When Rick Blouin attended a local fundraiser a couple of years ago, he never suspected that he would end up as a contestant in the popular Dancing with the Stars event, but he’s spent the last few weeks preparing to do just that with his dance partner and trainer, Tricia Boland.
Rick, a police inspector at the Atlantic Police Academy, said he first became aware of the competition when he and his wife went to one of the Hospice PEI’s fundraisers a while back.
“We attended the Dancing with the Stars event a couple of years ago, and had a great time,” Blouin said. “After the competition was over, we all got up and danced, and I really enjoyed it. So when they contacted me about being part of the event, I thought it would be fun.”
Fun, but not easy. During the first few practices, he spent a lot of time looking at his feet and counting off the steps. Now, he and Trish glide around the floor effortlessly. Oddly enough, his passion for martial arts probably helped him prepare. Both require concentration and coordination, although probably there are fewer toes stepped on in martial arts.
Rick, who comes from South Rustico, and his wife and children operate a hobby farm in Grand River. He said the funds raised from Dancing with the Stars support the work of Hospice PEI, a cause close to his heart.
“Our family has experienced far too many young family members pass too soon, so I was pleased to be able to support Hospice PEI,” he said.
Rick’s goal is to raise $1,000. Each dollar donated equates to one vote in the competition. To donate to Rick’s Hospice PEI Dancing with the Stars page. Tickets have sold out for the event, which takes place October 22 at Rodd Royalty Inn.
Many kids dream of playing professional hockey and making it in the big leagues. They spend countless hours at the rink perfecting their skills, and for some of them, the hard work pays off. But what happens when injuries sideline a promising career?
James Sanford can tell you. Over the course of his 14-year career, he played in several leagues, including the American Hockey League, British Elite Ice Hockey League, Central Hockey League, ECHL, Federal Hockey League (winning a championship with the Danbury Whalers), Ligue Nord-Americaine de Hockey, and in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he played for the Victoriaville Tigres and his hometown team, the Moncton Wildcats. He was also a defenseman on Canada’s under 18 team 2002.
But his aspirations of playing in the NHL, seemingly so close to being realized, ended when he sustained a herniated disk in his neck and had to undergo extensive surgery. At that point, he returned home to New Brunswick.
“For the next two years I did dead-end jobs,” he recalled in a recent interview. “You live a certain lifestyle as a hockey player. It’s your whole life. You’re with the same 20 guys every day, so it takes a big adjustment to get acclimated to being back in the regular world.”
Realizing that he was going to have to return to school if he wanted to improve his career options, he decided to apply to the two-year Golf Club Management program at Holland College.
“I always thought that I would like to be a golf pro when I retired from hockey, and I had some friends who had gone through the program.”
The golf program gave him the kind of focus he hadn’t had since quitting hockey, but the adjustment wasn’t easy.
“As a hockey player, you get instant approval and gratification from the crowd; when you get out in the real world, you don’t get that very often.”
Jeff Donovan, James’s instructor for the last two years, said James overcame his reticence early on, and his confidence improved as he developed his skills.
“Sometimes it’s a little harder for people coming back to school when they’re a little older, especially if they have already had a career and are retraining; but James, who was 30 when he came into the program, settled in quite quickly.”
James graduated from the Golf Club Management program this spring and is working at the Bell Bay Golf Club in Baddeck, Cape Breton for the summer. Cape Breton’s golf courses are drawing international attention, making the region the fastest growing golf destination in the world.
“I’m the assistant pro, so I’m responsible for overseeing the golf academy’s programs and the pro shop. I teach, as well. I’m getting to use all the skills I learned in the Golf Club Management program in the day to day operations of Bell Bay. This year, we are hosting the MacKenzie Tour event. I’ll try to qualify, but even if I don’t, I’ll get first-hand experience as part of the organizing team.”
Eric Tobin, Pro at Bell Bay, said James was a natural choice for the golf club.
“I was very pleased when I saw James apply to be my assistant golf professional here at Bell Bay Golf Club. His background with professional sports is something that caught my eye early in my decision to bring him on board. His dedication to hockey in his past career was evident, and I am excited to see this transition to the golf industry. Holland College has given him the opportunity to step into a leadership role after only his second year. The education he has gained at Holland College made him an easy choice for this position. I am looking forward to a long relationship with James,” he said.
