Durham College receives funding for two work-integrated learning projects that will help students make a difference

Durham College’s (DC) Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE) is thrilled to share that two work-integrated learning (WIL) projects have been awarded more than $100,000 in total funding for the 2022-2023 academic year. These generous grants are provided by Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada and its Innovation Hub (iHub) which is dedicated to developing future-ready students through its unique hands-on experiential learning opportunities and partnerships.

“We are incredibly grateful for the support of CEWIL Canada and iHub on these two emerging projects at DC,” said Debbie McKee Demczyk, dean, ORSIE. “These projects are perfect examples of how we’re identifying and responding to the evolving needs within our national and global community and serves as proof of how our students and employees are leading the way in inclusivity and innovation.”

The first project, led by Greg Murphy, executive dean, Faculty of Media, Art & Design (MAD) at DC is committed to improving media representation of people with disabilities living in Canada. This new accessible and inclusive image bank will authentically represent those with a disability by focusing on the individual rather than the equipment they rely on, which is unfortunately portrayed the majority of time in stock image sharing sites. To better improve this representation, 84 students in MAD will capture and edit images and videos in collaboration with Spinal Cord Injury Canada throughout the 2022 fall semester.

The second project receiving funding is a brand-new student-produced podcast called Founder’s Drive. It aims to spark inspiration and curiosity among entrepreneurial-minded youth world-wide to explore starting their own businesses. The podcast will help foster inclusivity, honesty, trust and accessibility for new entrepreneurs by building a foundation of self-determination. This project is led by Danielle Harder, a professor in MAD, and will be hosted through DC’s 360insights Entrepreneurship Centre and FastStartDC. This project will give 13 students across five academic programs in MAD the unique opportunity to host, produce, market and promote six podcast episodes, equipping them with the tools and experience they need to better conquer their entrepreneurial dreams in our ever-changing media industry.

“By offering innovative WIL opportunities at our institutions across Canada, we continue to see growth in students’ personal and professional competencies,” indicated Charlene Marion, director, WIL at CEWIL Canada. “The skills and competencies gained through these experiences serve to support students as they transition to the workplace, entrepreneurial endeavours, or future studies.”

The funding received for these two work-integrated projects at DC will provide students with the skills and experience they need to flourish post-graduation in careers and businesses of their own.

These projects have been funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Innovative Work-Integrated Learning program and CEWIL Canada’s iHUB. For further information on these programs and funding opportunities, please visit their website.

Durham College employees gear up for new school year at Academic Kickoff 2022

On August 30, Durham College (DC) employees officially launched the start of the new academic year at the 2022 Academic Kickoff. After being held virtually for the past two years, the in-person event was nothing short of exciting, as more than 400 employees from all areas of the college gathered for a morning of inspiration and motivation.

Led by Dr. Elaine Popp, executive vice president, Academic, DC colleagues were greeted with a hot breakfast and the chance to reconnect with each other before the morning’s events kicked off with a keynote address from Dr. Henning Beck, neuroscientist and best-selling author. Exploring methods for better thinking and ways to identify the ideal environment to generate innovative solutions, Dr. Beck left employees feeling inspired to think in new ways.

For many, the event was an opportunity to meet new colleagues, as it was the first employee gathering on-campus since the college announced the realignment and renaming of our academic faculties in June 2022. In addition to hearing about updates and successes from the Academic Plan, the agenda also featured an Exemplary Faculty panel discussion, where members shared experiences and sparked new ideas to showcase how DC is leading the way in the student experience, both inside the classroom and beyond.

The event concluded with the announcement of this year’s nominees for the Employee Awards of Excellence, which recognize our employees’ outstanding achievements from the past year. The winners will be announced later this fall.

With the majority of classes set to start on Wednesday, September 7, the campus community is feeling energized and excited for the new year ahead.

