In September 2018, three interns, GreenPAC’s Executive Director, and its newest team member piled into a car loaded with tents and sleeping bags, bound from Ottawa for Gatineau Park. This was no ordinary camping trip: it was a three-night orientation, in an unconventional setting, for GreenPAC’s inaugural Parliamentary Internship for the Environment.
This program brings talented, environmentally-conscious youth to Canada’s capital for a nine-month, full-time internship with MPs of all political stripes, who have demonstrated their own commitment to the environment. Come January, GreenPAC interns will be working with MPs from the Liberal, Conservative, NDP and Green parties. Interns will not only gain valuable skills and experience as they are immersed in the daily workings of the federal government, they will continue their learning off the Hill through workshops, leadership development training, and sit-downs with environmental champions.
Here is a snapshot of our current interns:
Mavis Chan obtained her MA in Public Policy and Administration from Ryerson University and her BES in Environment and Business from the University of Waterloo. During her last year of undergraduate studies, she started an organization to engage the youth vote in the 2015 federal election. Her interests lie in climate change policy, democratic reform, and youth engagement.
As an intern for Will Amos (Liberal Party), MP for Pontiac, Mavis writes:
“Politics may be partisan, but I really enjoy the camaraderie and cohesiveness of this machine: from the politicians, staffers, and pages, to the librarians, security guards, and IT support, everyone is working in lockstep towards the same goal of making a better Canada. I've enjoyed meeting Parliamentarians and their staff from across parties and seeing how they work together on different issues. I’ve also learned that one of the most underrated skills in politics is the skill of authenticity. From the outside, maybe it seems like the political institution is a bit distanced and standoffish. From an insider’s point of view, I am really appreciative of how the MPs in the House of Commons are relatable, empathetic and considerate.”
Ella Harvey has identified as an environmentalist since she was a child and is committed to helping political and educational organizations empower people to take action on environmental degradation. Her academic background is in evolutionary biology. She holds a BSc from the University of Toronto, Victoria College, and an MSc from the University of Guelph.
As an intern for Elizabeth May (Green Party), MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, Ella writes:
“My experience as an intern in the Parliamentary office of Elizabeth May has been even better than I anticipated. Being placed in the office of such a high-profile Canadian politician, I suspected that my workload would be primarily administrative - greasing the wheels to make the machine run smoothly. However, I have been able to attend Parliamentary committee meetings, go to receptions and local events with Ms. May, and do research to help with drafting Ms. May’s statements in the House of Commons and amendments to bills. What I’m looking forward to most in this internship is meeting and talking with environmental and political leaders, both through my office work and through the leadership development workshops led by GreenPAC, but I also can’t wait to see how the dynamic on the Hill and in Ms. May’s office changes as we head into an election year. Although in the few weeks I’ve been on the Hill I have already grasped a basic understanding of how Parliament operates on a day-to-day basis, I’m looking forward to gaining a more thorough understanding of the inner workings of Parliament. By the end of this internship, I am counting on having gained sufficient experience tackling environmental issues in a political arena to make an informed career move in the environmental advocacy sector."
Jesse Hitchcock co-founded an active youth voter initiative in PEI and spent a year co-chairing a committee to engage young people in community planning. She worked with the PEI Government on climate change mitigation through energy efficiency efforts, and in 2015, was nominated for the Samara Canada Everyday Political Citizen award. She holds an Msc in Environmental Science from the University of Prince Edward Island.
As an intern for the Honourable Michael Chong (Conservative Party), MP for Wellington–Halton Hills, Jesse writes:
"My first month on the Hill has been busy! I'm a procedure nerd, so it's been amazing to get a behind the scenes look at Parliamentary processes. The workload has been really diverse, ranging from research to correspondence to committee work. Attending committee meetings has been particularly interesting, and it's been awesome to be in the mix as everyone gets settled into West Block. The networking and social opportunities have been a great way to meet some of the people that are doing important work in politics/policy and working toward building a better Canada. All in all, Parliament is a very vibrant place and I'm excited to be a part of it!"
Nancy Xue joins the GreenPAC Parliamentary Internship for the Environment having recently finished her BA in Political Science and Environmental Studies at the University of Toronto, where she was also involved in various environmental clubs, NGOs and research projects. Following graduation, she worked in France as a tour guide at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.
As an intern for Nathan Cullen (NDP), MP for Skeena–Bulkley Valley, Nancy writes:
“My first few weeks on the Hill have been quite a whirlwind! It’s been fascinating to see the inner workings of Parliament and I’ll certainly remember these experiences for a while to come. One of my most memorable moments happened on my very first day. We were having a staff meeting to talk about Nathan’s plans for the next few months. I did not expect the hour-long discussion would be such a high-energy, action packed event. Nathan had a million brilliant ideas coming out of his head and now, I can truly appreciate how fitting it may be to use the phrase “war room” in political parlance. From his Trans Mountain pipeline opposition to his advocacy for proportional representation, Nathan is constantly working away at the front line of something important and exciting. To top it all off, my colleagues in the office are brilliant, funny, and fantastic people. In short, I am incredibly happy and grateful to be a part of this internship program in Nathan Cullen’s office and I can only imagine what phenomenal experiences lie ahead.