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Playing a part in the legislative assemblyTwo Kakisa students spend a week as pages in Yellowknife
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, February 24, 2011
From Feb. 14 to 18 Dalton Simba and Joe Lacorne-Chicot participated in the Page Program at the legislative assembly. The students spent the week assisting in the chamber while also watching the government at work.
"It was a good experience," said Simba.
"My family and my great-auntie were proud of me."
Simba, 14, who'd only been to the legislative assembly once before on a school trip, said he knew being a page would be fun but wasn't sure exactly what to expect. One of the pages' duties is to keep the MLAs' water glasses filled. It's a constant job as the MLAs drain them quickly.
"Some like it plain and some like it with ice. Most like it with ice," Simba said.
Remembering the individual MLA's water preference was difficult, he said.
The pages also look after the movement of documents and notes within the chamber. When a MLA has written a note they will hold it up in their hand until a page comes and then tell the page who to take it to, Simba said. It helps to know who each of the MLAs are so you know which one to deliver it to, he said.
"They literally control the flow of information," said Brian Thagard, the assembly's sergeant-at-arms.
Any notes or documents moving across the chamber or coming in from the outside have to be delivered by a page. At any given time there are always eight pages at the assembly.
There have been pages for as long as there have been sessions at the assembly but four years ago the Page Program was revamped to make it easier for students from outside of Yellowknife to participate, said Thagard. Now, four students from Yellowknife and two from two other constituencies volunteer at the assembly for a week at a time.
A schedule is followed so each constituency, community and school is given an equal chance. The program allows students to learn about the GNWT, Thagard said.
"It's been an eye opener for some of them to see how consensus government works," he said.
Many find the debates and question-and-answer periods interesting. Students either grow to love or hate the process over the week but most love it, said Thagard.
Simba said he learned a lot about the assembly and found the experience interesting. He listened particularly closely to discussions between the MLAs about the Deh Cho Bridge.
"They talk about communities and they talk about what's going on," he said.
Simba's not sure if he'd like to become a MLA in the future but he hopes to participate in the Youth Parliament program at the assembly so he can learn even more about the government.