Born and raised in Prince Rupert, B.C., Harris, of the Gitxsan First Nation, grew up with a keen sense of awareness of the economic issues surrounding First Nations communities in his area. This mindfulness developed into a passion for Harris, as he hoped to one day empower individuals and the communities to become entrepreneurs and more business oriented.
“Growing up I always wanted to help out the First Nations community as much as I could,” said Harris. “Coming from a First Nations background myself, I know that there are many economic troubles faced by these communities, I wanted to help the community by assisting individuals with starting up their own business somehow, someway.”
Harris pursued his career in economics by attaining a Bachelors in Business Administration with an accounting option along with a minor in Economics from the University of the Fraser Valley. He hoped that through his education, he would be able achieve both his career and life goals to increase economic development for First Nations communities in northern B.C.
“I believe it was something I was always meant to do,” he said. “I wanted to bring my expertise to the communities and hopefully help them reach their potential economically.”
Harris knew that in order make his passion a reality, he would have to start somewhere — get his foot in the door of a First Nation band. When the Kitselas First Nation community sought an intern through Northern Development’s First Nations Government Internship program, Harris jumped at the opportunity.
“I was excited when I saw this internship,” he said. “It provided a mutual benefit for both myself and the Kitselas band. For myself, the pay is really good for an internship and gets me experience in my field of work.
For the band, it allows them to bring someone in who is already sponsored and funded by this program, which lets them to focus on training and teaching the individual and not have to worry about the financial side.”
The internship program, which is funded through a partnership between Northern Development and the Department of Indigenous Services Canada, provides funding for central and northern First Nations governments or Tribal Councils to host and mentor an intern for a 12 month period with the internships starting in May of each year. One of the goals of the First Nations Government Internship is to provide insight into the wide range of rewarding careers available within First Nations government. For Harris, the internship has been a great learning experience so far.
“It’s been everything that I expected,” said Harris. “Being in a non-profit organization and seeing how they work compared to what I learned in school is very interesting. I’m trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible and hopefully use this information to continue helping Kitselas and other First Nations bands in the future.”
Learn more about the First Nations Government Internship Program: www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca/first-nations-government-internship