Consulate General of Canada in Detroit

The Consulate General of Canada in Detroit is part of a network of Canadian Government representation in the United States, which includes 12 Canadian offices and the Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C. The Detroit Consulate manages Canada’s relations with the states of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana & Kentucky (states with a combined population almost equal to Canada’s; states that consume 15% of Canada’s exports to the entire world).  Partial Canadian ownership of major Detroit-based auto companies (part of the U.S./Canada/Ontario 2009 effort to ensure their survival), and the fact that the industry is reviving; on-going efforts to finalize plans to build a new bridge across the Detroit River; myriad Great Lakes-related issues; energy supply & transportation issues – all are part of the important investment attraction/export promotion/foreign policy and advocacy efforts engaged-in by the Consulate General.  Academic relations, public affairs and consular services constitute other important elements of the Detroit office’s activity. Consul General Douglas George (a Canadian Diplomat) heads the office; there are approximately 19 full-time staff. 

2017
Christopher Ciafro
Louis-Joseph Moukhtar
2016
Jonathan Glustein
Niki Kashefi
Arthur Van Havre
Lewis Krashinsky
Sta Kuzviwanza
2015
Nicholas D'Ascanio
Lea Daou
Judith Li


Past Interns

2017 Summer Intern: Christopher Ciafro, BA Political Science

This past summer I was an intern with the International Business Development Section of the Canadian Consulate General in Detroit, Michigan. As someone who has always been interested in politics, it has often been impossible to ignore happenings south of the border. Being able to work in the United States, during this historically unprecedented time, has been an incredible privilege. Furthermore, as a political science student, this opportunity has given me the chance to learn about internationalism from a first-hand perspective.

Growing up in Montreal, doing this internship allowed me to leave home for the first time, and manage my time as a young professional in a new city. In addition, although I have worked different jobs, I have never worked in an office setting. These new experiences were major motivations in applying for an international internship, as it has allowed me to form a base set of skills on which I can build a career in the future. I also wanted to do the internship because I wanted to learn more about Global Affairs Canada. A career in diplomacy is one that I have often romanticized. Working at the Consulate has helped to manage my expectations. I am now just as interested in diplomacy, now with more realistic expectations, and I believe this is one of the lessons I am most grateful for.

Straddling the border between Canada and the United States, The Consulate General of Canada in Detroit is overwhelmingly focused on cross-border flows of goods, people, and services. Therefore, the mission’s staff is largely focused on promoting trade between the two nations. Other departments work in public relations, or provide assistance for Canadians travelling abroad. In recent months, given changing circumstances in the United States, the Consulate’s mission statement has only increased in importance. To this end, the Consulate has been involved in organizing several diplomatic outreach events, even organizing the visits of Canadian government officials, including cabinet ministers, to the States of Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio. Despite the increased pressure, the Consulate’s staff has remained as hard-working as ever, managing regular duties along with new assignments diligently.

As an intern, I assisted the Senior Trade Commissioner with daily tasks. Sometimes, these were simpler assignments, like building databases of Canadian companies doing business in the Consulate’s territory or finding the contact information for business leaders the Consulate wanted to add to their network. However, some of the more exciting work came when it was time to plan ministerial visits. During the two occasions on which we received visits, I was responsible for preparing briefing material for the Ministers. This meant writing biographies on contacts, or short paragraphs on locations, historical events, or cultural icons the Ministers should be aware of when travelling abroad. I also sat in on weekly staff meetings, and was frequently brought on out-calls by different staff members.

One of these out-calls was a two-day trade show hosted by Chinese retailer Alibaba. This was one of the most exciting experiences I had at the Consulate, as the report I contributed my observations to was distributed to higher levels of government. Another highlight was the three-day trip we took to Cincinnati during the visit of the Minister of International Trade. Not only was I involved in the planning stages of the visit, I was also there on the day of the event to ensure everything ran smoothly, along with my fellow intern and the Senior Trade Commissioner. We spent the day travelling the city, arriving shortly before the Minister before every event to set up and prep the people that the Minister would be speaking to. At the last event of the day, the Minister personally invited the interns to join him and his staff to sit at a roundtable with the executives of a major shipping company. This was both one of the most rewarding and intimidating experiences of the whole internship.

This internship overall was a fantastic experience, and it was a privilege to work with the Canadian foreign service. Although I am still unsure as ever in what career I will find myself, my experience at the Consulate without a doubt has taught me skills transferable to any professional setting. Completing this internship would have been impossible without the generous Faculty of Arts Internship Award, as it helped to cover everything including food, accommodations, and transport. In the coming semester, I will receive credit for my internship and reflect on my experiences by completing a research project on how Canadian policy is influenced by the interests of the United States, under the supervision of Professor Mark Brawley.

Christopher Ciafro working at his desk, overlooking the Detroit River.

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Louis-Joseph Moukhtar, BA Political Science

Louis-Joseph Moukhtar is a McGill political science student. He previously studied international business at Dawson College. He is highly interested by foreign relations and has been participating in Model United Nations conferences in Canada, the USA and Italy. He is very curious of the world that surrounds him and likes to learn every day. He is also passionate about history, politics, and meeting new people.