James will return to Holland College in the fall to take the one-year Professional Golf Management program.
Jeff Donovan said demand for graduates from the golf programs at Holland College has never been higher.
“This past year we could have placed each of our students three times over. There is a huge demand for young professionals in the golf industry. Employers are contacting the program and looking for graduates who are able to go to golf facilities and handle the day to day business demands and deliver the type of programming that will drive new membership and participation,” he said.
Golf Club Management student Gareth Lewis knew that he wanted to run his own business eventually, but a family tragedy changed his timeline drastically. Last year, his first at Holland College, the 18-year-old’s world was thrown into turmoil when his father died suddenly of a massive heart attack. That, for the young man from Saint John, New Brunswick, brought everything sharply into focus.
“I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but when my father died, I realized that you should live while you can. I decided not to waste any more time,” he said in a recent interview. “I’d been developing the Just Swing Golf business plan for a couple of years, so I started my own company.”
In September of last year, as he prepared to return to Charlottetown to begin his second year in the Golf Club Management program, Gareth drew upon the money he had saved over the summer and began to develop a line of golf clothing.
It seems as though things fell into place for him quickly. He was awarded a Donald E.M. Glendenning Scholarship by the Holland College Foundation this year. The scholarship is awarded based on a student’s abilities in the areas of leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship, and presentation skills, and provided seed funding for his business.
His vision for his company is simple.
“A lot of the big name brand golf shirts are loose fitting. My friends and I wanted something more tailored, that would look good both on and off the golf course,” he said. “I want to provide functional, stylish, reasonably priced clothing.”
Working with a designer and manufacturer, and drawing upon the knowledge he had acquired in his first year of business courses in the Golf Club Management program, Gareth prepared to roll out his product line. He has just received his second order of products, which are sold on his web site, and hopefully in pro shops around the region.
The products have developed an impressive following so far. Golf pros Brett Wilson and Eric Locke and provincial amateur champion Justin Shanks are all wearing them; and so are Montreal Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulieu and Zack Phillips of the AHL Chicago Wolves.
This summer, Gareth will be an assistant pro at Riverside Country Club in Rothesay, New Brunswick, which is also going to carry his clothing line in the pro shop, giving him the perfect opportunity to receive feedback directly from his prospective customers.
In the fall, he’ll return to Holland College to take the one-year Professional Golf Management program, which focuses on developing students’ playing ability, honing their coaching skills, and providing them with the skills needed to perform the duties of a golf pro. It’s the first step on a path that will lead to membership in the Professional Golf Association of Canada, the national body that has gained international recognition for the rigour and quality of its training program.
Jeff Donovan, Holland College golf instructor and Class A professional with the association, says the Professional Golf Management program fulfills key criteria in the path to membership in the PGA of Canada.
“To become a member, applicants must have completed a three-year golf program. Our students complete the two-year Golf Club Management program, and then have the option of returning for the one-year Professional Golf Management program in order to fulfill that requirement,” he said.
When he graduates from the Professional Golf Management program next spring, Gareth intends to focus on becoming a member of the PGA of Canada, continuing to develop his product line, and launching a fundraising golf tournament in honour of his late father.
The Culinary Institute of Canada welcomes guest Chef Warren Barr The Pointe Restaurant, Wickaninnish Inn, Tofino, Vancouver Island
Chef Warren Barr and some of the students he worked with during his visit to the CIC
Although Tofino, B.C. and Charlottetown, P.E.I. are about as far apart as two communities can get and still be part of the same country, there are more similarities than differences between the two island towns, making the 75-room Wickaninnish Inn a natural fit for students and graduates of The Culinary Institute of Canada.
Chef Warren Barr, Executive Chef at The Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn, spent five summers as executive chef at the Inn at Bay Fortune, in P.E.I., before making his way west. He says the experience helped him to define principles of culinary integrity to which he has adhered ever since.
