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regina Leader-PosT


Road to higheR leaRning

Canadian colleges and institutes have been quick to respond to the demand for skilled workers by cannabis producers and retailers.

Photo: Get ty ImaGes

Cannabis sector training takes root in Canadian colleges and institutes Patricia Dawn robert son

In October 2018, marijuana was legalized in Canada. This radical shift in public policy created a new sector of the economy. As cannabis producers and retailers introduced their new products to the Canadian consumer, colleges and institutes had already updated their course calendars. “This was an industry that came from nowhere and the colleges were the first ones at the door. The colleges and institutes were able to mobilize quickly to meet employer d e m a n d ,” s a y s D e n i s e Amyot, president and CEO of Colleges and Institutes Canada. According to Amyot, new training programs were needed to equip the workforce because this is a “very special type of production that have a lot of regulations that accompany it.” If the strict regulations aren’t followed there are significant ramifications for producers and retailers. Students can now enroll in a diverse set of cannabis sector programs. Colleges across the country have launched new programs in horticulture, facilities management, marketing, entrepreneurship, business fundamentals and security. “We have a suite of program offerings to ensure that the country meets the workforce demand in all aspects of this emerging cannabis industry,” says Amyot. Amyot says the leap into new programming was relatively easy for the college sector because at the end of the day when you have a new product that was legalized you need to ensure the public safety. “It’s a historic

moment. It’s a brand new sector of the economy and we can see that it is growing. And will continue to grow,” says Amyot. An important component of this new educational niche is applied research. Since the college sector historically cooperates with their private sector partners, it’s logical for them to assume the lead in cannabis education and research. Loyalist College in Belleville, Ontario was the first learning institution in Canada to receive a license from Health Canada to cultivate cannabis for research purposes. “One of their projects is the creation of an alcoholfree beer. They are replacing the barley and grains with fermented cannabis,” says Amyot. In British Columbia, the College of the Rockies has established a Cannabis Retail Specialist Program. Students will be trained in plant anatomy and physiology, chemical components of cannabis, regulatory requirements, preparation techniques, administration and marketing. Okanagan College will train their graduates in regulatory policies, business opportunities, investment strategies in the cannabis sector, pest management and cannabis production. In Alberta, agricultural instructors at Olds College will focus their students’ attention on cannabis crop production, facilities management and cannabis legislation. Every program includes key courses on regulation — which is a major part of the compliance required for growing a controlled substance. “Our colleges are looking at all aspects of the cannabis



An important component of the new educational niche created by the cannabis sector is applied research. Denise Amyot, president and CEO of Colleges and Institutes Canada, anticipates that post-secondary schools will work with private sector partners on leading edge cannabis research projects. Ph o t o : Get ty ImaGes

sector to ensure that people know and follow the rules in an ethical way and that they make sure that they conduct business within the legislation,” says Amyot. Canada wants to be a world leader in the cannabis industry. The colleges who provide the training must disseminate the proper regulations. It’s crucial to the success of the sector that emphasis is placed on conducting business within the authorized parameters, says Amyot. In the emerging school of cannabis compliance there is specialized on-line training available at Hol-

land College in Prince Edward Island. The college has developed a new training portal aimed at law enforcement officers: Introduction to Cannabis Legalization. The program was created in partnership with the Canadian policing community. In Central Canada, Niagara College’s Commercial Cannabis Production program was the first in the country to provide cannabis production training. Students learn plant nutrition, pest control, facilities management, staffing and security. Oshawa’s Durham College has developed a unique

cannabis industr y specialization certificate. It’s managerial in scope and is available both in-class and on-line. Its mission is to prepare professionals that already have business experience but need to get up to speed on the fundamentals of cannabis: regulation, ethical issues and quality control. In June 2018, MYM Nutraceuticals and Quebec’s Sherbrooke College signed an agreement to develop a training program for MYM’s employees assigned to the production of cannabis. The educational curriculum will be expanded and offered as

a diploma program for the general public. The province of Saskatchewan has no programs on offer but they are “exploring the possibilities” says Amyot. Amyot forecasts more growth in the cannabis sector. “The current range of ca n n a b i s pr o g ra mmi n g will continue to expand in response to increasing demand.” According to Amyot, cannabis training could expand into new areas like health care, drug detection, law enforcement, social services, mental health and addictions and the culinary arts.


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regina Leader-PosT

Road to higheR leaRning advertisement

the new university plan: Usask moves in a bold new direction

James shewaga

The university plan, The University the World Needs, is an innovative and inspirational document designed to shape the University of Saskatchewan over the next seven years, to 2025. “It is a bold new direction for us and I think it is unique as plans go,” said USask President Peter Stoicheff. “We talk a lot about boldness in the plan, and about our three key commitments: courageous curiosity, boundless collaboration and inspired communities. And when we use that kind of language, it is not meant to contradict the humility that is so important to the institution. “To me, humility is always knowing that you could be doing better than you already are. It is language to suggest that we can and should be working to take our rightful place among the greater institutions in the country and, in select ways, in the world.” The plan drew on extensive consultation from on and off campus, and was approved by the Board of Governors, Senate and University Council. It builds on the 2016 Mission, Vision and Values document, and is rooted in the principles of connectivity, creativity, diversity and sustainability. “As we were building the Mission, Vision and Values, I was struck by the fact that 60 per cent of our faculty have been hired in the past 10

USask President Peter Stoicheff

years,” Stoicheff said. “So, this plan is not just about people like me who have been here for many years now, it’s about our new faculty. It’s about the people who are en route to tenure or are newly tenured, and they are the ones who were saying specific things about what they wanted this university to be. I found that really compelling and those are things that were incorporated into this plan.” One of the key pillars of the plan involves Indigenous impact, guided by contributions from Indigenous Elders, traditional Knowledge Keepers and Language Keepers, who gifted the plan its Indigenous names during a special ceremony.

