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Five recipients honoured at Red Deer College Community Awards

Date posted: 
Thu, 05/19/2016

In a celebratory evening that focused on community contributions and connections, Red Deer College honoured five recipients at the Community Awards ceremony on May 18.

The event provided a meaningful opportunity for community members, alumni and distinguished guests to celebrate and honour the four individuals and one community partner that received awards:

  • Tanya Schur was awarded the G.H. Dawe Memorial Award for her commitment to community and leadership.
  • The College posthumously recognized Joe Bower with the Alumni Legacy Award, as acknowledgement of his significant contributions to the educational community.
  • RDC bestowed the Distinguished Alumnus Award to two recipients: Andrew Kooman and Kathryn McKenzie, for each of their personal and professional achievements, as well as public service.
  • The Community Partner Award was presented to Alberta Health Services, in recognition of their collaboration with Red Deer College on training learners throughout our region for almost 50 years.

For complete details on each of the Community Awards recipients, please see the following information. Click here to see the video from the event.

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For additional information contact:

Janice Wing      
Director, Community Relations    

Shelley Newman      
Communications Consultant - Corporate   

Tanya Schur recipient of 2016 G.H. Dawe Memorial Award
at Red Deer College Community Awards

Red Deer, May 18, 2016 – RDC Alumna Tanya Schur is a well-respected leader in Red Deer and across central Alberta. As a Blackfoot-Metis mother of two grown children, Tanya follows the traditional teachings of the Blackfoot culture and lives the teaching of Chief Seattle: we all belong to the web of Life, what we do to others we do to ourselves. This principle guides her work in social justice and education. 

Tanya is the Executive Director of the Red Deer Native Friendship Society, where her work focuses on a wide variety of initiatives encompassing the growth and sustainability of her people. She is committed to Aboriginal community development and the empowerment of the Aboriginal people through governance development work she led in the creation of the Urban Aboriginal Voices Society. As the leader of the Asooahum Crossing Development, Tanya is steadfast in sharing a clear vision of the completion of affordable housing in a cultural neighbourhood where all people will have access to Cree, Blackfoot and Metis cultural knowledge and experiences.

Tanya has followed the path of her leadership journey in many ways, attaining her Master of Arts in Leadership Studies, with a research focus on creating harmony in diverse work groups. She has applied her innate and learned leadership skills to her work with Red Deer Native Friendship Society and her work with many groups, such as the Government of Alberta First Nations Women’s Economic Security Council.  

In 2014, she was among 20 women selected nation-wide to participate in the Canadian Women’s Foundation Leadership Institute at the Coady Institute, St. Francis Xavier University, where she shared her traditional knowledge at the Coady Institute Indigenous Women’s Leadership program. 

A strong advocate for the education of Aboriginal people as an inherent right, Tanya is committed to helping make education attainable. Through the adoption of the SCCyber School model, she has provided meaningful opportunities to assist disadvantaged Aboriginal youth who find success in the traditional school system challenging. She has worked with Red Deer College on numerous occasions for strategic and operational reasons. Under her leadership, the Red Deer Native Friendship Centre provides services and support for countless Aboriginal students who have attended RDC. 

Tanya’s leadership is collaborative and encouraging, built on the foundation of the seven grandfather teachings of respect, wisdom, humility, honesty, courage, truth and love. She uses her qualities to make a difference in the lives, not only of Aboriginal people, but of all young leaders who she believes will bring about a better world through attaining mainstream education and remembering the teachings of from their history and her story. Her energy, enthusiasm and kindness contribute significantly to a positive environment for all.


Joe Bower posthumously recognized with Alumni Legacy Award
at 2016 Red Deer College Community Awards

Red Deer, May 18, 2016 – The 2016 Alumni Legacy Award was presented posthumously to Joe Bower, who graduated with a Bachelor of Education from Red Deer College in 1998. Joe was passionate about teaching and, within three years of starting his career, he was already leading the charge to change the education system to better meet the needs of all students.

Joe’s influence on education in Red Deer was profound, as his entire philosophy centred around ensuring that the needs of students were being met. He was dedicated to challenging the educational system’s status quo, and became instrumental in changing how his colleagues – and educators from around the world – perceived grades, awards, assessments and student motivation.

When Joe started his blog “for the love of learning,” his messages about education resonated with teachers on a global level, and his blog recorded as many as 85,000 views in a single month. Social media was another incredible platform for Joe to connect and engage with fellow educators, and his Twitter account had 12,000 followers. He was an author, public speaker and tireless advocate for advancing and evolving educational practices, and he was on a first-name basis with leading educational figures from across the globe.

As his influence and reach expanded to an unimaginable level, Joe never forgot about the importance of individuals. He mentored hundreds of people online to help them determine how they could best assist the students in their care. He also remained passionate about teaching his own students, cultivating a respectful and caring atmosphere that encouraged each of his students to grow and develop.

Joe was a social justice and educational warrior who embraced his role in life and touched thousands of lives. Joe Bower passed away from a sudden heart attack on January 3, 2016, to the heartbreak of his family and community. Joe’s legacy as a teacher will have an on-going impact on students, past-students and other educators.


