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Elder in the House Program

Elders are available for appointments from Monday to Friday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. during the Fall and Winter semesters. » Request an Elder

What is an Elder?

An Elder is an older Indigenous person who adopts the role of a surrogate grandmother or grandfather. Elders possess a wealth of knowledge and life experiences with specific expertise in Indigenous 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 Indigenous students. Elders engage with students using a variety of traditional Indigenous life skills including: the ‘talking circle’ and Elder knowledge. If you would like to spend some time with an Elder, drop into Cplul’kw’ten.

Elder Hours
Day Elder Hours
Monday Leona (Doe) Thomas 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Tuesday Mike Arnouse 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Wednesday Alternating Schedule 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Thursday Joanne Mary Brown 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Friday Sandi Henry 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Mentor Program

During the Fall and Winter semesters, the Indigenous Mentor Program assists new students with a successful transition to TRU.

Mentors are trained to work independently and collaboratively with students. Mentoring happens one-to-one, in groups, at event and in workshops.

If you are interested in becoming a mentor, Applications are OPEN (February 1 - March 31), you can apply by downloading the Indigenous Mentor Application Form.

Register for Mentoring Program

For more information about the program please contact:

Matty Chillihitzia

Matty Chillihitzia
Indigenous Mentor and Communications Coordinator
Cplul'kw'ten (House 4)

Indigenous Mentors

2021 - 2022 Mentors

  • Rebecca Fabian

    Rebecca Fabian, Dene/Cree


    Tansi, edlanate and welcome,

    Hi, my name is Rebecca Fabian, I am Dene/Cree from Fort McKay First Nations in northern Alberta. I’m a mature student enrolled in the Human Service Diploma Program, working towards my Bachelor of Social Work Degree.

    Welcome to all our new and current students. This fall I am entering my 3rd year of University; I am humbled and honored to be an Indigenous Mentor for a second year in a row. There is so much to do here at TRU Thompson Rivers University, like recreation, many places to study, eat, drink coffee and do not forget about all the kind, helpful, supportive and dedicated staff, teachers and many students just like you. TRU has many services of all kinds, if you need something please do not be afraid to ask, that’s what we are here for.

    So please stop in at the Gathering place, say hi, and enjoy the atmosphere, have a snack or work on the computers. We can’t wait to meet you.

  • Perry Erickson

    Perry Erickson, Nuxalkmc


    Yaw my name is Perry Erickson.

    I am Nuxalkmc from Bella Coola which is located within the traditional and unceded ancestral territories of the Nuxalk Nation.

    I been a guest here in the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc Territory for about 5 years now.

    I am in my second year studying Human Services Diploma program here at Thompson Rivers University.

    This year will be my first time experience on campus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    One thing I experienced was the learning curve during my first year. It took me a while to settle in, establish a routine, and meet new people even if it was all online. The gathering place has made this transition more easier and it felt like a welcoming experience. I participated weekly, listened to the tips and experiences they had as a student.

    As much as the gathering place have given me to succeed, I would like to offer what I can in hopes to better future students to succeed in their academic journey as well.

  • Melissa Kelm

    Melissa Kelm, Métis


    Taanishi, I’m Melissa. I am in the second year of my Human Service Diploma program and have plans to go in for my Bachelors of Social work. I am a proud Métis woman who enjoys learning how to do different traditional arts such as beading and drumming. I have been out of school for 17 years so I bring a lot of street school to my experiences here on campus. Being away from school for so long I learned quickly how important and helpful it is to have a great support system with you. I want everyone to experience the best university life that they can. If you see me around campus stop and say hi. I want to spend as much time on campus getting to know everyone and really soaking in my Indigenous culture as well as Kamloops culture.

  • Jesse Young

    Jesse Young, Métis


    My name is Jesse Young, and I'm currently in law school after completing a business education. I'm Métis with a mixed Indigenous /Settler background and have lived all over Canada. I'm Co-President of the Indigenous Law Students Association. You can also find me involved in a few other committees and clubs on campus. Off-campus I'm currently a firefighter in the Shuswap and a minor hockey coach in Chase, BC. I'm a firm believer in education and have seen it open incredible opportunities for those like me. I'm thrilled about this opportunity and look forward to meeting any who require some assistance or would like to chat.