The names, nikanitan manacihitowinihk (Cree) and ni manachihitoonaan (Michif ), translate to “Let us lead with respect.” In addition to its ambitious goals and commitments, the new plan provides guideposts and targets to drive priorities and progress, while featuring a fundamental commitment to reconciliation and Indigenization. “Indigenization is not a separate commitment on its own, it runs through every single commitment we have,” Stoicheff said. “And that’s the university of the future. As we talk more and more about reconciliation and Indigenization, the people who really know what that needs

to look like include the Indigenous communities and the Indigenous leaders and the Indigenous students and the Indigenous Elders. And they have played, and will continue to play, an integral role throughout this entire process.” Goals of the plan include increasing enrolment and peer-reviewed funding, improving academic rankings, enhancing alumni engagement and being recognized as a leader in Indigenization. Stoicheff highlighted five key areas of impact the university will aspire to achieve: transformational work leading to reconciliation, productive collaboration, meaning-

ful impact, developing distinguished learners and earning global recognition. “We want to make a difference in the world, based on what we are doing at this university,” Stoicheff said. “We want to have an impact, and not just the impact that we believe communities and the world needs, but the impact the world needs us to have. And that led to the formulation to become ‘the university the world needs.’ We are determined to be an engaged university, a university that is boldly exploring the major challenges of our time, that we are equipped to explore and help solve. “One example of that is our

Global Institute for Water Security, which is ranked by the Shanghai Academic Rankings of World Universities as No.1 in the country, No.6 in North America and 18th in the world. And I would strongly suggest that those numbers beyond Canada will even improve.” So how will the university define success in 2025? For Stoicheff, the institution will be firmly focused on the future, designing disruptive technologies and preparing students to take their place in an ever-changing workplace environment. “We will be a university that not only trains students for the workplace, but prepares them for the challenges that the future workforce will face,” Stoicheff said. “Disruptive technologies are leading us to the point where we need to understand that we are training students now in skills for jobs that neither the students, nor we, can imagine. By 2025 we will be a university that is comfortable with disruption and comfortable with disruptive technologies, and that is also contributing to it in the research that it does. “To that end, we will govern ourselves not only on the basis of what we want to be, but what the world needs us to be.” – James Shewaga is communications specialist and editor with University Relations, University of Saskatchewan.


Learn how to build the world you want to live in.

Apply now to study engineering at USask.

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regina Leader-PosT


Road to higheR leaRning

sask Polytech committed to Indigenous student success elizabeth irelanD

Sask Polytech’s 2018-2023 Indigenous Student Success Strategy was launched last year and is now enhancing services and programming for Indigenous studies throughout the institution. At 19 per cent, self-declared Indigenous students are an important and growing segment of Sask Polytech’s student population (a 29 per cent increase from the 2009-2010 to 2016-2017 academic years). The new Indigenous Student Success Strategy builds on the previous Aboriginal Student Achievement Plan from 2009. Dr. Larry Rosia is president and CEO of Sask Polytech and has been in this role since 2012. Jason Seright is Sask Polytech’s director of Indigenous strategy. Originally from Buffalo Narrows, Seright is Métis. He began his postsecondary studies at the University of Saskatchewan, then obtained a master’s degree in education from the University of Calgary. Dr. Rosia and Seright refer to their working relationship as a close one and they “talk on a daily basis.” Sask Polytech is located on Treaty 4 and Treaty 6 territories and the Homeland of the Métis. The institution serves 28,000 students through applied learning opportunities at four campuses (Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Regina and Saskatoon) and through distance education programs. Dr. Rosia describes Sask Polytech’s unofficial programming philosophy as: “If there isn’t a job waiting – there isn’t a program. Our focus is on graduates who will drive the

Jason Seright provides vision, strategy and leadership as the director of Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Indigenous Student Success Strategy. Photo: sa sk atChewa n Polyte ChnIC

provincial economy.” Creating the Indigenous Student Success Strategy involved consultations and input from 763 people. These stakeholders included Elders, First Nation leaders, students, faculty and staff. Four strategic goals emerged from the consultation process: Welcome, Inspire, Empower and Belong. Dr. Rosia explains the targets Sask Polytech sets for Indigenous student recruitment, retention and employment after graduation. “Sask Polytech has more Indigenous students than any other post-secondary institution in Saskatchewan. Currently there is a four per cent employment rate differential between our non-Indigenous and Indigenous graduates. We would like our Indigenous students to see the same success as our non-Indigenous students.” According to 2016-2017 baseline data, Indigenous

