Humans of Campbell River: Chyanne Trenholm
Humans of Campbell River is a collaboration between Destination Campbell River and Bluetree Photography. Showcasing the stories of those who call our coastal community home. Each week we deep dive into a new story and the connections between people and place. This week we’re sharing the story of Chyanne Trenholm.
My name is Chyanne Trenholm, I’m from the Homalco First Nation, and this is my story…
Born in Campbell River and raised on the Homalco reserve just south of town, I grew up with my parents, 2 older sisters and dogs. I had the best playground a kid could ask for – a lush backyard forest which kindled my love and respect for the outdoors and was the backdrop for my imaginative power.
I spent majority of my summers as a child and teenager camping with my family and friends, enjoying campfires, exploring the woods, canoeing the lakes, fishing, and learning a plethora of outdoor skills from my dad (which I wouldn’t really know until later how valuable those are in my outdoor ventures). He taught me how to make a shelter, chop wood, build a fire, how to fish (and how to clean a fish) and many other outdoor skills. My summers were spent running loose with dirt covered feet and wild hair – it was awesome.
Growing up I was drawn to sports and tried everything I could get my hands on, and thanks to my parents and their support, I was able to try a lot. I started off with softball, gymnastics, soccer, figure skating and eventually landed on track and field with the Campbell River Comets when I was about 9, which I had no idea would be a huge part of my adolescence. From the start I tried several athletics – everything from the 100m to the 1500m, javelin, triple jump, high jump (though I was a bit too short to really excel there) and eventually hurdles. I fell (literally) in love with hurdles, and by literally, I mean they have been a contributing factor to many of my scrapes and bruises. Distance hurdles (300m-400m) was my jam and I started training more seriously when I turned 12/13 (2007) because the BC Summer games was the following summer and I wanted to go! My dad was my coach, and the coach of the Campbell River Comets my entire track career. So, when I said I wanted to go, he said “okay, but you’re going to have to start training seriously”. I trained nearly every day after school and on the weekends and had a strong love/hate relationship with it. Plus having your dad as your coach, things got a little spicy at times. Fast forward to 2008, I qualified for distance hurdles and was off to the BC Summer games in Kelowna representing Vancouver Island! It was a joy ride. I got to compete against some great athletes, and although I did not medal for my event, my team won silver in the 4x400m relay, which was a ton of fun.
As a university student at VIU in Nanaimo, I had to find work each summer, so in 2017 I decided to switch up my usual summer gig from WildPlay and try something new. I was aching for a change and tree planting seemed like a good way to make a decent amount of cash and challenge myself. I set off on my 3-month adventure in May catching a Greyhound bus from Campbell River up to Burns Lake and spent the night in my tent along the side of the road with some other tree planters as we waited for pick up via crummy the next day. We were photographed in the local newspaper on the day we set off into the forest to start our summer of planting trees.
The culture of tree planters is wild, free, and filled with a sense of community. No cell service, the creature comforts we’re used to are next to none, you’re sleeping in a tent for 3 months, and the people you are with have the wildest stories. The days of work are long, the physical requirements are backbreaking (literally), and the bugs are hell. But its fun.
One of the great parts for me was visiting the rural communities you wouldn’t really visit otherwise along the way, and I was able to see a lot of beautiful places in BC and Alberta. We travelled from Burns Lake to Williams Lake, to Edson Alberta, Hinton, Grand Cache and up to Slave Lake. I had various wildlife encounters with angry sandpipers dive bombing me, a coyote feasting on a deer leg, bears charging down the steeps during a thunderstorm, and a million tadpoles turning into frogs. I experienced blazing sun, hail, rain, snow, and thunderstorms in a single day. I flew in helicopters, hiked through thick brush and in muddy bogs, and took 40,000 steps on the daily with hundreds of trees strapped to my sides. My time spent planting was life-changing in the best way, not only because of the experience of planting itself but I also met my partner Phil (all the way from Quebec) in the first days that we arrived. Long story short we fell in love, our crews were set on their separate ways mid-season, so I invited him to visit the Island when the season was finished. When planting ended, he indeed hopped on a plane to the Island with just his backpack, I picked him up from the airport, and the rest is history. We now own a house and are building a pretty cool life together!
