How I Ended up in the Capital of Australia
Intern at the Australian National University’s Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research
Part of the Queen Elizabeth II scholarship Establishing Right Relations Program
After 30+ hours of non-stop travelling spread across four different airports, three different continents and flights, and enough airplane food to last a lifetime, this was the view I was rewarded with. I’m now sharing it with all of you, and you didn’t even have to buy a plane ticket. Lucky you! I mean, I guess you could’ve Google-imaged something, you know what – shhh, you’re welcome!
For those of you who might be thinking, ‘hey, this doesn’t look like Sydney’, you are absolutely right! This is Canberra, the 'underrated' capital city of Australia - my home for the next 3 months. Let me introduce myself: my name is Amy and I’m a third year Trinity College student double-majoring in Criminology & Socio-legal Studies and Ethics, Society & Law with a minor in Anthropology. Recently, I was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Scholarship, which gave me the incredible opportunity to conduct research on Aboriginal development on the other side of the world. I immediately jumped on it
To tell you the truth, I had not always been a fervent advocate of Indigenous rights - unfortunately, I was not completely aware of the ongoing transgressions against Canada’s own Aboriginal peoples for a long time. Sure, I had learned about the residential school system and the Red River Rebellion in high school but my interests in Aboriginal justice actually began with one fateful course-hunting session on Griddy on the eve before my enrolment date. I stumbled upon this fascinating class called ‘Human Rights and Security’ and ended up taking it (a great class, by the way). It was in that lecture hall I became acquainted with the extent of intergenerational violence against, and the egregious treatments of, Aboriginal peoples. The subsequent courses that I took only reaffirmed and expanded my knowledge on the grave marginalization and invisibilization of Indigenous communities at the hands of the settler state. With much encouragement from my professors, I began to foster an interest in the international economic and legal developments of Indigenous populations. The prospect of taking my research interests to the next level through a comparative analysis was extremely appealing to me, and I was ready to go the distances for it…literally. So here I am, at the Australian National University, 15,800 km away from home, doing a research project on the legal regime of native titles in relation to economic development.
Before coming here, I had just finished a semester abroad in Europe and I never thought there would be a day when I would check the temperature for Toronto and wished that I was back home. Because of all the application and interview madness, it wasn’t until after I had accepted the offer that I realized June in Australia meant winter. Ultimately, that wouldn’t have made a difference regarding my decision, but still it feels strange to see the leaves turn color when all your friends are packing their beach bags. One of my Australian friends that I met in London sympathetically suggested that maybe I could go skiing. Ah, the words that every Canadian wants to hear after braving yet another winter. Despite the arduous trip and the cold (by Australian standards), I am extremely honoured to have been selected for this opportunity and beyond excited to share this journey with all of you. I hope to tell many other stories while I am here.
June 28, 2016