By Yeganeh Zargar
From election and Covid-19 pandemic to why she got into politics and her neighbourhood’s community garden, I discussed everything with Regina Lakeview’s member of the Legislative Assembly, MLA, Carla Beck.
The re-elected politician is both excited and anxious to be back at her office at the Regina legislature building. After winning with a huge advantage over Sask. Party candidate New Democratic Party’s education critic, Carla Beck is ready to pick up her work from where she left off before the election. “Just starting to touch back in with all of my contacts as the education critic and as caucus chair there is work to be done. Signing letters to bring people back to work and having caucus meetings”. Beck explained that she is also excited to be part of the first caucus in history “that has majority of its members as women”. “There is not as many of us as we would like but that is something in itself”.
Seeing Carla Beck all excited to be back at legislature again made me wonder what she has planned for the next four-year term. She started her answer by letting me know what she is going to say might not surprise me, but it sure did. “The reason I got into politics was to improve life chances for all children”. Beck’s one and only mission is to create a better educational system for students in Regina and Saskatchewan. she believes a strong education system is not only crucial for children but also highly important for the economy. Beck wants the province to properly support the educational system. She thinks if we start from the kindergarten and make sure kids get the best start possible “I think that there is infinite possibility that comes from that.”
Beck added that the educational system in Saskatchewan is “definitely underfunded at provincial level” but she believes there is more attention paid to it now specially by teachers and support staff at schools “by spelling out the importance of investment in education”.
Investing in education is real investment since children have to be prepared for the jobs that don’t exist yet. So, Beck suggests that it is highly important to make sure that kids are well supported “that they have critical thinking skills” and “they are able to evaluate information” aside from the basic subjects like math. Beck mentioned teaching children how democracy functions and understanding the history of the country is crucial for having a modernized economy.
With all the talks around a possible second lock down most parents are worried that the schools will be shut down again. Beck believes a second lock down might be possible, but it might not be good news for families specially those who are back to work and have younger children. “elementary school children, if they are at home learning, that means they have to have an adult at home”. So, there would be a need for adults at home, but some parents might not be able to take some time off. “Many have used their sick time and vacation time at this point”. Beck believes province has to look at how families need to be supported if there is a plan for a second lock down. “This is something we [NDP Party] brought up at the very beginning of the pandemic”. We have to make sure “children have access to technology that they need”. Not only children but also families need to be supported, Beck added.
When asking from Beck about the mandatory mask regulation in the province she answered by saying that she prefers to turn her attention to those individuals who are doing their part. “Most people are wired towards kindness toward doing the right thing and for the most part I see that happening.”
Since the topic of kindness was brought up, I asked her about kindness and her experience as an active volunteer in the community. “I love how volunteering builds community”. Beck mentioned she has grown up in a small town in which volunteering “was very much part of the fabric of [our] little town”. She believes festivals like the art festival in Regina’s Cathedral area bring people, volunteers, and community closer together. “You have volunteers who are in their nineties. You have volunteers who are not even in their teens. You have people from all abilities and skills and backgrounds that come together to make that work”. In her opinion “Volunteering brings people together and it does really build community in such a concrete and lasting way”.
Since many events and festivals are canceled due to the pandemic, I asked Carla Beck how the community can reconnect again after the pandemic. Beck believes that “We are hard wired to find community”. She mentioned even with the pandemic she has noticed few small acts of kindness that people in her neighbourhood did to stay connected. “I was looking at my window because I was doing zoom calls for a lot this spring and summer. I watched our neighbours turn our boulevard in front of our house into a community garden”. She went on explaining how people would come by every day to see the progress. “That was amazing”. Beck believes small gestures like this or hanging hearts from windows is enough to keep the community together in this tough times.
When it comes to community Carla Beck believes representatives’ strength comes from their ability to connect with the people and what better way to connect with people than knocking at their doors and chatting with them. “I actually really love door knocking”. Beck mentions she does door knocking all the time and not just during the election year. “Ours is a representative democracy so what any of us is proposing to do when we put our name on the ballot is to be the representative for the constituency…giving people the chance to tell what their lives look like and what they are hoping for and what they are concerned about.” Carla explained when she does door knocking it feels like she is doing her job right. “I feel like I am doing my job if I get out there and talk to people. And I take that very seriously. I think any of us would be in trouble if we thought we have all the answers.”
The dedicated education critic and a lifetime volunteer Carla Beck does really enjoy the outdoors. She loves to walk outside and watch the horizon exactly like she used to do growing up in a farm. “If I feel stressed at any point, I end up getting out of the city and looking for that horizon”. Beside kayaking Beck enjoys walking in the neighborhood in the summertime and cross-country skiing in the winter. She enjoys spending time with her family and loves reading. “It feels like a luxury to just read for the pleasure”.