Reach Louis-Joseph louis-joseph.moukhtar [at] mail.mcgill.ca (here).

***

I am currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts at McGill and entering my second year. I study political science as my major and history as my minor. There is nothing that I do not manage to find interesting. Reading the news and keeping track of current international events are one of my favourite hobbies. It does not seem possible for me to study political science and not stay informed and have a general sense of what is going on in the world.

By May of last year, I had been looking to do an internship for quite some time, but to no avail. When I learned about the Internship Office at McGill I could not be more surprised of the interesting opportunities that they had to offer. I quickly signed up for this internship at the Canadian Consulate in Detroit and after a few weeks I was on a plane to the Windsor International Airport, right across the river from Detroit.

Canadian Consulates represent Canadians abroad. They develop and sustain international trade links with foreign countries and help Canadians stranded abroad. As an intern there I was working in the International Business Development section of the Consulate. I worked on the organisation of ministerial trips to the region, notably of Minister Chagger in Toledo, OH and Minister Champagne in Cincinnati, OH. I also attended multiple conferences on the behalf of the Ministry of Global Affairs to report to people in Ottawa and helped foster good working relationships between Canadian and American businesses. During the last weeks of my stay, I also worked on the efforts led by the Canadian government to save NAFTA. This was thrilling and interesting work. I did not know what to expect from an internship at the Canadian Consulate. I was mentally prepared to make photocopies all summer. However, the people were incredibly welcoming and allowed me to take part in lots of various activities.

One of the challenges of working in Detroit is the accommodation. To find a safe place to stay in downtown Detroit is incredibly expensive. Otherwise, I would have to stay in the suburbs of Detroit, but without a car, that option was quickly dismissed. The only other place available to stay was in Windsor. I rented a room in a student residence. However, it turned out that the changing demographics of Windsor had led the owner of that student residence to gradually transform it into a nursing home. Three of the four floors were already dedicated to pensioners. Another challenge from living in the Detroit/Windsor region is the transportation. The shuttle bus between Windsor and Detroit is often delayed for long hours when security is increased at the border. Nonetheless, the experience from working at the Consulate far outweighs the negative aspects of transportation.

My political science background helped me to better understand the political motivations behind the activities of the Consulate. I am currently writing a paper to get credits for my internship. I am studying the tools and the actual usefulness of those tools that Canada has to influence American policy making. This taken in the broader context of NAFTA renegotiation and softwood mini-trade war is extremely interesting work for me. My supervising professor is Christa Scholtz who has helped me find my topic and refine my writing.

I believe the experience at the Consulate will be extremely beneficial to my future career path. Now I can draw from my actual experiences when I write about foreign relations and policy making as well as international business. These are all sectors that I am exploring as possible employment possibilities.

The funds received from the Schull Yang International Experience Award helped me pay for accommodation in Windsor and public transit. This internship would have been a lot more expensive otherwise, and I think Ms. Anna Yang and Mr. Joseph Schull for their generosity.

Louis-Joseph Moukhtar and a hologram of Jack Ma at the Gateway 2017 conference in Detroit, MI. June 21st 2017.

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2016 Summer Intern: Jonathan Glustein, BA Joint Honours Economics and Political Science

Jonathan will be interning at the Canadian Consulate in Detroit, serving on the International Business Development team under the Trade Commissioner. He has a passion for political economy and has studied it extensively as part of his degree. Especially interested in trade policy, Jonathan is excited to work on the dynamic trade relationship between Canada and Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana, a region that consumes 15% of Canada's exports to the entire world.

Reach Jonathan jonathan.glustein [at] mail.mcgill.ca (here).

***

This summer, I completed an internship in the International Business Development Section of the Canadian Consulate in Detroit, working directly under the Senior Trade Commissioner.  I am originally from Toronto, which is essentially the midpoint between Montreal and Detroit. My family and I used to fly out of Detroit for vacation as it was considerably cheaper than Toronto, so I was familiar with the area. However, the internship helped me get more acquainted with the Midwest region on an economic level. My research interests are primarily political economy and economic development, an area complementary to my job description. I wanted to do this internship because I have always been captivated by foreign policy and I have seriously considered a career as a diplomat. The idea of working at a foreign mission always intrigued me, as you are on the front lines of Canada’s foreign policy. Further, the Consulate General of Canada in Detroit is very oriented towards trade and investment, as Canada trades double as much with Michigan alone than any other foreign country aside from the USA. When you factor in the entire territory (Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky), these four states account for $133 billion in bilateral trade, more than triple the European Union and more than six times trade with China. By doing the internship, I wanted to immerse myself in this vast trading relationship and learn more about international trade.