“At The Inn at Bay Fortune, we had a ‘strictly Canadian’ policy, and worked almost exclusively with local and regional farmers and producers. It gives you an accountability for what’s on the plate. As a chef, you develop a respect for the ingredients when you know the individuals who produce them. You’re a lot less likely to be wasteful with ingredients when you understand how much time and effort someone put into growing them.”
During his summers on P.E.I., Chef Warren developed an interest in The Culinary Institute of Canada, and gained an appreciation for the way the chef instructors prepared students for the profession.
“The students and graduates come into the kitchen ready to roll up their sleeves and take on any task that they are given. They don’t have ‘great expectations’ about where they will fit in the kitchen hierarchy. They are prepared to work hard and learn as much as they can from the rest of the team,” he says.
Chef Warren was back in P.E.I. last weekend to discuss employment opportunities with students seeking summer internships and those preparing to graduate this spring. He brought the Wickaninnish Inn’s Human Resource Manager, Melody McLorie with him.
Melody says the CIC’s students have an exceptional level of talent, and the way the semesters work at the college means that they can stay in their internships until the end of the busy season, whereas students from other cooking schools return to the classroom at the end of August, leaving their employers short-staffed for the busy fall months.
The Wickaninnish Inn employs up to 160 staff and provides staff housing for as many as 88.
“Tofino has a population of about 1,800, so finding housing in the summer would be difficult. We’ve purchased several homes in the area, and set them up as staff residences,” Melody explains.
Each house has a staff member who oversees the daily functioning of the house, sort of a residence assistant, ensuring that everything runs as smoothly as possible in these communal living spaces.
Tofino is not for everyone, Melody adds. The town is five hours north west of Victoria, Vancouver Island, and about three hours from Nanaimo, so access to some amenities is limited. But, as Chef Warren points out, if you’re into bonfires on the beach, and hiking around the beautiful Pacific Northwest, it may be just the place for you.
Brown paper bags are lined up on the counter in the foyer of the Charlottetown Centre. As students come through the doors, they pick up a bag to take with them to their classrooms. For many of them, they wouldn’t have eaten anything this morning if it weren’t for the Holland College Student Union’s new breakfast program.
Monday to Friday, student volunteers hand out healthy breakfasts in five Holland College centres and campuses across the Island.
The program is possible because of a donation of $5,000 from the PEI Credit Unions, according to Greg Gairns, General Manager of the Holland College Student Union.
“The demand for food from students is growing every year, and when the Credit Union heard about this idea, they initiated a partnership. This summer they agree to come on board, and we’re very grateful. Without the Credit Union’s assistance, we couldn’t get the program off the ground.”
“We are so pleased to partner with Holland College for the breakfast program”, said Doug Bridges from PEI Credit Unions. “Holland College has campuses and we have offices in many of the same locations, and the breakfast program is a way for credit unions to support students in need.”
The Student Union purchases the food at local grocery stores, and student volunteers put the breakfasts together each morning for the students.
The campuses involved are West Prince Campus, Waterfront Campus, Prince of Wales Campus, Tourism and Culinary Centre, and Georgetown Centre.
A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of hosting a very distinguished alumnus of Prince of Wales College, Dr. Lewis Woolner. At the age of 101 (he’ll be 102 next month), Dr. Woolner must surely be one of the oldest, if not the oldest, living alumnus of Prince of Wales College. We thought he might be interested in taking a tour of the Charlottetown Centre, originally the location of the Prince of Wales College. The building was constructed in 1932 to replace the previous building, which burned down in 1931, and would have been about four years old by the time Dr. Woolner graduated.
Dr. Woolner usually gets around with the help of a walker, but with all of the construction work that’s going on in the main entrance and in the old auditorium (which is being transformed into a performance hall for the college’s School of Performing Arts, a partnership with Confederation Centre of the Arts), we deemed it safer to show him around in a wheelchair.
The retired pathologist, who spent his career at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota after earning a medical degree at Dalhousie University, returns to his native Prince Edward Island just about every year to reconnect with his family and his roots. It was an extraordinary experience to watch Dr. Woolner sifting through his memories, and to see his face light up when something struck a chord.
