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Jay Choi

International student Jay Choi was first drawn to the University of Victoria from his home in South Korea because he loves the city.

As a student in the humanities, his major in Indigenous studies and minor in Pacific and Asian studies blend learning about the social, political, cultural and historical contexts that shape the lives and resistance of Indigenous peoples, and global cultural knowledge from the region he calls home.

Community-based work

Jay Choi, a Humanities co-op student, is posing in front of a wall covered in photos of BC Wildfire Services fighting wildfires. Jay is wearing a gray collared uniform shirt and a moose hide pin.
Jay Choi on-site at BC Wildfire Service.

Jay’s first co-op work term led him to the BC Wildfire Service, where he worked as a First Nation and Indigenous Relations Officer. As an Indigenous studies student, he was excited by the community-based projects that he worked on.

"When fire impacts Indigenous communities, our firefighters must respect the protocols on their territory. My highlight from this co-op term was when I was deployed to Williams Lake, BC, to work in Cariboo Fire Centre. During my deployment, I got to support publishing wildfire news to the public. I had a beautiful opportunity to attend the Nazko First Nations blessing ceremony for our firefighters, individual contractors, and the US Incident Management Team. Everyone gathered in a circle to respect Nazko First Nations protocol." 

Building meaningful relationships

Working with the BC Wildfire Service during the summer wildfire season, Jay produced communications based on the organization’s internal communications plan and helped support engagement activities. While much of his work took place in the organization’s Victoria office, Jay also spent time in Williams Lake, where he worked in the Cariboo Fire Centre and met crews from the United States and Australia who supported the firefighting effort alongside BC Wildfire Service.

“I learned a lot about building meaningful relationship with Indigenous communities,” Jay says. A co-op role in Indigenous relations helped bring classroom learning into the real world. “It was interesting to see how a government organization functions, and to work with Indigenous communities in BC to respect their protocols and land.”

What's next

Jay hopes to continue giving back to the community in his studies and career, and is looking to remain involved with the BC Wildfire Service. “If you can, do co-op,” he encourages other humanities students. “Ask questions, and don’t be afraid of getting feedback.”