  • Christine Mack

    Christine Mack, Nuxalk


    My name is Christine Mack (Am7amatuutsana). I am from the Nuxalk Nation. I have resided in Kamloops since 1999 and Kamloops is my home away from home. I am a mother to 5 beautiful children. I currently work as a Licensed Practical Nurse. I am furthering my education and would like to bridge into the Bachelor of Science in Nursing. I spent one year upgrading and completing prerequisites at Thompson Rivers University. I wanted to become a mentor because I know first hand how scary university can be. I would like to support the new students and any student as they embark on their educational journey. The Gathering Place has provided me support and connection and I encourage all new students to stop by. Our elders tell us Smaw ti slq'ilh (One heart, One Mind). We can all get through this together. I look forward to meeting you and assisting you through your educational journey.

  • Jamie-Lee Keith

    Jamie-Lee Keith, Métis


    I am the current elected Thompson/Okanagan Métis Youth rep, the director of communications at Two Rivers Métis, the President of Indigenous Law Students Association and I am a law student at TRU. I have a degree in history, Bachelor of Education, and a master’s in educational leadership. I have a passion for helping younger people and I seek to promote cultural understanding in everything I do. My favourite colour is purple, and I love the band Fleetwood Mac. If you see me on campus, please feel free to tell me what you’re watching on Netflix or tell me all about a pet if you have one! I look forward to getting to know you and helping you be as successful as possible!

2020 - 2021 Mentors

  • Tahnye Robbins

    Tahnye Robbins, Esk’étemc


    My name is Tahnyea Robbins, I am from Esk’étemc (Alkali Lake, BC) and I am in my third year of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. I would like to be able to support Indigenous students in their studies by providing study tips, homework tips, and providing information on the supports and resources on campus. I encourage Indigenous students to go to the Gathering Place - Cplul’kw’ten, the staff and volunteers are amazing and provide a lot of support and information and allow for a better transition into university.

  • Rebecca Fabian

    Rebecca Fabian, Fort McKay First Nations


    Program year: First year HUMS (Human Services Diploma Program. Working towards Bachelor of Social Work.

    About me: I am a Dene/Cree from Fort McKay First Nations, northern Alberta. After 27 years I decided to return to school, in 2018 I registered at TRU in Bachelor of Arts for some upgrading. With the support of the Gathering Place, Accessibility and Writing Centre I had a successful first year. This semester I am starting my first year in the HUMS diploma program. Being new to university I found that I needed a lot of support, so I know first-hand how to seek out the supports at TRU. So please feel free to contact me.

  • Cicyetkwu Dunstan

    Cicyetkwu Dunstan, Nlak’apamux


    Program year: Management Diploma second year

    About me: I am Nlak’upamux and registered with Lytton First Nations from my grandfather Lyle Dunstan’s side. My mother is Denise Dunstan, and my grandmother is Turdine Dunstan my great grandparents were Cicyetkwu(Mary) and Jacob Anderson. I am a returning student. My first time at TRU I was enrolled in the sciences. I decided I wasn’t ready for university at that time and left for a few years. I am now returning with purpose and more focus. I am involved with a local history group and have more than a few nerdy hobbies. I am excited to be an Indigenous mentor this year. I have learnt a lot since my first attempt at University and I am always willing to chat or help make introductions. Don’t be afraid to ask me any questions or say hello.

  • Larry Franzen

    Larry Franzen


    Currently, I am in my fourth year of a bachelor of science to become an emergency physician in the future. Aside from school, I am a competitive jiu-jitsu fighter, scaffolder, and ICU volunteer among other things. I have recently finished writing the Medical College Application Test this summer (2020) and am looking forward to sharing what has brought me success to others who may struggle. I hope that I can help students become effective learners so they can achieve a balanced life and have time for other activities along-side meeting their educational goals!

  • Jamie-Lee Keith

    Jamie-Lee Keith


    Program: TRU Law second year

    About me: I am the current elected Thompson/Okanagan Métis Youth rep, the director of communications at Two Rivers Métis, and I am a law student at TRU. I have a degree in history, Bachelor of Education, and a master’s in educational leadership. I have a passion for helping younger people and I seek to promote cultural understanding in everything I do. My favourite colour is purple, and I love the band Fleetwood Mac. If you see me on campus, please feel free to tell me what you’re watching on Netflix or tell me all about a pet if you have one! I look forward to getting to know you and helping you be as successful as possible!

