Monday, December 11, 2017

New CCSS First Nations director talks travel, educational journey

November 15, 2017 by Adam Boyle, staff writer

The dust has settled and the results are in for the Camosun College Student Society (CCSS) student council elections. CCSS First Nations director Katelynne Herchak says that although she’s a returning member to the CCSS board, she’s just as excited to be there now as she was two years ago when she was first involved with the CCSS.

“I’m very excited to win this position,” she says. “It’s the first time I’ve run in the election. I have been a representative before, but I was appointed it about two summers ago, so the election process was a lot different than the appointal process. But it was really fulfilling to get out there and have people actually care enough to vote. I kept my campaign pretty low-key. I’m in the Indigenous Family Support program, so I reached out to people in my class. But I also reached out to people who aren’t in my class because their perspective matters to me as well.”

Camosun College Student Society First Nations director Katelynne Herchak (photo by Adam Boyle/Nexus).

Herchak says that she never thought that she was a post-secondary person to begin with, but, thanks to some friends and some time in other classes, she eventually landed in the program she’s in now.

“I graduated from Spectrum Community School in 2013,” she says. “A couple of my friends dragged me into Camosun to apply to college. I started off by taking some general courses, but then I started taking some Indigenous Studies courses, some Criminal Justice courses, and some others. I took some time off to go do an internship in South America; I was in Colombia for four months. I really enjoy education, and I know it’s really important for the workplace. I found that the Indigenous Family Support program was really up my alley in that you just get to work with people and be a support for them. I’m really enjoying Camosun; I’ve made a lot of friends and I get to be a part of some policy work that goes on at the college, which is a real privilege.”

Herchak says that the four months she spent in Colombia were some of the best times of her life. She says that although the country is so different from Canada, she wasn’t fazed by it at all; instead, she was inspired by the comings and goings of daily life and by how their community worked.

“I really like South America; it’s given me a new perspective on Canada, not just as an Indigenous person of Canada, but just how collective Colombia was, in an individualistic sense. It seemed like more people cared about each other more, and that’s something I miss,” says Herchak. “Even their education system is different. It was really interesting to go and speak in schools about Canada and teach kids, which was a lot of fun. I, obviously, miss the weather, too. It’s a real eye-opener to what privileges we do have and what disadvantages we have at the same time.”

Herchak says that she hopes to increase the voice of the indigenous students currently at Camosun while she’s in the CCSS First Nations director position.

“I hope to bring more of a presence to indigenous students and more open resources for us. I listen and care about their educational journeys, and their personal journeys, and I want to be able to help as best as I can,” says Herchak, before offering this bit of advice to students who run for a position on the CCSS board: “Do it because you want to make a difference. It doesn’t have to be just for the college, but whether it’s for the community or something else, do it because you want to help somebody. As long as you help one person, you’re making a difference. Don’t give up and don’t feel intimidated.”

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