Each year, only 40 students are selected from across Canada to participate in the Parliamentary Page Program in Ottawa.
Candidates are assessed through an online application. Selected candidates will then undergo a second-language evaluation, an interview and reference checks. The final selection of the 40 pages is completed by the end of March each year.
One of those 40 students selected from across Canada is Natalia Perico-Villamil from Saugeen District Senior School (SDSS) in Port Elgin (Saugeen Shores). An Ontario Scholar with an average of over 80 per cent (80%), Perico-Villamil also holds an Extended French Certificate.
At the SDSS Commencement ceremony held on October 8th, she was also awarded the Paul Czuczman Society of United Professionals bursary and had the opportunity to present the Valedictorian for 2021.
In the chamber and around Parliament Hill, pages support parliamentary democracy by providing a range of services to members of Parliament, working on a part-time basis for one year. The work experience broadens their knowledge of the rich traditions of the Canadian parliamentary system and they must be:
- be willing to reside in the national capital region during their year of employment
- orally communicate fluently in both official languages – formally evaluated by the House of Commons.
Duties of pages include acting as messengers in the legislative chamber picking up key documents (bills, petitions, motions, reports by committee). They also have opportunities to learn about provincial government and the lawmaking process. A page marches in the Speaker’s Parade, which takes place at the beginning of each sitting day and can also assist with visits of dignitaries, parliamentary conferences and other traditional ceremonies, including royal assent and the Speech from the Throne.
In addition, they work as ambassadors for the program by speaking to youth groups in the chamber and also collect members’ speaking notes and distribute essential documents for chamber operations.
“The page program is committed to having a skilled, diversified workforce reflective of Canadian society and to ensuring the equitable representation of women, Indigenous peoples, members of visible minority groups, and persons with disabilities. We encourage members of these designated groups to self-identify when they apply to the program.”
The page program is also dedicated to ensuring students’ academic success and supporting their work-life balance.