For more than 25 years, Brian Wichers (Business Administration 1987) has been feeding Lethbridge – in more ways than one.
As owner and operator of Lethbridge Caterers Ltd., Brian leads a third generation family business that runs three KFC restaurants and a combination KFC and Taco Bell as well as managing commercial properties in Lethbridge and Taber. But it’s his commitment to philanthropy that ensures local organizations don’t go hungry, and that commitment is part of why he was chosen to be Lethbridge College’s 2021 Distinguished Alumni.
“Going back to my grandfather and my dad, our family has always believed that because we make a great living here in the city of Lethbridge and throughout southwestern Alberta, we have a responsibility to be leaders, to give back and to help make this a better place to live and do business,” he explains.
Born and raised in Lethbridge, Brian grew up knowing that his future would include a career in the family business. So he chose Lethbridge College to help shore up his business bona fides.
“Working for a family business, you learn the business in a hands-on way, but it was good to come to the college to learn some of the theory and aspects like human resources or marketing techniques,” says Brian. “I also built a lot of friendships and connections that have lasted to this day.”
Brian has continued to keep his connection to the college alive in his philanthropic and volunteer efforts, including serving on the Lethbridge College Culinary Advisory Committee since 2007.
“Brian’s contributions to this committee have been instrumental in restructuring curriculum, securing practicum placements and ensuring students are equipped with industry-leading equipment and ingredients throughout their program,” says Brian’s friend Chef Doug Overes (Professional Cooking 1987, Distinguished Alumnus 1992), chair of the Culinary Careers program. “Brian would give you the shirt off his back. He has an infectious personality and laugh and is a social butterfly who is well-respected by all those who are lucky enough to work alongside him.”
Since 2015, Brian has also served as chair of the college’s Clayton Allan Wine Auction committee, contributing his time and donations, while leveraging connections in the community to help raise more than $1.2 million. And if that’s not enough, the Wichers family legacy continues through Easton, one of Brian’s four children, who is a college student and member of the Kodiaks soccer team.
In addition to his support of the college, Brian has been a contributor to the United Way, former vice-president of the board of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, and a donor and advocate for the Lethbridge Therapeutic Riding Association.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW – ALUMNI UPDATES
CELEBRATING THE SUCCESSES OF OUR ALUMNI IN THEIR CAREERS AND THROUGHOUT THEIR LIVES.
We love hearing from Lethbridge College alumni! You can find additional updates online at widerhorizons.ca. To submit your news to share with your classmates and the college community, drop us a note at WHMagazine@lethbridgecollege.ca.
Educational Assistant certificate
Kelsey shared this update with the Alumni office: “I was employed back in August at a school five minutes from my house, working as a complex needs educational assistant. I work one-to-one with a very special little six-year-old boy! He has cerebral palsy, severe epilepsy, brain damage, PTSD, and significant speech, motor and cognitive delays. He’s pretty much stolen my heart, and we are an amazing team. In December, his seizure sniffing service dog was approved to be with us full time in school, so we have a new sidekick! Rooster is the first personal student service dog in our school district. I was trained to be the dog’s handler as my student can’t, and it’s been fascinating. Every day keeps me on my toes, and I can’t imagine doing it without the wealth of knowledge my certificate provided!”
Agriculture Sciences – Plant and Soil Science
In February, Brady received a $10,000 scholarship to support his post-secondary studies in the field of agriculture from the Lethbridge Rotary Club. Brady is currently in his third year of a BSc in Agriculture at the University of Alberta. The Coaldale-born student grew up on a family farm and hopes to continue working with his siblings and parents on their crop and forage operation.
Therapeutic Recreation – Gerontology
After graduation, Nikki continued pursuing post-secondary education at the University of Lethbridge in the Bachelor of Therapeutic Recreation program. Virginia Ridge Child and Youth Care Virginia is currently working as a crisis intervention worker in Taber; she will be continuing her studies at the University of Lethbridge starting in Fall 2021 in the bachelor’s degree program in Health Science with a major in addictions counselling. “It is my ultimate plan to obtain my Master’s in addictions and one day be part of the amazing family of instructors at Lethbridge College,” she says.