Durham College hosts Skills Ontario summer camp to spark interest in the skilled trades for local youth

From August 15 to 19, Durham College’s (DC) Whitby campus hosted 18 very special guests, who spent the week exploring future career opportunities available in the skilled trades. The summer camp was hosted by Skills Ontario and provided campers with several hands-on activities in each of DC’s skilled trades programs – including an off-site tour of Ontario Power Generation (OPG), a long-standing community partner and donor of the college. Skills Ontario has been providing programs like this for students in Grades 7 to 9 for over 30 years, with an intention to inspire youth to explore skilled trades and technologies. This is the first summer since 2019 that the camp has been able to run in-person.

“We’re thrilled to bring back our popular summer camps program,” says Ian Howcroft, chief executive officer, Skills Ontario. “It is crucial for youth to not only explore opportunities in the skilled trades and technologies, but also to build their skills for the workforce and consider what career path is right for them.”

Supported by experiential learning opportunities – a concept that is deeply embedded in many of DC’s programs – campers learned about the many career paths available in the skilled trades and technology fields. Daily camp activities were led by Skills Ontario staff and DC employees, and featured interactive activities and competitions, including: virtual reality welding, building birdhouses in the carpentry shop, learning hoisting and drilling techniques, creating tasty treats while learning about DC’s Field to Fork philosophy, using plumbing skills and materials to build hula hoops, as well as a Co2 Dragster car assembly and performance race.

“I had the pleasure of visiting the camp and was very impressed with each camper’s enthusiasm and pride for their work. I’m pleased to see youth taking such interest in the skilled trades and having the ability to experience the state-of-the-art facility we have at our Whitby campus,” said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College. “I’m grateful for the work Skills Ontario provides young people and I’m sure this will be the beginning of a lifelong passion of learning for the campers and foster DC’s relationship with them all as future leaders in our community.”

DC’s Whitby campus is leading the way in skilled trades and technology education. It spans over 350,000 square feet in state-of-the-art learning spaces, including the newly opened Ontario Power Generation Centre for Skilled Trades and Technology, which features a double-height shop lab, new classrooms and student touchdown spaces. The campus also includes the W. Galen Weston Centre for Food, which is home to the award-winning full-service restaurant, Bistro ’67; retail store, Pantry, and the Barrett Centre of Innovation in Sustainable Urban Agriculture and its community-inspired urban farm.

DC is proud to partner with Skills Ontario in an effort to introduce youth in the Durham Region to the many skilled trades professions while also helping them develop communication, problem-solving and teamwork skills. Skills Ontario summer camps are sponsored by the Government of Ontario and Magna. For further information on future camps, please visit their website.

*photo credit Skills Ontario

Durham College tackles food insecurity with market garden benefiting Community Care Durham

Three students from Durham College’s (DC) Horticulture – Food and Farming and Horticulture Technician programs are leading the way to food security in the Durham Region with the installation of a market garden located at a new Whitby warehouse facility and benefiting Community Care Durham’s (CCD) Food Box Program.

Completed in collaboration with the college’s Barrett Centre of Innovation in Sustainable Urban Agriculture, Colliers Real Estate Management Services and Fiera Real Estate, the garden was designed and is currently maintained by students Abigayle Hamilton, Christine Barretto and Paul Fritzsch alongside field supervisor, Andrew Guay, with the dual-purpose of creating a relaxing and aesthetically-pleasing space for warehouse employees to enjoy, while also providing fresh food to community members in need.

“This project underscores how reinventing green spaces within our communities through regenerative agricultural practices can support local food production so those in need have access to a safe and stable supply of fresh food,” said Kelly O’Brien, associate dean, Faculty of Hospitality & Horticultural Science, Durham College. “We are proud of how our students are becoming leaders in the community, demonstrating how fresh food can be both accessible and affordable with a bit of outside-the-box thinking.”

The space includes raised-bed planters with numerous herbs, including basil, lemongrass, chives, lavender, thyme, sage, kale, nasturtium and ornamental leopard’s bane, while the gardens feature produce like snap peas, sweet peppers, tomatoes, carrots, beets, turnips, arugula, purple cabbage and butternut squash. Everything grown is donated directly to CCD.

