If you don't North, now you North

September 5, 2017 - Saying goodbye to beach weather, camp (not cottage!) weekends, barbeques, and patios all come with summers end. NPI has even more farewells at the end of August as we say goodbye to our Experience North Summer Placements, who spent their summer working across three locations in Northern Ontario. Whether they were working on website design in Sault Ste. Marie, exploring policy options in Kenora or creating innovative outreach strategies in Thunder Bay, they all had the opportunity to experience all that Northern Ontario has to offer.

collage of interns


Here’s some feedback from this summer’s placements in their own words:

Thunder Bay – James Barsby, Jenna Kirker, Andrew Ault

Anyone who’s from Thunder Bay will tell you that the city is known for its winters. Whether it’s skiing, snowmobiling, tubing or skating the city is known for its cold weather activities. What you hear less often however, is how amazing the summers are. Warm weather combined with long days, hiking, fishing and numerous outdoor activities all combine to create a city that comes alive providing new experiences, events and festivals during its summer months.

For three interns, two from southern Ontario and one from Sault Ste. Marie, our summer in Thunder Bay has been an eye-opening experience into the beauty of the North. Our experiences both inside, and outside the office have allowed us the opportunity to appreciate all that Northern Ontario has to offer. From learning about Northern policy, to meeting new people, and participating in various events throughout the community, we have gained a greater understanding of the region and all those who live here.

Northern Policy Institute has given us a chance to explore the multitude of ways in which the north is expanding through economic, political and environmental endeavours aiming to balance the pristine beauty of Ontario’s northern regions while also embracing the continuity and change of its social, demographic, and community evolution.

We could not have asked for a better summer placement, one that took our strengths and applied them to furthering northern policy, and used our weaknesses as an opportunity to learn and grow when it came to understanding the diverse nature of the communities and partners we represented each and every day. We could not have asked for a better opportunity, a better institution, or a better group of people to work with everyday this summer, near or far, to give us such an amazing experience.

Thank you, Merci, Miigwetch!


Kenora – Eric Melillo, Winter Lipscombe

This summer began with the adoption of Kenora’s unofficial third summer placement, Napoleon. Napoleon was left in trust to care for matters of water importance, while we took care of those of policy importance. Our office was based out of Confederation College’s Kenora campus, with a staff that was nothing but welcoming. A highlight was volunteering at their Annual Scholarship Golf Tournament, graduation ceremony. We enjoyed the opportunity to take part in these events for the college, and we appreciated how they made us feel at home.

If this summer has taught us anything, it’s that the North offers a world of opportunity for youth to return to and to come anew. We didn’t realize before how many incorrect preconceptions about Northern Ontario we held, until Northern Policy Institute helped shed light on the evidence. We believe that the Experience North program gave us much more than a good summer job. We had the opportunity to use our knowledge of Northern Ontario to help guide our work; and we were able to learn even more about this unique region.

We were both able to work on projects that enabled us to utilize our knowledge and skills to the fullest. But also, these projects gave us the opportunity to learn and improve on skills that may not have been our strongest. If you’re looking for a summer job that will offer you the right amount of challenges, great opportunities, and a valuable out-of-office experience- then you should strongly consider spending a summer with NPI. When we weren’t in the office, we had a number of opportunities to experience all that our community has to offer. This summer we attended events from a Pow Wow and feast at Kiizhik School to the grand opening of Nechee Friendship Centre’s new downtown office. A number of lunches were spent engaging in the community at BBQs for the Metis Nation of Ontario, Alzheimer Society of Kenora/Rainy River, and Kenora Jail.

Even though we were on our own in Kenora, the other offices did a good job of making us feel connected. But, we must say, considering all our community activities, parenting Napoleon, and laughter, we felt bad that the other offices were so isolated from us! Overall, the Experience North program was extremely fulfilling for us, and we thank NPI for giving us the opportunity to stay in, or come back to, the north for the summer.


Sault Ste. Marie – Hannah Rowswell

Working out of the space provided by the NORDIK Institute at Algoma University, allowed me to stay close to home and studies. Working at Northern Policy Institute gave me perspective on how unified and passionate individuals and organizations across Northern Ontario are, working to grow, and develop innovative solutions for our vast region. Majoring in Marketing, I had no direct work experience in a Communications department, so coming into a Communications summer placement was exciting, as I knew I would leave with great deal of knowledge I could bring with me to my last year of studies - and to my future careers.

The highlight of my summer was being able to travel north to NPI’s headquarters in Thunder Bay for staff week. This allowed the whole NPI team to get together, present project overviews, and engage in brainstorm sessions. As our team is spread across different regions, this week allowed us all to be in the same room, which really allowed us to connect with one another. Leaving staff week, we went back to our respective locations with a new, unified work ethic.

Leaving NPI, I’m very appreciative to have had the opportunity to learn so much about Communications: developing the website, monitoring social media and news outlets, contributing to the newsletter, among countless additional tasks. I will miss every NPI member when I leave - this organization definitely has a Northern Ontario feel, being that it’s a small, close network of hard-working, innovative people who just want to see their region flourish.

Northern Policy Institute thanks this year’s summer placements for all of their hard work, enthusiasm, ideas and dedication over the past four months. If you’re interested in becoming a part of our 2018 Experience North program, please check our website for more information and check back in with us in January when applications open 


To see some of the work done by this summer’s interns, check out the following Policy Bytes, and be sure check back as we publish more of their work in the future.






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