My name is Allison McCook and I interned this summer at the Institute for Human Development and Well-being (IHDW) at McGill University, namely on the More than Words (MTW) project. I am a final year student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts at McGill University, with a major in Political Science, and a minor in Canadian Studies. Being born and raised in Canada, my academic interests are geared towards Canadian history and politics, with an emphasis on Indigenous history, cultures and communities both in Canada and abroad. I have been involved on campus in a wide range of extracurriculars including student government, club involvement, fundraising, peer mentoring, and project founding. My extracurricular involvement and my academic interests show my passion for research, social justice issues, helping others, and learning more about Canada and Indigenous cultures.
I searched for an internship this summer which would allow me to both utilize my skills acquired through my courses and extracurriculars while contributing to something bigger. I was not looking for an internship to receive course credit (and I did not receive any course credit for this internship). My goal was rather to be able to partake in a project which helps to make a difference in the world. When I found the posting for the MTW project, I was instantly inspired and eager to see how I could help. I felt that the MTW project, and the IHDW more broadly, would be a perfect fit for me.
The IHDW works on various projects and research on a wide range of subjects and in many countries. I had the pleasure of working on the MTW project which explores Indigenous youth-led participatory art and mentorship pertaining to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. This project is based in Canada, working out of three sites: Rankin Inlet, Eskasoni and Treaty 6. As an intern, my task was in the area of evaluation, working on researching and developing a toolkit on evaluation methods. The toolkit, titled “A Toolkit on Creative Approaches to Studying Change: Looking Back and Determining the Path Ahead,” explores the many tools that can be used in project evaluation, providing information on how to apply these tools in real world contexts. The toolkit presents a step-by-step overview of 14 tools which can be used to evaluate the difference that an arts-based, youth-led and Indigenous focused project is making among its participants, assessing how the project is functioning, how well it is meeting or has met its goals, and offers the potential to bring to light areas that can be improved upon within the project. The information in this toolkit will also be used to make a section on the MTW website.
My favorite part of my internship was creating the toolkit. It involves research, which I enjoy, but also a very creative aspect of designing the toolkit. Aside from this, I enjoyed helping the other interns and IHDW staff with tasks related to the MTW project and other IHDW projects. It was so incredible being able to work with such amazing and kind people who have made this internship so enjoyable.
Working on the MTW project has contributed to shaping my academic and career path. It has solidified my interest in conducting research, performing creative tasks, as well as learning more about Indigenous communities. It has solidified my interest in pursuing a career which enables me to work with Indigenous communities. I feel so inspired to continue to do my own research, learning, and to find ways that I can work with Indigenous communities now as I finish my undergraduate degree.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Faculty of Arts Internship Award for providing me with funding for the internship. Considering the pandemic, I was at the time temporarily laid off from my part time job and the funds received from the internship helped provide me with an income substitute during those tough months.
I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity to intern with the IHDW on the MTW project. Even though this internship was not done in its originally intended in-person format, adapting to conducting this internship remotely was not as big of a challenge as I originally thought. Adapting over the first few weeks was more challenging to get into a rhythm and come up with a way of working that enabled me to be most productive; however, I enjoyed that the internship was more flexible due to the remote format as I could do my work at a pace I was comfortable with. My biggest remote internship tip is to stay organized. I always liked having a digital and physical calendar to keep track of important dates as well as having a checklist of all the tasks I must do. Overall, even with the remote format, this has been an experience I will never forget!