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A legacy of caring: New scholarship launched in memory of local activist

September 20, 2017 • Written by

Richard (Asher) Webb, 2007“I realize that alone, I will never stop poverty, hunger, war, etc., but by doing whatever I can to help those in need, I can set into motion a chain of events that could in fact make those kind of differences.”

— Richard (Asher) Webb

During his lifetime, Richard (Asher) Webb exemplified the philosophy that it’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

A 1986 Computer Programming graduate who’d returned to Red River College to study Business Administration when he died at the age of 49 in 2009, Webb devoted his time, talent and irresistible enthusiasm to helping others, driving social and political change, promoting the arts and nurturing a universal sense of community.

“He was very outgoing — he was very social minded,” says brother Ken Webb, RRC’s former vice-president of Academic and Research. “He was a servant leader and a great organizer and a lot of his passion was around organizing groups and activities to make the world a better place.”

His family established the $750 Richard (Asher) Webb Social Justice Activist Memorial Award to honour and extend a legacy of kindness and caring, recognizing RRC students who inspire others through efforts to further “equity, inclusion and social justice through community engagement.”

Patrick Webb, who lives in Edmonton, says he’s proud of his late brother’s accomplishments on a great many fronts. A lifelong champion of the underdog, he didn’t just talk about equality and social justice issues, he did something about them, and he convinced others to join him.

“He wasn’t an armchair quarterback and a critic,” says Patrick. “He lived by his values and led by example and tried to get other people to do the same thing.”

When he lived in Vancouver in the early 1980s, Webb organized the city’s first hospice for HIV/AIDS patients, at a time when they were frequent victims of fear and misinformation.

“He gave his all to care for the terminally ill, many of them in hospice or hospitalized,” says his sister Linda Dyck, from Vancouver. “He helped ease many during the most difficult times of their lives. He cared for and provided emotional support for both the ill and their families, often to the very end.” Read More →

Triumphing over tragedy: Early Childhood Education grad draws spiritual support from late husband

September 8, 2017 • Written by

Olga Rusnak, Makoonsag Intergenerational Children's CentreIt’s never too late to follow your dreams. And if you think that’s just a silly cliché, you really ought to meet Olga Rusnak.

If you had asked Rusnak 10 years ago if she thought she’d ever graduate from Red River College and land her current job as a daycare provider at the Makoonsag Intergenerational Children’s Centre, she would have answered with a definitive ‘no.’

“I’ve always wanted to work with children, but I didn’t have the education for that,” says Rusnak, 56, who recently proved dreams can be realized at any age.

The second-oldest of six children, Rusnak came from a poor family, and dropped out of school in Grade 9 to help her mother care for her siblings. She worked in retail for many years to provide financial support for her family — and she’s proud to say four of her siblings went on to graduate from high school.

But once she reached her late forties, Rusnak herself felt stuck.

“As you get older, you think, ‘I wish I had my education.’ I used to think, ‘If I could only have this job …’, but you need an education. You can’t get anywhere without an education.”

Rusnak told her husband, Daryl (John) Rusnak, how badly she wanted an education so she could fulfill her dreams of working with children. He offered nothing but support.

“He said, ‘Why don’t you go back to school?’ And I said, ‘No, I can’t. I’m too old, and I’m afraid.’”

Thankfully, John’s persistence paid off, and Rusnak eventually went to Urban Circle Training Centre Inc., which provides culturally appropriate education and training to Indigenous women and men in Winnipeg. There, she received the support she needed to graduate from the Centre’s high school equivalency program in 2009. Read More →

Back to nature: Business Administration grad launches handcrafted hair-care line

September 8, 2017 • Written by

Tania Czemerynski, Cze by TaniaTania Czemerynski’s bad hair days are behind her — and she wants to tame your mane, too.

Czemerynski is the founder of Cze by Tania, a Winnipeg business that specializes in all-natural hair and beard care products for women and men. Czemerynski launched Cze (pronounced ‘Chay’) in the fall of 2015, but the roots of her hair care business go back a little further.

“I started (making hair care products) because my hair was super dried out — it was broken and brittle. I didn’t do it with the intention of starting a business,” Czemerynski says.

“I started making my own home remedies sometime in 2013. I started to research different oils and things to make my hair grow out, because my hair was broken — it wasn’t growing. My boyfriend was like, ‘Your hair feels like a mop.’ I had spent so much money on store-bought products, so I started to make my own and it was really noticeably different within six weeks.”

A 2012 graduate of Red River College’s Business Administration program, Czemerynski went on to earn a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Manitoba two years later.

She had entrepreneurial ambitions, but initially Czemerynski was only sharing her home hair remedy with family and friends. It wasn’t until co-workers (at her former serving job) asked to try her “magic hair oil” that Czemerynski realized she had a potentially profitable product on her hands — and her head. Read More →

Culinary grad relishes a challenge

August 23, 2017 • Written by

Thomas Stuart, Thermëa by Nordic SpaNo shirt, no pants — no problem, at Thermëa by Nordic Spa’s restaurant.