The Consulate’s mission is to provide official Canadian representation to the four states, and to liaise with political figures and business leaders to advance the Canada-US relationship. As an intern, I conducted qualitative and quantitative research on investment and trade targets for the government. I prepared briefing notes for the Consul General on topics of importance to Canada. I did a lot of Excel work, creating spreadsheets of contacts from various potential partners. I also planned and helped execute an investment attraction event for businesses in the Columbus, Ohio area. I sat in on various meetings with federal and provincial partners, as well as businesses. Further, I got to go to various events on behalf of the Consulate, including a tour of M City in Ann Arbor, Michigan, an Invest in Canada event in Columbus, Ohio, and the Global Automotive Cybersecurity Conference in Detroit. From this experience, I learned a great deal about the agribusiness, automotive, life sciences, aerospace, and technology sectors, something that will bode me well for future jobs.

A major challenge I had to overcome was the public transportation system in Detroit is practically non-existent, and since I did not have a car it was very difficult to get around. I was essentially confined to the downtown area, which is actually quite nice, but I would have liked to explore the area further. I will be receiving credit for the internship, and will be writing about intra-industry trade with Professor Leo Baccini. Most of the international trade from the Midwest region is intra-industry, as automotive still is the largest sector of the economy and auto parts travel in huge quantities between Southern Ontario and Michigan and Ohio. Having already looked at this topic through my internship, I will now attempt to approach it from a more academic lens. I think this internship will help my future career path as it has given me additional knowledge about international business and international trade. I now know a lot about the Canada-US business climate, relations between the two countries, and various differences in business and regulations. Hopefully, this will help me work in the private sector in the future. This internship would not be possible without The Hon, Paul and Yvonne Casey Internship Award, as I would not have been able to afford my stay in Detroit. This helped me focus on excelling at my internship. My internship in Detroit now finished, I hope to apply my new knowledge to other pursuits, both academic and professional.

Jonathan working on his assigned projects at his desk.

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2016 Summer Intern: Niki Kashefi, BA Political Science and Economics

Niki is a third year student at McGill University where she is pursuing a degree in Political Science and Economics. Her main research interests include trade policy, FDI, and international security. This summer she is heading to the Consulate General of Canada in Detroit, where she will work as an intern in the Foreign Policy and Diplomacy department. She is an avid runner and will run her first marathon this summer in her hometown of Toronto.

Reach Niki niki.kashefi [at] mail.mcgill.ca (here).

***

In March 2016, I was selected to intern at the Consulate General of Canada in Detroit in the department of Foreign Policy and Diplomacy. Over the course of my studies, I have gained a keen interest for the field of political economy—in particular trade policy and foreign direct investment—making this opportunity a natural step in my academic career. Working at the Consulate General provided insight into policy formation and bridged the gap between formal models taught in class and their (un)intended political outcomes. Furthermore, this internship allowed me to experience the beautiful landscapes and culture of the American Midwest, in addition to getting an inhibited view of Detroit’s Renaissance.

Unlike Embassies and diplomatic High Missions, the Consulate is tasked with representing Canadian foreign interests in a specific region of a host country. Whereas the Embassy focuses on aggregate national interests, the Consulate General works in close-knit partnerships with locals and industry to strengthen political and economic linkages across the border. Our office was located inside the Renaissance Centre (RenCen). The RenCen is an emblem of the height of American industry—a tall, glass building complex which connects seven smaller towers around its periphery. Inside this gargantuan building complex, glass doors shield commercial shops that were once in full operation, but are now left abandoned and forgotten (a recurring theme in Detroit’s broader development). Although, most of the offices in the building complex house American firms and organizations, like Blue Cross and Blue Shield, several offices belong to foreign diplomatic missions such as the Consulate General of Japan.

As an intern in the Foreign Policy and Diplomacy section, I was largely tasked with providing research in the domain of public affairs and advocacy. Because my internship unfurled against the backdrop of a heated American Presidential election, I was responsible for creating a database of congressional and state elections to provide analysis on trade preferences of emerging and incumbent candidates. I was also tasked with editing and revising speeches for the Consul General. One of these speeches focused on Canada’s Syrian Refugee Policy. The Consul General delivered a speech which had garnered a lot of interest from the members of the audience, and I was tasked with incorporating their questions into a new draft of the speech. This was an extensive exercise which allowed me to work closely with the Consulate’s Public Affairs Officer to learn about political prose and speechwriting, particularly in the age of “Twitter diplomacy”.

Fortunately, I also had the opportunity to travel to neighboring states alongside my supervisors. In June, a contingent of Public Officers traveled to Columbus, Ohio for the first-ever US-Canada S.A.G.E conference, held at Ohio State University. The conference focused on strengthening binational supply chains and cross-border trade, while bolstering the discussion on the legal architecture of regulatory regimes and multilateral treaties, such as NAFTA. During the three-day conference, I was responsible for providing logistical support to the organizing team and for taking briefing notes on key discussions which would later be internally disseminated. This experience was certainly the highlight of my trip! I had the opportunity to meet US Ambassador Bruce Heyman, Under Secretary of State Catherine Novelli, along with senators and various local politicians and stakeholders. If I had to pick a single moment which acted a critical juncture during my internship, this would be it!

