Volunteering to ensure important stories are heard and appreciated

Volunteering to ensure important stories are heard and appreciated

Nishat Tasnim is a self-described “nerd and hyper-focussed individual” who has a secret passion for the prog-metal band Tool and a love of learning to speak nsyilxcen and deepen her connection to the syilx culture and language. It was this love that led her to volunteer at Kelowna Museums.

“I began volunteering at the Okanagan Heritage Museum in September 2023 after being recommended by Alana Firedancer, the Indigenous Programming Coordinator,” explains Nishat. “From there, Maria Garcia, the Museum Services Coordinator, onboarded me. Her support and mentorship have been crucial in my volunteer journey, helping me integrate into the museum community and contribute meaningfully, especially to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) event. My experience has been incredibly rewarding, thanks to the guidance and encouragement from both Alana and Maria.”

Originally coming to Kelowna in 2011 when she was awarded a full-ride scholarship to UBCO Okanagan, Nishat has completed both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and then worked as lab manager at both UBCO and University of Victoria. She has started a new journey as the Institutional Programs Officer at UBCO, focusing on the Canada Foundation for Innovation grants. She is thrilled about the opportunity to bridge projects, people, and places in this new capacity.

Nishat is continuing her volunteering commitment to the Okanagan Heritage Museum, helping out at the reception desk on the weekends and for special events, including a notable Remembrance Day at Okanagan Military Museum as well as the Truth and Reconciliation – (Un)learn with Kelowna Museums and Family Day events at the Okanagan Heritage Museum. 

“In my volunteer role, I am deeply committed to championing and showcasing the resilience of Indigenous peoples and minority settler-immigrant communities,” explains Nishat, who herself is an immigrant settler. “I believe that highlighting these narratives can enrich our collective understanding of our community’s diverse heritage and foster a deeper connection to the land.”

“This, in turn, reinforces our shared responsibility to protect and support one another,” continues Nishat, who wants to give a special shout out to local nsyilxcen language teacher Jasmine Peone and syilx Elders Pamela and Grouse Barnes from Wildrose Native Traditions.  “I aim to continue this work and show up for our community to ensure that these important stories are heard and appreciated, thereby contributing to an authentically diverse and respectful society.”

Nishat sees her volunteer work as a way to broaden both her personal and professional networks by connecting her to individuals who share similar interests and passions.

“The learning opportunities presented through volunteering are immense,” shares Nishat enthusiastically. “From improving my social skills to acquiring new competencies relevant to my career and personal growth, it’s this continuous learning and the chance to make meaningful connections that keep me motivated and engaged in volunteer work.”

“Through volunteering, I’ve discovered that despite being shy and introverted in my personal life, engaging in structured social interactions can be incredibly rewarding,” adds Nishat. “Volunteering has pushed me out of my comfort zone, allowing me to meet some of my favorite people and experience some of the most genuine interactions of my life. These experiences have taught me that connecting with others in a volunteer setting is not only relational and generative but also positively challenging. It’s through these interactions that I’ve learned the value of stepping beyond my usual boundaries, leading to personal growth and deeper connections with those around me.”

“The key is simply to commit to showing up, being respectful, and helpful,” concludes Nishat. “It’s a rewarding way to expand your horizons and make a positive impact.”

You can find expand your horizons by volunteering at the Kelowna Museum, or take part in their community workshops, including “Nsyilxcen for Everyone” and “q’sapi? A long time ago: syilx Okanagan Storytelling”.  For these great opportunities, check out the Museum’s website https://www.kelownamuseums.ca/indigenous/.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Translate »