August 31, 2015 - This summer, Northern Policy Institute had the pleasure of working with an inspiring group of young adults from Northern Ontario through its annual internship program. These eight interns, all hailing from different educational and professional backgrounds, provided Northern Policy Institute with new perspectives on existing research and innovative ideas of ways to grow Northern Ontario.
In return, Northern Policy Institute has provided these interns with a space to improve their research and policy analysis skills, as well as a better understanding of Northern Ontario’s unique challenges and beauty.
Below, Northern Policy Institute’s summer 2015 interns reflect on what this opportunity has meant to them.
Sault Ste. Marie Office: Jamie McIntyre, Mandy-Jean Masse
This summer has breezed by in a whirl wind of conversations about what makes Northern Ontario unique, and deserving of public policy discussions to address the character and challenges of the region. We want to thank everyone who spoke with us about economic development in their respective communities this summer as part of the Know the North project. We feel that we have received something special from each of you, and will be sure to bring this knowledge and insight forward to Northern Policy Institute.
We had the opportunity to work out of Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre, in Algoma University which is a vibrant space in and of itself. Decorated in beautiful artwork and home to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation’s collection of reports — you never feel too far away from a great idea, and it proved to be an inspiring place to work.
Northern Policy Institute gives each of its employees not only a job, but an open opportunity to learn. Charles (President and CEO) and Sam (General Manager) are stellar mentors who encourage and inform their employees and make you feel like a member of the team. Although the offices were spread out among three locations, there is a certain sense of unity, and of working together towards a common goal. We value the Institute’s spirit of inclusivity and passion for public education and we will surely be keeping our eyes peeled for new issues of Due North to keep in the know.
Thanks very much for having us this summer!
All good wishes,
Mandy and Jamie
Sudbury Office: Trevor McQuillan, Lauren Rainsford, Alex Berryman
As we near the end of our internship we enter the reflective phase that necessarily accompanies the end of something great. Reflecting on all that we’ve learned, accomplished, and experienced this summer, some wisdoms emerge. The first of which is, every great idea starts with a conversation. Conversations with waitresses can lead to insights about the local employment market; casual lunchtime conversation between coworkers can lead to new projects. While true of life, this theme is especially true of Northern Policy Institute. Northern Policy Institute is one of the only policy institutes that is committed to actively engaging with the people it is designed to serve. It functions because of the input from Northern Ontarians. Thus, every conversation with a northerner has the potential to shape a research agenda or define a priority area because it allows us to take the pulse of the north. No ivory towers over here.
Working for Northern Policy Institute also allowed us to open our eyes to the vast economic potential of Northern Ontario and the resilient and innovative nature of Northern Ontarians. The recent closure of sawmills and declining population numbers could give one the impression that the north is in decline. And while yes, the north has yet to solve its net migration problem, the level of innovation going on in the north tells a different story. It speaks to the resilient nature of the north and the willingness to adapt to changing circumstances. Much like Sault Ste. Marie had to adapt to the closure of the Hudson’s Bay Trading Post in 1869 before becoming the steel manufacturer and energy power it is today, so too does the north. Thunder Bay is exploring the option of scuba diving tourism, North Bay has a biomass innovation centre, and Sudbury launched a successful art and music festival. Overall, the experience working at Northern Policy Institute has been invaluable. We were afforded the opportunity to see public policy up close, be part of a passionate tight-knit team, engage in debates over Northern Ontario issues, and most importantly help improve the place we call home. So although some offices may have working printers and air-conditioning, Northern Policy Institute has heart and the ability to affect change, and in the grand scheme of things that’s what really matters.
Alex Berryman, Trevor McQuillan, and Lauren Rainsford
Thunder Bay Office: Erin Estok, Matt Pascuzzo, Sydney Gingras
Northern Ontario is a region that each of us considers home. Whether it’s a new home, a childhood home, or a second home, we are proud to call ourselves “northerners.” But it was only by getting to “Know the North” better alongside Northern Policy Institute that we realized just how much of which there is to be proud.
Through our internships with Northern Policy Institute, we have been introduced to the difficult issues that face Northern Ontario, as well as the many organizations out there working tirelessly to remedy them. Organizations like the North Superior Workforce Planning Board, SHIFT, the Waubetek Business Development Corporation, chambers of commerce, other policy think tanks— they might not be well known or large, but these organizations are full of individuals dedicated to making Northern Ontario a great place to call home. These are the people that we strive to be: people who see the beauty and potential in their community, and are motivated to help it grow. It has been a privilege to learn from and work with these organizations over the summer.
As we identified and collaborated with these organizations, it became apparent to us how important it is to go to the source when identifying the policy issues that matter most to Northern Ontarians: northerners themselves. If you want to know what the real challenges are, you have to ask the people that are affected; and that’s exactly what Northern Policy Institute aims to do. We are extremely impressed with the way that Northern Policy Institute conducts much-needed research about the North by reaching out to the people who live and work here to find out what the realities are in the north.
We are confident that the work that Northern Policy Institute is doing will help to showcase the Northern voice. It’s time for Northerners to be heard, and for the policy agenda to be determined by the people that it effects on a daily basis.
We are so grateful for the opportunities provided to us by Northern Policy Institute and we will look forward to seeing the continued change that we know the Institute will make for Northern Ontario.
Erin Estok, Matt Pascuzzo, and Sydney Gingras
If you are interested in becoming part of the Northern Policy Institute team, see our Careers page.
To see some of the work done by this summer’s interns, check out the following blog posts, and look out for more publications authored by our interns in the future:
- Making the old new again: How adaptive reuse is changing Sault Ste. Marie's Mill Square (by: Mandy-Jean Masse)
- Eliminating Homelessness in Northern Ontario: Northern Ontario as the next Medicine Hat? (by: Lauren Rainsford)
- Two years, too short: why a custom First Nations election policy is the key to stability (by: Matt Pascuzzo)
- Cargotecture – The Next Frontier in Housing Construction (by: Alex Berryman)