CO-OP Student of October 2019
Faculty of Social Sciences - Conflict Studies and Human Rights
For my first CO-OP term, my greatest hope was to discover an opportunity connected to human rights and law. I was fortunate enough to be offered a placement with the Senate of Canada, where I learned more about these topics and the political system than I could have dreamed possible.
I worked as an intern for the Independent Senators’ Group (ISG), which is composed of non-affiliated senators who envision a modernized Upper House. In part, this vision includes a commitment to voicing all major matters of concern for a diverse range of Canadians. My role was to support ISG senators by tracking legislative progress and, perhaps most importantly, researching the perspectives of different regions and minority groups. Given the dynamic nature of Parliament, no two days were the same: from Indigenous language rights to implications of the new NAFTA negotiations, I was able to explore various topics that are as pertinent to my academic career as they are to my life as a Canadian.
Beyond lessons on contemporary national interests, this experience revealed that our bicameral government is far more complex than one might imagine. It plainly involves individual Parliamentarians, each with their own areas of expertise, whose interactions and initiatives are supported by a vast network of staff. However, its house of “Sober Second Thought” is also undergoing a gradual transition aimed at decision-making which is less partisan and more responsive to the views of Canadians. The opportunity to experience these changes not only fuelled my interest in the future of the Senate but showcased the value of stakeholders’ voices and the critical role that all Canadians—especially youth—have to play in understanding and actively participating in their government.
Above all, this placement reminded me of the importance of remaining true to my passions and integrating them into my everyday life. I could not have broadened my knowledge of national human rights obligations and their potential legislative applications without the support of my inspirational colleagues, including my supervisor, as well as the CO-OP Office. As I enter the second chapter of my CO-OP journey, I hope to explore international opportunities which will allow me to apply my knowledge beyond Canadian borders and continue to advocate for diplomacy, the protection of minority rights and a high standard of governance.