Thanks to a brand new grant from the International Grenfell Association, MUN student Matthew Pike is off to Scandinavia in January for a 3-month internship in Norway at The Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples’ Secretariat, followed by a one-month internship in Finland at the University of the Arctic.

According to Karen Pottle-Fewer, program co-ordinator at MUN’s Labrador Institute, the idea for the internship originated with The Institute’s former director, Dr. Keith Chaulk, who saw the internship as a way to bring awareness of Indigenous and northern affairs to young people in Labrador, with the hope of generating enthusiasm among Aboriginal students about pursuing higher education.

The Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples Secretariat (IPS) — where Matthew is heading in January — is a support system for the six international indigenous organizations affiliated with the eight-nation Arctic Council. The IPS assists those organizations in presenting their causes, and helps to disseminate information among them.

This new internship and grant strive to “introduce Labrador Indigenous graduates of Memorial to wider experiences in the circumpolar world.”

Following the internship, Pike will spend a month visiting with schools and community centres in Labrador, so he can spread what he’s learned. Hence Dr. Martha MacDonald (director of MUN’s Labrador Institute) looking forward to the mentorship Matthew will provide upon his return to Labrador.

These visits will focus on the intern’s experiences in university, as well as his pending international internship. Pike says this new internship he’s been granted is an opportunity to discover the best practices of other Aboriginal Peoples.

“We must spend time with our Indigenous counterparts in other regions around the world to learn what has and has not worked for them,” Pike says. “Aboriginal people tend to live in close knit communities and although the will to stay home is strong, we must also have the will and desire to travel to other regions around the world with the goal to improve our communities.”

Pike hopes to find at least one practical solution to a current public policy matter while he is in Norway and Finland. As a graduate of Memorial’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, with a bachelor of arts in political science (with a minor in Aboriginal studies), and certificates in both criminology and public administration, he feels he is in an optimal position to accomplish his goal.

“My background in political science is one of the main reasons why I am where I am today. It’s a solid stepping stone for any type of leadership role. Every political science and Aboriginal studies course I have taken at Memorial has prepared me for this internship.

“I will be travelling abroad to study the policies of other nations in working with Indigenous groups and it is the experience I gained from Memorial that I will draw upon to make this internship a success.”

Prior to his current role as manager of external relations at Astaldi, Matthew Pike worked as a community relations advisor with Nalcor and as a researcher and policy analyst with the Newfoundland and Labrador official Opposition while completing his undergraduate degree.