Grade 6 students at Ecole Steffie Woima Elementary School had a special visit from the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly this week.
As part of his outreach program, Nathan Cooper, speaker and MLA for Didsbury-Olds, Cooper is visiting schools in Alberta to teach students about traditions and symbols in the parliamentary process.
On Nov. 14 he visited with the students of Steffie Woima, and brought with him a very special item; the Provincial Mace of Alberta.
“This is only the fifth time it has left Edmonton,” Cooper told the students.
He explained the mace represents the Queen’s power in legislature, and each province has their own as well as one for the country.
Because the Speaker and the Mace were present, another figure came to the school as well, the Sergeant at Arms.
The Sergeant at Arms explained his job is providing security for the Legislature, the people in it, the Speaker and the Provincial Mace.
Both the Speaker and the Sergeant at Arms were both in uniform, and explained the traditions behind them.
“The Speaker is elected by his peers, who were elected by the people, and so to be more of the people the Speaker started to wear a hat that was popular at the time,” Cooper said about the tri-corn hat the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly wears.
Following a period of explanations, and a few question and answers, Cooper helped to conduct a mock sitting of Legislature with the students.
“The idea here is to get interactive with the students and put democracy in their hands,” he said in a press release.
“Yes, it is about education, but it’s also about appreciation. I am personally passionate about our institutions, and I want students to know that it is okay to be passionate about things like democracy.”
Cooper says one of his priorities as Speaker is to connect more with the public, and in particular the youth of the province.
Prior to visiting Steffie Woima, Cooper was at a school in Innisfail “pulling back the curtain.”
As part of the Speaker’s Outreach program, Cooper will be making stops across Central Alberta, including Trochu, Crossfield, Carstairs, Innisfail, Sylvan Lake and Wheatland Crossing School.
“More than any previous generation our youth are constantly bombarded with messages. Much of it is divisive, and all of it is designed to seem urgent. It is important for our youth to understand that despite all this calamitous noise, the little man in the little booth with a little pencil making a little cross must always get the final say,” he said.