Earlier this year, Saulteau First Nations welcomed their second intern through the Trust’s First Nations Government Internship program. Gbenga Ayansola is one of four interns to be placed with a First Nations government in Northern B.C. through the Trust’s program in 2021.
“My experience with Saulteau First Nations has been such a pleasant one,” said Ayansola. “I was welcomed by staff members who genuinely love the land, share a common vision and are so passionate about what they are doing. The love could be felt and that created a very conducive environment for me as an in intern to give my best toward the progressive works going on in the Nation. I have had the opportunity to work with passionate people on amazing projects.”
Ayansola graduated in 2020 from the University of Northern British Columbia with a Master of Sciences in natural resource and environmental studies, forestry and wood engineering. He also has a Master of Sciences; Engineering – wood science technology from Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia.
Saulteau First Nations eagerly welcomed Ayansola to their team and carefully crafted a work plan prior to applying to Northern Development to host an intern. Ayansola is based in the finance and administration department, a place strategically chosen to provide the intern opportunities to learn about multiple aspects of First Nation’s government while remaining with one team in one location – providing stability and continuity during the 12-month placement.
“The Northern Development internship program is an exciting, unique, and mutually beneficial program,” said Sarah Canning, human resources advisor, Saulteau First Nations. “Not only does this program allow an intern to gain firsthand exposure to working within a First Nation Government, it allows the Nation to benefit from the intern’s vast amount of knowledge and experience in their field of studies. Saulteau First Nations has participated in the program twice now and highly encourage other Nations to utilize this program. We enjoy how grateful and eager the interns are to expand their horizons and feel that First Nations have a special ability to open doors of opportunity for the interns, thus benefiting them as they progress in their careers.”
Sarah Canning, Ayansola’s mentor, was also a mentor to Jason Ermineskin, an intern in 2019. Ermineskin was Saulteau First Nations’ first intern, and both the host government and intern found the experience to be successful. Ermineskin is now permanently employed by ASKI Reclamation LP, one of Saulteau First Nations’ companies, as a project administrator.
Funding for Ayansola’s internship position is through the Northern Development’s First Nations Government Internship program. This program allows rural, Indigenous communities to recruit and retain talented professionals, increasing capacity and contributing to succession planning. Saulteau First Nations receives $55,000 from the Trust to assist with the costs of hosting an intern. Of this, $45,000 is for the intern’s salary and $10,000 is for the intern’s housing allowance.
In 2021, Saulteau First Nations welcomed their second intern through the Trust's internship programs. The working relationship has been mutually beneficial to the intern and host nation.