Digital Communications and Media
After graduating, Seth transferred to Institute of Technology – Carlow in Ireland to complete his bachelor’s degree in Media and Public Relations.
Computer Information Technology
After graduating, Ivan and some former classmates started a web design and development company called Navii. His most recent creation is bomarket.ca, an online marketplace he describes as the Amazon for Black-owned businesses.
Agriculture Sciences – Plant and Soil Sciences
Kelsey is working for Parrish and Heimbecker while also helping on the family farm.
Business Administration – General Business
Megan is currently studying at the University of Lethbridge in the Mathematics/Math Education program.
Child and Youth Care
Karleen is continuing her studies in the post-diploma Addictions Counselling program at the University of Lethbridge after spending the two years between graduation and going to university working at a youth shelter. Rebecca Dell Justice Studies – Bachelor of Applied Arts Rebecca was hired as a probation officer three months after graduation and started a master’s degree in Leadership in December.
Chelsea Low Horn
Chelsea shared this update with the Alumni office: “After graduation, I worked within my own community of the Blood Reserve. My job included working with youth between the ages of 18 and 30. Naturally, I suited this job very well since I love helping others to succeed. But while working, I felt something was missing. The youth within my community needed a better understanding of how to heal – not only themselves but also the community. I’m currently studying in the Indigenous Mental Health diploma program at Red Crow Community College. I enjoy it very much because not only am I learning about healing my community, but I am also learning how to heal myself. Although I am not working within my study of agriculture, I still get to fulfil my role as a role model and leader. I am proud to be where I am at today!”
Kealey is currently running a lube shop and towing company in Taber, while also pursuing an acting career. He can be seen in such productions such as Black Summer, Fargo (season 3), Wynonna Earp, Heartland and the upcoming film Let Him Go starring Kevin Costner.
Agriculture Sciences – Animal Science
Dave is participating in the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders Mentorship Program which provides people between the ages of 18 and 35 with the opportunity to receive industry-specific training and interest-specific mentorship to assist the beef industry into the future. Dave also works as a livestock order buyer at Summit Livestock, covering auction sales and ranch-direct calf marketing across Western Canada.
Diandra Bruised Head (Iitoomsao’kaasii)
Renewable Resource Management
Diandra was elected to the Blood Tribe council in the fall. After finishing her program at the college, Diandra earned a Bachelor of Environmental Science degree from the University of Lethbridge. In 2018, she took on the role of the first ever, in-tribe climate change coordinator for the Kainai First Nation.
Justice Studies – Bachelor of Applied Arts
Rebecca shared this update with the Alumni office: “After graduating from Lethbridge College, I was offered a fulltime position at the Wild Rose Women’s Shelter as the housing support services director, and I sat as a member of, and facilitator for, the Town of Clearwater Housing Steering Committee developing a housing needs assessment and housing strategy plan for my local community. I presented a housing strategy plan to local town and county councils, as well as coordinating cross-agency initiatives with local not-for-profit organizations as well as local political bodies. After this, I secured a position with the Government of Alberta’s Community and Social Services division as a case manager within the Alberta Supports branch. I held this role for two years before moving to Edmonton to pursue further positions within the Government of Alberta. I transferred into the position of caseworker for the Family Support for Children with Disabilities branch of Community and Social Services. I have held this role for a year and a half and am training to fulfil a role as supervisor within the next year. Ultimately, I am looking at pursuing a career as a human rights officer with the Government of Alberta.” Lindsey Gehring General Studies Student Lindsey has recently graduated with a degree in social work from the University of Calgary and works for victim services court support with the RCMP.
