For almost 100 years, the lives of countless people from around the world have been positively impacted by Providence’s vision to transform students into leaders of character, knowledge, and faith. This was the case when it began as Winnipeg Bible Training School in 1925, continued when Providence acquired the Otterburne campus in 1970, and remains true today with the encouraging things that are happening at Providence’s downtown campus.
Though Providence has had a presence in Winnipeg with the Buller School of Business since May 2022, the acquisition of the seven-story building Webb Place is quite timely given the rapid expansion of enrollment into its Associate of Arts in Business Administration program. The facility will provide much-needed space for classrooms, offices, and affordable housing for international students. Currently, the business program is being run out of the historical Massey Building, until Providence takes possession of 447 Webb Place in 2024.
“Our students are very excited for that building,” shares YJ Erkamp-Montalbo, who is Providence Downtown’s Associate Director of Student Life. “It will be a space for them to do community, to do life, to study, to interact with each other, to talk about values and faith, to ask questions, and to participate in respectful and authentic dialogue.” As for the students themselves, there are currently well over 400 who are registered in the two-year Associate of Arts program – most from the region of Punjab in India – with even more expected to arrive from around the world in the coming months.
“It was my dream since childhood to go abroad, to engage with different cultures and traditions, and to see how the world works,” shares Yashnoor Kaur. “Providence is very good at bringing people together.” Studying in Winnipeg is not without challenges though, conveys YJ Erkamp-Montalbo. “While some students are from very affluent backgrounds, you get others whose family had to sell their land just to send them to Providence. And then that student has the pressure to raise money to be able to pay for their tuition fees. That’s a lot of pressure to be put on an 18-year-old.”
Going away to school is challenge enough for those who attend Providence locally, but being across the globe from one’s family, culture and language is especially demanding. Yet – those at Prov Downtown are extremely positive about the opportunities that are ahead because of their studies, and they speak highly of their time in Winnipeg. “We are learning a lot by studying here,” says Simran Sahota. “Not only through studying, but also how to build good character. I first chose another college that was in Toronto. But for various reasons, I had to change schools. Luckily, I was able to enroll at Providence, and it’s been a great experience. It’s become like a family here.”
As for how people can support the ongoing work that’s happening in the city, Erkamp-Montalbo shares: “Prayer is a really, really big thing. A lot of our students face unique challenges. And our students also love meeting those people behind the scenes; they love getting to know the ones they’ve been emailing for a letter of acceptance or a confirmation of enrollment. Come join us in community.”
For more information about Providence Downtown – including community initiatives in Winnipeg like sharing family dinners with international students – contact YJ Erkamp-Montalbo.