently completing her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Winnipeg.
“There’s always somebody there that will assist you and have your back — whether financially, or just in your personal life. Especially when you’re dealing with the stress of moving to a new city — they’re amazingly supportive, and you don’t always get that at educational institutions.” Continue reading