Communication Arts – Broadcast Journalism
Alyssa shared this update with the Alumni office: “Since I graduated from the college, I have had such amazing opportunities come my way! Right after graduation, I got a position with a Western Canadian Automotive group as an inbound marketing specialist. This position jump started my career in the automotive industry on the marketing side. I left the position and moved to Vancouver for a year to pursue acting and live the Vancouver life! I came back to Saskatchewan and got a position as a media coordinator for Canada’s largest automotive group, Dilawri Group of Companies, and was soon promoted to the marketing manager. A couple of years after starting with Dilawri, I received a message from an up-and-coming automotive tech company called sMedia and was offered a position a few days later as a customer success manager. I managed 100 different automotive dealerships and their marketing. This job showed me how much work and stress I could handle. I learned so much but was very ready to get out of the automotive industry once and for all. I am now currently working for the Government of Saskatchewan as a communications consultant for the Ministry of Health.”
Shelley completed a bachelor’s degree in social work in 2017 and is now a registered social worker. She is currently working as an employment counsellor at Training Inc., connecting Albertans to work and training opportunities. “I often refer clients to investigate programs at Lethbridge College to help them to achieve their career goals,” says Shelley.
Communication Arts – Broadcast Journalism
Last December, Ryan released The History of Lethbridge, a self-published book exploring the city’s history from Fort Whoop Up days until the present. To order a copy, email email@example.com, contact him on Facebook at Ryan Uytdewilligen Author or visit Analog Books.
Business Administration – Management
Adrian went on to continue his education at Griffith University in Australia where he completed a bachelor’s degree in business management. He’s currently a branch manager with ATB Financial. Chris Menzies Criminal Justice – Policing Chris was hired after graduation by the Brandon Police Service and is now a detective in the major crimes section as well as serving in a part-time role as tactical officer and sniper with the tactical response unit.
Communication Arts – Journalism
In January, Trevor was named the new city editor at the Lethbridge Herald. Trevor started his career at the Taber Times in the fall of 2008 as a reporter and photographer where he initially covered Vauxhall town council, Horizon School Board, federal and provincial politics, provincial court, local police commission and various other assignment areas before transitioning into coverage of Taber town council and local community issues. He was eventually appointed as editor of the Westwind Weekly News, and then later as editor of the Sunny South News and Taber Times before joining The Herald.
Ashley shared this update with the Alumni office: “I first enrolled into the Practical Nursing program in 2004, but that was abruptly cut short. On my way home from classes February 23, 2004, I was in a severe motor vehicle accident where a vehicle pulled out in front of my car on Highway 3 at the Coalhurst intersection, and that resulted in me being in a wheelchair for two years. In 2006, I re-enrolled and graduated as a Practical Nurse. Since my time at Lethbridge College, I have had so many amazing opportunities. I worked as a surgical nurse at the Chinook Regional Hospital for almost 10 years, was part of the planning committee for the medical and surgical floors within the new wing at the hospital and, in 2015, had the privilege of being featured in Alberta Health Services’ LPN career profiles campaign. “For the past five years I have held a full-time position as an instructor and practice coordinator for the Centre for Health and Wellness’s allied health and health sciences programs. In addition to working at Lethbridge College, I also had the amazing opportunity to create part of Alberta Health’s 2019 Health Care Aide curriculum, and I currently hold a seat on council for the College of Licensed Practical Nurses where I get to ensure that all Albertans are kept safe through the exceptional standard of care provided by LPNs. I have also been given the privilege to be involved with the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) as co-chair of the medical surgical certification exam committee. “Lethbridge College has truly afforded me all these opportunities and continues to assist me in achieving my wildest dreams. This January, I was one of the first LPNs in Canada to receive certification and the title of medical surgical nurse through the CNA. I’m currently pursuing a post-diploma degree in Public Health and Health Leadership through the University of Lethbridge, which I know will only propel my career even further and farther.”
