A Quick Study with Sejal Lal
About A Quick Study
This ongoing series is aimed at getting to know what motivates and inspires UBC students about their learning — inside and outside the classroom.
On Western Arctic national parks, flying in helicopters, engaging with Inuvialuit elders, and Gotye.
Meet Sejal Lal, Geography Co-op student.
Can you tell us a little bit about your work term position?
SL: As the Iconic Experience Host Student for Parks Canada, I have been working under the Visitor Experience department in the Western Arctic. In my position I have been helping out with the visitor camping trips in Ivvavik National Park, participating in various events around the town of Inuvik doing public outreach, and have had the opportunity to help out with Parks Canada wildlife conservation initiatives as well.
As the Iconic Host Student, my main tasks have been to assist with the visitor camping trips into Ivvavik National Park, help produce photos and stories for social media from the trips, and to participate in outreach initiatives at community events.
What were some of the responsibilities you took on that taught you the most?
SL: During my work term, I had the opportunity to work in Ivvavik National Park to help guide the visitor camping trips. I was required to learn about the park’s cultural history, its importance to the Inuvialuit people, its flora and fauna, and a little about its geological history, so I could speak about it to visitors.
While in Ivvavik National Park, I have also been able to help with a few resource conservation projects, including helping to install wildlife monitoring cameras, collect songbird recordings, collect fish samples, and setting up malaise bug traps.
By the end of my term, I will also be required to complete an idea proposal for Parks Canada. As student employees, a fellow student in the office and I must submit a couple of idea proposals that suggest ways we believe Parks Canada should be reaching out to the younger generation, in order to promote Parks Canada’s profile amongst young urban audiences. Our proposals will likely be focused upon ideas promoting the Western Arctic national parks, as that is where we have been based out of for the duration of this term.
What has been your most memorable experience or accomplishment?
SL: I think my most memorable experiences so far include having flown all around Ivvavik National Park in a helicopter to install wildlife monitoring cameras with Parks staff, being able to attend the Inuit Circumpolar Conference which happened to take place in Inuvik this year, and being able to engage with Inuvialuit elders about their experiences living in this region of the world!
What connections have you made between this work term and your studies? How has this enhanced your classroom learning?
SL: Having taken a 400-level Arctic geography class during my third year at UBC, and numerous other environmental geography classes pertaining to biogeography, conservation, and community consultations, I find this region very interesting. I’d learned a little bit about the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, the Inuvialuit Final Agreement, and the various issues surrounding the circumpolar Arctic. Being able to work in a national park that was a direct result of the Final Agreement, and which is co-managed with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, has been a great experience as I’ve been able to come see the region that I was learning about. I’ve been able to see first hand what such co-managed conservation measures look like as well.
How has this co-op experience informed your future career path?
SL: I think that I would definitely like to work for Parks Canada again in the future if possible; I’ve learned that I really enjoy work that allows me to be outdoors, and that which allows me to engage with people who have specific histories and knowledge about the landscape. Although my interest might change in the future, for now, I aim to involve myself in any type of cultural resource management or resource conservation initiatives that I can.
What’s on your playlist these days?
SL: Bernhoft - Come around, Gotye – Learnalilgivinanlovin, Mapei - Don't Wait, Ibeyi - Mama says
What is next for you?
SL: I will be heading to Haida Gwaii in January for a 4-month field school program, to get hands-on experience learning about the ecology, politics, economics, and social issues involved with natural resource management. I plan to graduate in May, and so will begin my hunt for full time employment shortly after!