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Convocation Day at Algonquin College

The following is an excerpt from the President Claude Brulé’s October 28 address at the 2020 Convocation; learn more about Algonquin College first virtual convocation here. As your President, I am both humbled and honoured to have this opportunity to celebrate your resilience and success. Amidst the events reshaping our global reality, be they the […]

The following is an excerpt from the President Claude Brulé’s October 28 address at the 2020 Convocation; learn more about Algonquin College first virtual convocation here.

As your President, I am both humbled and honoured to have this opportunity to celebrate your resilience and success.

Amidst the events reshaping our global reality, be they the pandemic, climate change, the fight for social justice and equality, or automation and the world of Artificial Intelligence, we come together to celebrate your incredible achievement, which is all the more remarkable given these extraordinary times.

In this age of great uncertainty, I can be certain of one thing…. The steadfast determination you have displayed will serve you well in the new environment being shaped so rapidly before us.

The world you are entering, upon graduation, looks nothing like the world from even a year ago. Yet, along with the challenges that lay ahead, the future holds promise and opportunities the likes of which have not been presented to any generation for a long time.

The door is open for you to really change the world, and not in a clichéd sense, but in real and tangible ways, emboldened with fresh ideas and new perspectives.

It also stands ready for your generation’s champions of social justice, to address issues of inequity, and the lack of diversity and inclusion that recent events have brought to the forefront in ways that can no longer be ignored.

Whatever your path forward, you will have the opportunity to help lead a true transformation –

to recalibrate the socio-economic inequities for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour on a scale never seen before. And to reshape the modern workforce and break new ground in your chosen field.

Embracing our community will hopefully be one of the enduring legacies to emerge from these times, and you will be the ones to pass this on to the next generation.

Education, in its many forms, is a significant touchstone. It helps form the solid ground beneath our feet. It allows us to adapt, pivot and anticipate rather than merely react when change inevitably challenges our lives.

The knowledge and skills you have acquired here at Algonquin College are now part of your “tool kit”, helping to “future-proof” your career.

I want to borrow now from my colleague, Ron (Deganadus) McLester, Algonquin’s Vice President – Truth, Reconciliation & Indigenization. He often uses the metaphor of arrows in a

quiver. An arrow on its own will snap easily, however when they are bundled together, they are strong and resilient. Having many arrows in your quiver provides strength, and will enhance your confidence when faced with the many challenges set to come your way.

So … going forward … be inspired to learn new things and develop new skills. Fill your quiver with more arrows and make your mark.

Everything of value starts with an idea. What ideas are you preparing to share with the world? What script are you about to write?

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of the author, Neil Gaiman, and I’d like to borrow what I think is an appropriate quote from his book, Art Matters: “It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that society is huge and the individual is less than nothing. But the truth is, individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different.”

So, when you think about your future, where does your imagination take you? The world needs your creativity, your energy and your resiliency more than ever before. It needs you to dream big dreams, and to go forward and be fearless.

Be unafraid to fail and to learn from your missteps. To borrow again from Neil Gaiman: “Now go, and make interesting mistakes…Make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for you being here.” History is filled with the stories of entrepreneurs and leaders in every field whose ideas met with initial dismissal, failure, and seemingly insurmountable odds before they achieved success.

So let opportunity be what defines you. I know you already possess the determination, imagination and innovative spirit to overcome any obstacles in your path.

Taking care of one’s own mental health should be top priority

The Fall term has always been a time of excitement – but also of increased responsibility and stress within our College community. Amidst the pandemic, I know many of us are struggling with additional feelings of anxiety and isolation this year. That’s why I call on each and every one of you to make mental […]

The Fall term has always been a time of excitement – but also of increased responsibility and stress within our College community. Amidst the pandemic, I know many of us are struggling with additional feelings of anxiety and isolation this year.

That’s why I call on each and every one of you to make mental health your top priority.

Six years ago, the Mental Health Commission of Canada released a report highlighting how post-secondary student populations across the country are at a higher risk of mental health issues.

The report detailed how half of all lifetime cases of diagnosable mental illness start by 14 years-of-age, and 75 per cent by the age of 24. Half of all Canadians will have, or will have had, a mental illness by the age of 40.

In the intervening years since that report, Algonquin College has taken many steps to enhance its support networks and resources to help our learners and employees look after their mental health.

That work continues with an even greater sense of purpose today, as we now face new personal challenges brought upon us by the COVID-19 pandemic. With a return to normal still on the horizon, taking care of ourselves has become even more critical.

Algonquin College takes pride in being an inclusive, caring community. We strive each day to support and respect one another – to show kindness and empathy. By doing this, we break down the old and harmful stigmas around mental health.

