Parliament Hill eh! — February 24, 2007

By Ted Claxton, March 15, 2007

The Senate Chamber on Parliament Hill was the venue for Scouts Canada's 100th Anniversary special awards ceremony. The event was held on Saturday February 24 to coincide with Scout Guide Week. This year, Baden-Powell Day also marked the 150th Anniversary of B-P's birth. In order to get the OUT in scOUTing, members of SCOUT eh! took the initiative to host a Scouting presence on the snow-covered lawn of Parliament Hill.

Although the hype about events on Parliament Hill is that it is to be user friendly and that public events are to be accommodated, in practice it is actually very restrictive. The rules governing the use of Parliament Hill are quite far from user friendly. We began by making a request early in February. We thought it would be a simple request. Final approval for setting up a display on Parliament Hill was only received on Tuesday, February 20, just four days before the event. Because of the "security issues" there could be no tents, no camping, no canopy, no tables, no structures, no stoves, no knives, and no Klondike sled. Fortunately, Senator Serge Joyal had provided a letter of support for this event. Although we were not able to organize a real display of Scouting skills, we were, in the end, able to set up an impressive display of Scouting Flags of each section, the World Scout Flag, plus the Scouts Canada Flag and the Scout Centennial Flag. We had some Scouting handbooks, maps, and the Baden-Powell 150th Anniversary Badge on display. There was also the Scouts Canada Banner and the 100th Anniversary Banner. The Banners were erected on staves that we lashed together.

Scouter Ted Claxton went to Ottawa on Friday, February 23. He put up the 100th Anniversary Banner and part of the flag display in front of the Museum of Civilization. Scouter Ted went in to see Kevin Newman on the Global TV newscast. The newscast had a Scouting focus with 100 members, largely youth, in attendance as background for the news anchor. Scouter Ted had the opportunity for a few congenial words with our CEO and the Chief Commissioner as they too were there observing the production. Any conversation had to be limited to breaks in the production so as not to have any background interference with the newscast.

On Saturday, the full display was set up on the Hill. Unfortunately it was Klondike Derby weekend and other Scouting events were also being held in Ottawa that weekend so there was a conflict for participation in this event. Because of the timing of the approval, we were only able to get the word out on the Wednesday. Only a few local Scouting visitors managed to come to the Hill.

Unlike at Scouter Ted's regular Scout camp there was no kybo with his name on it. At about 9:15 after he got the flags set up, Scouter Ted therefore had to visit the Centre Block to "use the facilities". One of the supervisors of the security staff is an ASC leader from Gatineau. He introduced Scouter Ted to several other leaders. He also arranged for him to have a personal ride to the top of the Peace Tower. It was a clear day with a beautiful view. The Scouting Flag display looked minuscule from the top of the Peace Tower. Susan and Dale Morland arrived to assist Scouter Ted with stalwart service. They helped lash staves, set up the banners, spoke to the public and, later brought a hot lunch. A fine example of members pitching in to carry the day.

Fortunately for us the sun was shining brightly and the wind was coming from the opposite side of the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings. Where the display was situated, not far from the Centennial Flame, there was only a slight breeze that part of the time was blowing toward the Centre Block. In the circumstances it was almost like a day in spring. We could not cook any hot dogs on the Centennial Flame because it is surrounded by a temporary structure and is under repair. Perhaps officialdom would have allowed cooking of hot dogs in any event. There was a surprising amount of pedestrian traffic that developed on the Hill starting at about 11:30. We had the opportunity to speak with numerous members of the public. By our taking pictures for people who wanted the Peace Tower as a backdrop, enough good deeds were done to last a month. Scouters from Finland, the United Kingdom, the Barbados, and Mexico, not to mention members from various parts of Canada and including SCOUT eh! members stopped by to speak with us. Scouter Ted also turned into the unofficial guide for members who were attending the Awards Ceremony as those members and families were looking for directions to the Senate door. Both before and after the Awards Ceremony a number of Awards Recipients stopped by for a photo opportunity.

We are pleased to say that the Chief Commissioner, Glenn Armstrong, came and spoke with us. He was there for more than a half hour, arriving about 10:15 and departing about 10 minutes before 11:00. He had a conversation with Scouter Ted and the Morlands. It was a get to know you kind of conversation. He expressed his thanks for our having set up the display. At 11:00 we held a flag break for the 100th Anniversary Flag. At around 1:00pm, being an hour before ceremony, the CEO, dropped by to say hello. The CEO invited Scouter Ted to the Ceremonies but he had to decline as he did not want to leave the display without supervision. The CEO's gesture was, however, appreciated.

The point of all this effort was to demonstrate that SCOUT eh!, Ordinary-members, support Scouts Canada and want to make things better. Many of us are experienced Scouters. Some of us are new to the game of Scouting. All of us are dedicated to the movement. The purpose of setting up this display was to demonstrate to the public the OUT in scOUTing and the dedication of SCOUT eh! members to the positive aspects of Scouting. We can only trust that our Senior Volunteer and our Senior Staff member understand that SCOUT eh! members are willing to go the extra mile to advance the best interest of Scouting and of Scouts Canada. We also hope that they can appreciate that our criticisms are meant for the overall improvement of our Scouts Canada organization so the it will be more effective and will better serve the movement.