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Delving into U.S.-Canada Relations and Indigenous Issues — Corbett Scholar Claire McCreery

April 1, 2022

Joining the Corbett Virtual Exchange program has been a great way to meet new students, get involved in various issue areas involving both countries, and gain valuable insights from my peers at the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria. As a member of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and having grown up in Hawaii, a place surrounded by Native Hawaiian culture, I am always  looking for ways to further understand Indigenous issues and gain new perspectives, and I have been able  to do so through this program.  

I recently attended an event hosted by the University of Victoria covering spirituality, our ecological surroundings (forests and fresh water), and their relation to Indigenous rights. One aspect of the event that struck me was how pipelines have negatively affected Indigenous communities. When a pipeline in Minnesota contaminated surrounding waters, it caused harm to human health, but also caused cultural harms, as the water and the species that inhabit it are viewed as kin to the Ojibwe people.  Defending natural resources in both the U.S. and Canada, spirituality and activism have been used to take action. These include the incorporation of spirituality into grassroots efforts, taking part in protests, and involvement in legislative processes. Expanding upon our understandings of Indigenous studies, students  from the program will soon be joining in on a lecture hosted by UW and UVic discussing Native American art along the Pacific Northwest coast. 

We also attended an event in January hosted by Sung Choi, a member of the U.S. Consulate General in Vancouver. He provided insights into his career path and the extensiveness of how he works to address U.S.- Canada cross-border issues. One of his focuses was on protecting wildlife, especially because wildlife do not recognize borders. The consulate seeks to promote policy or regulation to prevent pollution – in British Columbia, Yukon, and Alaska, regions that have mining jurisdictions, for example, the consulate was able to learn more about water pollution related to the existence of coal mines and deliberate on what could be done to address the issue. The consulate also works closely with universities, think tanks, and other organizations to gain different perspectives and to stay the most informed. It was inspiring to see the work that the consulate does and to learn about the dynamics of U.S.-Canada relations in action.  

Being a part of the Corbett Virtual exchange has been such an exciting part of my student life at  UW, and I’m looking forward to continuing my journey to learn more about important cross-border issues  and connect with my peers within the program!

The Corbett British Columbia-Washington International Exchange Program Fund provides an opportunity for undergraduate students at the University of Washington to spend two semesters at the University of British Columbia or University of Victoria; and for students from the University of British Columbia and University of Victoria to spend three quarters at the University of Washington.