Guests can dress for lunch or dinner, but if they’d rather unwind in a fluffy bathrobe and spa slippers, that’s OK with Chef Thomas Stuart.

The 2005 graduate of Red River College’s Culinary Arts program is all about making patrons feel relaxed and comfortable, and he’s happy to massage his Scandinavian-inspired menu to satisfy eclectic appetites at the upscale eatery, whether guests are in the mood for gourmet S’mores, a vegan salad or beer-braised lamb shanks.

“Being a food service for a spa has been kind of an eye opener for me because we have people with every different expectations coming to the spa and coming to the restaurant,” he says.

“I’ll have people who just want a burger and French fries and then I’ll have another group that’s sitting at the table beside them that want a four-course table d’hôte fine dining experience, so that’s been my main challenge.”

But it’s been a fun challenge for the adventurous chef.

Stuart, 34, has been rattling pots and pans since Thermëa opened three years ago. In fact, he was hired a year before the spa’s delayed debut, so he traded his chef’s toque for a hard hat and steel-toed boots and pitched in, moving lumber, painting fences and doing other odd jobs. While the kitchen had already been designed, he got to outfit it with small appliances, whisks, spoons and other wares, and he created the menu from scratch.

He picked a good time to join the Scandinavian food movement. Restaurant Magazine has named Copenhagen’s Noma the world’s top restaurant in four of the last seven years, sparking a new global culinary wave.

“Now you can go to a bookstore and find a whole section of Scandinavian cookbooks, which is something that 10 years ago you wouldn’t have been able to do,” Stuart says. “So it’s kind of a fun time to be able to do that and get inspired by a growing trend and contribute to it.” Read More →

Electrical Engineering Technology Homecoming

August 22, 2017 • Written by

Over the summer, Electrical Engineering Technology instructors and alumni got together at the Notre Dame Campus for an evening of reminiscing, stories and catching up.

Below are photos from the event.

Planting seeds: Community Development grad delivers hands-on learning to high school students, new immigrants

July 10, 2017 • Written by

Raymond Ngarboui, Hugh John Macdonald School

To say Raymond Ngarboui has made the most of his time in Canada is an understatement.

Since moving to Winnipeg 12 years ago, the Chad, Africa, native has amassed a list of accomplishments longer than most people do in a lifetime. As a community development coordinator, he works to support fellow immigrants and other residents who struggle to make ends meet, all while sitting on various boards and volunteering for organizations like UNICEF and the United Way.

He’s won countless accolades for his work – including a recent Premier’s Volunteer Service Award – but Ngarboui insists that he’s the one who’s grateful, especially for the education he received from Red River College.

“For me, it’s not about being recognized, it’s about doing what I’ve been doing, and of freeing myself of moral debt that I’ve been carrying,” Ngarboui says.

Like many other newcomers, Ngarboui didn’t speak English when he arrived here on Sept. 27, 2005. The inability to communicate made those early days difficult for him.

“I was feeling loneliness, I was feeling homesickness,” he says.

Thankfully, Ngarboui is a fast learner. Shortly after enrolling at RRC’s Language Training Centre, he became fluent in English and his “life started getting better.”

One of his first priorities at the time was to give back to UNICEF, an organization that had helped him as a child. In civil war-torn Chad, when all the schools had closed, UNICEF was there to provide some education for Ngarboui and his fellow classmates, despite the circumstances. Once in Winnipeg, he located the office and began working there.

“I wouldn’t have been able to graduate to the level that I am today without the help of UNICEF,” he says.

After completing the Language Training Centre’s post-secondary prep course, Ngarboui considered studying agriculture at the University of Manitoba – an area he’d begun studying back home – but wanted to find a way to meld his passion for farming with his devotion to his new community. He discovered RRC’s Community Development/Community Economic Development program, and knew it was the perfect fit. Read More →

International Business grad connects Indigenous communities with clean energy options

July 3, 2017 • Written by

Darrell Brown, Kisik Inc.

Darrell Brown believes knowledge is power, and in his case, clean power.

Brown is the president and owner of Kisik Inc. — a company that provides school, office and health-care furniture to First Nations clients and federal government departments — as well as Kisik Marketing and Communications Ltd.

Brown’s quest for knowledge began at Red River College, where he earned an advanced diploma in International Business in 1998.

In 2013, the Cree entrepreneur earned a certificate of Indigenous leadership, governance and management excellence from the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. The next year, he was back at the Banff Centre participating in a week-long leadership workshop called the Ambassadors Program.

One of Brown’s latest learning experiences was with the 20/20 Catalysts Program. In 2016, he participated in the interactive three-month program, which is designed to support Indigenous communities embarking on clean energy projects.

“Across Canada we have many First Nations that are not connected to the power grids, so they are still burning diesel,” says Brown. “The idea is to connect them with renewable energy and reduce their reliance on diesel.”

“It was an intense course last summer on how to develop and execute an Indigenous renewable energy project for your community. We had layers and layers of support: business mentorship, personal coaching, the staff of the program and non-stop excursions to renewable energy sites. We were onsite for three weeks in three different provinces. We learned firsthand from the people who have done their clean energy projects. These were chiefs and former chiefs and economic development officers who have all executed their own renewable energy projects for their own First Nations.” Read More →

The big picture: Graphic Design grad climbs corporate ladder following ad agency merger

June 26, 2017 • Written by

Robert Mensies, 6P Marketing When it comes to visual communication, Robert Mensies concentrates on the big picture.

Since graduating from Red River College’s Advertising Art (now Graphic Design) program in 1999, Mensies has continually climbed the corporate ladder, from designing ads for a local publisher to owning his own ad agency, Edge Marketing Strategies.

In 2015, Mensies merged Edge with 6P Marketing, where he now serves as Director of Client Strategy, a perfect position for his big-picture thinking.

“Director of Client Strategy is a fancy title that basically means I get to work with our clients on their longer-term marketing and branding business objectives,” Mensies says. “I’m still in the minutia of the day-to-day stuff for some clients who just can’t get enough of me and my winning personality, but mostly I’m focusing on that longer-term game plan for clients,” Mensies says jokingly.

Mensies’ focus may be long-term, but it’s also quite specific. At 6P, his main clients are in the agri-business and food sectors.

“Whenever you can specialize within a certain industry or sector, it really builds your knowledge and your expertise,” Mensies says.

“I know something a lot of firms struggle with is being [a] commodity versus a specialist. We’ve (6P) really been focusing on being specialists within certain sectors. There are many benefits. You can charge more, because you’re seen as a specialist, versus a commodity guy. You focus your energies in a particular field as opposed to being all things to all people. And you just build your own personal brand, and people respect what you do. If someone is looking to sell something or do something within agriculture, they see you as more of a peer versus a supplier.” Read More →

Port of call: CreComm grad promotes Winnipeg as transportation hub to the world

June 19, 2017 • Written by

Carly Edmundson, Centreport Canada

Whether it be by plane, train or truck, Carly Edmundson is doing her part to establish Winnipeg as a central transportation hub.

Edmundson is the executive director of marketing and communications at CentrePort Canada Inc., the corporation responsible for developing the 20,000-acre tri-modal (air, rail and trucking) inland port anchored by Winnipeg’s James Armstrong Richardson International Airport.

“There are three types of marketing and communications that we do at CentrePort,” says Edmundson, a graduate of Red River College’s Creative Communications program.

“The first is awareness raising. Canada, or indeed Manitoba, is not always top of mind for global investors. So our first job is to educate potential investors on all of the advantages of locating in our province.”

“A second focus of our marketing programs is targeted to businesses that we’re looking to attract, usually from outside of Manitoba and often from outside of Canada. There are six key sectors — agriculture, manufacturing, energy and mines, biomedical, transportation and logistics, and e-commerce — that are well-suited to set up new operations at CentrePort. We’re very precise about who we’re targeting and delivering the type of information that business leaders are interested in to make a decision of that magnitude.”

“The flip side of that would be our local marketing. Obviously developing a 20,000-acre inland port in Manitoba is going to affect those of us who live, work, play, and learn here. We focus on raising awareness on how the inland port’s development is positively impacting Manitoba’s economy and creating jobs.” Read More →

2017 Honorary Degree Recipient – Paul Charette

June 12, 2017 • Written by

Paul Charette, 2017 RRC Honorary Degree RecipientHe’s a titan of industry, a paragon of philanthropy and a proud Red River College alum.

And for Paul Charette, recipient of RRC’s 2017 Honorary Degree, his most recent recognition comes exactly 50 years after he first graduated from the College.

The former CEO of Bird Construction, Charette graduated from RRC’s Civil Technology program back in 1967 (after receiving a $200 bursary from the Women’s Auxiliary of West Kildonan).

He added to his credentials with a Computer Programming degree in 1968, then worked for nine years with Manitoba Hydro on the development of the Nelson River and Manitoba Rolling Mills expansion projects.

In 1976, Charette began working for Bird Construction — first as a project coordinator, then as chief operating officer (1988), chief executive office (1991), and chair of the board (2001). During that time, he led the company through a period of substantial growth, increasing revenues from $90 million in 1988 to more than $1 billion in 2008, when he stepped down as CEO.

The Charettes are RRC’s most prominent individual donors, having over the years established two award endowments — which fund 12 student awards each year — and the Paul and Gerri Charette Manitoba Applied Research Chair in Sustainable Construction.

He also played a pivotal role in helping to establish the Construction Management Degree program at RRC.

In addition to his most recent honour from the College (which complements the Distinguished Alumnus designation he received in 2002), Charette has also received a number of industry awards, including the 2001 Ontario General Contractors Chairman’s Award of Recognition, the 2005 Toronto Construction Association’s General Contractors Section Bob Rae Memorial Award, and the 2006 Canadian Construction Association’s General Contractors Award of Excellence.

In 2010, he was named the Canadian Construction Association’s Person of the Year, and this year was named Colleges and Institutes Canada’s 2017 Outstanding Partner, an award that celebrates the close collaboration between colleges, institutes and their industry partners.