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Part of a special feature coinciding with the beginning of a new academic year at Memorial University.

By Janet Harron

Matthew Pike of Happy Valley-Goose Bay is the Labrador Institute’s first International Indigenous Intern.

Hosted by the Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples’ Secretariat, the prestigious new internship is comprised of a three-month internship in Norway, beginning in January 2017, followed by a one-month internship in Finland at the University of the Arctic (uArctic). It is funded by a grant from the International Grenfell Association.

Circumpolar world

“The Labrador Institute is very pleased to have the opportunity to introduce Labrador Indigenous graduates of Memorial to wider experiences in the circumpolar world,” said Dr. Martha MacDonald, acting director, Labrador Institute. “We look forward to the mentorship that Matthew will provide on his return to Labrador and know that he will do an excellent job at paving the way for future interns.”

Matthew Pike in front of the Mishtashipu (Churchill) River in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
Matthew Pike in front of the Mishtashipu (Churchill) River in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
Photo: All photos of Matthew Pike by Robbi Pike

Generating enthusiasm

According to Karen Pottle-Fewer, program co-ordinator, Labrador Institute, the idea for the internship originated with Dr. Keith Chaulk, former director of the Labrador Institute, as a way of bringing awareness of Indigenous and northern affairs to young people in Labrador, with the hope of generating enthusiasm among Aboriginal students about pursuing higher education.

A one-month community and school visit component, taking place throughout Labrador, will follow the internship abroad. These visits will be comprised of presentations that will focus on the intern’s individual experiences in university, as well as their international involvement. The fund allows for one intern a year for three years.

“Keith and I started building the proposal and the application in the fall of 2014,” said Ms. Pottle-Fewer. “We have support from NunatuKavut and Nunatsiavut, the University of the Arctic and the Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples’ Secretariat. Memorial’s Internationalization Office has been an invaluable source of information on setting up the internship and no doubt will continue to be supportive to the team and the intern throughout the running of the program.”

‘Will and desire’

Mr. Pike believes Aboriginal Peoples, especially in Arctic regions of the world, are facing similar issues and that the new internship is an opportunity to discover the best practices of others.

“We must spend time with our Indigenous counterparts in other regions around the world to learn what has and has not worked for them,” he said. “Aboriginal people tend to live in close knit communities and although the will to stay home is strong, we must also have the will and desire to travel to other regions around the world with the goal to improve our communities.”

“My background in political science is one of the main reasons why I am where I am today.” –Matthew Pike

Mr. Pike hopes to find at least one practical solution to a current public policy matter while he is in Norway and Finland. As a graduate of Memorial’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, with a bachelor of arts in political science (with a minor in Aboriginal studies), and certificates in both criminology and public administration, he feels he is in an optimal position to accomplish his goal.

“My background in political science is one of the main reasons why I am where I am today,” said Mr. Pike, who is a Nunatsiavut beneficiary who has lived in Happy Valley-Goose Bay most of his life. “It’s a solid stepping stone for any type of leadership role. Every political science and Aboriginal studies course I have taken at Memorial has prepared me for this internship. I will be travelling abroad to study the policies of other nations in working with Indigenous groups and it is the experience I gained from Memorial that I will draw upon to make this internship a success.”

Prior to his current role as manager of external relations at Astaldi, Mr. Pike worked as a community relations advisor with Nalcor and as a researcher and policy analyst with Newfoundland and Labrador’s official Opposition while completing his undergraduate degree. He is a proud member of the Rotary Club of Happy Valley-Goose Bay and is looking forward to travelling around Labrador speaking to Indigenous youth about the internship and about pursuing higher education.

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