When I graduated high school, I, like many others, had NO IDEA what I wanted to do and it was terrifying. Like my sisters before me, I decided to go to college. I started off at NIC studying Psychology, then switched to VIU in Nanaimo to start a Bachelor’s in Physical Education, then wound up in Tourism Management at VIU in 2016. It took a while but I fell in love with tourism after my first summer gig at WildPlay in Nanaimo and made the switch immediately. I struggled a lot with school and always felt a bit of an outsider with a lot of self doubts, so when I finally came to my own in 2018 after a couple years into my degree, something sparked. I attribute my success in university to my focus on Indigenous Tourism. It took a small “Aboriginal Tourism elective class” project to propel me in the direction I am in now and move my grades from C+’s to A’s and B’s. Something sparked and I actually enjoyed school and excelled at it because I was able to focus my projects on something important to me. During my fourth year I travelled to Whitehorse, Yukon, to present on a youth panel about Indigenous Tourism based on a project I had done for school. This was the first big event and was a ton of fun experiencing the professional world.
Fast forward to 2020. I graduated (at home) with a Bachelor of Tourism Management with a Minor in Recreation, a Diploma in Physical Education and a Diploma in Sport and Recreation, while also on the Deans honors list and was awarded the Pat Forbes Leadership Award. Pretty cool for a shy, unsure girl who got mediocre grades who grew into a more confident, self-assured individual who felt she was finally on the right track.
I am the Assistant GM for my Nations tourism operation, Homalco Wildlife and Cultural Tours here in town. We’ve been operating grizzly bear tours in our traditional territory of Bute Inlet for over 20 years and have recently expanded into marine and cultural tours, building economic development for the business and Nation. I started working for Homalco Tours in 2018 as a summer/co-op student and then luckily enough landed myself a job in my field after I graduated in 2020. Managing the day to day in our everchanging world has its challenges and needless to say it’s been a steep learning curve. That said, I love it. Each day is something new, whether that be a difficult day or a successful one, I’m learning. I feel grateful to be able to genuinely say that I love my job and I think that is because it’s more than a job for me – it’s a way back to a culture I wasn’t exposed to growing up. I’ve learned so much about my culture, about our traditional lands, about our history and language, and about my community and the inspiring people within it. I’ve learned to harvest, prepare and weave cedar; I’ve learned words in our language; I’ve learned about traditional cold-water cleanses. There are so many wonderful things that I could say about the work I get to do, but I think my favourite part is when I get to hop on our boat and visit our territory. There is a healing power when you are on the water, on the land, a tiny human being below the towering Bute Inlet mountains. Its humbling; a coming home; a reminder of the path I am on.
When I’m not working I’m usually out playing in nature; hiking mountains, mountain biking, kayaking, rock climbing, you name it and I’m there. Though I grew up in the outdoors, my knowledge of the activities one could actually do outside were not discovered until adulthood. After high school I spent 22 days kayaking in Clayoquot Sound with Outward Bound Canada, which was an eye-opening adventure! I did go on my first overnight hike in high school (2011) but I felt like a noob, and didn’t do another hike until 2015 when I tackled my first solo hike up Benson in Nanaimo. Since then I have trekked up multiple mountains on Vancouver Island and the Mainland, both day hikes and overnighters, and I still have a giant list of “buck list mountains”, with a goal to also do a solo overnighter. While at VIU I spent a few semesters working as an outdoor rec guide which was a pretty sweet gig to have; leading groups of other students hiking, surfing, snowshoeing and kayaking while also playing was loads of fun!
Connection to the environment around me is as important as breathing and we’re blessed to live in such a beautiful place that is Campbell River.