2019 - 2020 Mentors

  • Loretta Hill

    Loretta Hill, Nisga’a Nation


    Bachelor of Business Administration, Second year

    About me:
    Loretta Hill is a 2nd-year student in the Bachelor of Business Administration Program at TRU. Loretta has extensive work experience in accounting and finance.

    She comes from an extensive family where culture and values are very significant in her life. Loretta comes from the Nisga’a Nation in the northern part of BC and is a Ksim Laxgibuu (wolf tribe) from the house of Duuk’. Loretta’s Nisga’a name is Gwilks’eelaxkw, which means the eye of the needle. She received this moniker from her patriarchal family because of her loves of sewing, needlework and regalia making. With the education she receives from Thompson Rivers University she would like to peruse work experience in International Business and Finance and Aboriginal Banking.

  • Elizabeth Spike

    Elizabeth Spike, St’át’imc and Nlaka’pamux First Nation


    Bachelor of Fine Arts, Fourth year

    About me:
    K̓alhwá7al̓ap (Hello to all). sElizabeth Spike nskwátsitsa. (My name is Elizabeth Spike.)

    I am from the St’át’imc and Nlaka’pamux First Nation. I am currently in my 4th year in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program. I enjoy photography, painting and sculpture. I want to encourage my fellow students that it's ok to ask for help, and not to worry; we've all been there! We are a family, and that will support each and everyone in our community here at Cplul’kw’ten.

  • Greg

    Greg, Métis


    Bachelor of Social Work, Fourth year

    About me:
    Hello, my name is Greg, and I am a Metis student currently in my fourth year of the Bachelor of Social Work program. I am also a red seal journeyperson electrician who completed my electrical trade at Thompson Rivers University. I have lived in Kamloops for most of my life and like snowboarding and board sports in general. I also love animals, especially cats. If you see me on campus and have any questions, don’t be afraid to approach me. I know how stressful school can get!

  • James McMechan

    James McMechan, Métis


    Interdisciplinary Studies, Third year

    About me:
    Tan’si James nishihkason! Hello, I’m James McMechan, and I’m a Metis student in my third year of the Interdisciplinary Studies program with a focus on psychology.

    My family’s Michif roots are part Sioux and part French, from fur traders in the Upper Mississippi River Valley. I, however, grew up in Kamloops and have lived, worked, and attended school throughout BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. I’m continuing my education after an injury that influenced a change in my career path. I've loved being back in my hometown and am excited to be a part of this year's Indigenous mentorship program.

    I enjoy writing, music, a little bit of running, and catching the occasional sunrise. TRU is the fourth university I’ve attended, so I’ve learned some of the ropes and, if needed, I can offer advice on some of the in's and out's. If you’re a little confused with campus life, have questions, need tutoring, or just want to chat - let me know how I can help you! Transitioning into university can be challenging, so don’t be afraid to ask for support! If you spot me at the Gathering Place or around campus, please say hello. I’m always up for a coffee!

  • Sadie Lawrence

    Sadie Lawrence


    Third year

    About me:
    Weyt-kp my name is Sadie Lawrence I am in my 3rd year of university. I am originally from the Okanagan, but I moved to Secwepemc territory (Simpcw) when I was very young. My parents instilled many different beliefs and traditional teachings in my upbringing.

    Since then, I have wanted to gain a better understanding of modern sciences and intertwine with the teachings that have been passed on to me. Eventually I hope to work in environmental field to help save and preserve our land.

    I love to snowboard in the winter and to take the occasional hike in the summer. If you see me around campus, say hi! :) kukwstsétsemc

  • Wynona

    Wynona, Ts'kw'aylaxw First Nation


    Human Resources Diploma, Second year

    About me:
    K̓alhwá7alap, Hello, ya’all my name is Wynona, and I am from Ts'kw'aylaxw First Nation, also known as Pavilion Indian Band within the St’át’imc Nation.

    I am in my 2nd year of the Human Services Diploma Program, and will most likely move into the BSW program. I love traveling, hunting, fishing, singing, learning, sewing, beading and dancing powwow.

    I like to think I’m shy & awkward but my friends and family think I’m crazy and outgoing most of the time. After graduation, I hope to work alongside Indigenous youth and children as they are our future. I am excited to be an Indigenous Mentor this year. If you see me around, don’t be shy, say hi!

    Tákem nsnek̓wnúk̓w7a

    All my relations.

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