Reminder to register for Feb. 21 Black History Month talk with NC alumna Erica Williams

As part of Niagara College’s celebration of Black History Month, students and employees are invited to register for a free Black History Month talk via Zoom with NC alumna and social justice worker Erica Williams on Tuesday, Feb. 21 from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Register here for In Conversation with Erica Williams.

About Erica Williams

Social service worker-turned-entrepreneur, Williams founded Erica’s Embrace during her final year at NC, an organization which supports Caribbean, Black and African communities across the province through advocacy and the donation of Black hair care and beauty products to women’s shelters.

Williams has spoken at her alma mater several times over the years since graduating. This event – a collaboration between ncLibraries, CPOD, and Development and Alumni Relations – will highlight Williams’ transformational work and community advocacy, and will be a chance to discuss the importance of that work in relation to Black history, presents and futures.

NCSAC honours the legacy of Saundra Patterson with Wellness Lounge naming

On January 25, Niagara College’s Student Administrative Council (NCSAC) honoured the memory of Saundra Patterson, one of the College’s most beloved student champions, by officially unveiling the newly renamed Saundra Patterson Wellness Lounge.

Saundra, who passed away on January 27, 2021, was the devoted partner of long-time NC President Dan Patterson, currently President Emeritus. She was loved by the college community for her compassion and her unwavering commitment to the betterment of students.

At the dedication, NC President Sean Kennedy, NCSAC President Sam Jemison and past NCSAC President Tom Price (2019-2021) welcomed guests to the renamed student space and shared touching tributes to Saundra.

“Saundra leaves behind a legacy of building incredible connections that served to improve the student experience,” said Kennedy. “Saundra truly was a pillar of our NC community, and we are proud to carry on her vision and the important work of supporting students through initiatives like the Saundra Patterson Wellness Lounge.”

Reflecting on his time as NCSAC President, Price recalled Saundra’s thoughtfulness and dedication to NCSAC programs in support of students.

“Saundra embodied the passion we all have for student life, and the betterment of it. Whether it be her attendance at student or college-led events, announcements, convocations, or donations to the NCSAC Nourishing Minds Fund, if it was supporting NC students, Saundra was there.”

A special indoor space at the Daniel J. Patterson Campus, the Saundra Patterson Wellness Lounge is a place for students to drop-in and engage with trained wellness peers about common student challenges, such as feelings of loneliness, sadness, and stress, and to help them access resources on and off campus.

“This recognition of the Saundra Patterson Wellness Lounge by Niagara College’s Student Administrative Council is a wonderful tribute to Saundra and will be a permanent legacy and reminder of her tireless commitment to student success,” said President Emeritus Patterson, shared his appreciation to NCSAC.

President Emeritus Daniel J. Patterson shares memories of his wife, Saundra.

“As I reflect, I have many great memories of Saundra enjoying her time with students at convocations, student award nights and so many other student events,” he added. “One tradition Saundra particularly loved was welcoming the Student Council to her home every year to a summer dinner before the start of term. She had a special gift of listening and made everyone feel welcome and at ease in her company. Saundra would have been thrilled to have such a special place named in her honour for students to gather and to support their well-being”

NC also honoured Saundra’s memory last fall with the creation of the Saundra Patterson Memorial Garden at the Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The garden was designed and built by students and faculty from NC’s School of Environment and Horticulture and staff from the Teaching Greenhouse with whom Saundra forged a special connection with over the years.

To learn more about Saundra Patterson’s life and her contributions to Niagara College, please read her full bio.

CKTB radio features alumna Erica Williams Feb. 2

A graphic of the Newstalk 610 CKTB logo

Award-winning alumna Erica Williams (Social Service Worker, Class of 2018) was live on CKTB 610 The Drive with host Walter Sendzik on February 2. Erica’s interview was held on the same day thet she was at NC’s cculinary pop-ups to support her non-profit, Erica’s Embrace.

Listen to audio cut and view post here.