students graduate from Sask Polytech’s certificate, diploma and degree programs at a rate of 57 per cent. The graduate rate for Indigenous students in apprenticeship programs is higher at 81 per cent. Seright notes that programs with the highest Indigenous student registration are the Schools of Business, Health Sciences, Hospitality and Tourism, Human Services and Community Safety, and Natural Resources and Built Environment. In addition, Indigenous students come to Sask Polytech to learn in-demand trades such as steamfitter-pipefitter and carpentry. Sask Polytech has produced a 2019 Indigenous role models’ calendar that features the success stories of actual students (and graduates) in programs that range from Aboriginal policing preparation to power engineering technology. “People tend to model

what they are exposed to and, for Indigenous students, this was often role models in the fields of social work and education. As students see more career options and more diverse role models, that’s changing. I’m particularly excited by the number of Indigenous students registered in the School of Health Sciences. Those jobs are in high demand in Saskatchewan and have a strong science and math focus,” says Seright. Sask Polytech offer Indigenous students multiple supports as part of the Indigenous Student Success Strategy. These include tutoring, counselling, assistance with funding and more than 200 scholarships. Dr. Rosia and Seright highlight two key elements: summer transition programming and access to Indigenous students’ centres. Taking place each August, summer transition programming is aimed at Indigenous

Sask Polytech has more Indigenous students than any other post-secondary institution the province, says president and CEO Dr. Larry Rosia. Photo: sa sk atChewa n Polyte ChnIC

students relocating to an unfamiliar urban environment to attend Sask Polytech. These students are often away from family and established community networks. Indigenous students’ centres at the four campuses enable social interactions with other students and Elders, further easing students into busy campus life. Additionally, by 2023 there will be Indigenous elements integrated into all Sask Polytech’s programs. Sask Polytech has made an effort to incorporate best practices from around the world. These bestin-class institutions include Otago Polytechnic in Duned-

in, New Zealand and Confederation College in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Summarizes Seright: “Our approach is not paternalistic. We approach our Indigenous students and stakeholders with the question ‘what do you need?’ We created a continuous feedback loop to integrate Indigenous ways of learning into our programs and to enable student success. My two young grandchildren, and their future education, are what inspires me to continue this journey to ensure equal opportunities to succeed.” For more information, visit

“I can see the long-term benefits of having an education and getting your career on track earlier rather than later.” CHELSEA ARNESTAD Hometown: Hagen, SK Nation: Métis Program: Business certificate

Sask Polytech supports you in your educational journey. We have reserved seats in all programs and 200+ student awards for Indigenous students. Counsellors and advisors at every campus are available to help you settle into student life and find housing, child care and tutoring. Each campus has an Indigenous students’ centre where students can study, hang out or meet with an Elder. Learn more at


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regina Leader-PosT

Road to higheR leaRning Usask College of arts and science introduces curriculum renewal

by elizabeth irelanD

The University of Saskatchewan’s College of Arts and Science is undertaking a college-wide curriculum renewal. The changes, which start in 2020, set forth clearer and more flexible degree structures that will simplify degree pathways and enhance interdisciplinary programming. The College has more than 9,000 students and 50,000 alumni. Dr. Peta Bonham-Smith is Dean of the College of Arts and Science. She is also a faculty member in the Biology department. With a PhD in plant stress physiology from the University of Calgary, her research focuses primarily on how plants handle stress. The College of Arts and Science includes 21 departments that are constantly reviewing and tweaking courses and programs. Dr. Bonham-Smith describes this practice as “an ongoing process.” However, the college-wide curriculum renewal will be the first to include core requirements across all undergraduate degrees in 50 years. There will be three new undergraduate degree requirements: an English language writing requirement, an Indigenous learning requirement and a quantita-

Dean Peta Bonham-Smith, University of Saskatchewan College of Arts and Science. Ph o t o : U nI ver sI t y o f sask at C h ewa n

tive reasoning requirement. Students have until the fourth year of their degree to complete the three requirements. How will these curricular changes benefit Arts and Science undergraduate students? “Course requirements tended to be content-based and now, with the new curricula, course requirements will be outcome-based. We believe that the curriculum renewal will meet the needs of modern day learners and provide them with a fulsome set of skills,” says Dr. Bonham-Smith. On the teaching side, Arts and Science faculty are encouraged to offer courses and programs that cross traditional departmental and disciplinary lines. The College supports the new

ways of learning, and innovation, that can emerge from combining disciplines. The College is the only one in Canada to offer courses in the sciences, social sciences, humanities and fine arts. While other Canadian universities have a faculty of arts and science (Queen’s University and the University of Toronto come to mind), subjects such as fine arts and music are often separated out. Dr. Bonham-Smith views interdisciplinary programming, and the ability to collaborate, as definite assets at the University of Saskatchewan. “As a College, we want to produce graduates who will fit into an ever-changing global marke t. We are committed to preparing

The College of Arts and Science’s renewed curriculum will prepare learners for the challenges and opportunities they will face upon graduation and beyond.Photo: UnIv ersIty o f saskat Ch ewan

learners for the challenges and opportunities they will face upon graduation and beyond,” says Dr. Bonham-Smith. Almost 1,150 of the College’s current students are international students, which reflects the increasingly mobile nature of the academic and business worlds. Within the curriculum renewal, the goal of the Indigenous learning requirement is to cultivate an understanding of, and appreciation for, the unique socio-cultural position of Indigenous people in Canada. The University of Saskatchewan is located on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. Cur-

rently, 1,340 Arts and Science students self-declare as Indigenous. Dr. Bonham-Smith says that the College needs to increase its percentage of Indigenous faculty members and female faculty members, as well as the number of women in leadership positions and in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Indigenous faculty members and staff can be Canadian or from other countries with Indigenous populations, such as Australia, New Zealand or the US. Significantly, the curriculum renewal also aligns with the College’s seven-year plan called “Think Big – Be Bold: Arts and Science 2025.” This

seven-year plan is based on input from many stakeholders. These stakeholders include faculty, staff, current students, prospective students, alumni, donors and Indigenous leaders. Dr. Bonham-Smith describes the plan as “ambitious and forward-looking.” The plan puts forward four commitments: put students first; diversity and equity in faculty and staff; excellence in research, scholarly and artistic work (RSAW); and new curricula. Along with the new degree requirements, the College is aiming to offer more courses and programs that extend off campus and into communities as part of the new curricula. “Our hope is that undergraduate Arts and Science students will take the new degree requirements in their first year and build on those skills, knowledge and cultural competencies during the rest of their degree. Writing, numeracy and Indigenous learning are all good skills to have.” The degree requirements will begin with the first set of first-year students in 2020. More information on “Think Big – Be Bold: Arts and Science 2025” can be found online at artsands c i e n c e . u s a s k . c a /c o l lege/2025.

Discover more: Finding a welcome home at stm Paul sinkewicz

Each morning, as the University of Saskatchewan (USask) campus comes to life, more than 25,000 busy students, faculty and staff crowd the hallways and classrooms – almost five times the population of Brooke Tolofson’s entire hometown of Melfort. But amid all the hustle and bustle of big-city university life, this first-year Arts and Science student has found a home away from home. Tolofson is a St. Thomas More College (STM) student. That means that she is part of a friendly college community within the greater USask campus, with access to resources like STM academic advisors, who know her by name; she can apply for the more than $180,000 in scholarships and bursaries that STM gives out each year; and enjoys a choice of quiet study spaces throughout the college, along with healthy food options in the college cafeteria. There are plenty of friendly familiar faces, and Brooke can choose to participate in several STM student clubs – an opportunity she eagerly seized upon with the Newman Players drama club. “I knew that Newman Players club was part of the college, and I knew STM scholarships and bursaries would be available to me,” said Tolofson, an aspiring drama student. When she was researching her step from high school to university, she arranged a tour of STM, and noticed the atmosphere was immediately very comfortable to her. “It doesn’t seem as intimidating as some of the big colleges on campus. I like the smaller class sizes,” she said. The roadmap she laid out for her post-secondary education is coming together nicely. In February, Tolofson received an entering student bursary, and she is a cast member in the upcoming production of The Doctor in Wonderland, rehearsing twice a week with her new friends. “It has been a perfect fit,” Tolofson said. When St. Thomas More College was established in 1936 by the Basilian Fathers, as a Catholic Liberal Arts College on the Usask campus, it was only a simple, two-story, white wooden house at the corner of College Drive and Bottomley Avenue. Its faculty of four taught only 39 students that first year. But just like Saskatoon, oh, how it’s grown. Today, STM has expanded to include 110 faculty and staff, with

St. Thomas More College is the perfect fit for students seeking a welcoming learning environment with smaller classes, upgraded facilities and engaging activities. Ph o t o : st m

more than 5,000 students registered in the 250 courses offered in 18 subject areas. Registration in STM classes is open to any USask student, with STM course credit is counted toward the requirements of Arts and Science degrees, and in many cases, satisfies the elective requirements in other USask degree programs. Along with the increase in student and faculty numbers at STM, came a need for more space and upgraded facilities. In 2014 over 20,000 sq. ft. of additional student and research space was added on the College Drive portion of the building, and in 2017 a stunning, curving project on the north side included major additions and renewal, most notably, added space and enhancements to the Shannon Library as well as additional student-centered space featuring a student lounge and student services hub. Both of these renovations were recognized with civic heritage awards for the attention to maintaining the historical while updating and planning for the future. Keeping student needs a priority, technological and physical amenities were integrated in the college upgrades. New study rooms include audio-visual systems and laptops are easily connected to the internet. Students can alternatively find a comfy corner to study, in the brightly lit atrium, or in the library’s oversized sofa chairs, looking out over the campus. Increased enrolment numbers and upgraded facilities don’t tell the complete story of STM. It remains a college focused on pro-

moting academic excellence while challenging its students to think creatively and critically about social issues; to communicate effectively and discover their potential as a whole person. “After more than 80 years on the campus of the University of Saskatchewan, STM continues to pursue the same mission that inspired its creation,” said Dr. Carl Still, the college’s interim president. “We seek to provide a transformative education, in the Catholic intellectual tradition, for young people who will become agents of change in the world.” STM students have the chance to focus on social justice issues through their courses, engage in community service-learning options and participate in study and travel abroad. They can also fulfill their social and spiritual needs with support and initiatives from the college campus ministry team, the Newman Club or the Development & Peace, Just Youth club. It was an interest in social justice issues that brought Deena Kapacila to study political science at STM. She is now in her fifth year at USask and is looking forward to moving on to her master’s degree, with a focus on labour law and worker safety. “Every professor that I’ve had at STM has gone out of their way to extend an offer of help,” she said. “The smaller class sizes have proved impactful. The engagement and expectations support our success.” So, whether you simply dine at STM’s popular Choices cafeteria, hang out in the library, are regis-

Recent upgrades to St. Thomas More College made student needs a priority, including adding new tech-equipped study rooms. Photo: stm

tered in some of the many course offerings, or have additionally opted to self-declare for more benefits, you are sure to find STM

a welcome home! - Paul Sinkewicz is director of communications, Marketing & Student Recruitment, with St. Thomas More College.

Register through


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regina Leader-PosT


Road to higheR leaRning Increasing enrollment shows the value of University of regina education Jonathan hamelin

Rising student enrollment has become a constant at the University of Regina. The University of Regina has experienced an increase for 10 consecutive years. This past fall, 15,568 students registered for classes, which marks a 1.9 per cent bump over Fall 2017 and is 33 per cent higher than the Fall 2008 totals. There has been a seven per cent increase in self-declared Indigenous students, who now comprise 13.3 per cent of all students (a 97 per cent increase from Fall 2009). International student enrolment has grown by 14 per cent over the past year (165 per cent higher than 2009). “It is very gratifying as it demonstrates the value people place on a University of Regina education,” said president and vice-chancellor Vianne Timmons. “It’s also inspiring to see an increasing number of Indigenous and international students on our campus. These students bring diverse experiences and knowledge to our campus and in doing so help create an even more vibrant, inclusive educational environment.” The University of Regina’s strategic plan prioritizes student success, research impact and commitment to communities, with an overarching focus on Indigenization and sustainability. Timmons said that the institution’s faculty and staff, who she noted are the foundation of the uni-

The University of Regina has developed a vibrant, inclusional educational environment where all students feel like they belong. Ph o t o : U nIver sIt y o f r e GI na

versity’s growth and success, have “embraced these priorities.” “Over the last ten years, we have concentrated on meeting the increased student demand by adding new tenure-track faculty positions, renewing and expanding campus spaces, and increasing program, distance, and online course offerings,” she continued. “We have also made student retention a major priority, and have implemented a number of initiatives to ensure that students who begin their programs, ultimately finish those programs.” As Timmons explains, a key factor in the U of R at-

tracting and retaining students has been communicating with them to understand their needs. She said the university’s Board of Governors and Senate are a “window on the world”, as they consist of representatives from the business and professional community, different communities across the province, and faculty and students. The U of R also conducts formal public consultations, such as when it was developing its Campus Master Plan and creating a partnership with Conexus. “During my annual Community Connections Tour, I visit communities across Saskatchewan to talk with

community and business leaders, as well as other educational institutions,” Timmons said. “We also maintain connections with our more than 73,000 alumni who are spread across the country and around the world, and our faculty and staff serve the community in countless ways. “As a result of these and many other engagement activities, we have significant support in the community for our role and the initiatives we undertake.” Timmons is proud of the increased enrollment of Indigenous students at the University of Regina, because she feels it shows that the institu-

The University of Regina’s strategic plan prioritizes student success, research impact and commitment to communities, with an overarching focus on Indigenization and sustainability, says president and CEO Vianne Timmons. Photo: UnIv ersIty of re GIna

tion is effectively creating an atmosphere where these students “feel like they belong.” The U of R has a federated partnership with First Nations University of Canada and the Indigenous Advisory Circle continues to provide recommendations on how to make the university more welcoming for Indigenous students. Timmons also highlighted the nitôncipâmin omâ -”We Are Here” mentorship program for first-year Indigenous students. During the past two years over 90 per cent of students in the program were retained from the first to second year. Timmons credits the in-

crease in international student enrollment to the creation of UR International several years ago. She said this program is a “one-stop shop” to promote the University in key international markets, develop partnership agreements with institutions in other countries, facilitate the exchange of students, and provide academic, cultural and social supports to international students. The University of Regina has been celebrating growth in more areas than just student enrollment. On Oct. 5, 2018, the U of R held its official grand re-opening event for the newly renovated College Building at the College Avenue campus. The early Collegiate Gothic style building had been deteriorating after 100 years of use, so the decision was made to undertake the $63.6 million restoration project. The fullyrenovated building features modern teaching technology, increased building accessibility, and ultra-high energy efficiency. “The re-opening of the College Building was tremendously important because it was a commitment to another century of public education and outreach in our city and province,” Timmons said. “Revitalizing it to a modern, accessible place of learning was a community endeavour, and we owe a great debt of thanks to the many individuals and organizations who provided their support to build on the legacy of previous generations.”


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regina Leader-PosT

ROAD TO HIGHER LEARNING Bilingual LPN program answers stated need in community


The historic role of nurses providing medical assistance in addition to the traditional tender loving care (TLC) will soon be available in Saskatchewan in both official languages. Collège Mathieu, Saskatchewan Polytechnic and the University of Regina last year signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) committing them to working together in support of nursing and health related French-language educational programs. As part of that, the Collège will begin offering a two-year bilingual licensed practical nursing (LPN) program this coming fall. The only such program in the province, it is in response to a stated need in the francophone community, says Francis Kasongo, CEO of Collège Mathieu, and follows in the footsteps of the college’s successful continuing care assistant program. “We’ve been running this program, and students and francophone community expressed a need to step (up) to the LPN program and bilingual registered nursing (RN) program at U of R. The LPN program is responding to community need that was expressed a few years ago,” he says. Founded in 1918, the col-

When people are ill, the best way to provide care is in their first language, says Collège Mathieu CEO Francis Kasongo. P H OT O: C OLL È G E MATH I EU

lège offers post-secondary certificates and diplomas in a variety of programs, including trades, as well as non-credited programs, continuing education, basic literacy and various customized training. With its campuses in Gravelbourg, Regina and Saskatoon, and online and on-site courses, Kasongo estimates there are a total of between 700 and 800 students attending some form of Collège Mathieu classes each year. While there are courses on

a range of topics —the collège also works with Tourism Saskatchewan for example to provide customer service training to francophone employees in the tourism sector — it is likely the health care sector where people can be most vulnerable and patients whose first language is French may be at a disadvantage. “We have seen that in the past when people are sick or they are getting old, and may need the health sector, they want their first language, and the best way to

provide care is in their first language,” says Kasongo. The LOI that was signed last fall brings the three institutions together in support of a continuum of French-language/bilingual nursing and health programs, including continuing care assistant, practical nursing and registered nursing to help meet the demand for bilingual health care providers. “This collaboration allows access to greater health-care services, but it also contributes to

professional fulfillment for any French language natives and francophiles who are planning to build a career in health,” Kasongo said in the news release announcing the agreement. In addition to working with the province’s other post-secondary institutions, and the already noted collaboration with Saskatchewan Tourism, Kasonga says the collège also partners with other organizations. “We have signed different MOUs. We are working with the na-

tional network with a focus on post-secondary education in French,” he says. The new LPN program has a relationship with Moose Jaw Hospital for clinical training, and there are also programs delivered right at the worksite in conjunction with various companies. “Combining everything, our goal is to train francophone or francofile people by providing different programs for credit or related to professional development across the province,” Kasonga says. It’s these kinds of collaborative efforts that Kasongo says is key to the continued success of the collège, and the province. “It is important, the collaborative approach, because around the world institutions have to work together. There is an economy of scale in working together,” he says. The net effect, Kasonga says, is a workforce that is highly capable – in both official languages. “We are playing a very key role in developing a workforce, improving employment for the citizens of Saskatchewan. We are providing to the employment market people who are well skilled, people who are well trained,” he says. And that makes sense in either official language.

Four ways to help ease student financial stress fun virtual rewards when financial goals are met. Pay down debt. If you or your child has any debts or loans, it’s time to set up a reasonable plan to repay them. While some student loans only require a first repayment upon graduation or the start of full-time employment, the sooner the debt is paid off, the better. Follow RESP rules. If students have access to a Registered Education Savings Plan remember that this money is for tuition and related expenses, not a shopping spree or Friday nights out. Students can speak with a financial advisor who helped set up the

plan to determine when to have money withdrawn and in what amounts. G e t good advice. I f you’re looking for additional funds to help cover costs during the academic year, a great place to start is campus financial aid offices, which can determine eligibility for funds from other sources, such as scholarships, student awards, bursaries or loans. Parttime employment may also be worth considering along with a visit to discuss options with a licensed financial advisor. Find more information online at investorcentre.ific. ca. (News Canada)




For post-secondary students, making time for studies and achieving academic goals are top priorities. So adding money and financial management to the mix can be a challenge and create added stress. Fortunately, if your child is in college or university, there are many ways they can help manage financial stress through the school year. Here are some tips that can help: Gamify the budget. A budgeting app can help students spend wisely and avoid taking on more debt. Some come equipped with interactive gaming technology, offering tips, reminders and

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regina Leader-PosT


Road to higheR leaRning Great Plains College offers a unique student experience

Jonathan hamelin

At Great Plains College, students have the opportunity to receive their post-secondary education closer to home. Great Plains College is par t of Saskatchewan’s regional college system. The institution was established in 1973 as Cypress Hills Regional College and was rebranded as Great Plains College in 2008 following a merger with Prairie West Regional College. The college has campuses in Swift Current, Kindersley and Warman, as well as program centres in Biggar, Maple Creek and Rosetown, all of which offer students a different experience than attending university in the province’s larger centres. “For some students, studying at a larger post-secondar y campus is ver y daunting and that can become a barrier to them beginning their post-secondary education,” said Kristy Sletten, manager of international and admissions at Great Plains College. “I think about my own experience as a student. I came from a small-town school in Saskatchewan and when I moved to the city for univer-