“With the support of the building owners, Fiera, Colliers had the opportunity to transform an unused space into something that gives back to tenants and the local community,” said Lindsay Brooks, property manager, Colliers Real Estate Management Services. “We are beyond thrilled to have partnered with the team at Durham College. Their thoughtful approach to our project, budget and vision far exceeded what we could have expected. They were truly able to bring our vision to life and really capture our goals.”

For nearly a decade, the Weston Centre has been a community destination point. Home to eight full-time programs of study in the Faculty of Hospitality & Horticultural Science, as well as the award-winning, full-service restaurant Bistro ’67 and its retail store Pantry, the centre plays host to students, restaurant guests, customers and corporate business partners. With field-to-fork and sustainable practices at the forefront, the centre offers a holistic learning environment unlike any other in Canada, where students expand their knowledge and skills through an innovative curriculum, hands-on labs and real-world work experiences.

Last year, DC launched its newest food sustainability venture, the Barrett Centre, with a vision to become an internationally recognized hub of excellence in urban agricultural practices, research, education and training, to address some of society’s biggest challenges including food insecurity, access to safe and stable supplies of fresh food, and economic stability.

For more information about the Barrett Centre of Innovation in Sustainable Urban Agriculture visit

Celebrating outstanding Durham College alumni through 2022 Premier’s Awards nominations

Durham College (DC) is delighted to announce that four alumni have recently been nominated for a 2022 Premier’s Award, which honours outstanding college graduates who are making an impact through social and economic contributions in Ontario and beyond.

The awards have been presented by Colleges Ontario since 1992 and recognize Ontario college graduates every year in the following seven categories – Apprenticeship, Business, Community Services, Creative Arts and Design, Health Sciences, Recent Graduate, and Technology.

“Our nominated alumni continue to showcase in their careers the solid foundation of excellence and innovation that they first developed as students at Durham College,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC. “I’m extremely proud of each of their accomplishments, and take immense pride in knowing that DC was a stepping stone for their exceptional work in our communities. I wish each of our nominees the best of luck at this year’s awards!”

DC’s nominees include:

Kristin Atwood – Culinary Management, 2016 and Advanced Baking and Pastry Arts, 2017

Kristin Atwood has been combining her passion for food and filmmaking since graduating from DC’s Culinary Management and Advanced Baking and Pastry Arts programs in 2016 and 2017.

She created an award-winning independent production company called Chef Studio, where she produces cooking tutorials and web series that bring the joy and magic of cooking to digital streaming and video-on-demand platforms. Atwood has been recognized by several prestigious awards organizations, including winning Best New Filmmaker by the Canadian Diversity Film Festival in 2021, as well as receiving a nomination for a James Beard Foundation Award and an Emmy® Award in the Outstanding Single Camera Editing category – just to name a few.

Atwood currently works for LS Productions, an agency specializing in commercials, film and TV, music videos, and fashion and sports shoots in the United Kingdom. She is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Recent Graduate category.

Brandon Bird – Level 3 Plumber Apprentice Certificate, 2012

Brandon Bird completed his Level 3 Plumber Apprentice Certificate in 2012 in order to prepare himself for future leadership at his family’s third-generation plumbing and heating company. As a licensed Red Seal plumber, Bird worked his way up the ranks, always looking for ways to grow the business. This included overseeing the acquisition and amalgamation of John McKenzie Plumbing with Bird Mechanical Ltd. in 2014, allowing the company to offer more services and expand into new markets. In 2016, at just 28 years old, Bird became the youngest CEO in the company’s history.

Today, Bird manages a team of 200 people, including 135 tradespeople. Under his guidance, the business has doubled its annual sales revenue to $56.4 million thanks to his new approaches to service. As CEO, he oversees projects ranging from $5,000 to $20 million. Clients include Cape Breton Regional Health Centre, Queen’s University, Dalhousie University, Infrastructure Ontario and Cadillac Fairview. Bird is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Apprenticeship category.

