From MtA to Parliament Hill

Skeena Lawson (’16) snags spot in prestigious Parliamentary Internship Programme
By: Laura Dillman Ripley

There will be a few more Allisonians on Parliament Hill this September. Three of 10 students selected nationally for the Parliamentary Internship Programme (PIP) are Mount Allison graduates.

“I’m excited about this opportunity,” says honours history graduate Skeena Lawson (’16). “I was involved in a lot of grassroots organizations in my home province (BC) around the Northern Gateway Pipeline and want to learn more about how bills are passed and generally how this works in Canada.”

The program will see the students working in Ottawa and internationally for one year and includes the opportunity to work and study abroad and at various locations across Canada.

Along with Lawson, Jeanette Carney (’14), who is currently completing her Master’s in geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and Ryan van den Berg (’14), completing his Master’s in educational studies at University of British Columbia, will be working on Parliament Hill.

Interns work directly with Members of Parliament, both in the governing party and in the opposition, over the year.

“The possibility of working in Canada’s North or internationally, as well as in Ottawa, is really interesting,” says Lawson. “A lot of my studies, including my honours thesis, focused on Europe, and I’d love to go there someday.”

Lawson was accepted into PIP right out of Mount Allison. She graduated in May with her Bachelor of Arts, honours in history with a minor in anthropology. Her thesis topic examined cinema in Nazi Germany with Dr. William Wilson.

“I wanted to do something on Nazi Germany and decided to look at different types of media, feature films and how they helped shape a type of German cinema different from others at that time,” she explains.

Lawson also completed an extensive research project during the summer of 2015 when she lived and studied at the Pugwash River Estuary in Pugwash, NS.

Coming to Mount Allison from across the country, Lawson says she felt at home in the small town of Sackville.

“My hometown (Smithers, BC) has a population of about 5,400 and I grew up in a very rural environment, so Sackville wasn’t much of a stretch,” says Lawson. “When it was time for university, I was looking for a small liberal arts school. I looked across the country and eventually found Mount Allison.”

In addition to her studies, Lawson was also involved in Global Brigades, participating for four years and serving as vice-president, public health in her final year.

She volunteered with Eco-Action, Oxfam, and acted with Tintamarre, Mount Allison’s bilingual theatre troupe, founded by former theatre director Alex Fancy (’61).

Lawson acted in this year’s production of ROBO and last year’s production, DÉTOURS, both of which launched on campus and toured across the Maritimes in elementary, middle, and high schools in April and May.

Lawson plans to spend her summer working in Sackville before heading to Ottawa.

Skeena, Jeanette, and Ryan’s selection to the program follows a long line of Allisonians who have been chosen since its inception. As program director Garth Williams observes, “The remarkable success of current and former Mount Allison students this year is unusual — but not unprecedented.

“In fact, we have had seven Mount Allison students over the past seven years, including three in 2010-11. I think it is a testament to the quality of education, the opportunities for civic engagement, and the emphasis on community at Mount Allison that alumni have done so well in our Programme.”