Business Administration – Management
Steve continues to operate NOVO Watch, a company that creates handcrafted timepieces in small batches using reclaimed materials that tell a story. His most recent collection is the Streetcar 1912, a 10-piece collection of watches that sell for about $1,600 each and are made from pieces of old street car tracks. The Lethbridge streetcar system ran from 1912 to 1947. After the Second World War, the system was phased out and tracks were torn up or, in some cases, paved over. Last summer, workers doing maintenance on 3rd Avenue South, one of the oldest streets in the city, uncovered a set of tracks, pieces of which found their way into Christensen’s hands. “We literally cut out the exterior of either the bottom or the side of the rail, and then we get this amazing character,” Christensen told the Lethbridge Herald. “Every single one is different.” You can read more about Steve and his watches in the Spring 2018 issue of Wider Horizons.
Michelle tells the Alumni office that she is now married with two boys and works as a dental hygienist with Lakeview Dental. Jonathan Hamilton Civil Engineering Technology Jonathan is the chief operating officer at Tollestrup Construction, director of the Lethbridge Construction Association, chairman of the Alberta Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association, and a member of the Civil Engineering Technology Advisory Committee at Lethbridge College.
After graduating, James worked seasonally in Manitoba before heading to Nunavut for six years as a conservation officer. He then moved to Red Deer where he worked as an environmental protection officer for six years. James and his family recently moved to Whitehorse where he works as a lands officer with the Kwanlin Dün First Nation.
After graduation, Chad returned to his hometown of Wakaw, Sask., while seeking a position in law enforcement. He eventually was hired by the province of Saskatchewan as an investigator in the construction industry. He also became involved in local politics and has served three terms as a town councillor in Wakaw.
Cody works as director of health, safety and environment at Fillmore Construction Management in Edmonton. He was recently named one of Occupational Health and Safety Canada magazine’s Top 10 safety professionals under 40. Before entering the health and safety field, Cody was employed as a provincial peace officer, ensuring commercial vehicles met provincial safety standards. At Fillmore, Cody manages the health and safety of 200 staff and develops policy for Fillmore Construction’s safety program.
Aaron opened his own shop six years ago and this year welcomed a first-year automotive apprentice from Lethbridge College to the team.
Jami (Cook) Thompson
Child and Youth Care
Jami is finishing her bachelor’s degree in Education at the University of Lethbridge.
Renewable Resource Management
Leta is the natural area manager of prairie grasslands for the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Alberta Region. After graduation, she transferred to the University of Lethbridge where she earned her degree in environmental science. Leta spent her summers working in Waterton Lakes National Park. After graduating from the U of L, she worked at a variety of places, including Cows and Fish, Lethbridge College and Alberta Environment. She spent nearly seven years with the Oldman Watershed Council as its program coordinator before joining the Nature Conservancy of Canada team in 2015. Leta is responsible for the delivery of conservation programs in the eastern portion of the Waterton Park Front, Milk River Ridge and Milk River Basin. She says she has the privilege of working with local landowners, partner organizations, conservation volunteers, funders and other stewards of the land.
Amanda (Feist) Allen
Therapeutic Recreation – Gerontology
Amanda is currently working as a recreation therapist in the senior’s day program with Covenant Health in Lethbridge.
Charlton Weasel Head (Naamiwatsiskasi)
Charlton is now in his 19th year at Kainai High School on the Blood Tribe Reserve, where he currently serves as an associate principal, athletic director and head coach of the Kainai Lady Warriors basketball team. During his three years as a Kodiak, Weasel Head was well-known for his prowess on the basketball court, including being named a three-time Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference all-star and earning all- Canadian honours in 1998. He also had an all-star career during two seasons at Brandon University, received the Tom Longboat Award for Aboriginal Sporting Excellence in 2001 and was inducted into the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. After earning his diploma, Weasel Head went on to receive his bachelor’s degree from Brandon University and his Bachelor and Master of Education degrees from the University of Lethbridge. In 2017, he was the college’s Community Leader Award recipient.
Cynthia (Rivers) Bertram
Cynthia tells the Alumni office that she has owned and operated her own upholstery business shop for the past 18 years. “We recover all sorts of furniture - classic heirlooms to current pieces, outdoor furniture, all automotive, RVs, boats and motorcycles and a lot of other unique requests.”
