2017 Interns




Melissa is a West Coast born-mix of Kwakwaka’wakw and Chinese. She is a member of the Namgis Nation of Alert Bay. She is passionate about creating spaces for her mixed-roots backgrounds to critically engage and work together to create sustaining relations. With a passion for the arts, Melissa explores mediums such as textiles, photography, video, poetry and drawing as a way to help build bridges on her journey of catching the flow of her ancestors. The work she does is grounded in a collaborative process. In the heART of community, Melissa is taking a strength-based approach. Her work is centered on the intention to help bridge and facilitate conversations in the community to help celebrate and challenge identity categories. In a history where colonial legislation has violently and systematically normalized the dispossession of Indigenous peoples from their traditional homelands, it is Melissa’s intention of using fashion as a way to re-center the Indigenous body and reclaim her own individual and bodily self-determination. She wants to emphasize the important role that personal embodiment plays in this process. As Melissa continues a life time commitment to personally reflect, learn and explore what it means to be an Indigenous person in contemporary times and how to navigate through colonial constructed spaces with this identity, by creating art pieces, Melissa is participating in the growing art movement that is working to challenge the colonial narratives and representations of Indigenous peoples and cultures as being static. Currently, Melissa is entering into her final year of her undergraduate program at the University of British Columbia. She is majoring in First Nations and Indigenous Studies with a minor in Law and Society. Growing up on the traditional and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-waututh Peoples, Melissa feels really honoured to be able to intern this summer at the Xʷc̓ic̓əsəm: Indigenous Health Research & Education Garden. She is particularly interested in exploring how questions of self-determination as nations is linked to individual and bodily self-determination practiced through food sovereignty. During her time at the Garden, Melissa will be the lead intern working with The Medicine Collective. She feels blessed to be able to learn from Indigenous Elders and Knowledge-Keepers sharing traditional teachings and supporting workshops to reconnect and restore our relationships to lands and peoples that live on Turtle Island.


As an exchange student from Mexico City, Sharon has been at UBC since January and is currently doing an internship at the Indigenous garden for the summer as part of an Honours Program. She studies Nutrition and will be going into her fourth year at Tec de Monterrey University in Mexico this fall. She has been on three other exchange programs in Italy, England and India, all of which have been life changing experiences and where she has learnt about the importance of cultural diversity and maintaining local traditions. These experiences have sparked her interest in working with communities and minority groups to help improve their health and quality of life. This is why she has also volunteered at a foster home teaching piano to kids with Autism and has done social service in Chiapas, a poverty-stricken province in Mexico where she worked with and NGO to provide clean water to indigenous communities, and worked in a Tibetan community in exile in the Himalayas. As a nutrition student, Sharon loves everything about food; cooking, eating, trying out new restaurants, understanding the impact on health, enhancing sports performance through diet, and -more recently,- planting and growing food and other plants. It was during her exchange program at UBC that Sharon decided that she will pursue a professional career as a nutritionist focusing on community interventions in her country or wherever there’s people in need, since as she now understands, working with communities can have a larger more meaningful impact. When she is not thinking about food (or eating), Sharon might be playing piano or cello, camping, training for her next half marathon, watching a movie or tasting wines.



Miluska always knew she wanted to work in something related to food. Not only she loves to eat (goes to bed every night thinking about what she will have for breakfast!) but also talking about food is her passion. You know how people eat to live? Well, she lives to eat. No shame! The phrase “you are what you eat” truly resonates with Miluska as she believes that we can cure ourselves through food. her interest in alternative medicine and nutrition arised as she discovered how many times we underestimate food’s power. This is what originally led her to apply to UBC with the desire to get into the dietetics program. However, after taking a class in which the concept of the food system was introduced to her, she rea

lized that her passion relied on helping communities and work on the divorce between nutrition and agriculture: how we can continue to feed the world without destroying the planet in the process. Her true passion, she discovered, was still nutrition but with a shift towards sustainability and environment. But how can you change the system if you have never worked in it? Hence why she applied to the internship at the Indigenous Garden. Without any previous hands-on experience on the land, this was her opportunity to start learning about the food system from the inside out. And although she is aware she lacks expertise, she is certain that her hard work, perseverance, enthusiasm and energy will make up for any skill she may be lacking at the present. If you stop by the farm, approach the ever smiling girl and don’t be afraid to say hi! She loves to talk with people. But be aware, food related topics (especially desserts) are sure to be discussed!



When Katie Bartel told her parents that she would be interning at the indigenous gardens, and that she signed up of her own free will, they laughed. Hyena laughed. Katie grew up on a hobby farm. Her parents were avid gardeners, spending nearly every evening after work, and every weekend during the growing season out with their soil. But she wanted nothing to do with it. She was more in love with the written word than soil. They called, and she ran. Two years ago Katie’s parents sold the property. Minutes after the sold sign went up, she was crying over the loss of the garden. Katie is a third year UBC student going into the dietetics major this fall. Dietetics will be her second career; she was a newspaper journalist for 11 years. As an award-winning journalist in Chilliwack, B.C. Katie worked with several indigenous communities, and learned so much from their long-standing traditions. She was intrigued by the cultures, and amazed that she had learned so little in the public education system about her country’s First Peoples. She wanted to know more. As a future dietitian, food will be a prominent feature of Katie’s career. To truly know food, to love it right down to its roots, Katie is a believer that her hands need to be in the soil, that she needs to be present and active in growing foods from prepping the land to sowing to harvesting and beyond. As a condo-dwelling mother of an outdoor-loving, go-go-go four and a half year old, Katie intends to provide her son bits of the life she had as a child, only it will be at Xwc̓ic̓əsəm instead of home. Katie plans to take her learnings of the summer into her future endeavors as a mother, long-distance runner, dietitian, lifelong learner