Tag Archives: Niagara College

Teaching Distillery Captures Two Golds, One Bronze At U.S. Open Whiskey And Spirits Championship

Emma Cuthbert holds a bottle of Twisted Berry Gin, which recently won a gold medal at the U.S. Open Whiskey and Spirits Championship. Last year, as an Artisan Distilling student, she and her classmates created the spirit for their capstone project./Supplied photo

They say it’s an honour just to be nominated, but Niagara College student Emma Cuthbert didn’t even know she was in the running.

So it was a pleasant surprise when Cuthbert opened her email recently to see a message from Niagara College head distiller David Dickson. He informed her that the Twisted Berry Gin that she and her Artisan Distilling program classmates created last year for their capstone project was a winner at the 2022 U.S. Open Whiskey and Spirits Championship.

“I didn’t actually know that it was entered,” Cuthbert said. “I got the email from Dave at the distillery saying that we won gold. It was just kind of a shock.”

The U.S. Open Whiskey and Spirits Championship ranks the best distilleries, whiskeys and spirits among entries it receives from across the United States and Canada. Winners were announced in mid-April.

Twisted Berry Gin earned one of two gold medals that NC’s Teaching Distillery was awarded at the championship. While Twisted Berry Gin won gold in the Gin Flavored /Infused category, NC’s Chocolate Porter Liqueur won gold in the Flavored Whiskey category.

The Teaching Distillery also took home a bronze in the Dark Rum/Gold/Barrel-aged Rum category for its Dark Rum.

Cuthbert said she and the others in her group wanted to make a gin for their capstone project so they could experiment with different applications of botanicals. One of their initial thoughts was to include berries.

“When it came to the recipe development of the gin itself, we wanted it to be good on its own, but also have characteristics that would highlight the different flavours of the berries,” said Cuthbert, who graduated from the Artisan Distilling program last year and is now finishing up NC’s Beverage Business Management program. “It was really cool to see how little tweaks in just the amount of botanicals made a difference in the final product.

“When we were deciding on what berries to use, we did a lot of extractions at home, just to kind of test out what flavours we thought we were going to like the best and [to try] different flavour combinations.”

Twisted Berry Gin is an unsweetened gin infused with raspberries, strawberries and blueberries, giving it a natural sweetness that can be used in different cocktails and paired well.

Cuthbert said the recipe was supposed to use blackberries—not blueberries—but when the group tasted the extraction, it wasn’t anything like what they were expecting. So they replaced the blackberries and found that the substitution enhanced the flavours of the other two berries.

Finding the perfect balance is what made the project the most fun.

“The creative aspect was the most enjoyable—trying to figure out how much of each of the extractions we were going to use,” Cuthbert said. “The recipe development for the gin itself…was what we thought was going to be a challenge, but it actually ended up working out very well. The berries aspect was the most challenging.”

This is the third year NC has entered at least one spirit for judging and has won at least one medal each time, Dickson said. Last year, the Teaching Distillery won a bronze for its Spirits 101 Ambrosia. In 2020, it won a bronze for its School Spirits Small Batch Rum.

Chocolate Porter Liqueur—the second of this year’s gold-winning spirits—got its inspiration from the Teaching Distillery’s Southern Hospitality bourbon-style spirit. The recipe was modified to include specialty grains, including Pale Chocolate Malt and cocoa nibs.

“Half of the chocolatey flavour comes from those grains and half comes from cocoa nibs,” Dickson said. “It’s short-aged in a barrel, and it’s probably been our most successful or our most sought-after product so far.”

The third winning entry—the Dark Rum—is a high percentage molasses-based rum that was aged for an entire year in an oak barrel. Molasses gives a different character than a more neutral sugar does, Dickson said, so it has a “bigger, bolder set of flavours.”

Judging for the competition is blind; the judges know only the categories, but they don’t know what they’re tasting. Canadian entries are judged by distillers and industry professionals in Niagara, and then shipped off to Oxford, Ohio, where they go through a second round of judging—along with the American entries.

Steve Gill, general manager of NC’s Learning Enterprise Corporation, said it’s important for the College to enter these types of world-class events because it gives students a chance to see how their skills measure up to their counterparts at distilleries elsewhere. It also provides a unique opportunity for them to apply what they’re learning and potentially be rewarded with international recognition.

“It allows the students to gauge how well they’re doing in class,” he said. “The students get to be really hands-on and they get a better understanding of the distilling process. They’re creating world-class products and we’re so very proud of them.”

Cuthbert said she’s proud of herself and her team for coming together to make something that was recognized by her peers as being exceptional, and now at an international level. The real joy, however, was working on the capstone project.

“It’s a very unique and beneficial experience to anyone that’s taking the distilling program, because it really gives you that freedom to test out a product that you think would be a good idea,” she said. “It’s a very good experience to have that under your belt, especially when you’re moving forward in this industry.”

Twisted Berry Gin and Dark Rum are small batch products that can be picked up at the College’s Wine Visitor + Education Centre Centre (135 Taylor Rd., Niagara-on-the-Lake)while supplies last. Chocolate Porter Liqueur has sold out and is no longer available. Spirits from NC’s Teaching Distillery, Teaching Brewery and Teaching Winery are also available at ncteachingwinery.ca.

Niagara College’s Teaching Distillery is a 2,500-square-foot facility equipped with six stills, four mash tuns and 10 fermenters. Home to the College’s Artisan Distilling program, students produce a variety of distilled products including vodka, gin, brandy, rum, whisky and other spirits. It opened in September 2018, completing the trifecta of beverage fermentation sciences at NC’s learning enterprises, following the footsteps of its Teaching Winery and Teaching Brewery, which were also the first of their kind in Canada.

(Attribution: Niagara College news release)

Niagara College Goes The Distance To Help Students Impacted By War In Ukraine

Director, International Gary Torraville holds up his message for a display at the Welland Campus filled with notes of support for the people of Ukraine. Dedicated message boards under a banner “Niagara College hearts are with the people of Ukraine” have been filling up at both campuses since early March./Niagara College photo.

The college is a “home away from home” for many international students

They have travelled across the world to study at Niagara College, now the College is going an extra mile for them.

NC is assisting international students impacted by the war in Ukraine with a range of supports – both financial and emotional – to help them through this challenging time. Whether they need financial assistance to help cover expenses, or emotional support as they struggle with anxiety over the safety of their loved ones in a war zone, Niagara College is demonstrating that they may be far away from home, but they are not alone.

Global Emergency Relief Fund

International students who face financial challenges due to world issues that arise in their home countries or here in Canada – from war and economic crisis to the pandemic – can turn to NC’s Global Emergency Relief fund.

The fund was established in 2020 to provide financial assistance to students during the COVID-19 pandemic. More recently, the College sought to expand the fund to assist Ukrainian and Russian students impacted by the war in Ukraine. The fund provides students with scholarships and bursaries to help cover tuition or living expenses, which are distributed on a case-by-case basis, as needed.

“Students from around the world study at NC to enrich their lives and fulfill their dreams, and we are dedicated to going the distance for them,” said Vice President, International Sean Coote. “During these challenging times, we won’t let our students fall behind due to global circumstances they cannot control. We are stepping up our supports to help ensure that they succeed.”

Supports for students

Since late February, staff members from the College’s International division have been reaching out to students impacted by the war in Ukraine. Those who are experiencing financial hardships incurred due to loss of bank transfer abilities, have been offered assistance as well as flexible payment options.

In addition to assisting with financial challenges, they continue to work with students, one-on-one as needed, to ensure that the students have access to mental and emotional supports or resources.

Director, International Gary Torraville noted that, as a “home away from home” for international students, it is a priority for NC’s International Division to support them during their stay.

“As a College community, we provide more than just an education to students while they are with us. In their time of need, we become their security blanket and their main source of support and care while away from their family and other loved ones,” said Torraville.

While all international students typically experience a feeling of being disconnected from their family and friends, Torraville noted that during times of crisis – such as the war in Ukraine – this becomes amplified. Students have been experiencing escalated fear and anxiety as they hear news from back home, which can severely hamper their ability to focus on their studies.

That’s why, when the invasion began in Ukraine, NC’s International Division shifted its immediate focus on the mental and emotional well-being of its students, and pointed them to supports and resources available to help them.

The College community also responded with an outpouring of support. Employees and students alike have been filling on-campus displays with messages of hope and encouragement for the affected students. Heart-shaped blue and yellow cards with handwritten notes are on display near International’s offices at the Welland Campus and Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“We all recognize that students from Ukraine and many other countries, including Russia, are victims of this circumstance and it is critical that we illustrate to our students that we stand with them and are here to support them through this terribly tragic and stressful time,” said Torraville. “When world events occur like this current situation in Ukraine, I am always so proud of the way all areas of the College come together to show that level of care and support that NC is known for.”

Putting the ‘NC’ in community

NC’s efforts extend beyond the borders of its campuses.

To assist Ukrainian visitors who have recently arrived in Niagara and may benefit from advancing their language skills, NC is offering scholarships to its English for Academic Preparation (EAP) program. Twenty full scholarships have been offered to recently arrived Ukrainian visitors, to attend NC’s EAP program’s May start, and more opportunities will be available during the months ahead.

For information about opportunities for recently arrived Ukrainian visitors to Niagara to attend NC’s English for Academic Preparation program, contact international@niagaracollege.ca or call 905-735-2211 est. 7152.

NC also recently joined 18 colleges across Ontario, along with Colleges Ontario, and the Ontario College Application Service, with a joint donation of $200,000 to UNICEF’s Ukraine emergency fund.

Donations and support

The Global Emergency Relief Fund is supported by contributions from corporate and individual donors. CIBC recently contributed $10,000 to support the fund.

The provincial government also recently announced $1.9 to create an Ontario-Ukraine Solidarity Scholarship in Ontario’s publicly assisted colleges and universities, to be awarded to individual students through their postsecondary institutions based on merit and financial need beginning in September 2022.

“We are truly grateful for this vital support from our government and from corporate and individual donors who are making it possible for more students to overcome barriers and achieve their dreams,” said Vice President, Research and External Relations, Marc Nantel. “These much-needed financial gifts help us ensure that students who have been welcomed into the Niagara community have the support they need to succeed during critical times and we know that it will truly make a difference in their lives.”

