Saturday Snap – Opening of the Saskatchewan Legislature (Oct 27, 2010)

Here’s a shot from the opening of the fall session of Saskatchewan’s Legislature. When I got invited, I thought it was to sit in the gallery but turns out we got to sit on the floor, right behind where the MLA’s sit (all the better to see how many ignore the proceedings to work away on their Blackberries!)

I guess the main thing that struck me is how much religion (specifically Christian religion) played in the ceremonies – there was a prayer and then the entertainment was some youth choir from a Saskatoon church (?) who capped their performance with a song about how excited they were to get to heaven. (Pro-suicide messaging??? )

I know a lot of this comes out of historical traditions and you’re probably not going to book Gopher Roadkill as your afternoon’s entertainment (that’s a fictional band as far as I know but man, what a great band name!)

But I think – what if you were a new immigrant to this country who was of a different religion than Christianity? Or if you’re an atheist/agnostic/non-believer? What sort of message immediately gets conveyed by having so many Christian elements in this ceremony which is core to the operation of your (new) province’s government?

I’ve run into this a couple times – I suggested we remove the prayer from the Sask Book Awards Gala when I was on that board but that got rejected pretty quickly. Still, they’re fairly inclusive folks in the arts community so I think some years they’ve had, say, someone from the Aboriginal community to give a blessing and done other things to extend it beyond a “Christian” thing.

Leading up to the RPL Staff conference, someone asked me if there was a prayer at the lunch. And happily, I was able to reply “no”. We’ve got a very diverse staff at RPL (and are always striving to become more diverse) so again, even if you do a non-denominational thing, you’re still guaranteed to offend or leave out someone. Better to avoid it altogether in my opinion.

(Since I don’t bow my head when prayers occur wherever I may be, it was also fun to see how many of the MLA’s and other dignitaries were sneaking peeks as well! It’s been awhile but come to think of it, that’s a lot like church too!)

Oh, and I did a couple searches on my old blog but couldn’t find any mention. So someday I’ll have to blog about the time I occupied the Legislative building as part of a farm protest. Good times! (Well, not really – otherwise, people wouldn’t have been sleeping on the cafeteria floor for a week – though, full disclosure, I only went down for a night.)

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