BA: Socio-Cultural Anthropology

Where did Deborah work? 

Work Term 1 and 2 (8 months):

Research Assistant, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNA) 

What did Deborah accomplish?

Main Tasks

Deborah gathered and organized evidence to support Indigenous litigation at CIRNA. Many of her projects included analyzing historical documents such as colonial correspondence. Additionally, she researched land survey material from the government and encoded this data into the CIRNA databases to be shared with litigators at the Department of Justice. Lastly, she helped with various administrative work by organizing case information across teams in Vancouver, Calgary, and Ottawa.

Major Accomplishment

During her work term at CIRNA, Deborah went beyond her Research Assistant role to find other opportunities to help further reconciliation between Indigenous groups and the Government of Canada. She was a Youth Coordinator at a 3-day conference called “Our Gathering.” At this event, Deborah fostered more insight on issues and topics that the government could address. She was able to pinpoint opportunities needed and correspond with departments to develop those services by working alongside Indigenous Youth Delegates.

What challenges did Deborah overcome? 

Deborah found it challenging at times to be patient with the litigation processes. “When studying social sciences, you learn a lot about change and what the world could look like. Therefore, it is often difficult to have the patience for the process.” She mentioned that litigation in terms of land claims and historically rooted issues takes a long time to resolve. “It involves time, resources, and coordinated efforts across private, public, and Indigenous sectors.” However, Deborah learned to cope with the process by educating herself on litigation. “I learned that it is normal for litigation processes to move slowly. I now know that not everything can change overnight, especially huge land claims,” she stated. Deborah took this challenge as an opportunity to understand the system more and what she can do about it.

How did Arts Co-op Benefit Deborah?  

Link between Academics and Work

Deborah revealed that her work term went hand-in-hand with her degree at UBC. “I study socio-cultural anthropology, and a lot of my course work is about Indigenous issues, land sustainability, and reconciliation,” she stated. She is grateful that this work term gave her first-hand experience with the public sector that was not purely through an academic lens. ”I understand the process better now and how people in the government are actively working on reconciliation.”

Preparation for Post-Graduation

Deborah feels more prepared for post-graduation because the UBC Arts Co-op Program has helped her become a competitive candidate. “Co-op is an experience where you gain a lot of skills that you can further speak to in your interviews or put on your resume,” she stated. Deborah will be taking on another work term before graduating and she is glad that she now has the work experience to stand out as a unique candidate.

What is Deborah’s favorite part of Arts Co-op?

“I am grateful that the UBC Arts Co-op Program empowers students to try new things,” Deborah proudly claimed. She enjoyed that the program was an opportunity for professional growth and development. She learned about working with others, acting professionally, taking advantage of resources, and taking advice from her co-workers. “Having all these opportunities in your undergrad is quite amazing.”


See more profiles about