Jim shared this update with the Alumni office: “After graduating in 1994, I moved to Cold Lake for a job as a program director/host for Northern Cablevision. In January 1995, I moved to Grande Prairie in the same role as well as managing three stations. In 2001, I moved to Cranbrook B.C., with Shaw Cablevision as a host/producer. In January 2005, I moved to Winnipeg as Shaw TV’s first full time sports host/reporter/producer in the market. I have also freelanced at CTV and Global TV Winnipeg and done radio analyst work at 680 CJOB. In 2011, I moved to radio full-time as the Winnipeg Jets reporter and host of the nightly 680 CJOB Sports Show while still freelancing at Global TV. In September 2016, I moved over to my current position as Host of The Big Show on TSN 1290 Radio.”
After graduating, Dwayne immediately got a job with Agriculture Canada in Dawson Creek, B.C. He later joined the B.C. government in Smithers doing water management, water licensing and dam safety. After 10 years, he enrolled at Royal Roads University on Vancouver Island, then moved to Victoria for a new role with the Provincial Emergency Program, Emergency Management B.C. as the manager of operations. There he established a grant funding program to help communities mitigate the effects of flooding and other natural hazards. Ten years later, he left government and started with an engineering firm where he manages several engineers and technologists helping communities with water-related planning, design and construction projects.
Shannon (Sullivan) Seitz
Bachelor of Nursing
Shannon is an instructor with the college’s Nursing program.
Fish and Wildlife Technology
Bev earned her master’s degree in Criminal Justice Management and Administration and currently works for a nonprofit women’s organization as a frontline worker.
College grads take next step in law enforcement careers
The first Lethbridge Police Service Officer Graduation Ceremony of 2021 saw Constable Gerrilee Boon (Police Cadet Training 2019) and Constable Dayton Pagliericci (Police Cadet Training 2019) sworn in after an accelerated training period, due to their previous law enforcement experience. Both graduated from the college’s Police Cadet Training program in 2019 and served the LPS in the role of Community Peace Officers.
In December, grads Kai Striegel (Conservation Enforcement, 2018) and Tyson Verhelst (Criminal Justice – Policing 2019) were among the eight new graduates of the LPS’s 10-week Community Peace Officer training program. Community Peace Officers perform duties and functions that don’t require a fully trained, more expensive police officer. This allows redeployment of police officers to higher priority calls, while providing an increased uniform presence downtown and greater community engagement.
Outstanding Alumni Recognized With Honouring Excellence Accolades
A year of extraordinary change and challenge hasn’t slowed Lethbridge College alumni, who continue to make a difference as leaders, innovators and creators. Lethbridge College is proud to announce its 2021 Honouring Excellence recipients, four alumni who have created meaningful careers, given back to their communities and had a positive effect on the college’s culture.
“In a year where there was so much bad news and negative stories, it is such a breath of fresh air to spend time focusing on some positives,” says Jordan Karst, Alumni Advisory Council chair. “Year after year we continue to see how spectacularly Lethbridge College grads are able to perform after leaving the college. This year in particular, it was great to see four graduates who have had such an impact right here in southern Alberta, and the Alumni Advisory Council is proud to highlight such an inspirational group.”
This year’s recipients are Distinguished Alumni Brian Wichers; Career Virtuoso Doane Crow Shoe; Community Leader Jess Fehr; and Rising Star Matthew Hemmerling. Read about Wichers here and learn about the other winners below.
