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Page for a week
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, February 11, 2010
Lory-Ann Bertrand, 15, and Kiyana Betsaka, 14, spent four days working as pages at the seat of the territorial government in Yellowknife. The two students from Charles Yohin School said they were interested in the page program because it's a learning experience.
"It's something new to try and it's cool," said Betsaka.
The girls began their training on Feb. 1. At any given time there are eight pages in the assembly situated at different locations. The pages rotate between the spots during the day.
"It sounded confusing," said Betsaka.
The pages have to remember a lot of rules about conduct and the proper way to do certain tasks. Betsaka said the job got easier the longer she was there.
The pages start their duties at noon every day while the assembly is in session. Their duties include preparing the chamber and filling up glasses of water and ice for the MLAs. Four of the MLAs don't like ice in their water and you have to remember which ones they are, said Betsaka.
The pages also pass notes between the MLAs or between an MLA and their office staff. Documents also have to be moved between the upstairs offices and the MLAs.
"It was very confusing because we got lost a few times," said Betsaka.
For both Bertrand and Betsaka it was their first time at the legislative assembly.
"It's very big," said Bertrand.
The role of MLAs was also new to the students.
"They talk about the important stuff that has to be talked about in the territory," Bertrand said.
Having watched the MLAs at work Bertrand said she might consider running for office in the future. Betsaka said she's more interested in becoming a doctor.
"Being an MLA must be hard," Betsaka said. "It's hard because sometimes people don't always agree with you."
MLAs have to convince people the issues in their constituency are important otherwise they won't be dealt with, she said.
"You have to have a really good attention span to be good at the job," she said. "It's kind of hard to listen because they use really long words."
The purpose of the page program is to expose youth to the territory's system of government, said Brian Thagard, the sergeant at arms at the assembly.
The program gets youth involved in the government process and could encourage them to one day seek election as an MLA, he said.
The program aims to have equal representation from all of the constituencies in the territory. Four students from each of the constituencies outside of Yellowknife participate in the program each year.
The students are recruited through the schools, which are provided with application forms for interested students. Most pages are in Grades 8 and 9.