During the spring semester of PCJ499, three Peace, Conflict and Justice (PCJ) students interned with GreenPAC, a non-partisan, non-profit organization working to identify, elect and support environmental leaders in Canada. Read on to learn about their roles and experience supporting GreenPAC’s mission!   

Be sure to also read their post “Sketching the Environmental Leader” on GreenPAC’s website.

Moyukh Syeed

4th Year Student Majoring in PCJ and Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies

Moyukh Syeed, Elections and Endorsement Coordinator Intern at GreenPAC

This semester, I had the opportunity to intern for GreenPAC – a non-partisan, non-profit organization working to support and promote environmental leaders in elected office. Initially, I applied for this internship because I was very interested in GreenPAC’s mission which, I believe, is integral to achieving a lasting and sustainable green future. GreenPAC’s focus on endorsing leaders and leadership that prioritizes the environment is a necessary step in ensuring that the environment is always on the agenda, regardless of political party or positionality. Through my role as Elections and Endorsement Coordinator, I have gained experience across a wide range of areas and have been provided learning opportunities that have developed my knowledge of environmental NGOs and their vital role in building a greener future for all.

As an intern, I got a chance to learn about and engage closely with various aspects of the organization’s work. In particular, I worked closely with the Senior Communications Manager to support GreenPAC’s annual series of events and to develop communications strategies and content to build GreenPAC’s connections across virtual mediums. As a student, the classroom gives insight into the theoretical and research-based tenants of environmental justice and activism. However, this internship took me through the practical steps necessary to ‘make change happen.’ Whether it be researching best outreach practices for endorsements or strategizing and applying methods to increase attendee turnout at events, the various tasks I got to engage with taught me what it takes to build and operate an impactful NGO.

While I developed practical skills and knowledge in my role, I also got a chance to showcase my strengths and research interests by contributing to a research-based blog series for GreenPAC. Along with the two other PCJ interns, I developed a blog series that centres on ‘Environmental Leadership.’ In this project, I got to merge theories I learnt in the classroom, particularly in PCJ360 and PCJ362, with my personal research interests to craft a series that illuminated GreenPAC’s mission and engaged in the nuanced discourse regarding environmental leaders, all while learning to write in a way that conveyed these thoughts to a diverse audience. My publication includes a piece that dissects the qualities integral to being an influential environmental leader, as well as a detailed profile on Sunita Narain – an environmental activist, author, and modern-day changemaker who is revolutionizing the green movement in the global south and globally.

Interning at GreenPAC has been such an incredible experience, not only because I got to work on such a vital mission in the green movement, but also because I had the chance to be a part of a warm and welcoming group of people. A six-women team leads GreenPAC; being recognized as a valued and essential member of their small team made this entire experience so rewarding and enjoyable. When I began my internship, I was quickly set up with their core communication interfaces, which have become their virtual workspace during the pandemic. I was kept in the loop about all of their current projects, could connect with every member of their team, and was always up to date about GreenPAC’s progress and current events. Teamwork and collaboration are pillars of GreenPAC’s work. Having been given a chance to experience and learn from their ways of developing community, especially in remote working conditions, taught me extensively about the necessity of teamwork and community-building for my own current and future initiatives.

Maia Harris

4th Year Student Majoring in PCJ and English Language and Literature

Maia Harris, Every Day Advocates Coordinator Intern at GreenPAC

This semester, I had the amazing opportunity to intern for GreenPAC. The project I specifically worked on, called Every Day Advocates (EDA), supports local leaders as they conduct town halls on the environment with their local MPs throughout the month of May. In my time with GreenPAC, my main responsibility was supporting the staff as we launched EDA. This included helping draft documents for the toolkit, some minor translation work, curating social media posts, and compiling lists of potential contacts.