Related

Culinary pop-ups to support alumna’s non-profit, Erica’s Embrace Feb. 2

Culinary pop-ups to support alumna’s non-profit, Erica’s Embrace

Event to support Black women experiencing homelessness

Niagara College is supporting the efforts of a member of its alumni community, by donating proceeds from upcoming two upcoming culinary pop-ups to Erica’s Embrace Support Services.

Two culinary pop-ups – open to the College community and the public – will be held on Thursday, February 2 in support of Erica Erica’s Embrace, founded by NC alumna Erica Williams. The first will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a second pop-up will be held from 4:30-6 p.m. Both will take place in the Benchmark Dining Room (Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake).

Williams, who graduated from NC’s Social Service Worker program in 2018 and won a prestigious Premier’s Award from Colleges Ontario in late 2022, is dedicated to making a difference to support Black women. The St. Catharines resident is a social service worker and savvy non-profit entrepreneur. Through Erica’s Embrace, Williams and her team gather and distribute B

Erica Williams was one of two NC alumni chosen by Colleges Ontario to receive a prestigious Premier’s Award winner for 2022. Seven college graduates from across Ontario received an award last year. Williams (right) is pictured alongside another NC nominee and winner: Murray Brewster (left).

lack hair care and beauty products to women’s shelters across Southwestern Ontario. It is the only known service of this kind in the area. Her team has also expanded to Black advocacy within the Niagara region.

“I’m extremely excited and appreciative of the support that we are receiving from Niagara College,” said Williams. “I started developing the idea to begin Erica’s Embrace when I was in my last semester at Niagara College and it’s an indescribable feeling to have the college that I went to support my initiative.”

Williams said the support from NC will bring more awareness to the work they do at Erica’s Embrace and how others can help.

“It’s important because our team attempts to fill a gap not often seen in shelters. We put a focus on support for Black women experiencing homelessness,” said Williams. “Our team consists of Black and Indigenous women with lived experiences that want to help and give back to our communities.”

Williams plans to attend the pop-ups at NC to help spread the word about Erica’s Embrace.

“Our hope is to continue to spread awareness about what we do and connect with others,” she said. “We will have a donation bin available as well for anyone that would like to donate Black hair or beauty care products on that day.”

Culinary pop-ups for a cause

Hosted by Culinary, Tourism and Beverage Studies division, culinary pop-ups are open to the College community and the public.

“Our division and the College are proud to support Erica’s Embrace as an organization that advocates for inclusion,” said Craig Youdale, Dean of Culinary, Tourism and Beverage Studies. “This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to see, first-hand, how their skills and hard work can do so much more than produce food but can help those organizations that make our world a better place.”

Manager of Food Services Operations Sarah Scott highlighted the importance of collaborations with community organizations in the food service industry.

“It’s an important lesson for culinary students at NC to learn, first-hand,” said Scott.

The pop-ups in support of Erica’s Embrace are on the heels of similar events which raised $2,000 in support of Women’s Place of South Niagara on January 19, to help women and children impacted by domestic violence(view NC pop-ups raise funds for Women’s Place of South Niagara).

February 2 culinary pop-ups

The February 2 culinary pop-ups to support Erica’s Embrace will be held from 11:30 a.m.to 1: p.m. and 4:30-6 p.m. at the Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake (Benchmark Dining Room).

A pork menu and a plant-based option will be available. Menu items include pork roast, pork vindaloo, pork pie, Italian pork cutlet sub, BBQ Pulled Jackfruit on a bun (vegetarian option), and apple pie.

Meals are first-come, first served – organizers recommend arriving early to avoid disappointment.

Culinary pop-ups

Culinary pop-ups were introduced at NC during Fall 2022 term and will continue during Winter 2023 term. They are scheduled to continue in February on Thursdays – twice per day from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Meals are first-come, first-served.

Visit Facebook for menus and pop-up locations.

Find out what’s next on the menu, and get the latest information about upcoming pop-ups, festivals and ticketed dining events at niagaracollege.ca/culinaryarts/culinaryservices/ or by visiting the NC Culinary Services Facebook page for more information about culinary pop-ups and academic signature events, including menus, links to purchase tickets, pricing and more.

Black History Month

The upcoming culinary pop-up is one of several NC events that Williams will be involved with throughout February. As the College marks Black History Month, Williams will speak to the College community at a virtual event on February 21.
View Jan. 24 article here.

Related posts

Jan. 24, 2023: Alumna and social justice worker Erica Williams headlines NC’s Black History Month celebrations

Nov. 29, 2022: Two Niagara College alumni win Premier’s Awards

Nov. 25, 2022: Seven Niagara College alumni earn Premier’s Awards nominations

View encore Alumni Spotlight featuring Erica Williams here.

 

Alumna and social justice worker Erica Williams headlines NC’s Black History Month celebrations

Throughout February, Niagara College will mark Black History Month with events and activities for our community to celebrate the achievements, contributions and lived experiences of Black Canadians and African diasporic peoples.

Headlining the month is NC alumna and recent Premier’s Award winner, Erica Williams (Social Service Worker, 2018), who will speak to students, staff and faculty at a virtual event –  In Conversation with Erica Williams – on February 21 from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

“Black History Month is an opportunity to recognize and honour the many Black champions in our community, past and present, who make a difference in Niagara and across Canada,” said President Sean Kennedy. “Erica Williams is creating meaningful change and we are pleased to have her back on campus to speak with students and employees, and to celebrate her achievements.”

Social service worker-turned-entrepreneur, Williams founded Erica’s Embrace during her final year at NC, an organization which supports Caribbean, Black and African communities across the province through advocacy and the donation of Black hair care and beauty products to women’s shelters.

Williams has spoken at her alma mater several times over the years since graduating. This event – a collaboration between ncLibraries, CPOD, and Development and Alumni Relations – will highlight Williams’ transformational work and community advocacy, and will be a chance to discuss the importance of that work in relation to Black history, presents and futures.

Registration for the Zoom event is open to the NC community.

Culinary pop-up on Feb. 2 in support of Erica’s Embrace

Culinary Services and the School of Culinary Arts is pleased to host their February 2 Culinary Pop-Up in support of Erica’s Embrace, a chance to sample student-crafted cuisine with all proceeds donated to support the cause.

The pop ups, featuring a curated menu by second-year Culinary Management students, will begin at 11:30 a.m. (and continue until 1:30 p.m. or while supplies last, first come, first served) and at 4:30 p.m. in the Benchmark Dining Room (Daniel J. Patterson Campus, Niagara-on-the-Lake).

“Our divisions and the College are proud to support Erica’s Embrace as an organization that advocates for inclusion. This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to see, first-hand, how their skills and hard work can do so much more than produce food, but can help those organizations that make our world a better place,” said Craig Youdale, Dean of Culinary, Tourism and Beverage Studies.

Sarah Scott, Manager of Food Services Operations, emphasized the importance of collaborations with community organizations in the food service industry – an important lesson for culinary students at NC to learn, first-hand.

Afro-Caribbean Celebration on Feb. 24

International is pleased to announce that they have partnered with the Afro-Caribbean Cub to bring back our Afro-Caribbean celebrations. Plans are in the works for February 24 and event details will be available soon.

Community events

Niagara Parks is hosting a monthly Black History Speaker series on the last Sunday of the month from January to March:

  • January 29 – Lezlie Harper, Celebrating Black History in Niagara
  • February 26 – Saladin Allah, Present-Day Freedom Seekers and The Power of our Stories
  • March 26 – Kevin Cottrell, Interpreting the Underground Railroad in the age of Heritage Tourism and the built environment in the Niagara Region

NC alumni couples: Share your story for a chance to win $100 gift card

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, Alumni Relations is hosting a contest that puts the ‘NC’ in ‘romance.’

NC alumni couples who met while attending the College are welcome to enter a contest, hosted by Alumni Relations, for a chance to win a $100 gift card – along with a chance to share their story in encore digital magazine!

The contest will run from January 15 until January 26 (11:59 p.m.). Winners will be announced the following week.

To enter

  • Click this link or visit encore’s Share your NC Memory page at  encore.niagaracollege.ca/category/nc-memory/#submit-memory;
  • Fill in the required information on the ‘Share Your NC Memory’ form:
    • Who are you (Select ‘NC Alumni’);
    • Name (fill in your first and last name);
    • Email (fill in your email address);
    • Your memory (Share your ‘NC love story with us of how you and your partner met at NC);
    • Attach photo (upload a photo of you and your partner ‘then’ or ‘now’ … or both!
    • Click ‘Submit my Memory.’

 

Gord Arbeau to join Niagara College as Vice President, Advancement

A headshot of a man wearing glasses, a suit jacket and tie.

Niagara College President Sean Kennedy announced today that Gord Arbeau, an experienced senior leader in the postsecondary sector, will join Niagara College as Vice President, Advancement, leading a new portfolio that integrates communications, development and alumni relations, and community relations and events.

Arbeau comes to the College from Brock University, where he is Associate Vice President, University Advancement and External Relations.

“As we look ahead with bold and ambitious plans, buoyed by significant growth in our students, staff, faculty and facilities, we are thrilled to welcome an experienced advancement leader who will enhance our strong reputation and build the support and engagement that will sustain our momentum as a postsecondary leader in Niagara and beyond,” said Kennedy. “Gord personifies our strong student focus, and the unique trailblazing, welcoming and passionate characteristics that set our college apart, and he will be an outstanding addition to our senior leadership team.”

As Vice President, Advancement, Arbeau will be responsible for growing the College’s endowments and raising funds in support of our students and learning environments, along with enhanced alumni and partner engagement.

“It is a distinct privilege to be invited to join the Niagara College community,” said Arbeau. “Our students, faculty and staff are impactful contributors to the vibrancy of our region, province and the world. I am looking forward to working with the College’s executive team and our colleagues to continue to advance the College and its strategic plan and to build on the considerable and impressive achievements and momentum that Niagara College has earned.”

Arbeau’s current role at Brock University includes responsibility for development, donor relations, alumni engagement, and marketing and communications.

Prior to Brock, Arbeau held leadership positions at McMaster University, including Director of Communications and Community Relations and Director of Marketing and Communications at the DeGroote School of Business. A graduate of the Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson) Journalism BA program, he began his career in broadcast journalism before moving into leadership positions in marketing, communications and operations in the private sector.

A recognized leader in postsecondary advancement, Gord has also served as a chair and trustee for the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and national conference co-chair for the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education.

Message from President Kennedy: Gord Arbeau to join NC as VP, Advancement

I am very pleased to share that Gord Arbeau, an experienced senior leader in the postsecondary sector, will join Niagara College as Vice President, Advancement in the new year.

Gord comes to Niagara College from Brock University, where he is Associate Vice President, University Advancement and External Relations, and he brings a wealth of communications, development, and alumni and community relations experience to NC.

As I shared at the start of the Fall term, the new Vice President, Advancement position was created to provide key support for our bold and ambitious goals for the future – from our new strategic plan, to significant growth in students and employees, new programs and facilities and an updated Master Plan.

As Vice President, Advancement, Gord will lead the communications, development and alumni relations, and community relations and events functions and he will be responsible for significantly growing our endowments and raising funds in support of our students and learning environments along with enhanced alumni and partner engagement.

In his current role at Brock, Gord is responsible for development, donor relations, alumni engagement, and marketing and communications. Since joining the university in 2019 he has increased fundraising, expanded the university’s donor base and secured transformational gifts while instituting digital communications and marketing strategies that enhance student enrolment and retention.

Prior to Brock, Arbeau held leadership positions at McMaster University, including Director of Communications and Community Relations and Director of Marketing and Communications at the DeGroote School of Business. A graduate of the Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson) Journalism BA program, Gord began his career in broadcast journalism before moving into leadership positions in marketing, communications and operations in the private sector.

A recognized leader in postsecondary advancement, Gord has also served as a chair and trustee for the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and national conference co-chair for the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education.

Gord’s first day at NC will be Monday, January 16. Please join me in extending a warm Niagara College welcome to our new Vice President, Advancement.

NC Giving Tuesday campaign raises more than $13,000

Giving Tuesday 2022 lived up to its name at Niagara College.

The one-day give-a-thon, held on November 29, raised $13,175 in support of students and families in need, surpassing the College’s original fundraising goal of $10,000.

Donations were made via NC’s Giving Tuesday page via Charity Village at give.charityvillage.com/NiagaraCollege_GivingTuesday.

As a result, $9,250 was raised for the Nourishing Minds Fund along with $3,925 for Adopt-a-Family.

“Thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of our 2022 Giving Tuesday campaign,” said Vice President, Research and External Relations, Marc Nantel, PhD. “Together, our College community puts the ‘NC’ in ‘making a differeNCe’ when it comes to supporting those in need on our campuses and beyond.”

Established by NC Student Administrative Council, the Nourishing Minds Fund addresses food insecurity by supplying electronic grocery cards to help students in need, to buy food, toiletries, and other life necessities.

Donating to the fund helps alleviate the food insecurity faced by many NC students. About 100 students have been receiving a free breakfast each morning at the Welland and Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake. To date, during Fall 20222 term, NCSAC has handed out 35 emergency grocery gift cards to students and has recently increased the value of the cards to be $50 for an individual student, and $100 for a student with dependents at home.

NCSAC Marketing Communications Manager Andy Hall noted that the donation will go towards funding the Rise and Shine breakfast program that happens three mornings a week, as well as providing students in emergency situations with a gift card to a local store to buy their groceries.

“Time and time again, we are shown how incredible the NC community, staff, faculty, and students are. This is a prime example of that,” said Hall. “The funds raised through this campaign will go directly to helping students each and every week.”

Each year, during the holiday season, NC’s Give Back Committee organizes the Adopt a Family program in support of student families in need. Some families will receive gifts for each child, food, Christmas dinner, gifts for mom and/or dad, as well as some gift cards for groceries, gifts, and other necessities.

About Giving Tuesday

Created in 2012, Giving Tuesday is a global movement that started with a simple idea: ‘what if there was a day that encourages people to do good.’ This message has since reached over 73 countries, with $36 million collectively raised in Canada last year alone.

 

Two Niagara College alumni win Premier’s Awards

They graduated from Niagara College decades apart, but on the evening of November 28, two NC alumni made history as outstanding Ontario college graduates who were announced as winners of 2022 Premier’s Awards.

Multi-award-winning journalist Murray Brewster (Ottawa), who graduated from NC’s Broadcasting – Radio, Television and Film program in 1985, and Founder of Erica’s Embrace, Erica Williams (St. Catharines), who has been supporting Black women across Southwestern Ontario since she graduated from NC’s Social Service Worker program in 2018, were among seven winners of this year’s prestigious Premier’s Awards announced by Colleges Ontario during its Higher Education Summit in Toronto.

It was the first time that two NC alumni have won Premier’s Awards during the same year.

“We are very excited that two of our amazing NC alumni have won Premier’s Awards this year, for the first time in our College history,” said NC President Sean Kennedy. “We are immensely proud of Murray and Erica who are both exemplary members of our alumni community of more than 100,000 graduates who are making a difference throughout Niagara, across Ontario and around the world.”

Brewster, who is a Parliamentary Defence and Foreign Policy Reporter for CBC News, won in the Creative Arts and Design category. Since he graduated from the College in1985, he has built a world-class career which has helped Canadians, as well as victims of conflict around the world.

“My experience at Niagara College was more than courses and textbooks; it was the people who stuck with me,” said Brewster.

Brewster, who grew up in Welland, built a successful career in broadcasting and print journalism which has taken him around the world, including 15 months in Afghanistan travelling with troops during the five-year Kandahar combat mission. That experience was the subject of his book, The Savage War: The Untold Battles of Afghanistan, (2011), and he was the lead writer on the documentary Kandahar Journals.

Brewster has built a reputation as a trusted journalist on military-security matters. Wherever he’s reporting from — Ottawa, Africa, Ukraine or the Arctic Circle — his journey as one of this country’s impactful journalists has made him a familiar and reassuring voice to millions of Canadians. His consistent reporting for CBC News – after more than a decade at The Canadian Press – helps Canadians grasp their country’s ability to protect its sovereignty in this tense era of global wars and threatening geopolitical ambitions.

Brewster’s excellence and impact have been recognized by over a dozen prestigious national awards, including 14 national Radio and Television News Director Awards; two Atlantic Journalism Awards; the Ross Munro Award for defence writing; the prestigious Michener Award Certificate of Merit for public service in journalism; and a finalist citation in the prominent National Newspaper Awards. He was also recognized with NC’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2017 when he addressed graduating students from NC’s schools of Media, Trades and Technology during a Spring Convocation ceremony at the Welland Campus in June 2017, which marked his first return to his alma mater since he graduated in1985.

St. Catharines resident Erica Williams won the award in the Recent Graduate category.

A dedicated social service worker and savvy non-profit entrepreneur, Williams created necessary and otherwise overlooked support services for racialized individuals since graduating with her diploma only four years ago. Through her organization, Erica’s Embrace Support Services, Williams and her team gather and distribute Black hair care and beauty products to women’s shelters across Southwestern Ontario. It is the only known service of this kind in the area.

Her years in school and the various hands-on experiences she gained allowed her to see this gap in the field and gave her the push she needed to pursue such a meaningful venture.

“Sometimes change starts with an idea and, sometimes, change starts with you,” said Williams. “I thank Niagara College for giving me the knowledge and confidence I needed to pursue my dreams.”

In April 2022, Williams connected with current NC students as a featured guest of the College’s virtual Ask an Alumni Anything event.

Brewster and Williams were among seven NC alumni who were nominated for 2022 Premier’s Awards. They are the seventh and eighth alumni from NC to win Premier’s Awards since the awards were launched in 1992. NC alumni who have won previously include:

  • 2014 winner Royal Canadian Navy Capt. Rebecca Patterson (Nursing grad, 1987);
    • 2012 winner David Pratt (Greenhouse Technician grad, 2007);
    • 2011 winner Jerry Howell (Computer Engineering Technology grad, 1988);
    • 2008 winner Jordan Harris (Winery and Viticulture Technician grad, 2004);
    • 2003 winner Heather Kilty (Social Welfare Worker grad, 1969); and
    • 1995 winner Carol Alaimo (Journalism-Print grad, 1984).

Presented annually by Colleges Ontario, the Premier’s Awards honour the important social and economic contributions of Ontario college graduates in seven categories – Apprenticeship, Business, Community Services, Creative Arts and Design, Health Sciences, Recent Graduate, and Technology.

Colleges Ontario’s 2022 Premier’s Awards presentation was held on November 28 at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel. Visit  co-awards.org.

: Niagara College President Sean Kennedy (middle) stands with alumni Murray Brewster (left) and Erica Williams (right) at Colleges Ontario’s 2022 Premier’s Awards presentation on November 28 in Toronto.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A NC group shot from Colleges Ontario’s awards presentation.

Related:

Nov. 25, 2022: Seven Niagara College alumni earn Premier’s Awards nominations

Brewster and Williams were both featured in NC’s encore digital magazine this year:

View Alumni Spotlight featuring Erica Williams here.

View Alumni Spotlight featuring Murray Brewster here.