Some parts of the Charlottetown Centre remain almost as they were when the building was first opened. In one of our Accounting Technology classrooms, there is a beautiful set of floor to ceiling cabinets and drawers. This area used to be a physics lab back in the Prince of Wales College days, and so was certainly a space in which Dr. Woolner would have spent a great deal of time.
He remembers walking to the college from West Royalty, where he roomed with his aunt and uncle, and he remembers walking past the 1911 Jail every day on his way here. The wheelchair proved useful, as once he had seen the Accounting Technology classroom and the performance hall, he wanted to go around the outside of the building to see the doorway through which he would have entered on most days, on the Kent Street side of the building.
Finally, we showed him the newer part of the Prince of Wales Campus, the lovely courtyard and the quadrangle bordered by Glendenning Hall, the Centre for Applied Science and Technology, and the Centre for Community Engagement.
The Prince of Wales Campus has been a busy spot since Dr. Woolner’s visit. The first year students were here for an orientation. There were more than a thousand students from campuses and centres across the province in the Centre for Community Development and in the quad and courtyard getting to know each other and soaking up the college’s vibe. The average age of Holland College is about 24, although there are students as young as 18 and there are many mature students as well. They will spend the next year or two honing their skills and acquiring the knowledge they need to enter their chosen fields; most of them will look back at the time they have spent here fondly, and will form friendships that will last for decades. But it’s doubtful that many of them will be back to visit the campus in 80 years! We hope that Dr. Woolner will visit us again next summer.
When Shanying Wang was looking for someone to be director of sales for Reito Industrial Products, the company that he established when he moved to Prince Edward Island from China, he had to look no further than his Enhanced Employability Essential Language Skills (EEELS) classmates to find the perfect candidate. Torsten Kutterer, who moved to the Island with his wife, Anja Nied-Kutterer, from Germany, had the expertise and skills that Shan Ying was looking for.
At first glance, it seems like an unusual pairing – the tall German gentleman and the slight Chinese businessman – but it’s working very well for both of them.
Shanying’s company, Reito Industrial Products, uses several Chinese manufacturing partners to create precision castings in metals and plastics. Primarily focused on the furniture, auto and construction industries, the company can also service other areas. One of the company’s main customers is the prestigious German furniture manufacturer Walter Knoll.
Shanying came to P.E.I. under the Provincial Nominee Program with his parents, his wife, and their teenaged daughter. The couple had a pleasant surprise just after they moved here, when they discovered that they were expecting a new baby.
“He is eight months old now,” Shanying said, laughing, “and we tell people, ‘he is an Islander’!”
Shanying holds a bachelor degree in Polymer Science; and as a factory owner in China, he has extensive experience working with an international clientele.
“Before we came to Canada, we would have to wait to meet people, but now we can meet them face to face, which is best.”
Given that he already has some heavy-hitting clients in German, Shanying wanted to find a business development person who would be able to represent the company competently in that country. Enter Torsten.
Torsten came to the Island as a skilled immigrant. He said he and his wife Anja were looking for a change in their lives, and were planning to go to British Columbia when they left Germany. But a few weeks before their departure date, a chance meeting with friend of a friend made them rethink their decision.
“We were hosting a wine tasting party, and one of the guest brought along a friend, who was from Souris, P.E.I. When he heard we were planning to come to Canada, he convinced us to consider P.E.I. instead,” he explained.
After thoughtful consideration, the couple decided to come here. Anja enrolled in Holland College’s Pastry Arts program at The Culinary Institute of Canada, where she excelled. By the time she graduated, she had obtained employment with a local coffee house. Torsten, in the meantime, was attending language training at Holland College. The men became friends in the classroom, and are now working together.
They said the business classes that Holland College offers to students in its language training program were immensely helpful. Torsten emphasized that language training is crucial to assimilating to one’s new home.
Shanying agreed, adding that while the ability to communicate is vital, there are other ways newcomers can find their niche in this province.
“Maybe you can’t communicate, but you can show the skills you have. I play soccer and pool, so that has helped me make new friends,” he said.
Torsten, who plays soccer and tennis, agrees.
“Don’t be shy. Go out and talk to people!”