SFU Alum swaps walk across the stage to chase life-long forensic passion

May 02, 2022

Chantelle Foster graduated in June of 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology and a vetted love of forensic anthropology. As 2020 and 2021 alumni return to SFU’s Burnaby campus this May to take their walk across the stage, Chantelle will be studying in Canada’s capital, closing in on her dream career.

Following her virtual convocation, Chantelle spent two weeks on an archaeological excavation of the Monashee World War One Internment Camp in B.C.’s North Okanagan. Led by Dr. Sarah Beaulieu, the group of SFU students and alumni uncovered artifacts and material remains in support of Beaulieu’s study focused on the diets of prisoners at the camp.

In the fall, Chantelle wrapped up her contract with the RCMP’s Integrated Forensic Identification Service (IFIS) in Surrey as a forensic identification assistant and began to explore options to advance her career in forensics.                                                            

The RCMP IFIS in Surrey offered her a full-time position as an apprenticing fingerprint expert. "That was the goal," says Chantelle.

“Currently, I examine crime scene evidence and recovered stolen vehicles, and go to break and enters to look for forensic evidence. Usually, I am looking at fingerprints and footwear impressions, stuff like that,” says Chantelle.

As an apprentice, Chantelle can collect and analyze evidence, but cannot draw conclusions. “The apprenticeship puts you through the training and tests needed to be able to make conclusions regarding the identification of fingerprints,” says Chantelle.

As part of her apprenticeship, Chantelle will head to Ottawa in May for a two-month forensic identification course at the Canadian Police College. When she returns, she will be well on her way to becoming a full-fledged fingerprint expert.

While this means Chantelle will miss her chance to walk across the stage, she isn’t the least bit discouraged. “I’ve made peace with it. Even before COVID, I had this feeling that I may not be around for my convocation. I thought maybe a job would arise, or some sort of excavation and I'd much rather do that,” says Chantelle.

However, with hopes to return to SFU for her master’s, it is likely that Chantelle may take her walk across the stage one day.

“In order to be the designated forensic anthropologist on files involving the search and recovery of human remains, you need a master’s degree. So, I'd like to study something to do with forensic anthropology,” says Chantelle.

Read more about Chantelle’s undergraduate experience here.