House of Commons Page Program student and Peninsula resident

House of Commons Page Program student and Peninsula resident

Turning a new page

Alycia Coulter will work as a page in the House of Commons this year.

Alycia Coulter, couldn’t be more excited about what the next year will bring.

Coulter, 18, who lives in North Saanich and graduated from St. Margaret’s school this year, began considering a career in politics when she was in Grade 10.

“I attended the Forum for Young Canadians in Ottawa in April 2009 and I knew then I wanted to be a part of the political world,” said Coulter of her aspirations. With her experiences at the Forum for Young Canadians in mind, she decided to apply for the House of Commons Page Program in Grade 12.

The page program has been a fixture in the Canadian Parliament for more than a century. The program selects 40 young adults from hundreds of applicants all over the country every year. The selected candidates get first-hand experience at being in the senate during meetings and assisting in duties such as the distribution of documents and passing of messages between members.

In between her duties at school as Head Girl, her leadership for the basketball and volleyball teams of St. Margaret’s, her extracurricular softball participation, volunteering with Queen Alexandra Youth Advisory Committee, and a part time job as a bank teller, Coulter began the page program application process in December, 2010.

“I had to send in the application, reference letters, and a letter of intent. In mid-February I was contacted by phone for the second language quota, that was the part I was most nervous for,” she explained. “My only experiences in the French language come from my French courses in school which wasn’t French immersion.

“Most candidates selected for the page program are either bilingual because they grew up in a place where French was spoken regularly or because they attended French immersion. I didn’t do either, so it was a big challenge for me to get my French to that point,” she said.

Coulter credits her French teachers at St. Margaret’s for her success in being chosen as a page. “I couldn’t have done it without them. All the hours they spent with me after school and on the phone walking me through interview scenarios — they were so supportive. I never thought I would be able to do it, but with their encouragement I did.”

On May 11 Coulter got the call from Ottawa. “I saw the caller ID said Ontario and I knew right away, I was so excited,” she said.

At the end of August, Coulter will travel to Ottawa and get settled in at Carleton University. She will be studying Public Affairs and Policy Management and says she is excited about this year in the House of Commons.

“With the election being so recent, it will be a very exciting and interesting year in Parliament — I’m really looking forward to it.”