A nearly empty House of Commons during 2020, early in the pandemic. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Red Deer woman participating in House of Commons page program

A Red Deer woman will be working in the House of Commons through the federal government’s Page Program.

Elena Bakker, who will graduate from Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School in June, will be studying psychology at the University of Ottawa this upcoming year.

While studying, she is also participating in the Page Program, which takes 40 first-year students registered at eligible post-secondary institutions in the national capital region.

The students work on a part-time basis for one year and support members of Parliament by providing a range of services.

“We help them out however we can with a bunch of tasks. It can be things like bringing them briefcases or bringing them water, as well as support outside of the chamber,” Bakker explained.

The 18-year-old Red Deerian learned about the program through Lindsay Thurber principal Chris Good.

“Mr. Good recommended it to me in Grade 11 and I’ve been interested ever since. I’ve always had a big interest in politics so this seemed like a really cool opportunity to me,” said Bakker.

Bakker said she was “so excited” to be accepted into the program.

“I’m also a little scared. It’s a big move and Ottawa’s vastly different from Alberta I’m sure. But I’m still really excited about it and I can’t wait to go,” she said.

Pages begin their training in August. Bakker said depending on how much she learns from the program, she could see herself changing her major from psychology to something like political science.

Bakker currently serves as student council president for Lindsay Thurber.

“Having spent so much time as student body president, working extra curricular (events) and whatnot, it’s been really helpful because I’ll be working as a full-time student, along with a part-time job in a really fast-paced environment,” she said.

“Having that ability to multitask, manage my life and balance things will be really helpful for me.”

The federal government’s website said the Page Program provides an “incredible work experience (that) broadens their knowledge of the rich traditions of the Canadian parliamentary system.”

 

The House of Commons sits empty ahead the resumption of the session on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa. There have long been obstacles in the path of women seeking to succeed in politics, but female MPs are now also coming forward to share their own experiences with sexually inappropriate behaviour -- including on Parliament Hill. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)