Building awareness is crucial, and I encourage every learner and employee to take the time to reflect on how they are feeling and coping during these unprecedented times. Part of being aware is accepting that it is okay to be vulnerable. Asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness. Never hesitate to reach out when in need. In addition to the resources referenced above, there are also many apps and online tools available to you, and excellent resources offered by Ottawa Public Health.

One of the recent developments in our continuing efforts around mental health is the expanded partnership Algonquin College has with The Royal. This summer, thanks to a $250,000 contribution from RBC Foundation, more of our learners in need will be able to meet online with a psychiatrist from The Royal and get the support they need through  a customized treatment plan.

We also offer a complete range of counselling services and general supports in an effort to cater to the individual needs of every learner, understanding the broad range of challenges and lived experiences across our student population. These services are provided by professionals who can accommodate you virtually from the comfort of your own home.

Like everyone, I am looking forward to the time when we can all safely be together again, enjoying the vibrancy and energy of being on campus. Until then, please know you are not alone. We want you to turn your dreams into lifelong success and are committed to helping you on the journey.

Province announces new support for college students in highly needed fields

Designated Learning Institution program will issue work permits for international students
Photo: Angel Belair-Poirier
First-year baking student Jane Jane

International students from publicly-funded colleges, such as Algonquin College, will receive priority for allocation of work permits in high-demand jobs to support economic growth and the workforce in Ontario.

Skilled trades, health and human resources, Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics (STEM), hospitality and childcare are all fields identified as the most-needed in Ontario.

While employers look for French-speaking employees, French-language education has been recognized as an area of priority with fewer limitations to enrollment.

Students graduating from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) are eligible for a post-secondary work permit. International students must have graduated from a program that is no shorter than six months in duration.

“I will need a work permit, I understand there are online webinars (Student Central) to support students with general concerns, but they directly do not help you with the documentation or the application of any work permit,” said Sara Aracelly Gomez Jara, a hospitality student.

A full list of publicly-funded colleges and universities can be found on the Study in Ontario website.

All students studying outside of their native country must gain a letter of attestation to successfully enroll in a college or university.

“I had received an attestation letter after applying to Algonquin College,” said Omkumar Thakkar, a financial services student.

People can reach out to the administration office of their desired college or university to pursue their studies. While there are still maximum allocations set by the Ontario and federal governments, students’ specific program choice can increase the students’ chances of receiving an attestation letter or “letter of acceptance” to study in Canada.

At present, 811 international students are enrolled in high-demand programs at Algonquin College. “We have 238 international students in Computer Programming, 104 in Computer Engineering Technology and 89 studying in Interactive Media Developer, making those three programs the most popular by far for international students,” said Ernest Mulvey, Director of the International Student Centre.

Student Central, level zero of C-building, is there to assist you.
Student Central level zero of C-Building, is there to assist you. Photo credit: Angel Belair-Poirier

Publicly-funded colleges that deliver education programs through private partnerships will not be eligible for post-secondary work permits. Conestoga College will be the most affected, due to its extensive private partnerships.

To ensure the success of post-secondary education, the government has worked to secure housing options for incoming international students, and invested $32 million in on-site mental health and counselling services. Moreover, the proposed Strengthening Accountability and Student Support Act, 2024 bill could reduce costs and tuition fees for all students.

Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe concerned over federal government’s plans for Canada Day

Local Ottawa Citizen Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe has raised concerns about how the federal government is choosing to limit pedestrian and train traffic on Canada Day this year. Heritage Canada has detailed plans that limit pedestrian access to Booth Street and Pimisi Station, which connects to OC Transpo’s O-Line to LeBreton Flats, where this year’s […]

Local

Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe has raised concerns about how the federal government is choosing to limit pedestrian and train traffic on Canada Day this year.

Heritage Canada has detailed plans that limit pedestrian access to Booth Street and Pimisi Station, which connects to OC Transpo’s O-Line to LeBreton Flats, where this year’s Canada Day celebration is being held.

“It doesn’t make any intuitive sense to have a transit station near LeBreton and an event at LeBreton and not use it,” Sutcliffe said. He also wrote on X that he is “disappointed with the federal government’s plans for traffic flow.”

National

CBC News

Canadian actor Donald Sutherland has passed away at age 88, according to his son and fellow actor Kiefer Sutherland.

“With a heavy heart, I tell you that my father, Donald Sutherland, has passed away. I personally think one of the most important actors in the history of film. Never daunted by a role, good, bad or ugly. He loved what he did and did what he loved, and one can never ask for more than that. A life well lived,” Kiefer Sutherland said on X.

Donald Sutherland was born in Saint John, N.B. in 1935, and was known for his many roles in TV and film, such as M.A.S.H, The Hunger Games, and Pride and Prejudice.

Sutherland is survived by his five children — Kiefer, Rossif, Angus, Rachel and Roeg — his grandchildren, and his wife, Francine.

International

CBC News

Environmental protesters sprayed paint on Britain’s Stonehenge on Wednesday, with orange marks covering some of the stones of the world-famous prehistoric structure.

In video released by environmental group Just Stop Oil on the social media platform X, two protesters were seen running toward two of Stonehenge’s megaliths and spraying paint as another person attempted to stop them.

The group said that the paint was made of cornstarch and would dissolve in the rain.

Just Stop Oil has gained prominence in Britain for disruptive environmental protests, with its activists shutting down roads, disrupting cultural and sporting events and even throwing soup at a van Gogh painting.

They want the British government to end the extraction and burning of oil, gas and coal by 2030.

The organization English Heritage, which manages Stonehenge, said the vandalism was “extremely upsetting” and that curators were investigating the damage.

Algonquin Times wins big at newspaper association’s awards

Algonquin's student-run news website was first published in 1987
Photo: Agrani Tiwari
Julie McCann (left) and Jon Willing (right), the professors in the journalism program, are very happy with winning first place for the Algonquin Times website.

Algonquin College’s news website, the Algonquin Times, won four awards and one honourable mention at the 2023 BNC Awards by the Ontario Community Newspaper Association on Friday, May 24, 2024.

The Algonquin Times won four categories at the OCNA Awards.
The Algonquin Times won four categories at the OCNA Awards. Photo credit: Agrani Tiwari

The Algonquin Times won the Best College/University Newspaper Website award for its new website, which was launched in the Winter 2024 term by the faculty of the journalism program. The website has a whole new design and is geared towards easy access for both readers and student writers.

“The best website [award] one […] feels really good. It always feels good when you win first place,” said Jon Willing, journalism professor. “But the website one is really interesting to us because the program has worked hard over the past year to breathe new life into the website.”

This website took a long time to come to fruition. “It took a year from deciding to renew the website until its launch date,” said Julie McCann, the program coordinator of the journalism program.

Students from the journalism program also won awards for individual work for theTimes.

Alex Lambert, who graduated this year, won first prize in Student Photography for the feature photo of the article “Closure of Rideau Street McDonald’s honoured in farewell march”, while Arty Sarkisian grabbed second place in the same category for his article “‘Fearless’ bartending student left her 30-year career as a pharmacist to seek joy”.

Alex Lambert's photo that won first prize in Student Photography at the BNC Awards.
Alex Lambert's photo that won first prize in Student Photography at the BNC Awards. Photo credit: Alex Lambert

“It feels incredible, honestly, because I didn’t expect us to do as well as we did,” Lambert said. “I remember watching the level fours get their awards and I thought how cool that was to see, so it feels very nice.”

Sarkisian also won second place in Student Feature Writing for that same article about a bartending student.

“It feels surreal to me that I got it,” said Sarkisian. “[I] certainly didn’t expect to, first become a finalist and then get second place in both categories. [I’m] surely very grateful to Jon and Julie for teaching us […] it wouldn’t have been possible without them.”

Kerry Slack got an honourable mention in the Student Feature category for her article Two sports. Countless injuries. And one giant tape ball”.

These awards serve as a commendation for the entire team’s achievements and hard work. “It’s such an energized, enthusiastic community-focused editorial team so that we couldn’t be prouder of them,” said McCann. “They really worked well together. They were enthusiastic about the mission to get good quality news out to the Algonquin College community.”

Police officer granted conditional discharge after guilty plea in assault of 13-year-old boy

Local Ottawa Citizen Ottawa Police Constable Muhammad Omair Khan was granted a conditional discharge after pleading guilty to assaulting a 13-year-old boy who was in his custody and experiencing a mental health crisis at CHEO in 2022. Khan was ordered to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for 12 months, perform 100 hours […]

Local

Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa Police Constable Muhammad Omair Khan was granted a conditional discharge after pleading guilty to assaulting a 13-year-old boy who was in his custody and experiencing a mental health crisis at CHEO in 2022.

Khan was ordered to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for 12 months, perform 100 hours of community service, and serve one year of probation. The judge did not impose a weapons ban or DNA sample order.

“Const. Khan has an exemplary record as a police officer and one lapse of judgement should not reflect on the type of officer he is. Const. Khan has pleaded guilty, which demonstrates he accepts responsibility, and we are here to support him through the legal process,” said Matthew Cox, president of the Ottawa Police Association.

Provincial

Global News

Calgary’s water supply is in crisis after a catastrophic water main break, prompting a critical water alert.

The city’s Mayor Jyoti Gondek warned that the city is “at a place where we don’t have enough of a cushion for emergencies.”

Two workers were injured on site overnight, with one city employee and one contract employee taken to hospital. Repair work on the feeder main has been paused due to the injuries.

“I have difficult news to share with you this morning,” Gondek said. “Two people were injured on site overnight. Both were taken to hospital and neither are in critical condition.”

The city is urging residents to conserve water and minimize indoor use, as the supply is currently lower than usual. Outdoor water restrictions remain in place, and the city remains under a fire ban until water services return to normal. The mayor is urging residents to do more to conserve water, as usage has been creeping up each day since Saturday.

International

CBC

Ukraine’s military has launched a new program to recruit prisoners to join the war effort against Russia. Thousands of prisoners are expected to take up the offer of freedom in exchange for joining the military. The program, which has been approved by the Ukrainian government, allows prisoners to apply to enlist, but they must first receive approval from the court.

Many prisoners are motivated by patriotism and a desire to serve their country.

Renat Temirgaliev, a 25-year-old inmate who is serving a 10-year sentence for murder, said, “I want to be a hero of Ukraine. I want to protect my country.”

He is waiting for a new copy of his passport to submit his official application for the military.

Since Ukraine passed a law allowing convicts to enlist, over 4,500 inmates have applied for the military, and nearly 2,000 of them have been approved by the court. The program is expected to provide an additional 20,000 soldiers to Ukraine’s military, which is struggling after nearly two-and-a-half years of war.

College marks Indigenous History Month with screening of Killers of the Flower Moon

The Student Association and the Mamidosewin Centre combined forces to present the film to students and promote awareness and support Indigenous students on campus
Photo: Steven Dalloo
Killers Of The Flower Moon screened at the college's Blackbox Theatre on June 6

Algonquin College decided to commemorate National Indigenous History Month with a screening of Killers of the Flower Moon, directed by Martin Scorsese and based on the best-selling book by David Grann. The screening took place at 4:00 p.m. in the N-building on June 6, 2024. The book and movie follow the tragic history of the Osage Nation murders in the 1920s. The film explores the conspiracy and investigations into the tragic murders of wealthy Osage people, whose land was rich in oil. The film serves to highlight the injustices that plague Indigenous communities.

The weather during the screening was tumultuous as a dozen attendees made it to the N-building before waiting to be let into the Blackbox Theatre to watch Scorcese’s newest film.

The venue where the film was shown
The venue where the film was shown Photo credit: Steven Dalloo

“[The film was] very overwhelming. Good portrayal and good directing,” said Mia MacPherson-Bailey, a Level 1 baking and pastries art student.

“I was very excited to see it and I’m pleased with it,” said Jasper Bartram, a Level 3 film and media production student. “I was extremely happy when Scorsese came out with a high-budget film regarding this horrifying story that doesn’t get covered enough.”

Lucy Hotoyan, a Level 2 child and youth care student, said: “I think it’s great that there was an event like this. A lot of people don’t know where the theatre is, and I wish there were more events like this.”

Jasper Bartram and friends attended the June 6 screening of Scorcese's film
Left-right: Jonathan Southwood-Dick, Jeremy Cybanski, Dean-Matthew Cruz and Jasper Bartram attended the June 6 screening of Scorcese's film. Photo credit: Steven Dalloo

As an Algonquin College student, Hotoyan said she thinks it’s important to learn about Indigenous history. “It is their land, and we are using it. It is important to know the details of their oppression.”

Along with film screenings, the Mamidosewin Centre sponsors numerous events open to all students at the college.

Former Algonquin College trucking student wins gold medal at provincial competition

Gage Kuemper, a Motive Power Techniques truck and coach apprenticeship student, triumphed in the Skills Ontario Competition 2024
Photo: Agrani Tiwari
Gage Kuemper, the gold medal winner in truck and coach at the Skills Ontario Competition.

Gage Kuemper, Algonquin College graduate, won the gold medal in Truck and Coach at the Skills Ontario Competition on May 6 and 7.

“Initially I wasn’t going to be doing it because I’m moving back to Edmonton, Alta. fairly soon,” said Kuemper. “But [my professors] told me it was right after apprenticeship ended… so then I was like yeah, I guess I could give it a shot.”

Kuemper got help from his teachers in preparing for the competition. “I met up with Peter, Cody, Phil, and Travis [professors in the truck and coach department at Algonquin College]. They gave me a rundown of how everything is going to go. Gave me some pointers … [they advised that] if I got stuck on a certain question, just move on. The best thing that you can do is just try and get as many answers filled in as you can.”

Kuemper’s skill and adaptability were some of the reasons he was chosen to compete, according to his professors. “Our selection of Gage for the competition was based on many points,” said Peter Coady, professor of Mechanical and Transportation Technology. “His academic scores across all subjects, and his proficiency in the lab were one reason. But also his ability to adapt to the various problems that can arise in a competitive environment.”

The truck worked on by students and apprentices of the truck and coach in the Transportation Lab.
The truck worked on by students and apprentices of the truck and coach in the Transportation Lab. Photo credit: Agrani Tiwari

The competition tested participants’ knowledge of their professions. “There’s eight different stations that we work at. There’ll be engines, electrical, hydraulics, steering and suspension, brakes, driveline and trade practices,” Kuemper explained. “At each individual station, it’ll have a series of questions that it wants you to do, or tasks that it wants you to achieve. You’ll also have to take precision measurements and obtain the right measurement … they’re grading you based on how well you know the job.”

Nineteen Algonquin students competed in this year’s event. Some of the other competitors and their medals are as follows: Hailey Reed, silver in Auto Paint; Lovepreet Singh, silver in Architecture Technician; Stephane Gagnon, silver in IT Networking, Gabriel Romero, bronze in IT Networking and Arlo Gosham-Hamer, bronze in Photography.

Kuemper’s victory proved he knows his stuff. “I’m very happy that Gage was able to win Gold in the Truck/Coach competition for 310T Apprentices,” said Coady. “I think it demonstrates his complete understanding of all the major systems related to the trade.”

Kuemper was ecstatic about winning gold: “[I was] so thrilled. I knew that my daughter and my wife were watching on the TV, and it felt awesome that I was going to be on top while they were watching, and the rest of my family as well.”

“Gage is one of the best apprentices/students we have had in quite some time,” said Martin Restoule, Transportation Trades Coordinator at the college. “We expected him to do well, but we didn’t know how well.”

Trucks parked in the Transportation Lab in the S-building also knows as Transportation Technology Centre.
Trucks parked in the Transportation Lab in the S-building also knows as Transportation Technology Centre. Photo credit: Agrani Tiwari

Kuemper plans to return to Alberta and the engine mechanic business he used to work at before coming to Ontario. “I’d like to continue building my skill set in the transportation industry as a truck and coach mechanic, or become some sort of business owner [or] business partner,” he said.

To any future Skills Ontario contestants, Kuemper has this advice: “When you’re going into the skills competition, it’s gonna be everything that’s about the job. Nothing’s gonna be new or a curve ball, in my eyes … if there’s anything that’s like very straightforward. What is the specification on a certain part, just find that first, it’s easy points to get down.”

Two children die after minor surgeries at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton

Provincial CBC Two children died after tonsil/and or adenoid surgery at McMaster Children’s Hospital, said Hamilton Hospital. The hospital has paused other such procedures for precautionary purposes. According to a release from Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) which operates the McMaster Children’s Hospital, one child passed away the day after their surgery, while the other passed […]

Provincial

CBC

Two children died after tonsil/and or adenoid surgery at McMaster Children’s Hospital, said Hamilton Hospital. The hospital has paused other such procedures for precautionary purposes.

According to a release from Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) which operates the McMaster Children’s Hospital, one child passed away the day after their surgery, while the other passed away nine days after the initial surgery.

In an email to CBC, the hospital said: “While there is no apparent connection between these two cases, we are also undertaking a comprehensive review by external experts of our pediatric program for tonsil and adenoid surgeries.”

Emergency surgeries and all adult ear, nose, and throat (ENT) procedures will still occur. The ENT Clinic will also remain operational.

Local

CTV Ottawa

Eight people are facing charges in connection to a suspected human trafficking ring that allegedly smuggled over 100 illegal migrants from the Cornwall, Ont. area into the United States.

The results of an investigation were announced by the RCMP on Thursday.

This case first came to attention in July 2022, when Cornwall Regional Task Force investigators identified a “human smuggling group who were profiting from organizing and facilitating the illegal movements of migrants” along the St. Lawrence River, police said.

According to the police, four people have been arrested and there are arrest warrants issued for four other suspects.

International

The Globe and Mail


Dozens of workers were trapped in a gold mine when it collapsed in north-central Nigeria. Rescuers searched for them Thursday, both authorities and residents said.

The pit collapsed on Monday in Niger state’s Shiroto district. According to emergency services, one person is confirmed dead, and at least 30 are still missing. According to residents, the number could be over 40.

Abdullahi Arah, head of the Niger State Emergency Management Agency, said, “First responders had to run for their lives as the mine kept falling inside.”

Rescuers worked to remove debris on Thursday, as distraught families watched.

Algonquin College receiving part of a provincial grant of $5 million towards mental health and addictions services

Funding will fast-track student access to psychiatric care
Photo: Angel Belair-Poirier
Mental health coordinator Shelina Syed invites students to take advantage of on-site services.

Algonquin College’s mental health services will get a portion of funding being distributed amongst six colleges and two universities in the Ontario region to promote student well being. All organizations will be working in partnership with community based non-profit organizations. The money will help hire social workers, psychotherapists and counsellors to treat students. Critically, it will also shorten the waiting time for psychiatric care for students in urgent need.

“Our government is taking action to ensure post-secondary students across Ontario can conveniently connect to the mental health care they need where and when they need it,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health in a news release from The Ontario Provincial government.

The other organizations benefitting from this grant will be Algoma University, College Boreal, St. Lawrence College, Nipissing University, Shingwauk Teaching Lodge and Six Nations Polytechnic.

Algonquin College is in partnership with The Royal Ottawa Health Care Group. The centre specializes in psychiatric treatment.

“We have money for two years and it will be spent on a mixture of psychiatry services for students and specialist training for our health and wellness clinicians,” said Ben Bridgstock, Director, Student Support Services.

“In the community it can take 12-18 months to get a student in front of a psychiatrist, with our partnership with the Royal we can have a student in front of a psychiatrist in a month,” he added. “This service is for the students with the most challenging mental health and is a key element of the services we offer.”

The funding will ensure communities receive high-quality care. AC is presently facing some staffing challenges. “We are only open Tuesday through Thursday during the spring and summer months this year,” said Shelina Syed, mental health coordinator of the Health & Wellness Zone.

Health & Wellness Zone meeting area, located in E-Building at the Ottawa campus.
Health & Wellness Zones meeting area, located in E-Building at the Ottawa campus.

On campus, the Algonquin College Health & Wellness Zone is located on the third floor E-Building. Students are welcome to enter the Health & Wellness Zone to communicate with an on-site counsellor.

Syed points out that groups are drop-in style and other are by registrations with the Welcome Centre. Counsellors are present for discussions. Brightspace drop-ins are posted on the calendar.

Lea Ntay, student peer support, invites Algonquin College students to take advantage of on-site services.
Lea Ntay, student peer support, invites Algonquin College students to take advantage of on-site services. Photo credit: Angel Belair-Poirier

The Algonquin College Health & Wellness Zone of the Ottawa Campus hopes to promote their services through pamphlets with information for student across the campus.

Two faculty tie for Lifetime Achievement Award

Employee Awards given for outstanding service to students and fellow staff
Photo: James Gray
Plaques in C-building depict the winners of last year's Employee Awards. They will soon be replaced with this year's winners.

Plaques in C-building depict the winners of last year's Employee Awards. They will soon be replaced with this year's winners.
Plaques in C-building depict the winners of last year's Employee Awards. They will soon be replaced with this year's winners. Photo credit: James Gray

At the Employee Awards on Tuesday the 4th, the most prestigious award came down to a tie.

The Lifetime Achievement Award went to both Jerôme Mizon and Christine Chatelain. The former is a professor in the Computer Science department, and the latter leads the Enrollment Services team. They received a standing ovation.

“In the middle of my [interview process] lecture, there was a fire alarm. We finished the lecture outside!” recalled Mizon. “That was 32 years ago. And what a ride.” He’s been a pioneering professor, championing early adoption of several now-integral topics such as web development and object-oriented programming.

“It’s a difficult award because those two positions are so different,” said Rebecca Volk, one of the event’s planners from the Centre for Organizational Learning. “It’s comparing apples to oranges. And to be honest with you, we often have three or four nominees for that category, and it’s harder [to pick] when it’s just two.”

The annual Employee Awards are given to those staff deemed to “demonstrate their exceptional skill and dedication.”

Tara Kelly, HR Special Projects Coordinator and winner of the Administrative Staff Award, poses in the cafeteria salon after the ceremony.
Tara Kelly, HR Special Projects Coordinator and winner of the Administrative Staff Award, poses in the cafeteria salon after the ceremony. Photo credit: James Gray

Recipients were nominated during the past school year. The winners are chosen by “a working group that’s made up largely of recipients of awards from previous years,” according to Volk. Each nominee needs two letters of support from fellow faculty, and in the case of the Laurent Isabelle Teaching Excellence award, from two students as well.

That latter award went to Jim Myronyk, program coordinator for Business Intelligence Systems Infrastructure, for his work setting students on strong career paths.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how strong the students are, how good the profs are,” said Myronyk in his acceptance speech. “What they wanna do is get a job.” He thanked the co-op department for their collaboration, and also brought up the story of the Tiananmen Tank Man, which occurred on June 5, 1989, almost exactly 35 years ago. Myronyk encouraged his colleagues to “be that one person. Make a difference in someone’s life.”

The winners received a framed certificate and gave short speeches before the crowd of about 60 in the D-building cafeteria.

“I thought [the ceremony] was very nice,” said Dan McGuire, a support worker in the Photography program and nominee for the Part-Time Support Staff Award. “Very warm and inviting, and everyone felt like a winner here today… I was very surprised to have been nominated.” When asked who McGuire would want to nominate, he chose Alan Brown for the Support Staff award (which Brown previously won in 2021, before McGuire joined Algonquin) and Denine Wrixon for the Lifetime Achievement Award. “Very helpful, supportive, kind … she’s been here for many years and she really keeps the photography program going.”

Close-up of Angela Lyrette&squot;s Philanthropy Champion Award. Lyrette, a professor in the School of Business, joked: "I came here to teach people to save their money, and now I’m getting an award for giving it away."
Close-up of Angela Lyrette's Philanthropy Champion Award. Lyrette, a professor in the School of Business, joked: "I came here to teach people to save their money, and now I’m getting an award for giving it away." Photo credit: James Gray

The full list of award recipients is as follows:

  • Administrative Staff Award: Tara Kelly
  • Deborah Rowan-Legg Service Excellence Award: Shawna Enright
  • Dianne Bloor Part-Time Faculty Award: Sean Wong
  • Full-Time Support Staff Award: Graham Timperon
  • Gerry A. Barker Leadership Award: Lisa Benoit
  • Inclusion & Diversity Champion Award: Kate Monahan
  • Laurent Isabelle Teaching Excellence Award: Jim Myronyk
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Tie between Christine Chatelain and Jerôme Mizon
  • Part-Time Support Staff Award: Caio Fernandes
  • Philanthropy Champion Award: Angela Lyrette
  • Team Staff Award: Enrollment Service Representative Team (Oleg Choutov, June Dang, Medina Dervisevic, Rushikesh Devale, Brandon Ferguson, Ahmed Gaabaas, Danayet Hagos, Aprile Harrison, Randall Heaslip, Aimee Hunt, Patty Langille, Melissa Martino, Jessica McRae, Katlin Meggs, Priscilla Neil, Alice Otoole,
    Kayla Pettes, Nargis Rassouli, Michelle Anizio Riberio, Avery Runstedler, Tuesday Sengthavy, Irene
    Thomas and Nikita
    Tikhomirov)

Proposed legislation shows promise for the future careers of vet techs

Introduced on March 7, the legislative reform excites the students and faculty of the college's veterinary technician program
Photo: Itel Sapozhnikov
From left to right; Nic Bax, Jada Charlery and Ren Benton are veterinary tech students in scrubs and lab coats.

Ana Cortes always knew she wanted a career involving helping animals without becoming a veterinarian. But in her home country, a career as a veterinary technician is not a profitable one, so she enrolled at Algonquin College to pursue that goal.

In Mexico, the job title “assistant” or “technician” doesn’t exist. Those who choose to pursue the career must complete a degree to become a veterinarian.

“You’re either a veterinarian or you are just a helper who cleans and gets paid nothing,” said Cortes. “You have to build your way up and you make very little money. It takes a long time for you to actually live off that, and you have to be a veterinarian. It’s the only option.”

For students like Cortes who are seeking to build a career for themselves within the veterinary field, the new legislative Enhancing Professional Care for Animals Act, 2024, which was tabled in March, is expected to have a significant and positive development in the future of the veterinary care career.

The provincial legislation will benefit registered veterinary technicians (RVT) by recognizing their roles as well as increasing their responsibilities and practices. The legislation would also help with the veterinary shortage that has risen since the pandemic.

“Up until now, we have been working under a veterinarian as an accessory or as a support person,” said Shannon Reid, the coordinator of the veterinary technician program. “This legislation will help us be able to be much more recognized and independent under the law.”

Roshni Saldanha, a senior class representative in the vet tech program, is hopeful about the proposed act.

“I hope in the near future, we can see true compensation for the effort put in by health care employees,” said Saldanha. “If not financial, then having plans to allow for mental health recuperation, or plans that address improvement of mental health for all health care worker, it would be extremely beneficial for the practice, the community and the individual themselves.”