Next semester, I will be completing my independent research project under the supervision of Professor Leonardo Baccini. My project investigates the rise of populist attacks against free trade policies and the future of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the United States. This project will also provide insight into the historic shifts in trade policy preferences across party lines. Furthermore, this internship was particularly helpful in further developing my research competencies and opening doors to new experiences. As such, upon my return from Detroit, I immediately began work as a research assistant at the Institute for the Study of International Development at McGill University.

This internship would not be possible without the generosity of Mr. Joseph Schull and Ms. Anna Yang. The Schull Yang International Experience Scholarship allowed me to focus my attention on learning and experiencing all facets of the internship, without having to worry about my financial wherewithal. This was a formative experience in my academic and professional career. Most importantly, as a result of this internship, I am now certain my vocation lies in the field of international diplomacy and public policy.

Economic Minister, Gilles Gauthier, and Niki Kashefi discussing the future of bilateral trade and investment at the US-Canada S.A.G.E. Conference in Columbus, Ohio.

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2016 Summer Intern: Arthur Van Havre, BA Joint Honours Philosophy and Political Science

Arthur will be interning with the International Business Development section of the Consulate General of Canada in Detroit. Arthur is a Joint Honours student of Philosophy and Political Science and has always been very interested by international trade and by the relationship uniting Canada and the U.S. With the International Business Development section he will acquire greater practical skills of policy research and advocacy, abilities he hope to utilize in his future studies and career.

Reach Arthur arthur.vanhavre [at] mail.mcgill.ca (here).

***

My time at the Canadian Consulate General in Detroit is already coming to an end, and I can truly say that it has been an insightful and rich experience. I learned skills and gained professional knowledge; I discovered a new city and its amazing people, and I was able to overcome professional challenges. Twelve weeks ago, I begun this internship with the hope to serve Canada to the best of my abilities, and, this week, I will leave Detroit with a proud feeling of accomplishment.

I got off the train in Windsor in the middle of a rainy night of May. I was in the South-most tip of Canada, in a place I didn’t know, where I had no friends, nor connections, set to work in a city described as rising by some, and as dystopian by others. Nevertheless, I was able to foster strong relationships with the great people I met in Detroit and had the great luck of working in a stimulating and fulfilling environment at the Consulate General of Canada.

As a member of the International Business Development (IBD) section of the consulate, I joined a dynamic team focused on positively impacting the Canadian economy. In the aim of fostering Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Canada, I assisted senior trade commissioners in their duties of outreach and advocacy. I helped to organize events, research contacts, update databases, and create promotional material. My work served to efficiently target potential investor, in the aim of conducting outcalls directly promoting economic activity in Canada. I had to opportunity to meet CEOs and researchers, as well as politicians like Hon. Bardish Chagger, minister for Small Business and Tourism, during her visit to Detroit.

This internship furthermore gave me the opportunity to travel across the region assigned to the Consulate General of Canada in Detroit. I helped to conduct an outcall in Bryan, Ohio, and attended a conference on Canada/U.S. bilateral relations at the Ohio State University in Columbus. During this event, I had the chance to meet with representatives from multiple governmental organizations, as well as from different accounting and law firms, from both Canada and the United States. My interest in the conference was even greater as I had worked toward its organization. I helped to construct the guest list, working from targets identified in Ottawa and from my own research. I also assisted with the creation of the online invitation, in collaboration with representatives from companies such as PWC and Dickinson Wright. In Columbus, it was truly rewarding to meet with companies I had researched, witnessing the effective product of my work.

The knowledge I gained during this internship was moreover amplified by the multiple field trips and conferences I had the opportunity to attend. For instance, during a visit at the University of Michigan Transport Research Institute, I met with senior government officials from the federal and Ontarian governments. I had the chance to discover the technology developed at the institute and to discuss issues of innovation in transport with Ray Tanguay, former Toyota executive and special advisor to ISED. This visit was as insightful as it was inspiring. I was happy to witness breakthroughs in autonomous transportation and to hear about the political challenges accompanying technical innovation.

Geographical isolation was the greatest challenge I had to overcome during my time in the Detroit/Windsor region; being carless in the Motor City turned out to be harder than I expected. My daily commute included the crossing of an international border and relied on a suboptimal bus schedule. Fortunately, with the help of friends generous of their time and means of locomotion, I was able to extensively visit Detroit, discovering its art, culture and ecstatic personality. I was impressed by the effervescence of the city and humbled by the pride and genuineness of its inhabitants.

The Detroit Metro area represents a fascinating place from a political point of view. It is characterized by geo-social divisions, racial tension, gentrification and rapid corporate development. The relationship between Detroiters and space is punctuated by highways, stigma and parking lots. This juggernaut of a city is spread out, towering and undergoing constant change. The theoretical challenges inherent to Detroit’s development inspired me to undertake a research project surrounding the relation between social embeddedness and commercial ethics through the Poli 599 course. I will be presenting this research project at the end of the fall semester and it will be supervised by Dr. Briana McGinnis.