Great Plains College has one of the strongest scholarship programs in Canada. It was also the first regional college in the province to offer a health and dental plan for students. P h ot o: G reat P laI ns Co l l e Ge

sity it was such a huge transition in terms of the type of lifestyle I was used to. I went from a class of 15 students to a class of 200 students.” “With the smaller class sizes here, there’s an opportunity for relationships to develop between instructors and students, which may not always happen in a class of 250 students. Students who are struggling can be identified by instructors and supports can be put in place to ensure the student is able to be successful.” As Sletten explained, smaller class size is only one of the ways in which student

satisfaction is a top priority at the institution. She noted that Great Plains College was the first regional college in Saskatchewan to introduce a health and dental plan for its students. The college also has one of the most competitive scholarship programs in the province, offering $500 to $5,000 entrance scholarships to anyone applying to a full-time student loan-eligible program before the scholarship deadline. Since then over $2 million has been awarded to students. Further to academics, Great Plains College also prides itself on the commun-

With multiple locations across the province, Great Plains College offers a diverse range of post-secondary programs in categories including: Trades & Power Engineering, Health Care & Social Services, Business & Administration and university offerings. Ph o t o : Gr eat Pla Ins Colle Ge

ity and industry connections it’s able to provide to students through practicums, mentorship, volunteer experience and job connections. “The connection to community that exists between Great Plains College campuses and the communities in which they exist is really amazing,” Sletten said. “Those connections often translate into meaningful opportunities for students.” While student life at college campuses may look slightly different than a large university, opportunities to get involved certainly exist.

Each campus has a student association that plans events on and off campus, organizes student learning opportunities and promotes student leadership. Sletten added one of the college’s “claims to fame” is the SunDogs Athletics program at the Swift Current Campus, which is the only athletics program in Saskatchewan’s regional college system. The men’s and women’s teams compete in the Prairie Athletic Conference and are four-time provincial champions. “The opportunity for stu-

dents to maintain their involvement in a sport that they love is certainly relevant here,” Sletten said. “They have a chance to be a part of a team that enjoys some fantastic coaching and travels around the province and beyond for games.” Sletten said that this unique student experience, combined with smaller class sizes, community connection and quality instruction makes Great Plains College a great option for anyone considering post-secondary education, university courses or adult basic education classes. The college also offers safety training, and English language training throughout its six campuses. To learn more about the college, prospective students can visit a campus at any time, book an appointment with a student adviser, or attend an Open House event. The next Open House is scheduled at the Kindersley Campus on Friday, March 1. To learn more about Great Plains College, its programs and courses, scholarships and financial aid, and upcoming events, check out, email info@ or call toll-free at 1 (866) 296-2472.

axiom brings the personal touch Students attending Saskatoon’s newest adult college may have the opportunity to experience the ultimate in hands-on education. Axiom Career College offers courses in medical administrative, dental office administration and medical massage therapy. All students, except those in the dental office program, take courses in anatomy and physiology, with access to a medical dissection lab. The medical massage students even build a body using clay. Regardless of the program, Axiom offers a unique, personal approach to education, say founders Rebecca Bekolay and Lee Braun. “You will never be treated as good as you are treated here as a student,” says Braun. “The number one thing is that we care about our students and we try very hard to create a nurturing environment where [students] want to be,” Bekolay adds. The college first opened in 2015 in Aberdeen, Saskatchewan, about 40 kms north-east of Saskatoon. “We saw there was a need in the market and we had the skills and the organization and the ability to be able to deliver a good quality education,” says Bekolay. After a successful three-year run in Aberdeen, the college made the move to Saskatoon. “That was our dream, to be here in Saskatoon to establish and grow,” Bekolay says. The Saskatoon college opened in the fall of 2018 and Braun says the response has been amazing. “We work together really well as a team, and it’s fantastic,” she says. Bekolay adds that, if anything, the only worry is the level of success, with 30 students currently enrolled. “We’re almost outgrowing this space that we have, because the amount of students we’ve attracted has exceeded our expectations. It’s a great problem to have,” Bekolay says. The main courses the college offers are the Medical Massage Therapy Program, the Medical Administrative Professional Program and the Dental Office Administration Program. The dental office program is the only such course offered in Saskatchewan and

focusses on the specific needs required in that kind of office. “It is a completely different kind of office to work in than any other medical office. Everything is completely different,” says Braun. The sixmonth course is considered a “blended” program in which students do the majority of the computer-based work at home online, coming into the college to do the hands-on portion of the course. The Medical Administrative Professional Program is a ten-month, full-time course. Students in the program learn all aspects of computer usage and also take classes in anatomy, medical terminology and other aspects of the administration. The longest program offered by Axiom is the 18- or 22-month Medical Massage Therapy Program. “It’s a very high intensity program

with a lot of practical applications. It’s certainly been successful,” says Bekolay. Those students can take their education even further by taking a workshop on maternity and pre-natal massage. Saskatoon and area residents can also, literally, try their hand at medical massage at the College’s Introduction to Massage Workshop. This is a one-day introduction course for beginners who are interested in massage or in a career as a therapist. The course presents the basic concepts of human anatomy, terminology, theory and practical application of massage. Participants will earn a certificate, which does not contribute to obtaining a diploma or qualify a person to work as a therapist. On the other hand, residents wanting to feel the benefits of therapeutic mas-

Axiom Career College offers the ultimate in hands-on learning, as students in the Medical Massage Therapist program practice their skills. Photo: A xIom Ca reer Colle Ge

sage can do so inexpensively at Axiom’s student massage clinic. “Our student massage therapists need to get practical experience to get the required hours to graduate and people can have a professional massage at a reasonable

The Gabriel Dumont Institute - Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (GDI-SUNTEP/ GDI-GDC) is recruiting for Fall 2019

rate,” says Bekolay. It is even possible to book a spot at the clinic online at As the college is an accredited education instruction, students can access student loans and other fi-

nancial assistance. Mature students are welcomed, as well, with prerequisites adjusted to take into account life experience. Potential students are also invited to visit the college and sit in on some of the classes.