Saldanha said she is glad that the legislation will ensure the RVT skills being taught during the program will be used more in the field.

“What that means for our graduates is that they can go out and work in practice and take the burden of certain types of skills off of a veterinarian, so that the veterinarian can go do things that RVT cannot do, such as surgery and diagnosing disease,” said Reid.

“All the other scope of practice things that RVTs can do, we can do those independently, so that should help really fill the gap to some degree.”

Throughout her career, Reid has worked with a variety of large animals including horses, cows, elephants and even a camel before cross-training in the emergency and critical care department for small animals.

A decade later, she transitioned into teaching at Algonquin College.

“I’m very proud to say since then, we’ve sent several students there for placement who have obtained employment as well in the place where I grew up as a baby technician,” said Reid.

The Veterinary Learning Centre and Clinic is located in the V-building on the Woodroffe campus, where only enrolled and practicing students have access to in order to keep the patients safe. The facility includes an operating room, x-ray, dental suite, labs and examination rooms.

Veterinary technician students completing a lab assignment in the V building. Photo: Itel Sapozhnikov

The two-year program starts with theory including anatomy, physiology, math and English. Then the students proceed to daily labs and practicing on life-like models. In the second year, students get hands-on practices and placements.

“They culminate their two years with us with a final practicum where they go out for 240 hours over six weeks and work in the industry in whichever direction they wanted to go,” said Reid. “Some students will work in a large animal practice, some students go into general facilities, it all kind of depends on their goals.”

The program provides an adoption service open to the community. The process starts with the animals transferring from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which are usually kittens.

The students start by performing a physical exam on the animal to determine the procedures that need to be completed.

“They get dewormed, they get vaccinated, and just all the basic things that they would need,” said Reid.

After the physical exam, the patient will get scheduled for a surgery if they require a procedure to be done, followed by a dental appointment. Everything is performed inside the building by students and faculty members.

“The patient gets prepped and anaesthetized with our anaesthetic machine, and then they get wheeled in here [the operation room], there are team students with a veterinarian and a technician,” said Reid.

Once all the required procedures have been completed, the animals are ready for adoption. Reid said that the adoption process is open to the college community, but the majority of the kittens get adopted by the students, faculty members, and their families.

Mochi, a patient in the veterinary technician program, making a silly face. Photo: Itel Sapozhnikov

The students complete husbandry rotations at any given time in groups of six to ten to ensure that the patients are monitored and content with their stay. If required, there is faculty on call to assist the students.

Since the pandemic, there has been an increase in domestic animals called “Covid pets” causing an unbalanced ratio resulting in a shortage of veterinarians.

“There was a massive demand increase for veterinary care during and after the pandemic, and trying to transition a practice to being safe for employees and safe for clients, but still be able to practice medicine, it was a massive challenge,” said Reid. “I think it really took a toll on a lot of the veterinarians in practice.”

Reid said that the pandemic was not the only issue in the shortage such as the combination of a large proponent of veterinarians retiring and the newer graduates that are unable to fill in due to lack of experience.

“Our profession is actually actively working very hard on trying to help and to fill that gap, we had to reduce our intakes because we couldn’t have as many people in a room,” said Reid.

Fortunately for the program, the classes are back up to the same number of graduates since before the start of the pandemic.

With the new legislation introduced, the workload on veterinarians would be reduced, which would benefit the pet owners who are not able to access standard care for their domestic animals.

“Burnout is a real problem among RVTs and not many [of them] are long term or career RVTs. The amount of work sometimes, does not equate to the current compensation rates, along with work stress and responsibilities,” said Saldanha.

Kara Wilson, a second-year veterinarian technician student worked in the veterinary field for two years before making the switch and enrolling into the vet tech program at Algonquin College.

“ I saw firsthand the burnout,” said Wilson.

The college provides support and help for students who may be struggling mentally or academically. The students have access to counselling services, Center for Accessible Learning, student specialists and the faculty members.

“When they come to us, we want to definitely keep a close eye on them, connect with them one-on-one as often as possible to make sure they’re doing okay, not just in their classes, but in general, to make sure that they’re transitioning into the college environment okay,” said Reid.

Another way students de-stress is by spending time with a kitten that the program is taking care of. Reid said that it is common for students to study with a “kitten draped across their lap” and it benefits the animal as well.

“It’s great for the kitties, but it’s also a great stress reducer for the students. If someone’s having a rough day, they can go snuggle a kitty,” said Reid. “Once the students enter this program, we’re a big Vet Tech family, we’re self-contained here in our own wonderful facility.”

 

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