In conclusion, this summer has been highly valuable in terms of experience and encounters. I learned a lot about Global Affairs Canada and about the public services in general. This internship has furthered my motivation to study public policy and to get involved in my community. I met great friends and colleagues in Detroit, making this experience truly unforgettable. I would finally like to thank the Brown family for their financial help. Without the Susan Casey Brown Fund Award, this experience would have never been such a success.
Arthur and Jonathan with Hon. Bardish Chagger (left), Minister of Tourism and Small Businesses, during her official visit to Detroit.

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2016 Winter Intern: Lewis Krashinsky, BA Political Science

Lewis graduated with a BA in Political Science in December 2015, with a double minor in Economics and History. He has a keen interest in almost all areas of politics, from international relations to Canadian political institutions. He spent this past winter semester on exchange at the University of Melbourne studying Australian democracy and escaping the Montreal cold. Lewis has written for the Toronto Star, Sportsnet.ca, and the McGill Daily. Next September, he will begin pursuing a Master’s Degree in Politics.

Reach Lewis lewis.krashinsky [at] mail.mcgill.ca (here).

***

I graduated from McGill in December 2015, with a Major in Political Science and a double Minor in Economics and History. I was born and raised in Toronto where I graduated from Upper Canada College. My favourite hobby, with little question, is going to Toronto Blue Jays’ games.

One of the many reasons why I was interested in the internship at the Canadian Consulate General in Detroit was my keen fascination with politics. In addition to studying Canadian and International politics at McGill, in the winter semester of third-year I went on exchange to the University of Melbourne where I was able to study Australian democracy. Working at the Consulate provided me with the opportunity to not only follow that interest but to work directly in a field that I had studied extensively. I did not receive academic credit for the internship because I had already completed my degree beforehand.

The Canadian Consulate General in Detroit represents Canada to four American States: Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. Combined, these states receive more than 55% of Canada’s exports to the entire world, meaning that in terms of the Canadian economy the Consulate in Detroit is incredibly important. The Consulate has three branches within it: Foreign Policy and Diplomatic Services, Consular Services, and International Business Development (Trade and Foreign Investment). I was an intern for the International Business Development section. My duties included, but were not limited to, writing speeches for the Consul General and Trade Commissioner, researching pertinent companies and individuals, preparing briefing notes for meetings/events, attending and supporting events, writing post-meeting reports, organizing the Investment Dinner in Indiana, and various other responsibilities.

While there were several highlights throughout the internship, my favourite experience was writing three speeches for the Consul General (Head of Mission). I had some writing experience in the past, including news articles, an op-ed, and essays for school, and I had written a few speeches for myself when I was in High School, all of which helped me immensely. However, I had never written speeches of this importance. It was a great challenge and was particularly stressful. The length of each speech ranged from 12 minutes to 20 minutes in length. I spent nearly a whole week writing and editing these three speeches. Each day seemed to blend into the next, and it felt like there weren’t enough hours in the day. Each speech, while slightly different, covered many of the same topics, including: the strength of the Canada-U.S. relationship, aspects of the Canadian economy that go underappreciated, plans for the new Gordie Howe International Bridge, and the importance of cross-border collaboration and research partnerships. When I heard the Consul General deliver the speeches, I got to see the culmination of all the work I had put in. It was an incredible process with a great end result.  

Two other highlights of the internship were attending and supporting meetings during the Detroit Auto Show Week and organizing and participating in Canada Week in Indiana.

The Detroit Auto Show took place almost immediately after the internship began and it is one of the busiest weeks of the year for the Consulate. There were Ministers from the Federal Government, the Quebec Government and the Ontario Government, along with their delegations, who attended throughout the week. It was an incredible experience getting to assist with the functioning of numerous events, meeting ministers and other government officials, and seeing first-hand all the work that goes into ensuring that Auto Show Week runs smoothly.

Canada Week in Indiana was first and foremost busy. It was six straight days of travelling across Indiana for various meetings and outcalls, and staying in hotels each night. However, it gave me great insight into how the Consulate tries to attract investment and trade to Canada. The main event of the week was the Investment Dinner we hosted at the Eiteljorg Museum in downtown Indianapolis. I had a large role in organizing the event and coordinating the program. Because of the Investment Dinner, we developed extensive relationships with numerous Indiana businesses and key players that could establish a presence in Canada. The event was hugely successful, and I take great pride in knowing that I played a small role in it.

With little question, my studies at McGill prepared me well for all of the challenges and tasks I encountered during my internship. Without the generous funds provided by the McGill Arts Internship Office, I would not have had the opportunity to experience all that I did during the internship. My three months at the Canadian Consulate in Detroit was an experience that I will not soon forget.

Lewis with fellow intern Sta at Canada Week in Indiana.

