24 May 2012
Her grandfather’s seiner is named Rachelle’s Era.
That boat’s namesake, Rachelle Trenholm, seems to be well on her way to fulfilling her and grandfather Richard Harry’s dreams.
“When I become that strong aboriginal woman that I want to become, I want to tell people about residential schools… about my culture. I want to spread that knowledge, and the fact that history’s impact on First Nation communities is intergenerational.
“I want to help in generating change around First Nation issues and be a part of creating a healthy future for our people.”
The 24-year-old Homalco First Nation woman imagines that might happen in a decade or two, when she builds her just-earned criminology degree into a Masters of PhD. Then, she thinks, she may be high up in the ranks of a city police force… or perhaps a lawyer… or even a professor.
But Rachelle probably does not realize that she has been walking-the-walk as a “strong aboriginal woman” since she was a teenager in the Homalco community beside Campbell River. Thanks to the influence of her relations – among them her mother, grandfather and grandmother (see Big influences on Rachelle) – she latched on to her dream after attending an RCMP junior cadet camp in Grade 11.
“I became interested in a law career after that camp,” she says. “There can be a lot of variety of work and you can change the type of work you do without changing your whole career path.”
After graduation from Timberline secondary school and some college upgrading, Rachelle entered Vancouver Island University in 2007. After earning her criminology diploma, she saw the practical side of two more years of studies and a degree. “You can’t get past being a sergeant on a police force without a degree.”
Practical knowledge came in 2009 when she worked as a full-status police officer for the summer in the RCMP’s pre-cadet training program. She was one of six people selected (from over 200 applicants in BC) to attend a three-week ‘crash course’ in policing at the RCMP Academy in Regina. Back in her hometown, she worked with Campbell River RCMP, learning, among other things, the basics of using a baton and pepper spray.
Then it was on to familiar streets with a partner, to serve and protect. She was surprised by the level of respect she received from her former high school classmates and people from Homalco.
And she was even more surprised by her first arrest. “I couldn’t believe it,” she says. “It was an old boyfriend!”
Rachelle gives the pre-cadet program a thumbs-up. “I would recommend anyone (a student 19 or over). It’s interesting work and the pay is awesome!”
That summer job convinced Rachelle that a career in law was for her. “I wanted to make decisions and wanted to make a difference. I saw that I could do that in this work.”
So, it was back to university for more focused studies including learning about criminal law and Canada’s justice system. She also got training in ethics, conflict mediation, use of information technology for research and other areas.
Her research training may come in handy this summer. Dr Evan Adams, BC’s deputy provincial health officer, told Klahowya: “I have asked Rachelle to advise on our upcoming publication out of the Office of the Provincial Health Officer on the potential impact of the new federal crime bill on the health and well-being of Aboriginal people in BC.”