On top of the weekly EDA work, the three PCJ interns with GreenPAC collaborated on a blog series that is launching later this month. Our main piece centres around the complexities of defining “environmental leadership,” and we try to trace out how this esoteric concept might exist in the real-world. On top of our collaborative piece, we each created an individual blog post about an aspect of environmental leadership of our choice. For mine, I interviewed eco-artists to unpack how art can serve as response to the climate crisis. As a writer in my free time, our blog series provided an amazing opportunity for me to apply my passion to my work.

I came into this internship with an interest in environmental advocacy and NGO work. I am happy to report that with GreenPAC, I got meaningful and straightforward insight into what this work actually looks like. The staff did not dress up the labour; it can be tedious, gritty, and disheartening. However, having been given a chance to see the impact GreenPAC projects make on environmental policy in Canada—and individual peoples’ lives—I have walked away seeing the infinite value of this sector.

There is also a great intersection between GreenPAC and PCJ. The organization’s foundational aims align well with one of the main principles of our program: to strive for equity in all its forms. Since GreenPAC is small, its tight sense of community also reminds me of the micro-family that is PCJ. I am grateful that after PCJ360’s emphasis on environmental justice, I was able to try my hand at tackling the climate crisis through this placement.

The aspect of this internship that stands out the most is without a doubt the people at GreenPAC. The other PCJ interns and I were invited to the weekly GreenPAC meetings, and I met with my smaller EDA team weekly as well. This small aspect – just two one-hour meetings – made all the difference. It helped me feel connected to this incredible network, and I know that I am walking away from this with real-life connections and colleagues. I cannot thank the team enough for their guidance and support. In short, this opportunity gave me valuable work experience and incredible transferable skills. I am infinitely grateful to have been a member of the GreenPAC team.

Leena Badri

3rd Year Student Majoring in PCJ and International Relations

Leena Badri, Elections and Endorsements Intern at GreenPAC

This semester, I had the opportunity to intern at GreenPAC as an Elections and Endorsements intern. In this role, I was responsible for keeping up to date with the parliamentary activity of our endorsed MPs, preparing files and information in case of a snap election, and keeping apprised of key environmental issues that could impact the election process.

In addition, I also became acquainted with GreenPAC’s nomination process, and brainstormed ways the process could be adapted to be more equitable and inclusive. The completion of this project was very rewarding, as it allowed me to contribute to the advancement of equitable objectives. Overall, I was able to complete a number of tasks such as creating a comprehensive folder of candidate profiles, developing an environmental scorecard, and even being able to collaborate with fellow PCJ interns on a blog series concerning environmental leadership.

I went into this internship wanting to learn more about Canadian federal politics and the status of Canada’s political commitment to environmental health and sustainability. Through the internship, I became well acquainted with the nature of parliamentary activity and the general political process, such as how motions become law and the impact of party politics. Furthermore, I also learned about the various environmental issues that remain at the forefront of parliament and the actions taken to help keep Canada committed to its environmental goals.

This experience really opened my eyes to how important governmental support and commitment is to the global fight for sustainability and environmental protection. It was also a humbling experience to learn more about MPs who had devoted their political careers to advocating for environmental justice. It was definitely an experience which brought me clarity and provided me with valuable skills that I am keen to apply to my work going forward.

I found many parallels between my internship and my PCJ studies, specifically PCJ360, as the topic of the course this year was understanding the role of climate change in human conflicts. My background in PCJ360 allowed me to excel in this role, as I was able to incorporate the theoretical framework we developed in the course to the many projects I undertook. By being able to conceptualize nature as a sentient being, one that we as humans remain dependent upon, I was better equipped to understand the complexity and gravity of certain environmental issues such as water pollution and the destruction of Indigenous lands. It also inspired me and my fellow interns to develop a blog series which incorporated a variety of PCJ concepts.

My internship experience was definitely a highlight of my undergraduate career. It allowed me to apply academic theory into practice and provided me with the opportunity to apply myself in a meaningful way. I will definitely cherish this experience, and I am grateful to PCJ for this opportunity.