Externship Participant Explores, Advocates Through ICWA Role
Tuesday, September 27, 2022
Barbara Belk's life - and career - took a different direction through language learning and connection with community
Seeking meaning during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sealaska shareholder Barbara Belk shifted the path of her life in the past couple of years. A few big changes include learning Sm’algya̱x, returning to school to pursue a degree in social welfare and exploring a new career path with an Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) externship offered through a partnership between Sealaska and Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA).
“I picked up language learning during the pandemic and through that, I decided to go back to school,” said Belk. “Everything has just sort of fallen into place. I have never been a part of community in that way, and it’s really inspired me, pushed me into a new direction.”
Joining the Juneau Sm’algya̱x Learners group offered Belk a chance to connect more deeply with her culture and inspired her to seek an externship with Sealaska while working on an accelerated bachelor’s degree through the University of Washington.
“The ICWA (externship) that I did was a new one offered this last year,” she said. “I was so excited to see something that really just lined up with what I’m studying and what I hope to do later on. Working with Tlingit & Haida and helping to advocate for families and strengthen our communities was a dream come true. It was a lifechanging experience to get to be a part of.”
ICWA sets federal requirements that apply to state child custody proceedings for children from families who are members of federally recognized tribes. CCTHITA’s ICWA and child welfare program assists those involved in ICWA proceedings, helping to ensure that the Tribe’s interest in children is protected if a child is removed from their home by the state. Through her externship, Belk served as an advocate, resource and cheerleader for children and families navigating ICWA.
“A lot of the time, these parents, these families and the kids, they’re all in an unfamiliar system and in a situation that’s confusing and difficult. It was so powerful to be able to know someone is in their corner, someone is there for them.”
Belk intends to use this experience to better inform her work as she looks toward future goals: a master’s degree in social work and continuing her passion for serving Indigenous families and communities.
“I’m so grateful for everything that I’ve learned,” she said. The most important piece of advice she’d offer? “Definitely, if you have the opportunity to, learn your language. Language learning (Sm’algya̱x) has truly changed my life and led me to where I am today and helped me really see where I want to go.”
Sealaska now offers externships like the one Belk participated in as part of a collaboration with partner organizations offering opportunities not available within the One Sealaska network. Externships are internships offered externally – these diverse roles empower students to explore beyond Sealaska businesses while still retaining the support of Sealaska’s robust internship program and peer-to-peer cohort relationship.
Sealaska’s internship – and now externship – program is designed to help prepare our shareholders and descendants for rewarding, well-paying jobs in a variety of marine science, engineering, business and cultural-preservation disciplines. Students in these positions act as full-time, paid employees during the program, which runs during the summer months annually. In addition to building professional skills and networks, interns and externs develop valuable peer relationships through thoughtfully planned activities and learning opportunities they share together. Sealaska is proud to help unlock the potential of our shareholders and descendants through educational and professional-development opportunities.
2023 internships open October 3, 2022! For more information and to apply, visit https://www.sealaska.com/careers/summer-internships/.
Traditional Lands of A’akw and Taku Kwáan to host global launch of Moananuiākea VoyagePosted 3/24/2023
The voyage aims to circumnavigate the Pacific over the course of four years, bringing attention to the role of Pacific peoples in stewarding our oceans and inspiring future navigators. Sealaska is proud to welcome the Moananuiākea Voyage to the traditional lands of the A’akw and Taku Kwaan people this summer. The Moananuiākea Voyage is a …
Spring 2023 Distribution Date AnnouncedPosted 3/22/2023
The Sealaska Board of Directors will meet on Friday, April 14 to approve the amount for Sealaska’s 2023 spring distribution. The distribution will take place on Friday, April 21. Shareholders are encouraged to complete and/or update any enrollment or stock transfer paperwork by the official record date of 4 p.m. Alaska time on Monday, April …
Sealaska hosts virtual forum for shareholders interested in independent candidacyPosted 3/10/2023
For shareholders interested in running for Sealaska’s board as an independent candidate, a March 9 virtual event provided the perfect opportunity to learn more. Shareholders were able to ask questions and find out more about the process, requirements and associated deadlines for independent candidacy in Sealaska’s annual shareholder elections. Shareholders tuned in from across …
Sealaska Survey Prize WinnersPosted 3/1/2023
Gunalchéesh, Háw’aa, T’oyaxsut ‘nüüsm to the record-breaking 5,437 shareholders who shared their perspective with Sealaska in this year’s survey. About 22% of our total shareholder base participated in this survey, representing key demographics across the nation. At Sealaska, we’re committed to discovering new ways to best serve our communities. This shareholder communications survey was designed …
Film is a mirror: Sealaska shareholder descendant Miciana Hutcherson reflects on Black History MonthPosted 2/23/2023
On Monday, Jan. 20, ‘Fancy Dance’—a film about matrilineal love and the complexities of familyand care in Indigenous communities—premiered at Eccles Theater at the Sundance FilmFestival in Park City, Utah. Sealaska shareholder and descendant Miciana Áak’w Ta Sháa Alise co-wrote the film alongsideSeneca–Cayuga filmmaker Erica Tremblay, who recently worked as a writer and executivestory editor …