Donate to NC’s Global Emergency Relief Fund

Niagara College welcomes donations from the community to help support students through the Global Emergency Relief Fund. Those interested in helping NC’s international students during times of crisis – including those impacted by the war in Ukraine – may donate at donate.niagaracollege.ca.

(Attribution: Niagara College news release)

Niagara College Joins Ontario Colleges To Support The Ukrainian Crisis Fund

Captions: Left, Student Anastasia Bobrova, who is from Russia, pens her message of support for Ukraine at NC’s Welland Campus with a powerful message “We are all one family. Ukraine, we are with you.”; top right, Mexican student Denisse Garcia Escalante writes her message of support for Ukraine for the display at NC’s Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake.; bottom right, Brewmaster student Apoena Endyara De Souza Becker from Brazil brews NC Teaching Brewery’s Resist – Ukrainian Anti Imperial Stout. /Supplied photos.

Niagara College has partnered with a number of colleges across Ontario to make a joint donation of $200,000 to UNICEF’s Ukraine emergency fund.

“Niagara College stands with the people of Ukraine,” said NC president Sean Kennedy. “We are proud to contribute to a fund that will help provide vital necessities and services for Ukrainian families who are experiencing hardship and loss.”

Donations to the Ukraine emergency fund will support the organization’s ongoing programs and response to the escalating need in Ukraine by providing communities with safe water, urgent medical aid and health-care services, child protection and education. UNICEF has been working in Ukraine since 1997.

In addition to other supports, 18 colleges contributed to the joint donation, along with contributions from Colleges Ontario (the sector’s advocacy organization) and the Ontario College Application Service (OCAS).

Some colleges have opted to make significant contributions solely as individual institutions. These include supports such as tuition relief programs, new scholarships, counselling programs, community partnerships and more.

“So many Ukrainian men, women and children are either displaced or living through the terrible situation in Ukraine,” said Linda Franklin, the president and CEO of Colleges Ontario. “This tragedy has affected everyone on our campuses and created a strong desire to help.”

At Niagara College campuses, support for Ukraine has been on display throughout the month of March, with students and employees showing their solidarity.

Handwritten messages of hope and support penned with care upon notes bearing blue and yellow hearts – the colours of the Ukrainian flag – are on display inside NC’s Welland campus and the Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The displays are located outside the College’s International division at both campuses – hubs for students from around the world, including Ukraine, who have left their homelands to study at the College.

During this challenging time, NC International has been working with the students who have been impacted by recent events to ensure that they have mental and emotional supports in place and that there are no financial hardships incurred.

“As the world watches Ukraine, we recognize that the tragedy hits close to home for our own students, staff and faculty members,” said president Kennedy. “I am proud of how our college community has come together to show that they care.”

NC’s Teaching Brewery has also taken the conflict in Ukraine to heart.

Earlier this month, Brewmaster professor Jon Downing and students from the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program brewed a new beer to show support and promote awareness: Resist – Ukrainian Anti Imperial Stout. Developed by displaced Ukrainian brewers, the Resist recipe was shared by Drinkers for Ukraine with hopes that brewers worldwide will brew it in solidarity with the beer community in Ukraine whose livelihoods and, in some cases, whose businesses have been destroyed by Russian attacks. Downing and students will also brew a Ukrainian Golden Ale, using a recipe developed from Pravda brewery in Lviv, Ukraine.

The Teaching Brewery’s Resist – Ukrainian Anti Imperial Stout is expected to be available in early April and Ukrainian Golden Ale is expected to be released to the public in mid-May. Both will be available at the College’s Wine Visitor + Education Centre ($3.75 per can) while supplies last.

(Attribution: Niagara College release)

NC Brews Solidarity

By Julie Greco

Niagara College Brewmaster Jon Downing will be among brewers from Ukraine and around the world to be featured in a Drinkers for Ukraine fundraiser video which will be live-streamed on Saturday, March 26. (Supplied photos, graphic)

Support for Ukraine is brewing at the NC Teaching Brewery.

In addition to rolling out two solidarity beers this spring to show support for Ukraine, College Brewmaster Professor Jon Downing will be part of a fund-raising event livestream on March 26 organized by Drinkers for Ukraine, an international effort to raise funds for Ukraine.

Downing has joined brewers from Ukraine and around the world who are participating in a Drinkers for Ukraine Fundraising Livestream on March 26. The video will be live-streamed during the fundraising show, profiling the stories of breweries in Ukraine and raising funds for the relief effort.

Drinkers for Ukraine make the recipe for Resist – Ukrainian Anti-Imperial Stout available for brewers worldwide.
Source: DrinkersforUkraine.com

The invitation to participate in the video came after the Teaching Brewery answered a call to brew  Resist – Ukrainian Anti-Imperial Stout in early March. Developed by displaced Ukrainian brewers, the Resist recipe was shared by Drinkers for Ukraine in a call for breweries worldwide to participate in brewing it in solidarity with the beer community in Ukraine whose livelihoods and, in some cases, their businesses have been destroyed by Russian attacks.

Lana Svitankova, co-founder of Drinkers for Ukraine – who is also a writer, translator, educator and Ukraine’s first certified Cicerone – said that the main goal of Drinkers for Ukraine is to raise funds for a cause, get people informed, and give them one more outlet to show support. She noted that while it has been difficult to track how many breweries have hopped on board the initiative, she is aware of 55 so far who have brewed or plan to brew the beer as a show of support.

“First of all, huge thanks for Niagara College’s support,” said Svitankova. “Being Ukrainian, this means so much to me that people are being vocal in their support. This brings me faith in humanity, hope and solace in these difficult times.”

For information about the fundraiser or to view the livestream on March 26  (2 p.m. EST):  youtube.com/watch?v=PYAP-R4Kfqo.

Downing led students from the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program in brewing Resist – Ukrainian Anti-Imperial Stout at the Teaching Brewery in early March. They are also brewing a Ukrainian Golden Ale, using a recipe developed from Pravda brewery in Lviv, Ukraine, which has halted beer production to make Molotov cocktails during the war. Pravda released a few of its beer recipes to raise funds and spread awareness and is encouraging brewers around the world to join in brewing their beers.

Brewmaster student Apoena Endyara De Souza Becker from Brazil assists with brewing Resist – Ukrainian Anti Imperial Stout at the Teaching Brewery on  March 7.

For Downing, support for Ukraine is both professional and personal. During the early nineties, he was instrumental in launching two microbreweries in Ukraine (in Dnipro and Haivoron). In 1993 – just two years after Ukraine became an independent country – he became the first North American to work in Dnipro where he installed a microbrewery in a former missile factory.

His experiences from Ukraine have seeped into the Teaching Brewery’s solidarity brews.

He recalled how a brewer he trained at the first microbrewery, named Sasha, had previously designed rockets for the factory. It was Sasha’s wife Galina – a name which means ‘calm, healer’ – who inspired the Teaching Brewery’s choice of hops for its Resist beer: 91 grams of Galena. The Teaching Brewery’s Resist was also brewed with a 9.1% ABV in recognition of Ukraine’s independence in 1991.

The Golden Ale brew is also significant, Downing noted, as the Ukrainian beer community has been trying to get Ukrainian Golden Ale recognized as a regional style up until February this year. It is also a walk down memory lane for Downing since, 30 years ago, when he worked on the first two microbreweries in Ukraine, he brewed a Canadian Golden Ale at each of them.

When he looks back on his memories from Ukraine during the early nineties, the College Brewmaster recalls the reconstruction and modernization that was taking place during that pivotal time, as well as the people who were embracing freedom and rebuilding their country.

NC Teaching Brewery displays its Beer 101 series beers featuring the colours of the Ukrainian flag as a show of support.

“Having seen the country being rebuilt once, I know it’s going to be rebuilt again. I know that the strength of Ukrainian people will make it happen,” he said. “Brewing is a part of it. Brewing is a part of the economy locally here in Ontario, worldwide and in Ukraine as well.”

The Teaching Brewery’s Resist – Ukrainian Anti-Imperial Stout is expected to be available March 30 ($3.75 per can) while supplies last. Ukrainian Golden Ale is expected to be released to the public in mid-May ($3.75 per can).

(Attribution: Niagara College release)

REDress Project Honors Victims And Survivors Of Colonial Violence

Indigenous Student Success Leader Emily Schutt prepares red dresses for display at the Welland Campus. Part of the REDress Project, dresses will be displayed at both NC campuses from Feb. 14-18 as a visual reminder of victims of colonial violence. /Supplied photo

On a day that is dedicated to celebrating love, a meaningful initiative will help open hearts to lives lost and impacted by violence.

Niagara College will join Brock University in hosting the REDress Project on February 14. The initiative is dedicated to raising awareness of Missing and murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) and Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex and Asexual (2SLGBTQQIA+) people.

The goal of the REDress Project is to pay tribute to individuals lost to violence, as well as those who survived, and acknowledge the impacts that violence had on their families, friends and communities, noted Lianne Gagnon, director of Student Services.

“It’s only by shining a light and providing information that we can take the steps to expose the truth of the violence. That’s why we feel it’s so important to educate our students and staff about the violence perpetrated against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, in the hope of eliminating it,” said Gagnon. “As postsecondary providers in Niagara, we are proud to stand with our partners at Brock and take a lead role in informing our communities to end the violence and work towards a more diverse and inclusive future for all.”

Beginning February 14, NC will host a week-long display of red dresses in prominent outdoor locations at its Welland Campus and Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The dress displays are intended to be powerful visual reminders of the thousands of MMIWG and 2SLGTBQQIA+ people who were victims of colonial violence over the past 40 years, and to help raise awareness of the REDress Project throughout the College community.

“Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to host the REDress Project because the victims and survivors that we honour are not just statistics; each one of them was a person who was loved,” said NC Indigenous student success Leader Emily Schutt. “We are proud to join our partners at Brock in displaying the red dresses on our campuses, and hope that the initiative encourages everyone to take the time to learn more about the REDress Project and the MMIWG inquiry.”

The red dress displays, for which the REDress Project was named, originally began as an art installation by Métis artist Jamie Black in 2011 at the University of Winnipeg and has since been replicated in communities across Canada.

This will be the second year that the College has will host REDress project and red dress displays on its campuses. NC Indigenous Education launched a REDress Drive in early 2022 to collect red dresses donations from the College community in support of the initiative.

NC Indigenous Education and Brock University are hosting a REDress Project virtual panel event on the evening of February 14. Panelists include Robyn Bourgeois, acting vice-provost, Indigenous Engagement and Aboriginal Student Services, Brock University; Jennifer Moore Rattray, who served as executive director of the national inquiry into MMIWG; and Fallon Farinacci, survivor and advocate for MMIWG.

The virtual event will take place via Microsoft Teams from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Advance registration is required through Eventbrite at: eventbrite.ca/e/redress-tickets-266223751407. There is free admission to attend and donations will be collected to support Abbey House – a residence for Indigenous women who are experiencing crisis. Elder support will be available during the event.

On the evening of February 14, Niagara Falls and Brock University’s Schmon Tower will be illuminated in red in honour of the REDress Project.  


A National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was launched in September 2016. Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was published in June 2019. The report contained 231 Calls for Justice, which also included a public campaign to expose what has been experienced by Indigenous people and a national task force to examine the unresolved cases. In 2021, the Government of Canada released its plan to address the tragedies experienced by MMIWG and 2SLBGTQQIA+ by committing $2.2 billion dollars to fund the goals outlined in the final report. A National Action Plan was released in 2021 that focuses on ending the violence against MMIWG and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.

(Source: Niagara College media release)

Dan Patterson, Niagara College’s President Emeritus, Receives Minister’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Ontario’s Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop presented Dr. Daniel J. Patterson with the Minister’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2021 Higher Education Summit in Toronto.

TORONTO – Dan Patterson PhD, Niagara College’s president emeritus, was recognized with the Minister’s Lifetime Achievement Award at College Ontario’s 2021 Higher Education Summit in Toronto on November 29.

Patterson, who led Niagara College from 1995 to 2020, accepted the prestigious award in front of world-renowned leaders in education, as well as family and friends.


“All of us at Niagara College are very pleased to see Dan recognized for his remarkable contributions to Niagara College and to Ontario’s college system,” said Sean Kennedy, president of Niagara College. “Dan’s legacy is reflected in our campuses, which are among the most unique learning environments in Canada, and his vision of building an innovative college of firsts has earned us a strong reputation as a trailblazer within the College sector.”

The Minister’s Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the contribution of outstanding leaders in the Ontario College sector who make an enduring difference in the lives of students, to the communities they serve, and to the economic development of our province. The recipient is selected by the annual Colleges Ontario Leadership Awards selection committee, composed of representatives from the government, colleges and students.

Patterson, who led Niagara College for 25 years before concluding his tenure as president in 2020, was one of four award recipients who received a Minister’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the Summit. Among them, Ann Buller from Centennial College, Judith Morris from Lambton College, and Fred Gibbons from Northern College.

“What a wonderful honour,” said Patterson in his acceptance speech. “Thank you, Minister and everyone who was involved in my nomination. I would not be standing here today and receiving this Lifetime Achievement Award if it wasn’t for my late wife Saundra who walked with me every step of my twenty-five-year-journey as College President.”

Patterson’s partner Saundra, a dedicated ambassador for Niagara College and a champion for its students, passed away in January, 2021. Patterson also thanked his family and daughter Christine who joined him at the awards presentation in celebration of this milestone achievement, as well as friends and Niagara College colleagues in the audience.

During his tenure, Patterson was a catalyst for innovation and growth. He oversaw significant expansion, including the construction of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus, the creation of innovative learning enterprises, including Canada’s first teaching winery, teaching brewery, and teaching distillery. Under his leadership, the College tripled its enrolment to 13,000-plus full-time students in over 130 programs with an operating budget surpassing $225 million. Patterson also led the largest capital expansions in Niagara College history with over $300 million of campus redevelopment, including a significant renewal of the Welland Campus in 2011.

He helped introduce trailblazing programs, including Canada’s first post-secondary credential in Commercial Cannabis Production and Commercial Beekeeping, responding to the needs of emerging industries, and advocated for experiential learning opportunities for students preparing for the world of work. Patterson was committed to student success, and his philosophy was to build connections between the classroom and the community, and to showcase the valuable role that colleges could play as leaders in economic development.

Jill Dunlop, Ontario’s Minister of Colleges and Universities, presented the award and thanked the four retired college presidents for their sage leadership over the course of their tenures and during unprecedented times.

“As a tribute to the college sectors’ nimbleness and tremendous capacity to respond quickly to this unprecedented challenge, we are honouring four retired presidents this year, whose leadership ensured colleges were well-positioned to succeed in these difficult circumstances and will continue to prosper in the years to come,” said Dunlop.

“It truly is a privilege and good fortune to work in the post-secondary education ecosystem,” said Patterson. “We in education are given the opportunity to make a difference, to enrich the lives and fulfil the dreams of our students, to open up promise and possibility, to tear down barriers, to link students to the world of work, build pathways to success, to improve the socioeconomic conditions to reduce poverty and open up job opportunities. It’s a noble calling – daunting but rewarding – and one that I have been blessed to participate fully in.”

“Dan has been a catalyst in transforming Niagara College from its very humble beginnings into one of Ontario’s leading post-secondary institutions. Through his energy and innovative leadership, Dan has created a place of higher learning that has inspired a generation of students to pursue their applied dreams,” said Del Rollo, vice president, Industry and Government Relations at Arterra Wines Canada and former chair of NC’s Board of Governors in his letter of support.

Niagara College, who nominated Patterson, received letters of support from other respected leaders across Ontario, including Peter Devlin, president of Fanshawe College, Denise Amyot, president and CEO of Colleges and Institutes Canada, Paula Burns, president and CEO of Lethbridge College, and Mark Frison, president and CEO of Assiniboine College.

Patterson continues to contribute to education and innovation in Ontario and beyond. He is currently serving as chair of the Ontario Centre of Innovation and he is a member of the board of trustees of Niagara University in Lewiston, New York. Since concluding his term as president of Niagara College, he has also worked in support of the Dan Patterson Legacy Campaign.

In November of 2019, the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus was renamed the Daniel J. Patterson Campus in recognition of his outstanding contributions to Niagara College.

(Source: Niagara College news release)

Ontario’s First Poet Laureate Sheds Light On Adversity For Fall 2021 Grads

Randell Adjei convocation address: Randell Adjei, Ontario’s first poet laureate, addresses NC’s Fall 2021 graduates during a video message played during the livestream ceremonies as NC president Sean Kennedy and VP Academic Fiona Allan watch from the Welland Campus./Niagara College photos.

Like Niagara College’s Fall Class of 2021, who had to overcome unprecedented challenges to graduate during a global pandemic, Randell Adjei has faced adversity.

But when Ontario’s first poet laureate shared his words of wisdom as part of the College’s Fall 2021 Virtual Convocation ceremonies, he inspired graduates to view it in a positive light.

“See adversity as a seed of opportunity,” he said.

Adjei, who was appointed poet laureate in April – a provincial position established in memory of Canadian singer-songwriter Gord Downie from The Tragically Hip – addressed more than 1,000 new NC graduates, along with their families and friends from around the world who gathered virtually to celebrate in two unique ceremonies livestreamed from the Welland Campus on October 29.

The special guest speaker, who was recognized with an Honorary Diploma in Community Studies during the ceremonies, told graduates that those facing adversity are like seeds buried and rooted into the darkness, which eventually find their light, and bloom.

“Sometimes we are buried into the darkness. Sometimes we are going to question, ‘why is this happening to me.’ Sometimes we are going to feel like victims but, I can reassure you, that you are being given an opportunity to grow,” he said. “You are transforming. You are evolving and blooming to become your best self.”

Adjei explained how adversity has played a key role in his own life, leading him not only to write as a form of self-expression, but to form RISE Edutainment (Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere) to help GTA youth express themselves creatively through performance arts. 

“If it wasn’t for the adversities that I went through, I would not be who I am today,” he said. “Adversity is what allowed me to look deeper within myself to question what I had to offer into this world.”

Adjei encouraged graduates to think about the legacy they hope to leave behind and what they can do to make the world better.

“Your legacy starts today,” he said.

Graduates were also treated to his gift of the spoken word, when he recited his poem, “The Dash,” which references the mark between dates on a tombstone and, figuratively, the course of a lifetime.

“It’s not about the day we’re born, nor is it about the day we leave, it’s really about everything we do with the dash in between,” he said.

President Sean Kennedy, who addressed the graduates live from the Welland Campus during the ceremonies, also shared advice with the Class of 2021. He spoke about the power of education and encouraged them to embrace lifelong learning as a key to realizing their dreams.

“As we learn, our worlds get bigger. Open your minds – and your hearts – to new ideas, new cultures, new ways of being and knowing,” said Kennedy. “And when you are moved, impacted and affected by what you learn, embrace that opportunity to grow and change. This is lifelong learning at its core.”

While the morning ceremony celebrated 511 new graduates from the Canadian Food and Wine Institute; and schools of Business and Management; Environment and Horticulture; Hospitality and Tourism; and Trades; the afternoon ceremony honoured 513 new graduates from the schools of Allied Health; Community Services; Justice and Fitness; Nursing and Personal Support Worker; and Academic, Liberal and Access Studies.

Zoom screenshot Practical Nursing: A screenshot from the afternoon ceremony livestream features a group of Practical Nursing graduates cheering and waving from their Zoom program party.

More than 270 new NC graduates were from the School of Nursing and Personal Support Worker alone – at a time of escalating need for health-care workers in Ontario.

Among them is St. Catharines resident Allison Cronkwright, who graduated from Practical Nursing, 11 years after graduating from the Personal Support Worker program. After developing a rare immune disorder and unable to continue her work as a PSW, she became determined to pursue her dream career. She went from wheelchair, to walker, to Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) during the past six years. On her convocation day, she considered herself the “luckiest woman on Earth” living out her dream as she begins her new full-time job as an RPN on a surgical unit at Niagara Health, where she completed her consolidation placement.

