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Women & Girls: Hanmer student takes on Parliament

Émilie Denis-Plante said it was her dream to become a House of Commons page, encourages other youth to apply for program
Émilie Denis-Plante is seen in the House of Commons.

Hanmer native Émilie Denis-Plante is getting an up-close look at Canada’s parliamentary system this school year through the House of Commons Page Program.

Each year, 40 students are selected from across Canada to participate in the Page Program. Pages are first-year students registered at one of the eligible post-secondary institutions in the national capital region. They work on a part-time basis for one year.

In the chamber and around Parliament Hill, pages support parliamentary democracy by providing a range of services to members of Parliament.

Denis-Plante is an 18-year-old recent graduate of École secondaire catholique l’Horizon. She is studying political science with a juris doctor at the University of Ottawa. The six-year university program will give her the qualifications to become a lawyer.

“Politics has always been interesting to me,” she said.

“Ever since I was little I wanted to work in the parliament or to be in politics or to do something in politics. So when I found out about the page program a few years ago, I felt like it was an amazing opportunity. I definitely wanted to apply for it. 

“You can only apply in your first year of university or college when you are in the region of Ottawa. So I had my eye on this for a very long time. As soon as I was eligible to apply, I applied and I'm so happy and excited to be working as a page in the Parliament this year.”

Émilie Denis-Plante with Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré. Supplied

Denis-Plante said she and the other pages do things such as assist in state visits and official events, as well as in the House of Commons itself, performing tasks and providing a “link between the MPs and their staff.”

She said it’s “just overall a great experience to get to learn about the Canadian parliamentary system.

“It’s been incredible getting to just walk into the Parliament every day when I go to work,” Denis-Plante said. “It's really a surreal feeling to be able to participate in the chamber when the debates are happening, at the center of Canada's democracy and to be there when it happens.”

She said being in the House of Commons is a great way to learn about the issues Canada is facing. “I find myself even to be more interested in and to really want to hear all the sides of the issues,” Denis-Plante said.

Asked if she wants to run for office herself some day, the student said that’s definitely something she’d consider in the future, although for now she’s focused on getting through school and qualifying as a lawyer.

“Right now I'm very interested in maybe becoming a parliamentary lawyer and working for the Parliament of Canada,” she said.

Denis-Plante encourages other youth who think they might be interested to apply for the program. “It's an amazing program,” she said. “I encourage young people to apply and look into this program and maybe become the next pages of the House of Commons.”

Heidi Ulrichsen is’s assistant editor. She also covers education and the arts scene. Women & Girls is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.