Alum of the Month: Chyanne Trenholm

Chyanne with her grad cap and shawl

April 9, 2021 - 5:15pm

When the mountains call, Chyanne Trenholm answers. The outdoor adventure enthusiast likes to go on long hikes and rock climbing adventures in her spare time. Luckily the VIU Bachelor of Tourism Management alum’s job as marketing and social media coordinator for Homalco Wildlife & Cultural Tours in Campbell River allows her to share her passion for the natural beauty around her Nation with others. Trenholm aspires to become a leader in the Indigenous tourism industry and help others looking to boost economic development in their Nations.  

What have you been up to since graduating from VIU? 

Chyanne out hiking in a snowy forest

I started full-time with my Nation’s tourism business straight after graduation in 2020. I work for Homalco Wildlife & Cultural Tours in Campbell River. We provide day grizzly bear viewing, cultural tours and marine wildlife tours on the lands of our traditional territory along Bute Inlet in Orford Bay (about a 2.5-hour boat ride from Campbell River). I’m the marketing and social media coordinator; however, I wear many other hats as we are a small team of three. We did not operate last season due to COVID-19, but fortunately we have been non-stop in adapting and moving forward, using our time to grow and plan for a hopeful 2021 season.  

Can you name a highlight or two from your time at VIU? 

In my final year, I was invited to present at the Advancing Indigenous Tourism Conference in Whitehorse, Yukon, in the winter of 2019. I presented a video I produced for an Aboriginal Tourism class, where I spoke on youth engagement, the connection with Indigenous tourism and the opportunities that lay within tourism for community economic development and cultural revitalization. I presented alongside three other Indigenous youth from Yukon on a panel in front of about 200 people. We sparked some great conversations. This was a new experience where I connected with wonderful people from the Territory and learned what people in Yukon are doing with their Indigenous tourism. Speaking in front of that many people was nerve-racking, but it helped me grow in my public speaking abilities.  

Tell us how the ‘su’luqw’a’ Community Cousins program is helping you do what you do now.

When I was first introduced to the Cousins in 2018, I was a lost individual, having not found my spark or passion and kind of just floating by. I was on a journey of my own and when I became part of the Cousins, I felt welcomed and part of something, a community, which I hadn’t really found yet at VIU (having been there for three years already). Being part of this group gave me the confidence I needed to pursue my culture and made me proud of who I was. Since then, I’ve pursued my culture by learning how to harvest and prepare and weave cedar. I am also learning our language, and I have started singing and drumming with my community's drum circle. It’s awesome and I’m thankful every day!  

What is one piece of advice you want to pass on to current VIU students? 

“It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” I wish I had spent more time doing things/activities at VIU and with the Cousins instead of racing to the finish line of my degree. It went by too fast, so enjoy the ride! 

You’re also an outdoor adventure enthusiast.  

Ah, adventure!! My zest for life is the surrounding natural beauty that exists on this Island and around the world. The trees, the mountains, the ocean... It’s far too amazing not to be curious about it. “The mountains are calling and I must go” encapsulates the connection I feel to the land and it knows how to heal me, even if I am on a 20-kilometre hike up a mountain, huffing and out of breath, and thinking to myself, “Why, why do I do this to myself?” Then I get to the top and I’m reminded why... the view is worth it. My life is about adventure, fun and experiencing things that makes me feel alive, which is why I love rock climbing as well. Although heights still get my heart pounding and palms all sweaty, it forces me to push beyond my internal “safe-zone” and makes space for growth in all aspects of my life.   

Give us three random facts about yourself. 

#1: I love my cat, Amber, and take photos of her daily as she sleeps on my desk (a pro of working from home). 

#2: Pineapple on pizza. That is all.  

#3: I’ve broken both my collar bones (two separate occasions). 

What are your long-term goals? 

I want to become a leader within the Indigenous tourism world! I want people to know my name and seek me out for advice while creating community economic development goals and building a sustainable future for generations to come. Life-long learning as well, for I know that never stops. 

Chyanne pulling Cedar

Chyanne pulling cedar at Orford Bay.

Check out the VIU Mariners YouTube channel for an interview with Chyanne! 


Tags: Indigenous Studies | Tourism Management | Our Alumni