Andrew Kooman receives Distinguished Alumnus Award
at 2016 Red Deer College Community Awards

Red Deer, May 18, 2016 – Andrew Kooman strives to tell exceptional stories that have a lasting impact on the world. Andrew’s storytelling journey has led him to Red Deer College in different ways, first as a student and then as an employee. He graduated from the Bachelor of Arts collaborative degree program between Red Deer College and the University of Calgary in 2003. He later graduated from the Multimedia Web Developer program at RDC in 2008, and worked at the College as a Public Relations Consultant from 2011 to 2014.

Andrew is an author and playwright, and his writing has been published around the world and translated into 10 languages. His critically acclaimed play, She Has A Name, investigates the sex trade in Southeast Asia. The play premiered in Calgary in 2011 and toured Canada the following year. It continues to be produced throughout North America and is currently being translated into Spanish. The film adaptation was filmed in Thailand in 2015, with a projected release date of December, 2016.

Andrew is committed to helping change areas of social injustice, through his creative works and fundraising activities. Through a strategic partnership with A Better World Canada, he helped to create the She Has A Name project in Bangkok, which supports the Home of New Beginnings. The project has raised tens of thousands of dollars to help women leaving the sex trade to receive healing, counselling and education. In addition, his commissioned theatrical works have helped to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for organizations in central Alberta.

With his integrity, compassion and humility, Andrew is an inspiration to Red Deer College students and the community of Red Deer, as well as anyone familiar with his work and writings. Andrew looks to make a difference in the world, whether it’s in his hometown of Red Deer, where he co-founded Unveil Studios with his brothers, Matthew and Daniel, or on a more global scale, where he is dedicated to informing the public about the extent of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.



Kathryn McKenzie receives Distinguished Alumnus Award
at 2016 Red Deer College Community Awards

Red Deer, May 18, 2016 – Kathryn McKenzie has a vision to make the world a better place, and she is helping to do this by sharing stories of resilience and hope.  

Kathryn’s career path began at Red Deer College, where she was a student in the Transfer Program before obtaining her Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education through the University of Lethbridge. While at RDC, Kathryn won many awards, including Student of the Year in 2004, the Rick Gerard Memorial award for exemplary writing and scholarships for her athletic and academic achievements in her role as captain of the Cross Country Running Team. She was also an active leader in the Red Deer College community, sitting on Academic Council between 2002 and 2004, and founding the International Student’s Club.

After graduation, Kathryn began her teaching career, where she took great pride in coaching sports teams. She also created a training program for 150 students, helping them complete their first 5 km road race in support of the Calgary Food Bank. Kathryn carries a strong vision and helps students learn to achieve their goals while also giving back to their community.

Kathryn’s vision for a better world let her to found the Worldviews Project, an online platform for positive news that showcases leaders from around the world who are making their communities better. Kathryn, who has established herself as a voice for mental health awareness, uses her own experience with depression to teach others to shift their perspective from pessimism to hope. She was especially aware of the importance of hope for her students, as she felt the constant bombardment of negative news promoted fear and anxiety for youth, who are already one of the highest risk populations for mental health issues.

Through her own work on the Worldviews Project, and her work with students on the Human Voice Project, Kathryn has been involved with creating film documentaries, photo galleries, podcasts and stories that share messages of resilience and hope from local and global communities. Kathryn’s audience and reach have expanded far beyond what she could have imagined, and her work has made her a role model and inspiration in our communities and schools.


Alberta Health Services receives Community Partner Award
at 2016 Red Deer College Community Awards

Red Deer, May 18, 2016 - Red Deer College and Alberta Health Services have had a strong relationship since RDC’s Nursing program first began in 1968. The two organizations have partnered and collaborated on many projects and health care programs during this time, helping to educate and train many local students for a wide variety of careers in the health care industry.
Through practicum and clinical placement opportunities with Alberta Health Services, students have the opportunity to learn and develop their practice at AHS facilities and agencies throughout the entire central Alberta region. For students in the Nursing programs at Red Deer College, Alberta Health Services often partners with nursing faculty on specific projects for clinical environments, with the expectation that enhancing health outcomes for Central Albertans is a part of the project. AHS has been a strong champion of the nursing preceptorship program since 1982, where staff nurses work in partnership with nursing students helping them to successfully transition into the workforce. This work extends into our other health care programs as well, as AHS staff have generously served as field supervisors and preceptors.   
Discipline experts from AHS are often guest speakers for classes in Red Deer College’s health and wellness programs and on many occasions have shared their expertise by teaching part-time in these same programs. Alberta Health Services was integral to the establishment of the Medical Lab Assistant and Occupational Therapist-Physiotherapist Assistant programs, reviewing and helping to develop curriculum, working with RDC to establish practicum opportunities and providing input into the creation of the Occupational Therapist-Physiotherapist Assistant lab.
Alberta Health Services and Red Deer College walk together in helping students transition to their chosen careers. What began as a partnership in Nursing has expanded to include learning opportunities for students in a wide variety of programs including Pharmacy Technician, Kinesiology & Sport Studies, and Social Work, to name a few.
The strong partnership between Alberta Health Services and Red Deer College is a tremendous benefit for learners and for our communities, with students and graduates contributing to the health and wellness of central Albertans.