She wanted to learn more about the history of Aboriginal people in Canada. Now, she’s helping to shape their future.
As Events Coordinator for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, RRC grad Janell Melenchuk (Aboriginal Self-Government Administration, 2010) plays an integral role in giving voice to survivors of the residential school system.
“I’m constantly learning,” says Melenchuk, one of hundreds of success stories who graduate each year from RRC’s School of Indigenous Education. “To be involved with this work — to meet with survivors and hear their stories, and to be part of something that will have an impact on Canada’s history — is really amazing.”
Formerly a resident of Creighton, Saskatchewan, Melenchuk enrolled at RRC because she wanted to learn more about Aboriginal culture, in particular, governance practices and the history of First Nations people in Canada. While a student here, she benefited from the attention and wisdom of her instructors, as well as the many resources made available by the College’s Aboriginal Student Support & Community Relations department.
“The support that you receive from the staff and the teachers is overwhelming,” says Melenchuk, who’s currently completing her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Winnipeg.
“There’s always somebody there that will assist you and have your back — whether financially, or just in your personal life. Especially when you’re dealing with the stress of moving to a new city — they’re amazingly supportive, and you don’t always get that at educational institutions.”
Melenchuk found a way to give back to the College’s Aboriginal community, by serving on the department’s R-Crew Student Volunteer Group, whose members act as role models and ambassadors for the Aboriginal Student Support Centre.
“I thought it was a really good way to get to know more people in the school and in the Aboriginal community,” she says. “In some ways, I’m still fairly new to this city, so it was a good way to meet people and have those relationships beyond class time.”
While at RRC, Melenchuk earned an array of awards and scholarships, including a W. Garfield Weston Award (recognizing academic commitment and community outreach), a Helen Betty Osborne Memorial Foundation Scholarship, and various honours through the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation and the Business Council of Manitoba.
After graduating, she was hired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where she works with colleagues from across the country to plan national gatherings in key regions.
“The job really combines my previous work experience in the area of events planning, as well as my idea of self-governance,” she says, “especially in relation to residential schools and Canada’s true history.”
Click here for more information about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.