Power to Choose Aboriginal Mentor
It was a special grade 6 teacher who got Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes fascinated with science, especially chemistry, physics, natural disasters and phenomenon. He also inspired Cheryle to start thinking about sustainability, long before it was fashionable.
I always wanted to know what happened to garbage-where does it go? Why can’t we reuse stuff? I enjoyed repurposing and recycling, long before it became the thing to do.
Born in Germany to an air force father and Cree mother, Cheryle is from the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. She was only thinking about her financial future when she began her post-secondary studies. However, it was not long before she became excited about all the learning opportunities available to her beyond “book-learning”. It was then that she became involved with the University of Calgary’s Native Centre.
Cheryle’s post-secondary education and work experience is extensive. She completed a diploma in Advertising and Public Relations, a BA in Communications and a BA in Native Studies. Her communications background gave her opportunities to work for the National Film Board, CBC Calgary, and the National Aboriginal Health Organization. Since 2005, she has been the Administrative Coordinator at the University of Calgary’s Native Centre where she has the opportunity to mentor student’s every day.
“I love my job because I get to help people each and every day! The University can be a scary place, and I believe that it is part of my job to make it a place of welcome and acceptance, fun and learning, sharing and broadening our horizons. I provide guidance to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students, staff, faculty, volunteers and community members regarding the University of Calgary. I provide a bridge between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students and volunteers by helping connect people to Elders in the community, take part in aboriginal ceremonies and activities, and share my learnings with others”
Cheryle’s two biggest passions are Aboriginal culture and women’s issues. She loves to participate in Aboriginal singing, drumming, sharing, speaking and creating and she is involved with many organizations that foster these two passions.
So what’s Cheryle’s take on science now that she’s all grown up?
“I see the biggest issues in science as two-fold: ethics and sustainability. I firmly believe we need to save the planet from ourselves. The Aboriginal perspective is that humans are stewards of the planet and we are purposed to protect Mother Earth, cherish and nurture her. It is inspiring to know that more people are adopting this caring attitude towards our home.”
Her advice to a student thinking about a career in the sciences?
I would advise those seeking a career path in science to do their research. The internet is an incredible tool to instantly ‘know’ about everything in the world, and that lotus of information grows exponentially each and everyday. Ask questions, then ask more questions until you ‘know’.