The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Institute on Parliamentary Democracy

April 14th, 2013 by CIVIX

I love waking up in Saskatchewan.

My first memory upon waking was sitting with the Speaker of the Legislature and six teachers for two hours last night speaking of everything from the founding of the Saskatchewan Party (of which Mr. D’Autremont was one of the original eight) to the purchase power of Ontario’s LCBO.

It’s not like I cruise into Regina and call up Mr. Speaker and invite him for drinks.  At least not yet. I’m here because I was invited to be a part of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Institute on Parliamentary Democracy (SSTI) and I am loving every minute of it.

These things are not new to me, but the difference here is that I am attending the whole Institute rather than just popping in for a 45 minute session. It is so awesome.

My team will appreciate how difficult it is for me to sit through anything, let alone something that is so similar to school. But it is not like school at all. At least not for me. And that is because everything we are learning and studying and debating is all about our politics, our democracy and how we educate and engage young people to be committed citizens, which is the most interesting stuff in this world.

If we want better politics, a stronger and more robust democracy and I will happily and firmly argue a better future, then we need our young people and in turn all citizens engaged. I think we do that through knowledge (yes, it is that simple to me) and we do that by creating engaged teachers that engage their students.

The SSTI is doing that effectively. Yesterday, Day 1, brought a group of 21 teachers from all over the province to get started on an agenda that will take up five days and surely leave everyone completely exhausted and totally inspired.

Day 1 offered our first introduction to the Saskatchewan legislature with a tour by the legislative staff and eventually a chance to sit in the seats used by the MLAs and engage in a private meeting with The Speaker. I have to say that the poor opposition here must feel somewhat lonely on the other side of the house with only nine seats. The legislature itself rivals any other legislative building in Canada and I would suggest may be more beautiful than our House of Commons. That’s just my opinion and much of that has to do with its setting.

Following our session we returned to our hotel to review the curriculum through a presentation by the Ministry of Education. Most interesting is that their ROVER curriculum system is now available to all teachers and students in the province on the web and accessible from anywhere. This is a new change that only came in December.

We then returned to the legislature again, this time for a special catered dinner in the rotunda hosted by the Speaker and with special guests, the Ombudsman and Children and Youth Advocate and others.

So what is my favourite part so far? The people.

I love meeting people from different parts of our country. I won’t try to explain it through words as it would ruin the attempt, but there is something that makes us all Canadian no matter whether we are from Kelvington or Christie and St. Clair. It’s like we reek of Canadian-ness. I love it so much.

A couple of shout outs: thank you, Cori for inviting me to be a part of this. I sincerely appreciate it. Brent, thanks for being a long-time friend and confidante to me and this work. Mr. Speaker, thank you for a wonderful conversation last night. I’m keen to see you tomorrow night at the LG’s party.

And personally important: thank you Shae at Crossfit Regina for letting me drop in yesterday for an absolute grilling through wall balls, handstand push ups and power cleans. That was the BEST way to start this trip.                        


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