Dr. Nicole Blackman, DNP, MN, RN – Registered Nursing, 2004

Since graduating from DC’s Registered Nursing program in 2004, Dr. Blackman has continued her academic path, attaining her Bachelor of Science degree, as well as a Master of Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice, both with a specialization in Indigenous Health. As a proud member of Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, she has dedicated her advanced practice nursing career to enhancing the health of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

After devoting more than five years to improving Indigenous health in Moose Factory and surrounding communities, Dr. Blackman returned to the Durham Region, accepting an Indigenous lead position for the Durham Region Health Department, and was hired in 2019 as the health director for the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation. More recently, she was hired as provincial director of the Indigenous Primary Health Care Council. Dr. Blackman is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Health Sciences category.

John Draper – Journalism, 2005

Entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, John Draper champions diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion through Together We Rock! Inc., the organization he founded in 2006. Supported by a team of employees, consultants and volunteer advisors, Together We Rock! realizes its vision through presentations, learning resources and leadership initiatives. Through his lived experience as a person with a physical disability who is an augmentative communication user, Draper presents a compelling case for change.

His leadership efforts have earned him provincial and international recognition, such as the 2007 Alumnus of Distinction award from DC, and the David C. Onley Award in 2017 for Leadership in Accessibility, presented by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. In 2017, he was also named Businessperson of the Year by the Whitby Chamber of Commerce. Draper is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Community Services category.

The entire DC community wishes our nominated alumni the best of luck. This year’s Premier’s Award winners will be announced on November 28, 2022.

Durham College’s 2021-2022 Annual Report is now available

Durham College (DC) is excited to announce that its 2021-2022 Annual Report is now available. As one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for the sixth consecutive year, DC is committed to sharing its report in the following interactive online format.

The highlighted accomplishments featured in this report serve as undeniable proof that the innovative work of our students and employees – inside and outside the classroom – is truly making a positive impact. Our DC family has a lot to be proud of, which is why we’re so pleased to share these stories of resilience and leadership with you.

“Despite the challenges we faced in the pandemic’s second year, the college’s commitment to our mission – Together, we’re leading the way – remained steadfast and strong,” said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College. “This year’s annual report features a number of stories that highlight the inspiring collaboration, innovation and determination exemplified by every member of our campus community over the last year. These stories demonstrate how DC is leading the way in everything we do.”

We hope the successes featured in this report inspire you and provide you with a glimpse into the future of Durham College and our global community.

Durham College Indigenous student success coach wins City of Pickering Heritage Award

Jocelyne Pelletier, an Indigenous student success coach at Durham College’s (DC) First Peoples Indigenous Centre, was recently granted a 2021 Pickering Civic Award in the Heritage category. Held annually for 17 years, this award recognizes individuals, groups or businesses who demonstrate a significant contribution to the preservation, conservation, education or promotion of the city’s heritage.

“I first learned about the award when one of my peers contacted me to ask for my permission to be nominated,” says Pelletier. “I was so excited to receive a letter from Mayor David Ryan, congratulating me and letting me know I had received my first Civic Award for outstanding achievements, including the work I did to plan and erect a memorial at City Hall honouring the first 215 Indigenous children found in Kamloops.”

As a member of the Indigenous Relationship Building Circle, Pelletier has played a critical role in providing guidance on community initiatives which acknowledge and celebrate the contributions, history and cultures of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples. Pelletier is a member of Serpent River First Nation and the granddaughter of a residential school survivor; she has worked to educate others on the Intergenerational traumas experienced by many in the community and the systemic consequences of this country’s history of colonialism. As a result of her efforts, Durham Region has its first commemorative orange crosswalk, installed in October 2021 for the lost generations and to serve as a space to heal and learn.

When asked what this award means to her, Pelletier spoke of her recent accomplishments and her hopes for the future.

“This award allows me to reflect on my work and advocacy regarding social justice concerning Indigenous issues and the relationships needed to move forward in honouring truth before reconciliation,” says Pelletier. “For the City of Pickering, acknowledging Indigenous voice is crucial in those relationships. There is much work to do regarding Indigenous issues; this is a small step but a significant achievement. I hope to continue my role in the Indigenous Building Relations Committee with the City of Pickering in whatever capacity.”