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2016 Winter Intern: Sta Kuzviwanza, BA African Studies and Economics

Sta graduated from McGill in December 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in African Studies and Economics. Born in Zimbabwe, Sta grew up in Toronto, Ontario and has always had an interest in foreign policy and trade. She is looking forward to contributing to the Consulate General of Canada in Detroit and learning about the evolving trade relationship between Canada and the United States.

Reach Sta sta.kuzviwanza [at] mail.mcgill.ca (here).

***

I am a B.A. graduate who majored in Economics and African Studies. My areas of interest in university were economic development and international trade. While at McGill, I was involved with the African Studies Students’ Association and equity-related initiatives on campus. I wanted to do this internship with Consulate General of Canada in Detroit to learn more about the Canada-US trade relationship, which is the largest trade relationship in the world.

The territories covered by the Consulate General of Canada in Detroit account for a significant amount of the trade taking place between the US and Canada. I worked alongside and supported the Trade Commissioners in fulfilling their mandates in the International Business Development programme. The Trade Commissioners cover the science, technology, innovation, FDI, automotive, aerospace & defence and agribusiness sectors. Their work involves providing comprehensive services to global companies that are looking to invest in Canada and working closely with Canadian partners to make Canada a welcoming business environment.

As an intern, I had a wide variety of projects that exposed me to the many aspects of the International Business Development programme at the Consulate. Our biggest project was planning Canada Week in Indiana, which included an investment dinner, meetings and conferences that focused on the Canada-Indiana trade relationship. I assisted the Trade Commissioners in researching potential leads, compiling briefing notes, event logistics, and attending outcalls.

One of my learning objectives for the internship was to learn more about Detroit and the US. The internship was an opportunity to meet people from the city and learn more about Detroit’s history, economy, and politics. Detroit’s particular socio-economic and racial complexities were a reality I grappled with, and this led to some personal reflection and growth. My favourite moments were when we attended conferences in the city and had the opportunity to meet and interact with potential clients.

My background in economics was helpful in understanding the work of the Trade Commissioners. When we attended a US Treasury event, I was surprised at how easily I was able to grasp the complexities of the economic outlooks and projections that were presented. It was also interesting to see how Canada’s economic policies were perceived in the US and how important these perceptions are for trade.

This internship has played an important role in shaping my career path. I have always wanted to do international work, and this experience has helped affirm that. The funding we received for this internship was very helpful for some of the expenses and I am appreciative of the learning opportunities I had with Sebastien, Geneviève and the DTROT team.

Sta working at the Canada Week in Indiana.

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2016 Summer Intern: Nicholas D'Ascanio, BA History and Political Science

Nicholas will be working as an international trade intern at the Consulate General of Canada in Detroit, Michigan. He is in his second year at McGill, studying History and Political Science. Nicholas has a keen interest in diplomacy, Canadian foreign policy, and international trade. He looks forward to learning more about Canada's all-important and ever-evolving relationship with the United States. As a native of Southwestern Ontario, Nicholas has a particular interest in how cross-border investment can benefit regional economics. Nicholas hopes to gain firsthand experience with the work of Canadian diplomatic missions abroad, with the aim of building a career in foreign affairs.

Reach Nicholas here.

***

I am a third year student majoring in History and minoring in International Relations. I am interested in public policy, Canadian foreign policy, and international trade. At McGill I’ve been involved with the McGill International Relations Students Association, attending and staffing various model UN conferences. I pursued this internship because I wanted to learn more about Canada-US relations and the work of Canadian missions abroad. As a native of Southwestern Ontario, I was particularly drawn to the opportunity to explore the integrated economy of the Great Lakes region.

This summer I interned in the International Business Development section of the Canadian Consulate General in Detroit, Michigan. The consulate is part of a larger network of Canadian missions in the United States, headed by the embassy in Washington, DC, as part of the Department of Foreign Affairs, International Trade, and Development (DFATD). The Consulate in Detroit is responsible for Canadian relations with the states of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. The work of the consulate can entail anything that comes up in the course of relations between these states and Canada, but is generally divided into three sections: foreign policy & diplomacy, trade (economic business development), and consular services. I was placed in the International Business Development branch.

Much of the work I did was research to support the activities of the Consulate’s Trade Commissioners. The Trade Commissioners at Detroit divide their work by sector, the three largest in the territory being automotive, agri-business, and aerospace & defense. When Trade Commissioners meet with clients (such as Canadian companies looking to expand into the United States or vice versa) they require concise and easily-accessible information on the company, industry, situation, markets, and trends. My job was to research, compile & format these information briefings. These tasks were rewarding as they had a demonstrable impact on the work of the Consulate. One of the most exciting tasks I was asked to do was to help prepare a speech that the Consul-General was giving at a conference in Indianapolis. I used an earlier speech as a template and adapted it to the present situation. Working with the Consul-General to edit this speech was immensely rewarding.

One of the most fascinating things about working at the Consulate was witnessing Canada-US relations play out firsthand. It just so happens that the consulate in Detroit had been thrust into the spotlight of cross-border relations. For several years now, the Canadian government has been attempting to build a new, publicly owned bridge between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit. In the first week of the internship, the issue gained renewed interest as the Prime Minister visited Windsor and announced the naming of the now-approved bridge as the Gordie Howe International Bridge. When the bridge is built, I will forever be aware of the work that went on behind the scenes to get it approved. This internship did much to educate me about international issues that were happening right in my backyard.

