A bartender serves a beer at a bar near Red River College’s Exchange District campus.

Red River College is opening its doors to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) this fall.


Students will soon be able to meet regularly with peers to talk through substance abuse in a safe space on campus.


“We know there has been a group for about 30 years at the University of Manitoba,” said RRC mental health coordinator Breanna Sawatzky. “So we have some reason to hope that it will be successful at Red River College as well.”


If total anonymity is a priority, the AA group on campus may not be for you, but for those who struggle to fit meetings into their busy schedules, the group will bring convenience that could make the difference between seeking help — or not, said Sawatzky.


AA uses a 12-step approach, with step one asking members to admit they’re powerless over alcohol, followed by acceptance in belief of a higher power that can restore their sanity.


While AA is a faith-based program, Sawatzky said it’s still inclusive of different beliefs.


“Although there is a higher power concept involved in AA, it’s a very open and fluid concept and not everyone who attends is Christian, so people can put their own meaning and spirituality in it as well,” said Sawatzky.


AA has over two million members in 170 countries, although its success rate is difficult to pin down given they do not keep membership records.


That being said, the purpose of the group on campus isn’t necessarily to cure alcoholism, said Sawatzky, but to provide “peer-based mutual support.”


Dates and locations of meetings won’t be scheduled until the college has gauged student interest.


Students who would like to help start the group or attend meetings can contact Sawatzky at