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Meet the Team

Meet with a member of Cplul'kw'ten Team

  • Vernie Clement 2022 2

    Vernie Clement
    Dakelh Supervisor

    Vernie belongs to the Lhoosk’uz Dene and is Dakelh. He was raised by his grandmother first in Tl’esqox (a Tŝilhqot'in community), and then moved to the isolated community of Lheyidli (Kluskus IR#14). After moving to Kamloops, he graduated from Norkam Secondary and continued on to University College of the Cariboo (now TRU).

    Vernie is Supervisor of Indigenous Student Development, which serves First Nations (status/non-status), Inuit and Metis students. Vernie works with the team in Cplul’kw’ten and supports student retention activities. The supervisor oversees projects, maintains service levels, advocates, initiates programs, and acts as a liaison between on-campus and community partners with the goal of facilitating the personal, social and intellectual development of Indigenous students. Vernie also oversees practicum and work study students, and the Elder in the House program.

    Note to students:
    Dahooja! (Hello) I am honoured to live and work here on Secwepemcw ulcw and to be working with the Indigenous community here at TRU. I have been involved with TRU/UCC for a number of years both as a student (BBA) and as president for three years of the First Nations Student Association (vice-president for two years). I hope students will feel welcomed and have a positive experience with their educational journeys, and that the work we do will help in that way.

    Please feel free come visit us at Cplul’kw’ten.
    ‘Aw’et Zeh

  • Jason Blair 2

    Jason Blair, Nlaka'pamux
    Learning Strategist - Indigenous Transitions


    Born in Vancouver and raised in various urban centres across BC, Jason is Nlaka’pamux from the Lower Nicola Indian Band located in Merritt, BC. His Grandparents are Mary and Jacob Anderson/Amy Mike and Albert Dunstan.

    Jason attended the Native Education Centre, in Vancouver, with an education in Criminology and Film making. Mr. Blair possesses a diverse resume having worked in numerous job markets ranging from hospitality, trades, and human service work to business owner.

    Jason works at Cplul’kw’ten as part a dynamic team to support student’s journey through the post-secondary landscape which is not only academic. By connecting students with various community and off campus resources as well as finding housing. Locating and securing funding when students are not funded by their Band, Metis Society, Or Inuit organization. Identifying and sharing current scholarships, grants and bursaries with students. In addition; he will assist students through the application process.

    Jason is a voracious consumer of cinematic adventure and music. He enjoys playing guitar and hockey as well as photography and film making. In addition; he finds inspiration in the stylings of Edgar Allen Poe, George Orwell, Joseph Conrad, and Hunter S Thompson.

  • Shawna Walker

    Shawna Walker, Peguis
    Learning Strategist - Indigenous Connections


    Shawna works alongside the amazing team at Cplul’kw’ten to support students by developing life skills programming, connecting students with community and off-campus resources, and coaching Indigenous students through their academic journey.

    She has a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Victoria and has been in the field since 2007. She has worked in a broad array of areas from School District #73 to Child and Family Services in Merritt, Lytton and Kamloops. Shawna’s community connections, human services experience and cultural pride will serve her well.

    Born and raised in Kamloops, Shawna is from the Peguis Band in Manitoba. Her kind, calm and caring nature; welcoming and warm smile; and professional demeanor has made her a hit with students in Cplul’kw’ten.

    Shawna enjoys literature, cinema and theatre; she leads an active lifestyle and likes to hike, run, kayak, snowshoe, and enjoys playing hockey.

  • Denise D 2022

    Denise Dunstan, Nlaka'pamux
    Learning Strategist - Indigenous Transitions


    From the Nlakapamux nation, Denise received her social work degree from TRU in 2010.

    She has worked with youth programming for the past twenty-five years. Twelve years were spent working with Aboriginal students through the Kamloops School District. Denise was a First Nations worker for School District 83 for over three years. This is her first position at TRU.

    Her hobbies include hot yoga and hiking, and Denise also enjoys watching television.

  • Marie Sandy

    Marie Sandy, Secwépemc
    Indigenous Mentor and Communications Coordinator


    Marie Sandy is from T’éxelc area of Secwepemcúl’ecw (Williams Lake). She has completed a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Education degree (Dean’s List), as well as a Master of Education from Thompson Riverside University. Marie has worked for various Aboriginal organizations in BC across a variety of fields (health, government, professional development, education). She is currently the Indigenous Mentor and Communications Coordinator, as well as a Sessional Instructor of Secwépemc Language at Thompson Riverside University. Her hobbies include knitting, reading, recreational soccer, and she enjoys watching films and television.

Meet with an Elder

  • Elder Mike

    Mike Arnouse
    Kamloops Campus (Adams Lake Indian Band)


    Elder Mike speaks softly but has lots to teach about the history of Indigenous people and ancestral teachings.

  • Sandy Hendry

    Sandy Hendry
    Kamloops Campus


    Sandi is eager to share her knowledge and experience as a Métis person and be an example of a strong, resilient Métis.

  • Joanne Brown

    Joanne Brown, BA
    Kamloops Campus


    Joanne Brown is a member of the Cheslatta Carrier Nation, L’silu clan, born and raised in her home territory near Burns Lake, British Columbia. She moved to Secwépemc’ulucw from Prince George in 1996. Joanne’s previous work with Employment and Immigration Canada, as well as her studies in geography and anthropology (TRU) made a natural fit with an occupation in Indigenous post-secondary education. She is grateful for her amazing community, especially working with neighbours and friends.

    Joanne strives to make sure that everyone is welcomed and ensures they feel special in a way that is unique and unforgettable. In her free time Joanne kayaks, gardens, cooks, and loves spending time with her precious friends and family.

  • Leonna (Doe) Thomas

    Leonna (Doe) Thomas
    Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc)
    Kamloops Campus


    Leona (Doe) Thomas is a member of the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc (TteS) band.

    She is a mother and grandmother. She has been retired for several years working with Alberta First Nations with developing, implementing and reporting on health programs.

    She is currently an elder with the Kamloops First Nations court and generally enjoying retirement.

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