Another rewarding aspect of the internship was the opportunity to learn about the Detroit (and Michigan) community. Detroit is a city that carries many stigmas and preconceptions. Living in the city for the summer helped me to understand where these impressions come from but also how ultimately the reality of Detroit is much more complicated. I was able to see many sides of the city, and thanks to my colleagues at the Consulate, learned much about the economic and political realities of Detroit. A fun concrete example of this was being able to ride the truck ferry between Windsor and Detroit. The Consulate also hosted a Canada Day barbeque that was attended by many figures in the Detroit political and economic scene, as well as the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario. Everyone you meet in Detroit has strong feelings towards their city and it is this affection and perseverance that is contributing to its reemergence.

Not having an immediate background in business or economics did make the transition to working in the International Business Development section seem daunting but I was able to get the hang of it after a short time with the support of my supervisors. The research skills I have gained from various history courses came into great use as I tried to construct detailed and coherent meeting briefings for the Trade Commissioners. Having never worked in an office environment, working at the Consulate has helped me develop some essential skills that I believe will be critical for future jobs.  Another difficulty I encountered was maintaining productivity when not given a specific task. Sometimes there were lulls in the work to be done and the interns received little direct instruction. For such occasions, my supervisor had prepared us a list of background tasks that can be done when not doing specific assignments, such as compiling a directory of economic development organisations in the Consulate’s territory. Everyone at the Consulate was very supportive. My colleagues did not hesitate to give us tasks and responsibilities when opportunities presented themselves.

As someone who had been interested in a career in the Foreign Service for a while, I found this internship to be very educational. I think it is important for students to experience the realities of an intended career path so as to develop a sober assessment of their ambitions. I was fortunate enough to have this opportunity for self-reflection.

I would like to thank Joseph Schull and Anna Yang for their generous funding of the McGill International Experience Award. This funding helped immensely with the cost of living and transportation. I would also like to thank Geneviève, Sebastien, and the whole DTROT team for the warm welcome and encouragement they gave!

Nicholas with the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowdeswell at the Canada Day barbeque at the Detroit Yacht Club.

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2015 Summer Intern: Lea Daou

Lea is a U2 Honors student, and this summer she will intern at the Consulate General of Canada in Detroit, Michigan. She is looking forward to working with the Canadian Diplomat and Consul General Douglas George and his team, and enriching her knowledge of US/Canada international relations. One of her proudest accomplishments would be her internship with UNICEF in their offices and in Syrian refugee camps. She is involved with Caritas, AVSI, and the Ministry of Social Affairs. Furthermore, she has considerable experiences with Model United Nations and the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. A polyglot and avid reader, Lea is greatly interested in global health, international law, and the use of diplomacy in enriching global human rights access and protection under the law.

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My name is Lea and I am currently a third year honors student at McGill University. Some of my past accomplishments were my internship with UNICEF in their offices and in Syrian refugee camps, as well as my involvement with Caritas, AVSI, and the Ministry of Social Affairs. Furthermore, I have considerable experiences with Model United Nations and the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. A polyglot and avid reader, I am greatly interested in global health, international law, and the use of diplomacy in enriching human rights access and protection under the law worldwide.

I had the opportunity to intern at the Canadian Consulate of Canada in Detroit from May 11th to July 31st, 2015. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the Canadian Diplomat and Consul General Douglas George and his team, and enriching my knowledge of US/Canada bilateral relations. The Consulate General of Canada in Detroit has responsibility for a large territory, comprising Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. It is central to the trade and bilateral relationship with the U.S. with over 45 percent of all Canada-U.S. trade going through the territory; states with a combined population almost equal to Canada's. The office seeks to promote trade and investment as well as build bi-national cooperation across a broad range of shared interests: political, academic, cultural, and environmental. The Consulate looks after several strategic issues, including the New International Trade Crossing, the question of stewardship over the Great Lakes, a significant consular workload and a very active International Business Development program. It is also central in strengthening bilateral diplomatic ties between the United States and Canada.

Although my entire summer at the Consulate General was extremely rewarding, several experiences and projects were particularly memorable and gratifying. My favorite project was providing assistance with the Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) advocacy project (research, legal letter preparation, administrative coordination, follow-ups …). Another rewarding project was creating a map of investment attraction economic development programs for Michigan, including a description of their mandate and area of focus. I also took part in the bi-weekly IBD section meeting to discuss priorities and on-going projects/activities, and attended various training, webinars, and conference calls. I took creative initiative and created postcards that display Canada's beauty and send pertinent messages and information; and supported advocacy objectives by drawing and creating messages to advance Canadian interests on Social Medias. Other tasks included consolidating information, and researching and preparing profiles for useful allies for the mission and outcalls. My last project was providing assistance in researching and updating the consular manual used to provide general information to consular clients. My main challenge was adapting to an office environment and schedule, but I got used to it after a few days and it had become part of my routine.

