Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Teen keen on unique Hill job

City student's video on Black Rod earns guided tour of Senate

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Usher of the Black Rod, Supt. Greg Peters gives Eva Rodrigues, 15, a private tour of the Senate after she did a history project on the Usher of the Black Rod's role.

MIA RABSON / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Usher of the Black Rod, Supt. Greg Peters gives Eva Rodrigues, 15, a private tour of the Senate after she did a history project on the Usher of the Black Rod's role. Photo Store

OTTAWA -- Eva Rodrigues didn't expect a project for her history class would land her a personal tour of Parliament.

She just wanted to find out more about the Usher of the Black Rod, after hearing about the position for the first time on a trip to Ottawa last winter.

Eva, 15, participated in the Forum for Young Canadians in March, where one of the presentations was from a former Usher of the Black Rod.

"I was in a room with people who were interested in politics and nobody had ever heard of (this job)," she said.

When Eva returned home, her teacher at Grant Park High School assigned a history project on Canada, so Eva decided to do hers on the Usher. Her project won at the school heritage fair, was selected for a regional and then provincial heritage fair, and finally entered into a national contest, for which she recorded a video.

That video was tweeted to the Senate in June and made it to the desk of the current Usher of the Black Rod, Greg Peters.

"I was very impressed," Peters said. "I've actually used it myself."

Peters was so moved by the interest Eva had in his role, and her project, that he wrote to her in early July to invite her to a private tour of the Senate the next time she was in Ottawa.

It just so happened Eva is also an accomplished debater, public speaker and poet, and her slam poetry team is in Ottawa this week for a national contest. Peters spent several hours Thursday showing her around his office, telling her tales of his role and even letting her don his white gloves and position the actual Black Rod over her shoulder.

The Usher of the Black Rod is a senior protocol officer in the Senate, who leads the Speakers' parade and most notably, is the personal assistant to the Queen or her representative in the Senate.

If you've ever seen Peters, it would have been on TV on the day of the throne speech, heading down to the House of Commons from the Senate to use the Black Rod to knock on the door and invite MPs into the Senate to hear the speech.

Peters, a former RCMP officer who spent time in Flin Flon, Powerview and Winnipeg, was thrilled to be able to show Eva around and give her details about the artwork and the carvings and the traditions of the Senate.

Eva was tickled pink for the invite, acknowledging her entire family was so excited to receive Peters' letter even her eight-year-old sister made a card to thank Peters.

Eva admits she is very interested in politics but at the moment, becoming a politician isn't on her agenda. She'd rather write about it as a political journalist.

"If at some point I start to think I need to make a major impression, if I'm not happy with how things are, then maybe I'd run," she says.

"It's not in my life plan at the moment."

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 15, 2014 A2

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