Congratulations to Jocelyne Pelletier on receiving this well-earned award, and for leading the way.

Durham College alumnus strikes a chord at the Canadian Sync Awards

Durham College (DC) alumnus, Cody Partridge, has been recognized for his success in music management at the 2022 Canadian Sync Awards. Launched in 2019, the Canadian Sync Awards celebrate music supervision in filmed Canadian media. On June 9, Partridge took home four of the 14 awards, including:

  • Best Sync – Sports Program or Sports Promo
  • Best Sync – Soundtrack, Original Film or Episodic Series for Streaming
  • Best Sync – Scene, Feature Film or Documentary Film
  • Best Sync – Soundtrack, Episodic Series

“I am very honoured and humbled,” says Partridge. “It has been a dream of mine to become a music supervisor ever since watching The OC and wondering who gets to put music in TV. Flash forward 11 years, and now I’m being honoured with four awards for achievement in my field. I say it all the time, but I really am living the dream.”

Partridge, who graduated from DC’s Music Business program in 2011, began his professional journey as an intern with Katalyst Licensing & Promotions Inc., which he landed with the help of his professor, Tony Sutherland, during the program’s field placement course in his third year. This led to a music supervisor position with Supersonic, later renamed Supergroup, providing him with the skills and confidence to eventually launch his own company, Pear Tree Music Supervision, in 2020.

“DC was an incredible kickstart to my career. I learned a lot about different aspects of the industry, some that interested me and some that didn’t,” says Partridge. “I find a lot of the success I’ve had until now has come from networking and building relationships. Most of the opportunities I’ve had are from being connected by a colleague or professor, which led to more opportunities and relationships. Without my education, the first door to the industry wouldn’t have been open to me, nor would I have the skills I need to thrive in my field.”

When asked what advice Partridge can offer current and future music business students, he stresses the importance of hard work.

“Don’t be afraid to grind. For three years, I worked three jobs, interned for free and built my reputation. I proved my work ethic, reliability and drive,” Partridge adds. “Take people in your desired position out for coffee. Find out what they do not like to do in their role and get really good at that aspect. Embrace it, and you’ll make yourself irreplaceable.”

Congratulations to Cody on his incredible success at the Canadian Sync Awards!

EnactusDC Student makes a case for first place at Global Social Innovation Summit

On June 19, Durham College’s (DC) Enactus president, Heather Brown, and her international team placed first at the Hong Kong Global Social Innovation Summit. As part of the competition, teams gathered to compete in a 24-hour hackathon to solve mental health, funding, and workforce challenges for Hong Kong-based corporations. Heather joined students from Malaysia and China to create sustainable and impactful solutions for Teen’s Key, an organization that supports vulnerable young women by providing education, medical testing, and employment experience in a safe space.

Enactus is a global organization that provides opportunities for students to launch initiatives to improve the world. Always up for a chance to help others, Heather says, “When I saw the final registration call through the Enactus network, I couldn’t resist getting involved. The experience was well worth it.”

Competition at the Summit was fierce, with teams of talented and engaged students attending from around the world. Each participant brought unique skills and perspectives, leading to innovative ideas and cross-cultural collaboration. With Enactus Hong Kong as the host, the competitors had to ensure their solutions serve institutions which operate in a different country from their home, requiring a lot of research, not only on the corporations but on the country itself.

In addition to the competition, Enactus Hong Kong provided students like Heather with workshops on financial inclusion, compassionate communication and mental health, industry consulting, and networking.

“Through the real-world cases we were solving, I discovered amazing organizations making social impacts, which I would never have had a chance to learn about without attending the Summit,” says Heather.

After a full day of challenging work, Heather’s team presented their solution to the judges. Their project idea took first place in the case competition, after proposing a merchandise-based social enterprise which would empower women with new skills to give back to the community and support other women in need.

If you are interested in learning more about Enactus, the Summit, and Heather’s experience, please visit her DC blog.

Durham College celebrates graduate success at first in-person Convocation since 2019

Durham College’s (DC) most exciting event of the year returned this June, complete with confetti canons and inspirational guest speakers, as the college hosted its first in-person Convocation since 2019.