Blaine Woodcock


SUNTEP is a four year accredited Bachelor of Education program offered by GDI in conjunction with the Ministry of Education and the U of R. Tuition is fully sponsored for Métis students. Qualifying First Nations students with band funding are welcome. SUNTEP offers smaller classes, tutoring and counselling support, accessible instructors and an on-campus location. GDC offers the first two years of classes towards the U of R, Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree with sponsored tuition for Métis students. Application deadline date for both SUNTEP & GDC is May 1st every year. For more information or applications, contact SUNTEP Regina. College West 227, U of R 3737 Wascana Parkway Regina, SK S4S 0A2 306-347-4110

FROM COLLEGE CLASSROOM CORPORATE CAREER. We can help you reach your goals.



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Fast track your career into nursing BY JULIE BARNES

Katherine Michaluk is on the fast track towards a future career as a palliative care nurse, thanks to her existing bachelor’s degree and the After-Degree Nursing Program (ADNP) she started last September. The ADNP provides applicants – who hold a four-year bachelor degree from an accredited post-secondary institution in another field – the opportunity to complete the Saskatchewan Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing (SCBScN) program in two calendar years or six consecutive terms. The Regina-based, ADNP program is a collaborative program offered jointly between Saskatchewan Polytechnic and the University of Regina. “I really liked that it was a two-year program,” says Michaluk. “The fact that I will be done in two calendar years versus having to go somewhere else and finish it in three to four years – it gives me an extra year or two in the field and a little bit more experience.” Michaluk says the small class size has helped spark friendships and a strong support system among the students. Her classmates have a diverse array of degrees – in fields including kinesiology, psychology, biochemistry, nutrition, business and economics to name a few. David Gregory, the dean of nursing at the University

of Regina, says these diverse backgrounds help bring fresh perspectives to the classroom. “The ADNP presents an education pathway for those applicants who hold a university degree. We take delight in the ADNP students – as they bring unique perspectives to their nursing studies.” Michaluk graduated with a bachelor of human ecology from the University of Manitoba in the spring of 2017. She majored in family social sciences and says her key focus was on aging, death and dying. Although her first degree was in a health-related field, she couldn’t find a job that reflected her interests in aging and palliative care. “With my degree, I couldn’ t get into those areas,” she says. But a career in nursing unlocked opportunities. After graduating, she says, “I can work directly with people in the front lines of the healthcare setting in palliative care – where I eventually want to be.” Michaluk’s previous degree has proved to be an excellent complement to her ADNP studies. “A lot of nursing is teaching and programming different things for the patients. I bring all those skills with me from my past degree, and a lot of knowledge about the social side of health.” Her experience is a prime example of how the ADNP maximizes student’s previous postsecondary education, says Sandra Blevins,

A collaborative program offered jointly between the University of Regina and Saskatchewan Polytechnic, the AfterDegree Nursing Program (ADNP) gives qualified applicants the opportunity to begin a rewarding career in nursing in just two calendar years. PHOTO: UNIVERSITY OF REGINA

The diverse backgrounds and array of degrees that students bring to the ADNP program bring fresh perspectives to the classroom. PHOTO: UNIVERSITY OF REGINA

dean of nursing at Sask Polytech. “Taking into account a student’s life and academic experiences, the after-degree program provides an opportunity to access the

Saskatchewan Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program.” Michaluk is on track to graduate in August 2020, but she’s already impressed with how far she’s come

since September. “I think back to where I was in August before the program started and where I am now and I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned, how many experiences I’ve had,

and how much my confidence has grown,” she says. “It’s a lot of work but it’s totally worth it.” She’s not the only student who has found satisfaction with the fast-track approach. Her classmate, G eorge Yuanjian Wang, says the fast pace of the program appeals to him. “I think it suits my learning style a little bit better.” He adds, “All the instructors are amazing and they’re all experienced nurses. You can really tell that they want to facilitate your learning.” Wang earned his bachelor of biochemistry at the University of Regina. He says he always knew healthcare would be his career trajectory after discovering that lab work didn’t suit him. When he graduates in 2020, he plans to gain experience working in Saskatchewan, before venturing further afield. “I definitely want to use nursing as a way to travel and see the world,” he says. For students like him who prefer an accelerated pace and already have a bachelor’s degree, Wang says, “this is probably the better way to go – even better than doing the four-year program.” The ADNP starts annually in September. Admission is based on competitive entry. All admission requirements must be met by June 30. Application window: October 1 to February 15. For detailed information, visit:


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