A member of the Kahnawá:ke First Nation — a Kanien'kehá:ka community southwest of Montreal — Calandra Karihwiióstha Montour, completed her undergraduate degree in Child Studies, with a specialization in children with special needs, and a minor in anthropology in 2012.
Eager to learn about other indigenous cultures and passionate about working in communities all over the world, Montour has volunteered in developing countries to build new infrastructure, educate children and participate in eco-friendly projects.
Montour has volunteered in Ecuador (2010) and South Africa (2012) through Volunteer Eco Students Abroad, a 15-day youth program that puts participants on eco-tours in indigenous communities. Participants help communities improve in areas as diverse as sustainable infrastructure, education, sanitation and water supply.
Montour has also worked to maintain enclosures for animals at wildlife sanctuaries. In 2013, she volunteered in Nicaragua with Growth International Volunteer Excursions.
Calandra Montour (far right) with fellow volunteers at the Sondzela Wildlife Reserve in Swaziland | Photo: Calandra Montour
In 2011, Montour was one of five local students who each received a $1,000 scholarship from the Desjardins Caisse Populaire Kahnawá:ke. She made Concordia’s Dean’s List the same year and graduated with distinction in 2012.
Montour continued her studies at Ratiwennahní:rats Raotitióhkwa, a two-year program that helps students regain fluency in the community's native language (Kanien'kéha).
“I look forward to speaking Kanien'kéha with the elders and making them comfortable,” she says.
Her expertise in special needs and her traditional language skills will serve her well as she carves out a future in caring for elders. Currently enrolled in a vocational healthcare assistance program, she is considering a career in nursing.