Archived — Brian MacKinnon

Year: 2006 – Province: Manitoba

Certificate of Achievement Recipient

School: RB Russell Vocational High School
364 Dufferin Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R2W 2Y3

Principal: Gary Comack
School Telephone: 204-589-5301
School Fax: 204-586-1817
School website:
Grades/Subjects Taught: Grade 11, English and History

Teaching approach:

  • Employs transformative teaching methods, believing in the power of literature and creative writing to transform lives.
  • Believes literary study helps students tap into the imagination, creative writing is a tool through which students who have suffered abuse can access their pain and heal, and both help students develop literacy skills which are a form of self empowerment ultimately connected to democracy and social participation.
  • Integrates subject areas to reflect current issues and the needs of students.
  • Motivates students to achieve their personal best.
  • Believes teaching is a humanitarian act; his mission is to help a learner feel hopeful about their future and themselves.
  • Uses wit, enthusiasm, acting and entertaining to engage students.
  • Sees himself as a change catalyst, a facilitator, a counselor, a role model, and a mentor.
  • Takes time to understand the student as an individual.
  • Challenges students to become independent critical thinkers who can participate in Canada's democracy.

Outstanding achievements:

  • Mr. MacKinnon has published five anthologies of students writing. These books included notes on their writing experience from numerous city personalities, including writers Robert Kroetsch (Order of Canada), Carol Shields (Pulitzer Prize winner), Jake MacDonald (award winning journalist and fiction writer), Mayor Bill Norrie, and many others. Students contributed stories, poems, artwork, revealing their lives and substantial creative abilities. These books have been sold in Manitoba bookstores and have been used for teaching in schools throughout Manitoba.
  • As initiator and Chairperson, Mr. MacKinnon has conducted complex and multi-faceted Remembrance Day services at R.B. Russell for the past twenty-three years. These services have involved readings of student poetic responses to war, readings by students of international poetry and reflections on war and peace by famous authors and guest speakers from the community, Canadian military, as well as Metis and native veterans.
  • Mr. MacKinnon initiated the Urban Sports Camp R.B. Russell Karate Program and launched it with the help of the Manitoba Justice Department Urban Sports Camp program and the full support of local R.C.M.P.
  • Mr. MacKinnon initiated and actively runs the R.B. Russell Downtown Y Program to foster students' social, emotional, physical and intellectual growth. The program funds inner-city students to go to the Y, ensuring a lack of funds do not prevent students from selecting positive lifestyle choices, and taking positive steps that lead to great possibilities for self development, including education and literacy. Mr. MacKinnon has instituted a literacy component to the program by having students apply by writing their reasons for wanting to be part of the program. Students also write T program journal entries and testimonials with their observations on what regular exercise is doing for their health and well-being, and the impact it is having on their lives.
  • He has helped many students cope with the circumstances of poverty so that they can become involved in and benefit from the program. He also cares, listens, gives advice and networks to get students the help that they need when dire problems arise in Y testimonials.
  • There is a unique integration of information and communications technology involved in the Y program. The program promotes media literacy - and understanding of the media - through student participation in print and television media. Each of these media avenues has taken an interest in the Y program, and through this, students have gained first hand experience in the power of the media. Students promote the program through the media and how it is an effective antidote to poverty and gangs. Mr. MacKinnon's Y program led to extensive coverage by The Winnipeg Free Press which led to Winnipeg's Mayor committing to a $7 million recreation center for Winnipeg's inner city.

In Praise Of:

"As students have observed the tremendous coverage of the R.B. Russell Downtown Y Program, with their own teacher, Brian MacKinnon, as a focus, they see that there has been a great coming together of the community with R.B. Russell. They see that taking an active socially compassionate role can have results." - Nominator

"Brian has had the ability to motivate and cajole the most unlikely, stubborn and unenthusiastic student to produce and hand in a multitude of poems and personal essays." - Fellow Teacher

"Brian epitomizes caring. He 'sees' the whole person, affirms strengths and helps meet challenges head on." - Fellow Teacher

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