June 2024 - Newsletter

In this issue

During the week of May 27 to 31, the newest interns from the Northern Development Internships Program spent the week at the Trust office for an orientation before heading out to their host communities.

Wendy Okoye, economic development coordinator, spent the week with these four individuals, educating them about the Trust and what to expect working with a local or Indigenous government. Various Trust staff members also presented to the interns on their individual departments.

All four interns are now working with their host local or Indigenous government for the next year.

Northern Development’s internships program began in 2009, with many former interns now working in local, Indigenous or provincial government roles throughout British Columbia.

Jasleen Parmar is a graduate from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Public Administration and Community Development.  Jasleen is now working with the Village of Valemount.

“I am passionate about working in local government in administration, finance, grant writing, and corporate planning.”

Jasleen Parmar

Adrian Smith is originally from the United Kingdom and emigrated to Prince George in 2009. He has a Bachelor of Natural Resource Planning degree from the University of Northern British Columbia and a master’s degree in Natural Resource and Environmental Studies from the University of British Columbia. Adrian is now working with the Town of Smithers.

“I am incredibly excited about my journey over the rest of my year here.  I am passionate about community planning, and working within the Community Services Department provides me with first-hand knowledge and experience operationalizing the community’s aspirations. The Town’s staff and council have all welcomed me with open arms, and I feel settled in my new home.”

Adrian Smith

Jinhan Xiao has a master’s degree in Applied Computer Science from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Vancouver and a master’s degree in Accounting and Auditing from Sun Yatsen University in China. Jianhan is now working with Lake Babine First Nation.

“This opportunity fills me with genuine enthusiasm as I look forward to learning and growing within such a dynamic and forward-thinking team. My goal is to make a meaningful impact and contribute positively to Lake Babine Nation’s economic development endeavors, embracing new challenges with dedication.”

Jinhan Xiao

Anuroop Kaur is originally from India and has been living in Canada for over two years. Anuroop has an Associate of Arts diploma from the College of New Caledonia and is now working with Lheidli T’enneh First Nation.

“I’m passionate about empowering others and creating a welcoming environment for all and I’m excited to continue making strides in this journey of growth and impact.”

Anuroop Kaur

Back L-R:  Gerald Pinchbeck, David Schroeter, Michael Dewar, Minister Cullen, Daniel Fish.
Front L-R: Robyn Carle, Lina Gasser.
Photo: Lina Gasser

On April 22 and 23, Nathan Cullen, Minister of Municipal Affairs and MLA for Stikine, met with members of the NW Resource Benefits Alliance (RBA). Present at the meeting were six former Northern Development interns, who were attending due to their current roles in local government. The former interns took advantage of the spontaneous mini reunion and took a photo together with Minister Cullen.

Below are details about each person’s Northern Development internship and their current position.

NameInternship programInternship yearInternship hostCurrent position
Robyn CarleEconomic Development2011Northern DevelopmentCAO, Village of Hazelton
Michael DewarLocal Government2015City of Prince RupertCAO, District of Houston
Daniel FishEconomic Development2012Northern DevelopmentCAO, North Coast Regional District
Lina GasserLocal Government2015District of Fort St. JamesCAO, Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine
Gerald PinchbeckLocal Government2014City of QuesnelCAO, District of Vanderhoof
David SchroeterLocal Government2018District of Fort St. JamesCAO, Fort St. James

“Seeing so many intern alumni representing their communities during this meeting with Minister Cullen was an unexpected and joyful surprise,” said Alanna Le Cerf, internships program manager, Northern Development. “Since the beginning, the internship programs have been developed to provide a solid foundation for recent post-secondary graduates who are looking to begin a fulfilling career in local government. This picture shows the long-term positive impacts the programs are having in the north and beyond.”

The Trust offers two internships: local government and First Nations government. At this time, there are three placements remaining for 2022, one in each District of Fort St. James, District of Mackenzie and Peace River Regional District. For information about the internship programs visit northerndevelopment.bc.ca/internships.

Photo: Saulteau First Nations website

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.