Chamber assistants
Keewatin students keep MLAs on top of business

by Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 26/97) - When the bell rings to start the beginning of another sitting at the legislative assembly the eager pages strategically place themselves about the chamber.

Usually between the ages of 14 and 18, pages are invited to the legislature to serve their MLAs and learn a little about politics.

During the week of Feb. 11-14 - for the first time ever - students from several Keewatin schools were invited to Yellowknife to try the task.

Among the seven students picked to page was Jamie Kataluk, 18, of Coral Harbour.

"It was really good," said Kataluk. "I had a really good time working with the MLAs."

The brief visit to the legislature now has Kataluk thinking about politics. He said he might like to pursue politics as a career later in life.

While he paged he particularly enjoyed question period debates between the ordinary MLAs and ministers.

"The best was between John Todd and Ed Picco. One time they were just mouthing off to each other."

Daucie Autut, of Chesterfield Inlet didn't get too caught up in the politics while at the assembly. She was too busy filling up MLA water glasses and running notes between MLAs.

"I thought it would be easy," said the 16-year-old, Victor Sammurtok a Grade 10 student. "But the first couple of days it was really hard."

Despite the work and feeling embarrassed every time she moved in her tiny page uniform, Autut said she had fun.

"I never wore a mini-skirt before," she said, laughing.

Students at Maani Ulujuk school in Rankin Inlet felt the same way about the uniforms.

"It was OK, but kind of weird. We don't wear skirts or dresses in Rankin Inlet," said Kelly Clark. Friends Tracey Roach and Jody Roach echoed Clark's comments during a telephone interview from their school.

The best part of the trip for the three was seeing their MLA John Todd.

"He used to live here," they said.

Though admitting they didn't understand much of the politics and talking inside the chamber, the trio said they would like to go back.

"It was fun," said Clark.

Other student pages included Sabina Paniyuk of Coral Harbour's Atansiunasuarniq school and Charlene Putulik of Repulse Bay's Tusarvik school.

Each of the students received appreciation certificates from legislative speaker Sam Gargan.

The students were also acknowledged by their MLAs, Aivilik MLA Manitok Thompson and Keewatin Central MLA John Todd.