Support from your cohort

February 9, 2021
By: 
Claudia Wilimovsky
smiling woman standing under tree

Tutchone Dunfield first visited Royal Roads University in 2013 when she was in grade nine and came to her mom’s convocation. Shannon Dunfield got her Master of Arts in Leadership. That visit got Tutchone thinking about coming to Royal Roads herself.

Flash forward to 2020 when Tutchone was attending Grande Prairie Regional College, Alberta, which has a transfer agreement with Royal Roads. She researched the Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science program, applied, got in and, as Dunfield says:

“Here we are!”

Dunfield’s parents live in Grand Prairie, Alberta, and most of her family on her mother's side live in Kelly Lake, a small Indigenous community on the Alberta-BC border. Tutchone, who is Cree/Métis, just moved to Langford and says that moving from a small town in Alberta to an island is “kind of a big deal.”

“I completed my first semester online at home. But I decided to move to Victoria to be closer to campus and because a lot of people from my cohort are from Victoria. Hopefully once the restrictions lift, I can meet them in person.”

Dunfield wasted no time getting involved on campus.

“I saw the Royal Roads University Student Association was looking for applicants and one of them was for an Indigenous student rep position. At Grand Prairie Regional College, I was the vice-president of the Circle of Indigenous Students, so I thought I would be a good fit. I put my name forward and got elected.”  

Not long after that, she was and invited to sit on the President’s Steering Committee for Equity, Diversion and Inclusion as the student representative.

Caring for the community

Dunfield has always been committed to community work.

“Growing up my mom has been a huge supporter in my life and pushed me to be really involved in my Indigenous home community and be educated about certain things. I really like being involved and having a voice and being able to use that voice,” says Dunfield.

“One of the things that I am involved in right now is planning a Remembrance beading event for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women with Frankie Allen at Indigenous Student Services. It will be a beading memorial. I am very excited about doing something I love, beading and engaging in meaningful conversation on MMIWG. One of my goals is to bring the community together and this is an excellent opportunity for me to meet more students, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. I’m pretty new here still and want to get to know the students so that I can properly represent them.” 

Commitment to diversity

Dunfield says the commitment to enhancing inclusion and diversity at Royal Roads laid out in the new Vision is important.

“I do see that reflected in the thinking and actions of the community. I think having the equity and diversity committee is a great example – just having it in place and having that plan to move forward with inclusion - I think that’s fantastic.

“Having an Indigenous student rep position on the Royal Roads University Student Association is brand new this year and I think they are going in a great direction for this. I’m glad that I am in a position to help to lead what direction it takes.” 

Dunfield also draws motivation from her classmates.

“One of the things that I love about Royal Roads and that keeps me motivated are my team mates. Each semester we get a new team and I really have been lucky with my teams - pushing me to do better and keeping me on track. I love the support system that I have. I’ve never heard of another university basing their teaching so much around being in teams. It’s really fantastic, especially during this time where people aren’t really getting that social aspect. Working in teams is what has stood out for me the most.”