Doane Crow Shoe (Business Administration – Accounting 2003)
CAREER VIRTUOSO AWARD RECIPIENT
Doane Crow Shoe has blended traditional learnings and knowledge of the land with new technology to create a fulfilling career, while giving back to his community. Crow Shoe sits on the Board of Directors for Piikani Resource Development Ltd., where he’s taken a hands-on role in creating initiatives and partnerships that generate resources and energy for his home Piikani Nation. His commitment to his community led to his election to Piikani Nation Council in 2007, where he has now served four terms. Crow Shoe is an advocate for renewable energy and has worked to bridge the gap between energy producers and First Nation communities. For the Piikani Nation, this has included a partnership with Altalink to own equity value generated from transmission lines that cross their land, purchasing a portion of the Oldman Hydro Facility, and owning and operating the Weather Dancer wind turbine, which generates energy for the Piikani Nation. Crow Shoe has also helped develop the Piikani Tsi Nii Ka Sin newspaper and app, and Piikani Nation Radio 106.3, to highlight community news and promote the revitalization of the Piikani Nation (Niitsi’powahsin) language. He also initialized the expansion of C.Y. Ranch that included adding a bison herd and an agricultural and irrigation division, increasing employment and training opportunities for band members. And he recently spearheaded the Iitai’taamapo’p Group Home for Piikani children in care.
Jess Fehr (General Studies 2005)
COMMUNITY LEADER AWARD RECIPIENT
After graduating from Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge, Jess Fehr embarked on a backpacking trip around the world that showed her that she had an opportunity to make a difference in her very own backyard. She returned to start her first philanthropic career opportunity as manager of fund development at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery. She then joined the U of L as a development officer, working to raise funds for students. Fehr is a past president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Southern Alberta Chapter, was chair of the National Philanthropy Day Inspiring Philanthropy Awards and held roles with both the 2015 Alberta 55-plus Winter Games and the Young Professionals Association of Lethbridge. However, her proudest achievement is co-founding GirlGang Kindness with five friends in 2017 to spread kindness in the community. In the last three years, the group has raised more than $25,000 for Lethbridge and southern Alberta not-for-profit organizations.
Matthew Hemmerling (Business Administration – Professional Golf Management 2014)
RISING STAR AWARD RECIPIENT
Matthew was raised in a family with a history in commercial and residential development, and his career followed a similar path, as he moved into real estate and property management after graduating from Lethbridge College. He joined Braemore Management, a local property management firm, and earned licenses in property management and commercial and residential sales. He spearheaded the opening of Braemore’s realty division in 2020 and was recently promoted to broker and CEO of Braemore Management – the youngest person to hold the role in the company’s 41-year history. A standout on the Kodiaks men’s volleyball team as a player, Hemmerling has given back to the program as an assistant coach for the past four seasons. He was part of the coaching staff as the Kodiaks achieved a series of program milestones, including the team’s first appearance in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Volleyball Championship tournament. His close association with the college extends to the classroom as well, where he has been a guest speaker in entrepreneurship classes.
Wider Horizons learned of the passing of several former employees who played significant roles in supporting their programs and the college community.
KELLY MANTLER, who joined Lethbridge College in 2003 as a health program coordinator and filled a number of positions over the next decade, passed away March 13. After leaving the college in 2013, Mantler returned to her passion, working as a nurse on the acute psychiatry unit at Chinook Regional Hospital.
MIKE LEBLANC, a long-time broadcaster in Lethbridge whose career later took him to the Edmonton area, passed away Feb. 5. LeBlanc was an instructional assistant and manager of the college radio station from 1993 to 2001. He was a fixture on Lethbridge radio for years before moving to Fort Saskatchewan in 2012. Most recently, he served as the PA announcer for the EE Football Team.
LENNA GREER, who had worked as a program assistant supporting the Allied Health programs in the Centre for Health and Wellness, passed away on Dec. 2. Greer had worked at the college from 2017 to 2019.
PHILIP NEWTON, who joined Lethbridge College in 1977 as the coordinator of Purchasing Services, passed away Dec. 5, 2020. Even after decades of service, he stayed on as a casual employee since 2009 in Accounting, Purchasing and the Bookstore.
HENRY BOSMAN, who served on the college’s Board of Governors, passed away on Nov. 22, 2020 from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). At the time of his appointment to the board in 1993, he was a manager of environmental utilities at the City of Lethbridge, and he later joined MPE Engineering and was politically active.
To share news of the passing of an alumni or former Lethbridge College employee in a future issue of Wider Horizons, email WHMagazine@lethbridgecollege.ca.