It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, says Crystal Lewis of the Parliamentary Internship for the Environment she has been awarded.
Lewis, 25, who previously ran unsuccessfully for Squamish Nation council last year, was recently one out of four candidates chosen from 300 applicants across Canada to work in Ottawa, on Parliament Hill, with a newly elected Member of Parliament, addressing climate change and gaining experience and training. The internship is for nine months starting in September.
When she ran for a council position with the Nation, her campaign platform was around sustainability, transparency, affordable housing and wellness, so this new role is a good fit, she said.
"There's so much to be done in so little time and we need to act now," she said. "This is a dream come true, but probably the most important work I could ever do."
GreenPAC, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that works to elect and support environmental leaders, provides the internship.
The group ran endorsement campaigns in the Federal (2015), Manitoba (2016), B.C. (2017) and Ontario (2018) elections.
"Crystal is one of a few other exceptional young environmental leaders across the country who will be spending many months at Parliament Hill, getting an in-depth, insiders look into how policy is made at the national level," Sabrina Bowman, executive director of GreenPAC, told The Squamish Chief.
"We had over 300 applicants from across the country and Crystal was an outstanding candidate. We are delighted to offer her an opportunity to get an insiders' look at what happens behind the scenes at Parliament Hill, develop relationships with other young environmental leaders from across the country, and help political leaders put forward important legislation."
For the first months of the internship, Lewis and the other interns will be working in their own communities on non-partisan public engagement strategies in the lead up to the 2019 federal election.
"This is the work I have done over the years in trying to address climate change and ... adapting my lifestyle and the work that I do. Trying to spread the word and get people involved."
Then, from January to June, she will work full-time in the Parliament Hill office of an MP in Ottawa.
It has been an exciting time for Lewis personally, too.
She also recently became engaged to her childhood sweetheart, Kevin Good.
The pair met canoe pulling when Lewis was 13-years-old. They liked each other but were too shy to tell each other, Lewis said, with a laugh. They went their own ways for seven years but then reconnected about two years ago.
The rest is history.
Good will also move to Ottawa for the second part of the internship, Lewis said.
"We will start this new chapter together," she said.
For more on GreenPac, go to www.greenpac.ca.
***Please note, this story has been corrected since it was first published. Lewis was one of five, not one of four chosen, as first stated, and her internship in Ottawa will begin in January, not November.