Professor spotlight:  Nicholas Hrynyk, assistant history professor

Hrynyk teaches the popular History of Queer Activism course at TRU

Students can often be intimidated by their professors and may need help approaching them. Through this ongoing series, the Omega will introduce students to several professors at TRU, uncovering the humanity and personalities of our educators.

Nicholas Hrynyk is an assistant history professor specializing in women and gender studies. He is a newer professor at TRU, having previously taught at UWindsor in Ontario.

“I’m a professor of history. First and foremost, I should just say that the status of history jobs in Canada in the academy is tight; it’s a tight job market… To stay in the academy, especially in the discipline of history, in some ways, you’ve got to be ready to move just about anywhere,” Hrynyk said. “So this was one of five [or] six jobs that popped up the year I was on the job market… That’s what helped bring me to TRU, but also, I just kind of hit it off with the faculty here, like in my interviews and stuff… you ‘vibe.’ It was a good interview, and we just really seemed to bounce off nicely.”

Before moving to BC, Hrynyk was unsure of the community, especially as a queer-identifying person. He worried the community would not be as accepting or progressive as Ontario. Upon arriving and getting to know the students and staff, he found it much more accepting and friendly than he had initially anticipated.

“There’s a number of queer faculty [at TRU], and one thing that’s been nice is I’ve helped build up a bit of a queer network. Linking us and building a coalition has been super nice,” Hrynyk said.

Hrynyk believes that Kamloops’ queer community needs to come together more and create larger spaces for themselves. Ontario has a wider queer community, and there are more spaces for 2SLGBTQI+ people to come together. Hrynyk thinks that Kamloops has the potential to grow their queer community as long as people take action. He aims to give students the tools to do it through his popular History of Queer Activism course.

“My goal is partially to agitate you to stop being so quiet. Get out there, be vocal, make friends, connect so that you can build up that connection or the networking pool so that when you have pride or when you have other events… instead of like 30 people showing up, you have 300 people show up,” Hrynyk said. “It helps build critical mass so that queer people are more likely to stick around and build a sense of community, and then who knows, maybe in five years, we’ll have a gay bar! That’s something we need. We need that critical mass.”

Hrynyk’s History of Queer Activism course, created by Renee Bondy and passed down to Hrynyk after Bondy’s retirement, has become a popular course amongst students at TRU.

“There are always big waitlists; everyone wants into that class, but I tweak it, change it, mould it a bit more [towards] my research and interests or maybe [due to] new developments going on in the community like Black Lives Matter, [which] wasn’t a thing when Renee might have been designing the course…” Hrynyk said. “But I had to respond to that and create new content and new material or show material that resonates with students. But the biggest thing was that I saw a need in the community [for the History of Queer Activism course], at least at Windsor and here in Kamloops. There’s a need or a desire amongst students to want to be able to take their education and what they’re learning and see how they can apply it in the community, and one thing I love about Queer Activism is that’s what it is designed to do. It’s designed to teach you the history so you’re sensitive to it, and so you can understand how we got here.”

Hrynyk wants to encourage more students to work towards a more progressive and 2SLGBTQI+-friendly community. He wants to give students the tools to change their community into what they want to see. 

The Omega’s Professor Spotlight is a new weekly series where we reintroduce you to some of the universities most popular faculty members. If you would like to nominate a professor, lecturer, or sessional instructor for their own Professor Spotlight, you’re encouraged to email the Omega’s arts editor, Augustus Holman, by email at