Mi’kmaq Cultural Hero, Social Media and Coastal Erosion Focus of Student Research Internships

During the 2010-11 academic year the Department of History at Cape Breton University introduced three new positions to its internship program. The program provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to do research in the social sciences. Initially, launched in 2009, the Department works with several partners including the Beaton Institute, Louisbourg Institute, Parks Canada and the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources to establish diverse options for these student internships. Fourth-year students are eligible to apply and are selected through an interview process from a highly competitive pool of applicants.

The internships, which have expanded to seven this year, result in valued experiences that offer significant benefits to students. “Students who are selected for the internship program earn credits toward their undergraduate degree and are compensated financially for their work,” says Dr. Andrew Parnaby, Associate Professor of History, CBU. “More importantly, they have an opportunity to apply their knowledge of history, and the skills that a university education nurtures, to real world problems. Our community partners also benefit from the interns’ hard work and growing expertise.”

Heather Green, History Intership Student at Cape Breton UniversityStudents participating in the internship program work on a range of fascinating projects, from the impact of coastal erosion on heritage sites to Mi’kmaq legends to the use of social media in promoting heritage resources. Heather Green of Donkin, N.S., has accepted two internship positions with CBU’s Department of History. She is currently working at the Beaton Institute conducting archival work that includes appraising and classifying private records donated to the Beaton Institute. As well, she is collaborating with Parks Canada, Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources and the Louisbourg Institute, to assist Unama’ki Institute with research on the cultural and historical importance of Kluskap’s Cave to the Mi'kmaq people. The project requires Green to research Mi’kmaq legends and oral traditions associated with Mi’kmaq cultural hero, Kluskap, and to analyze possible relationships associated with Kluskap and particular geographic sites, as well as land and seascapes.

 “As a student of history planning to pursue a Master’s degree in September 2011, I feel that the combined experience gained from both of these internships gives me a competitive edge at the graduate level, as well as a deeper understanding of what the research process involves,” says Green. “This is really exciting work that, as a practicing historian, presents me with the opportunity to develop my own research approach and methodology of a topic that has not been widely published on in the past.”

As a priority, Cape Breton University offers undergraduate research opportunities to students. Each year, CBU hires close to 75 students, working in collaboration with faculty, in each of its four schools, who are involved in and inspired by research that extends around the globe.

“I could not have asked for a better support network than I have had here at Cape Breton University. My advisors, Dr. Andrew Parnaby and Dr. Graham Reynolds, have supported me and helped me gain confidence in my research abilities for which I am grateful,” she adds.

For more information visit www.cbu.ca/louisbourg-institute.
For more information visit www.cbu.ca/academics/history.