Following up on the success of their first internship in 2007, the Parliamentary Friends of Tibet have launched a second internship program for young Tibetan-Canadian students hoping to familiarize themselves with the workings of Parliament.
The importance of involving young Tibetans in the parliamentary process was echoed at the November 2009 World Parliamentary Convention on Tibet held in Rome where parliamentarians from all over the world gathered to discuss parliamentary initiatives that could be adopted by the different parliaments around the world in order to move towards a solution on the Tibet issue. One of the key strategies that was proposed by parliamentarians from all over the world was to “involve young Tibetans in the political system” in order to develop a “greater Tibetan understanding of local political conditions.”
From the results of the Canadian PFT’s first internship program in 2007 it was seen how this sort of initiative can really benefit young Tibetans. Of the four Tibetans who were selected for the internship, all went on to find employment in a parliamentary office or other governmental organization. Reports were also submitted by the interns at the end of their internship describing their experience. All were favorable and thankful for the opportunity to participate in the internship program and viewed their experience as valuable to their future.
Thus, Canada’s PFT has continued to put this strategy into action with its second internship program that is set to run from May 3rd to June 25th. This year the program has grown substantially in terms of participation from both parliamentary offices and applicants for the internship. In total nine Tibetan-Canadians have been placed in nine different parliamentary offices.
The program has also received continued support from the Canada Tibet Association of Ontario who has generously sponsored a large portion of the intern’s housing costs.
o Currently a student at the University of Calgary majoring in a social science. Tenchoe has always been very interested in politics and human rights.
o In high school Tenchoe was very active with her schools different committees like the Student’s Union, where she was elected to serve as Vice-President. She has also attended both the Forum for Young Canadians (FYC) and Forum for Young Albertans (FYA), which allows high school students to spend a week in Parliament and see how the government works on the federal (FYC) and provincial level (FYA).
o Tenchoe hopes that the internship will help her to gain insight into what she has learned in her lectures from first-hand experience during her internship in Parliament. Tenchoe is currently interning in the office of the MP for Skeena-Bulkly Valley, Nathan Cullen.
o Currently a student at the University of Ottawa studying International Development and Globalization where he also previously served as the president of the University’s Students for a Free Tibet chapter.
o As a citizen of two nations, Wangdu has always felt an obligation serve as a citizen of Canada and Tibet. Growing up in Canada his parents shared many stories of the marginalization of Tibetan inside Tibet in the hopes that he would always remember his ethnic background as a Tibetan. The stories made him realize how easy it is to forget some of the simple rights and freedoms that are granted in this democratic nation. The appreciation for these basic human rights has encouraged him to become an advocate for the Tibetan cause through various initiatives throughout his life. Therefore, Wangdu feels that his participation in the internship program will further add to his contribution to the Tibetan community and its cause.
o Wangdu hopes to engage himself to learn more about the Canadian political system and federal governance. He is currently interning in the office of the MP for Vancouver Centre, Hedy Fry
o Currently a student at York University and pursuing a Specialized Honours BA in International Development Studies. Rinchen’s family first moved to Canada in the spring of 1996 from Kathmandu, Nepal, where she and her sister were born as refugees. Her parents felt that Canada would be able to offer better opportunities for their two girls who didn’t have much of a future in a developing nation where they didn’t have complete assurance and recognition from the state.
o Last year, Rinchen joined the Students for a Free Tibet chapter and got the opportunity to lobby Canadian Parliamentary offices in Ottawa on behalf of the Tibetan communities in Canada. Through this experience she met with MPs: Rob Oliphant, Mario Silva, and David Sweet. This exposure to the Canadian political process made her realize how privileged she was to be able to speak about the fifty year Tibetan struggle for independence on behalf of her community.
o Rinchen hopes that her participation in this internship program will help her gain more of an understanding on how the Canadian government interacts with itself and how it interacts internationally. She is currently interning in the office of the MP for Parkdale-Highpark, Gerard Kennedy.
o In 1996, Tenzin and her family immigrated to Canada from Nepal with the hopes of a better future. She lived in the small town of Newcastle, Ontario through elementary school and high school. She is now currently working towards a degree in Honours Specialization in Health Science with Biology at the University of Western Ontario.
o A guest lecturer for one of her health policy classes, Ontario’s current Minister of Health and Long Term Care, Deb Matthews inspired her to participate in the PFT internship. Matthews made Tenzin realize how all policies, not just those specific to the health care system, can impact and individual’s health.
o Tenzin decided to take part in this program in order to get involved and learn more about the Canadian government system. She hopes to take away some skills and experience that will help her in her pursuit of a career in health policy. She is currently interning in the office of the MP for Nanaimo-Cowichan, Jean Crowder.
