One former Apple Blossom princess voiced her support for a more inclusive leadership competition last week.
Kelly Moores is now studying in Waterloo, Ont., but in 2007, she represented the community of Coldbrook in the 75th Apple Blossom Festival. She recently finished her masters of environmental studies at the University of Waterloo and also works for Parkminster United Church.
The 26-year-old said she “was proud to represent the community” during the festival and would like to see the opportunity be available to more young women.
“The leadership competition is a wonderful tradition and a very fun part of the Apple Blossom Festival. It offers young women the opportunity to develop great relationships, be a proud ambassador of their community, as well as develop many leadership skills, including, traditional manners, public speaking and volunteerism,” Moores said.
“Coun. Van Rooyen's statement is an opportunity to have an important discussion about how to balance tradition with inclusion,” Moores wrote after reading the KingsCountyNews.ca story about the municipal councillor’s concerns about discrimination in the leadership competition.
“What the festival has is great, and this is a chance to make it even better by being inclusive to more members of the community.”
Van Rooyen expressed concern that Apple Blossom leadership, or princess, applicants face discrimination based on gender, parental status, marital status and other considerations.
“If a young woman has the traits and skills the competition is seeking in its candidates, there is no reason the conditions of marriage, children or gender identity should keep her from being able to compete represent her community as an Apple Blossom Princess,” Moores said.
Broadening rules about who can compete would be an opportunity for the festival board to “lead by example and show that it truly embodies the leadership characteristics that it is seeking in princess candidates: leadership qualities of inclusion, acceptance and advocating for those who are under-represented,” she added.
Changing the competition to include men “might need to be a separate discussion,” Moores said.
“I think including men would certainly change the dynamic of the event in a way that being more inclusive of all women would not. That is not necessarily good or bad, but it would be a fundamental change and much more of a break from tradition.”