One of my most memorable activities was organizing and participating at the Canada Day reception which hosted some of the mission’s key diplomatic allies, and attending the event to represent and promote the interests of the Consulate, as well as attending a Woman in Automotive event with the Senior Trade Commissioner, a ferry tour of the borders with the Consul General, and other diplomacy and trade related events. 

Although I will not be receiving academic credit for the internship, my experience at the Consulate General of Canada in Detroit is already having a considerable impact on my education and career goals. It was rewarding and educational, and my assertiveness in taking initiative and taking the lead on projects allowed me to do the aforementioned diverse activities. I also got to network with various diplomats and inspiring people in the field. I want to thank my award donors Mr. Joseph Schull and Ms. Anna Yang, as their contribution helped with some of the expenses of my internship abroad as well, as the Internship Offices Network for selecting me to represent McGill and Canada in a mission abroad.

Lea at the Renaissance Center for her internship at the Canadian Consulate to the US.

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2015 Summer Intern: Judith Li, BCom International Management

Judith is a U1 student pursuing her Bachelor of Commerce in International Management and a minor in International Relations. She speaks four languages and she loves meeting new people, learning about new cultures, and discovering new places. Her interest in inter-cultural dialogue and her concern for global issues are driving forces behind her dream to become a diplomat. She hopes to eventually join the United Nations in their mission to facilitate international cooperation. But first, she will start making her impact by contributing to the Consulate General of Canada in Detroit.

Reach Judith judith.li [at] mail.mcgill.ca (here).

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At the time of the internship, I was a U1 student majoring in International Management, minor International Relations. My personal objective going into the internship was to have an experience in the foreign policy and see if I enjoyed the department enough to pursue a career in diplomacy. Definitely, I managed to learn more about my expectations, goals, and needs for the future. For example, I know that to be motivated in future jobs, I would need project-type work on which I can use my creativity and ambition instead of duty-type work, where every day consists of the same tasks. In addition, I realized that I enjoyed field work over office desk jobs. School-wise, I earned one credit from the Faculty of Management so I did not need to complete a research paper.

Canadian Consulate General missions are essentially embassies, except they are based in a city rather than a country. In this case, the Consulate General of Canada in Detroit is in charge of serving citizens and promoting ideas on behalf of the Canadian government in Detroit and its surrounding regions of Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. The mission is divided into three sections: Consular Services are offered to Canadian citizens who reside in the region who are in distress or in need of certain governmental services; the Economic and Trade Development department promotes trade between Canada and the region; the Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Services (FPDS) section promotes all other advocacy issues concerning Canada and the region. As an intern in the FPDS section, I helped with several advocacy projects by assisting the permanent employees. Some of my main tasks included:

Informing representatives, senators, and governors in the Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio region about their trade relationship with Canada by researching and developing Powerpoint presentation, speeches, and posters.
Facilitating networking and advocacy event, including a US Honorary Consul training conference and a Canada Day Barbeque for Michigan political and business partners of the Consulate.
Engaged in digital diplomacy by creating ads to support advocacy issues and finding relevant content to tweet on personal and official Twitter profiles.

The mission at the time employed nineteen staff members and three interns. Each department was supervised by a manager-level Consul, and the mission itself was led by Consul General Douglas George. Because of the small staff and the longevity of the employees (other than the interns and rotating Consuls, most people had been working there for over 10 years), the atmosphere was very relaxed and intimate. This internship is definitely a departure from the usual corporate experience.

As a co-worker explained, the internship position was created to ease the workload and ensure the smooth running of the mission during the summer months when employees generally take leaves and vacations. Just like the company culture, the entire internship experience from training to daily tasks were very informal and flexible. Training consisted of a half-day briefing on security and administrative details of the mission that was generally given to all onboarding employees. Other than that, there was no training specific to my job; I just chatted with all the people in my department to learn about their expectations and share my own. From then on, each person briefed me on their current projects and assigned some tasks with which I could help them. Each internship experience will vary based on the advocacy issues at the time, their own interests and level of motivation, and their colleague’s priority.

I took on several projects from various colleagues and tried my best to complete it to their standards. Oftentimes, I filled in for others at meetings and supported them in conferences when they could not be present personally. In addition, my business background surprisingly helped a lot in fulfilling the roles of this position. Since the main task was creating information to promote ideas in the form of presentations, speeches, and posters, my Powerpoint presentation skills developed in business classes really helped in creating graphics. Also, marketing and business statistics courses helped me turn raw data into more appealing charts. Since my major really seeks to build a global business sense in the student, I feel that the skills I learned were very apt for a position in International Affairs and likewise, my internship at the Consulate General will aid my development as a student. I wish more people knew about this internship, because I am sure many more people can benefit from this.

The goodbye breakfast for the interns: (Left to right) Nicholas, Consul-General Douglas George, Judith, and Lea.

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