During this momentous occasion, more than 3,500 students crossed the stage to the cheers and smiling faces of their friends, family, and special guests. During the ten ceremonies held over the five-day event, DC’s 2022 graduates celebrated new beginnings as they received their credentials, and the 2020 and 2021 graduates returned to acknowledge how far they’ve come and experience their ceremonies that were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Not only did our graduates complete their program – setting their sights on a tremendous goal and meeting it with resolve – but they made it to the finish line during a once-in-a-century global event that has impacted all of us to varying degrees and in different ways,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC during his remarks to the graduates. “As COVID-19 changed the way we live, work and learn, our graduates showed the world that they have an undeniable amount of drive and determination that will continue to serve them in their career and life for many years to come.”

Held at the Tribute Communities Centre in downtown Oshawa from June 13 to 17, the events honoured graduates from programs in the schools of Hospitality & Horticultural Science; Business, IT & Management; Professional and Part-time Learning, Health & Community Services; Interdisciplinary Studies; Justice & Emergency Services; Media, Art & Design; Science & Engineering Technology and Skilled Trades, Apprenticeship & Renewable Technology.

Ceremonies on June 14 marked an important milestone for the Durham College Alumni Association as it reached 100,000 members with the graduating class of 2021. The ceremony on June 17 also celebrated the inaugural graduating class of DC’s first degree program, the Honours Bachelor of Health Care Technology Management.

The first and last ceremonies of the week also featured a Big Drum performance by John Snake and drummers from the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, welcoming graduates and guests as they entered the building.

The opening song was performed to offer positive thoughts as DC honoured all graduates and their achievements, and the closing performance symbolized safe travels for graduates as they move on to new endeavours. An Indigenous student graduation celebration also took place on June 10, prior to Spring Convocation week, with a reception and Indigenous Heritage Celebration on campus.

Guest speakers at the ceremonies included:

  • Nicole Blackman, DNP, MN, RN – graduate of DC’s Registered Nursing program in 2004, provincial director of the Indigenous Primary Health Care Council, former sessional instructor at Ontario Tech University, and member of the provincial Children’s COVID-19 Vaccine Table, Chief Medical Officer of Health Advisory Table, provincial Hepatitis C Working Group, and Durham Region Aboriginal Advisory Committee.
  • Brent Lessard – graduate of DC’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program in 2014, co-founder and project manager for rLoop, director of programs and operations at Venture Development Institute, 2017 Premier’s Award winner, and member of the Durham College Alumni Association.
  • Thao Nghiem – graduate of DC’s Music Business Management program in 2018, founder and managing director of the Vietnam Music Industry Network and Vietnam Music Week, co-director of the Oshawa Music Awards and marketing manager for Small World Music.
  • Cameron Munro – graduate from the Business Administration – Operations Management (now Supply Chain & Operations Management – Business Administration) program in 2012, plant manager at FibreCorr Ltd., president of Munro Strategy Group Inc., and former chair and member of the Supply Chain & Operations Management – Business Administration Program Advisory Committee.
  • Hannah Elkington – graduate from the Police Foundations program in 2014, K-9 handler with the Durham Regional Police Services, volunteer with the Imire Elephant and Rhino Sanctuary’s K-9 anti-poaching unit, 2016 Premier’s Awards nominee, 2016 Alumna of Distinction and winner of the Public Hero Award form the Intercultural Dialogue Institute.

Over the course of Spring Convocation, the college also awarded three deserving recipients with Alumni of Distinction awards based on their extraordinary contributions to society while achieving career success:

  • Nicole Blackman – a 2004 graduate of the Registered Nursing program.
  • Kristin Atwood – a 2017 graduate of the Advanced Baking and Pastry Arts program and 2016 graduate of the Culinary Management program.
  • Andrew McNamara – a 2004 graduate of the Business Administration – Accounting program.

For more information about Spring Convocation, including links to videos of each ceremony, visit To learn more about this year’s Alumni of Distinction winners visit