“Nursing was something I was born to do. From my very first memories as a child, I wanted to give back. I wanted to work in service of others,” she said. “COVID has put so much negative into the world. My nursing career is not one of them. I will adapt to whatever comes in front of me. I would move mountains to get where I am today.”

The Fall graduates join 3,872 from NC’s Class of 2021 who graduated during its Spring Virtual Convocation ceremonies between June 21-25 when the College celebrated the milestone of surpassing 100,000 individual graduates.

NC’s standout interactive virtual convocation ceremonies, which debuted in June 2020, feature many treasured traditions of its on-campus ceremonies, while leveraging modern technology and NC’s broadcasting expertise to create a live, interactive experience for graduates.

The formal ceremonies took place at the Welland Campus, and were livestreamed to a virtual audience, powered by a team of staff, faculty and students working behind the scenes from NC’s Broadcasting: Radio, Television and Film program. Between the two ceremonies, the livestreams garnered 3,259 live views from 34 countries.

Through program Zoom parties held alongside the ceremonies, graduates could be seen smiling and waving on screen with their classmates, as select clips were featured during the livestreams.

Those who missed their live ceremony broadcast, may view it at their convenience via the College’s website. For information about convocation or to access the ceremonies, visit niagaracollege.ca/virtualconvocation/.

(Source: Niagara College news release)

Ontario’s First Poet Laureate To Address Niagara College’s Fall Graduates

Ontario’s first Poet Laureate Randell Adjei / Photo courtesy of Lady Mensah Studios

Niagara College is planning an epic virtual send-off for almost 1,000 new graduates this fall with a special guest who is well versed in the spoken and written word.

Randell Adjei, Ontario’s first poet laureate, will deliver the convocation address at NC’s Fall 2021 Virtual Convocation ceremonies on October 29. The Scarborough native was appointed poet laureate in April – a position established in memory of Canadian singer-songwriter Gord Downie from The Tragically Hip. As poet laureate for a two-year term, Adjei is dedicated to writing and championing poetry, art and literacy, celebrating Ontario and its people, and raising the profile of poets in the province.

“The Niagara College community looks forward to welcoming Randell as our guest speaker and honorary diploma recipient for Fall Convocation. We are honoured that he will share his extraordinary talents with our Fall 2021 graduates,” said NC president Sean Kennedy. “Randell’s mantra of resilience is sure to both inspire and resonate with our 2021 graduates, who have achieved their academic goals during an unprecedented time in history and are now poised to embark on the next exciting chapter of their lives.”

Adjei is a celebrated spoken word artist who has performed around the world. He has won multiple awards for his dedication to helping youth express themselves creatively through performance arts as the founder of RISE (Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere) Edutainment.

NC will confer an Honorary Diploma in Community Studies upon Adjei in recognition of his contributions to the literary arts, which serve to unite and bring attention to social injustice.

“I am ecstatic to be addressing the Class of 2021 graduates at Niagara College because it is a pivotal time in their lives,” said Adjei. “Niagara has often been a place of getaway and rejuvenation for me. Also given Niagara’s approach to learning and education, I am really looking forward to being involved.”

About Fall 2021 Virtual Convocation

Two unique convocation ceremonies will be livestreamed from the Welland Campus on October 29: the 10 a.m. ceremony will celebrate new graduates from NC’s schools of Business and Management, the Canadian Food and Wine Institute, Hospitality and Tourism, and Trades. The 2 p.m. ceremony will be dedicated to the schools of Academic, Liberal and Access Studies; Applied Health; Community Services; Justice and Fitness; and Nursing and Personal Support Worker Studies.

The fall graduates join 3,872 from NC’s Class of 2021 who graduated during its Spring Virtual Convocation ceremonies June 21-25 when the College celebrated the milestone of surpassing 100,000 individual graduates.

Virtual convocation enables graduating students to celebrate their academic achievement in a safe and meaningful way during the COVID-19 pandemic before moving on to the next chapter of their lives. The upcoming ceremonies follow the resounding successes of the College’s previous virtual convocation ceremonies that drew tens of thousands of viewers from Niagara, Canada and around the world since they debuted in Spring 2020.

The College’s standout, interactive virtual convocation ceremonies feature many treasured traditions of its on-campus ceremonies, while leveraging modern technology and NC’s broadcasting expertise to create a live, interactive experience for graduates. The formal ceremonies conducted by Kennedy and vice president Academic Fiona Allan will take place at the Welland Campus and will be livestreamed to a virtual audience thanks to a team of faculty and students working behind the scenes from NC’s Broadcasting: Radio, Television and Film program.

Graduates and their families may visit the convocation website to view their ceremony as it happens, live in real time, from anywhere in the world. The name of each graduate will be called out, one by one, and appear on screen.

Videos will be incorporated into the live broadcasts, featuring well-wishes from the College community and beyond. Graduates will be invited to connect with their classmates and faculty through program Zoom parties to be held during their ceremony. Select clips from program Zoom parties – showing graduates smiling and waving – will be featured during the ceremony livestreams.

Virtual convocation also includes an immersive social media experience. Photos, videos and text messages with the NC convocation hashtag #NCGrad2021 will also be incorporated into the ceremonies.

For the convenience of those unavailable to attend the virtual ceremonies in real time, ceremony broadcasts will be available for later viewing via the Convocation website.

For information about convocation or to access the virtual ceremonies, visit niagaracollege.ca/virtualconvocation/.Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, distilling, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit niagaracollege.ca.

(Source: Niagara College news release)

Niagara College Marks National Day For Truth And Reconciliation

Elder Dave Labbe, who is an alumnus of Niagara College, addresses a group gathered in front of a fire during an Honouring the Children event. The event was held in the Indigenous Garden (Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake) on the morning of September 30. /Niagara College photo.

It was a day to mourn losses, honour survivors and learn about the truth of residential schools.

On September 30, students, faculty and staff at Niagara College joined residents across Canada in commemorating the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

“Our priority at Niagara College is to commemorate the day in a meaningful way,” said College President Sean Kennedy. “Our goal is to amplify Indigenous voices, and encourage our College community to learn the truth of residential schools, and to engage with truth and reconciliation initiatives at our College and in the community.”

Indigenous Education at NC hosted two events for the College community on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – one in-person and one virtual. The day kicked off with a morning Honouring the Children event held in the Indigenous Garden at NC’s Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The College community was invited to drop in, pay their respects and reflect on the children who were forced from their communities to attend residential schools.

Elder Dave Labbe, who is an alumnus of NC (Electronic Engineering Technology, 1971) lit a fire, offered medicines, and guided the College community through the time of reflection.

“Be the vanguard. The world is watching what Canada does right now,” he said.

A Virtual Circle Discussion: Truth Before Reconciliation event drew participants from the College community via Zoom during the afternoon to listen to stories told from survivors and those impacted by residential schools. Attendees heard from guest speaker Sharon Slippery, who is a third-generation residential school attendee, as well as Elder Gary Parker of the Seneca Nation.

The event focused on the importance of understanding the truth of the profound effects that residential schools had and continue to have on Indigenous communities. It addressed the forced assimilation of Indigenous children, the effects of intergenerational trauma, and it honoured the strength of survivors.

“Niagara College’s September 30 events are intended to be a starting point for an ongoing discussion around Truth and Reconciliation and as initial steps in the important work that our College will be undertaking related to Truth and Reconciliation,” said Rick Anderson, Vice President, Student Success, who became NC’s first Indigenous vice president when he was appointed to the role in January 2021.

Lianne Gagnon, Director of Student Services, which includes Indigenous Education at NC, noted that while this was the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation at the College, it follows in the footsteps of its annual Orange Shirt Day initiatives. Hosted by Indigenous Education, Orange Shirt Day events have served as a reminder of the devastating history of Indigenous residential schools; their impacts on Indigenous children, families, and communities; and to reinforce that every child matters.

“Now that it is officially known as the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, we are focusing on the truth first. Before non-Indigenous people can do reconciliation work, it is important to first learn about Indigenous culture and the effects colonization had on them,” said Gagnon.

“We can’t start rectifying the wrongs if we don’t know what they are. We felt that the Virtual Circle would be a valuable way to share information with our staff and students, and to give them a better understanding of why reconciliation is important, while we remember and honour residential school survivors.”

In addition to the events on September 30, some areas of the College also hosted initiatives leading up to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. On September 27, NC’s Centre for Academic Excellence hosted a session for faculty and staff members grounded in the book Decolonizing Education: Nourishing the Learning Spirit by Marie Battiste. NC’s schools of Business and Management; Hospitality, Tourism and Sport; and Environment and Horticulture held a virtual session on Sept. 27 to help its faculty and staff learn about the importance of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and about how to support Indigenous students.

(Source: Niagara College release)

On-Campus Vaccination Clinics For Students, Staff And Public To Be Held September 13, September 20

The GO-VAXX Bus is coming to Niagara College. 

Niagara College students, staff, and members of the public will be able to receive a first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on campus this September.

GO-VAXX bus, a mobile vaccination clinic, will be on campus for drop-ins on the following dates: September 13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. @ the Welland Campus in parking lot A (east side); September 20 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. @ the Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake in parking lot A (south side).

Maps of campus lots can be found on the NC website. Parking is free for those visiting the GO-VAXX bus.

The GO-VAXX bus operates as a fully functioning vaccine clinic with the necessary supplies and trained staff to provide assistance to people and ensure vaccines are administered safely.

 All COVID-19 safety precautions will be followed on board, including the required pre-vaccination screening and post-vaccination monitoring. A tent will be set up where you will be asked to wait for 15 minutes after your vaccine. The GO-VAXX bus is administering the Pfizer vaccine.

Bring your health card. If you do not have a health card or if it’s expired, bring another form of government-issued photo identification such as a driver’s license, passport, status card, or birth certificate. Please do not visit the GO-VAXX bus if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

To learn more about the GO-VAXX bus, visit ontario.ca/page/go-vaxx-bus-schedule.

(Source: Niagara College news release)