Tsering Asha Leba
o Tsering is currently studying for a major in Political Science at the University of Calgary. As a young woman living in Canada who is proud to be both part Tibetan and part East Indian, Tsering is also proud to be Canadian.
o Tsering strongly believes in the promotion and encouragement of Canada’s multiculturalism and as a young Canadian feels privileged to take part in an internship program that encourages and gives young men and women exposure to the Canadian political process.
o Tsering ran for her University’s candidate election for the position of Faculty of Arts Representative. She is also a member of her University’s Governance Review Committee, and the Calgary Students for a Free Tibet where she helps organize Tibetan events, peaceful protests, and even had the honour of making a speech on what it is to be a young Tibetan-Canadian at a candlelight vigil.
o Tsering hopes that her internship experience will allow her to connect and learn more from other Tibetans in Canada who share a common interest in Canadian parliament. She also hopes to gain experience that will allow her to educate and draw awareness to young Tibetans about the Canadian political process. Tsering is currently interning in the office of the MP from Hamilton East – Stoney Creek, Wayne Marston.
Tenzin Nawang Tekan
o Tenzin Nawang was born in Kathmandu, Nepal and went to school in India. After graduating from high school, Nawang attended Bard College in New York. She transferred to York University in 2006, where she completed her undergraduate studies in History.
o Nawang has been actively involved in Students for a Free Tibet, first as the founding chapter president at Bard and now as a member of the Board of Directors for SFT Canada. She wants to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing in the near future.
o Nawang is currently interning in the office of Senator Consiglio Di Nino.
o Tenzin was born in the small north Indian town of Shimla where he and his parents lived as refugees. Tenzin was fortunate enough to go to primary and secondary school to get an education.
o In 2006 Tenzin immigrated to Canada as a refugee and completed his secondary school education where he graduated. He was then accepted into Carleton University with a scholarship where he is now currently in his third year pursuing a degree in International Business.
o Tenzin is proud to be a citizen of Canada, a country with a rich history and a parliamentary government with strong democratic traditions. He hopes that his experience in the internship will help him learn how the Canadian government functions, witness where Canadian federal laws originate from, and learn how they are created. Tenzin is currently interning in the office of the MP for St. Catharines, Rick Dykstra.
o Rignam is currently finished his second year of studies for a BA with Honours in Political Science at Queen’s University. At Queen’s, Rignam serves as the President for the University’s Students for a Free Tibet chapter, and also as an executive member of Amnesty International chapter.
o Rignam chose to participate in the PFT Internship in order to be an integral part of and understand more of the intricacies of everyday Parliamentary work. Rignam’s late father Tsering Wangkhang, founder of the Canadian Tibetan Association of Ontario (CTAO), always possessed a passion for politics, a passion which he passed onto him.
o Rignam hopes that the internship will expand his knowledge and continue to fuel his interest in the Parliamentary/Government structure. Rignam is currently interning in the office of the MP for Burnaby – Westminster, Peter Julian.
*The Parliamentary Friends of Tibet is an all-party group of Members of Parliament and Senators formed in 1990 by parliamentarians concerned about the human rights and political conditions in Tibet. Since its founding the PFT has had dozens of members over the years and has become the voice of Canadian support for Tibet in parliament and government. The group and its members actively encourage greater respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms for the Tibetan people and fully support His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s efforts of non-violent conflict resolution to achieve genuine autonomy for Tibetans through negotiations with China. The PFT seeks to strengthen the Canadian government’s support for a just and principled policy approach to the Tibet issue and also collaborates with similar parliamentary groups around the world in forums like the World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet.