Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Elder in the House Program

In the Elders in the House Program, Elders are available at the TRU Kamloops and Williams Lake Cplul’kw’ten (The Gathering Place). They provide personal consultation, conversation, guidance, and mentorship to Aboriginal students.

To engage with students, Elders use traditional Aboriginal life skills perspectives and methods such as the ‘talking circle’ and Elder knowledge. TRU Elders have a demonstrated belief in the value of education and a record of supporting Aboriginal students in their educational success.

What is an elder?

An elder is an older Aboriginal person who adopts the role of a surrogate grandmother or grandfather. Elders possess a wealth of knowledge and life experiences with specific expertise in Aboriginal culture that they are eager to share with the younger generations.

What is the elder in the house program?

Elders are available at Cplul’kw’ten and provide personal consultation, conversation, guidance and mentorship to Aboriginal students. Elders engage with students using a variety of traditional Aboriginal life skill methods including: the ‘talking circle’ and elder knowledge. TRU elders have a demonstrated belief in the value of education and a record of supporting Aboriginal students in their educational success.

These elders rotate days so there will be an elder at Cplul’kw’ten every day of the week. If you would like to spend some time with an elder, drop into Cplul’kw’ten.


Our Elders

Estella Patrick Moller, Aboriginal Elder at TRU
Estella Patrick Moller

Estella is 71 years old and is from Nakazdli First Nations in Fort St. James. Estella has 5 siblings: Norman, Irene, Shirley and the twins, Patsy and Raymond. Estella is a fluent speaker of the Carrier language and loves sharing her knowledge of the Carrier traditions, ceremonies, and women’s ways.

Estella is a very active individual who enjoys a variety of hobbies. Books, sewing skirts, pow wows, gatherings, hiking and trying new foods are just some of the things she does on a regular basis.

Estella is a strong believer in the healing properties of medicine and meditation and so enjoys gathering various medicines and making medicine bags. Because of this, Estella can often be found meditating on the mountains surrounding Kamloops. Estella is a true joy around Cplul’kw’ten with a passion for learning and sharing her knowledge and helping the students to focus on their own personal development.


Photograph of TRU Elder Mike Arnouse
Mike Arnouse

Mike had the unfortunate experience of attending the Kamloops Indian Residential School (KIRS) until his grade 11 year and is willing to share the truth of his experiences there. Mike is also open to sharing issues surrounding the government, cultural ceremonies and Aboriginal protocol.

Mike is known for being very humble, welcoming and respectful, with a real passion for sharing his knowledge about the history of Aboriginal people and the teachings of the ancestors. Everyone at Cplul’kw’ten feels very fortunate to have Mike at TRU because he acts as our own spiritual advisor through sharing his knowledge of songs, ceremonies and smudges.


Photograph of TRU New Elder Doreen Kenoras
Doreen Kenoras

Doreen was born and raised on the Adams Lake Indian Band reserve – one of 17 bands that are part of the Secwepemc Nation. Her father is from Adams Lake Indian Band and her mother is from Skeetchestn Indian Band. Doreen has 5 brothers and 5 sisters. Early in life, she attended the Kamloops Indian Residential School, followed by additional secretarial training.

After working at Indian and Northern Affairs Canada in Kamloops, she decided to pursue a different career path and attended a chef’s training program in Dawson Creek which assisted her career with numerous 5-star restaurants. Later, deciding to continue her education, Doreen took Level 3 First Aid and joined Balco Timber for 20 years! While retiring early, she has continued her education at TRU and completed a diploma in Resort Hotel Management and is pursuing a diploma in Business.

Doreen is the mother of 3 children and grandmother of 4 and encourages her kids to participate in a variety of sports such as hockey, baseball and basketball, as well as to continue their education. In her spare time, Doreen enjoys a various number of crafts such as beading, knitting and making birch bark baskets which was mostly self-taught with the help of her ever so patient mother.