Claire Edwards (Next Up Edmonton) Interns in DC and NYC

Hi! My name is Claire and I’m a fourth generation settler on Treaty 6 Territory in Edmonton, Alberta. I graduated from Next Up 6 last year, and right now I’m taking a year away from my studies at the University of Alberta in Political Science and Women and Gender Studies to study and intern in the US.

Last fall, spent the semester at NARAL Pro-Choice America in Washington, DC. I got to DC right after anti-choice extremists released the heavily-edited Planned Parenthood videos that made national headlines. As part of my internship, I attended rallies and delivered petitions on Capitol Hill, volunteered at an abortion clinic, and met inspirational leaders within the reproductive health movement.

It was at NARAL that I saw the connection between the fight for reproductive rights and the fight for workers rights. Many of the incredible staff at NARAL learned their organizing and political skills from the labor movement. So I decided to apply for a program called Union Semester in New York City, the only internship and academic certificate program of its kind in the United States.


As part of Union Semester, I’m interning at SEIU 1199, the largest healthcare union in the country, in the Education and Leadership Development Department. I’m also earning a labor studies certificate at the City University of New York. At my internship, I’m helping with the development of curriculum to empower our members, delegates and organizers in our union with the tools they need to be more effective agents for change. I’m also helping out on the Fight for $15, campaigns to shield our workers from future Right to Work legislation, and new organizing of home care workers. Being able to apply what I’m learning in my classes at CUNY to the work at my internship has been an incredible experience so far.

Next Up really was a huge part of my development as an activist, and without it I wouldn’t have had these opportunities. When I get back to Edmonton this summer I plan to use what I’ve learned about the labor movement and reproductive rights in fighting to make Alberta a more fair, just and equitable place to live.


More information about Union Semester: