© Lawrence Powell
AnnMarie Monk and Queen Annapolis 82nd Caitlin Bridson-Pateman at Historic Gardens in Annapolis Royal the Monday after Apple Blossom Festival.
A year to the day after being crowned Queen Annapolis Royal 2013, Caitlin Bridson-Pateman was crowning the new queen and saying farewell Sunday night in Annapolis Royal – with a few comments defending Apple Blossom Festival’s Queen Annapolisa Leadership Competition.
Bridson-Pateman won that competition and wears that crown. In the lead-up to this year’s coronation a Kings County councillor, Emma Van Rooyen, described the competition as descriminatory, throwing Bridson-Pateman and her princess colleagues into the jaws of public opinion.
“I can say whole-heartedly, and will continue to say for the rest of my life, that these types of leadership competitions take young women and let them grow more than they could have ever expected from themselves,” Bridson-Pateman said.
“That is the beauty of this valley we live in,” she said. “Although we may be small we produce some amazing leaders because we hold these types of competitions and programs. The end outcome is always exciting and rewarding, but if you really think about it, the biggest reward is who we become and what we do once the competition is over.”
Bridson-Pateman thanked a number of people for helping her over the past year, but on behalf of all the girls singled out AnnMarie Monk who she described as an influential person in her life.
“You are the reason this leadership competition is still alive in this town, and on behalf of all the young women who have gone through this program, I would like to thank you for being our role model and believing that we can do whatever we set our minds to.”
Monk, who heads the Queen Annapolis Royal Leadership Competition, said her committee follows the same eligibility rules as Apple Blossom Festival – single, no children, etc. – but the focus is on leadership, including community service, volunteerism, and a strong connection to the area.
While she recognizes that there may be controversy surrounding such competitions, she hasn’t really gotten involved in the debate.
“We can’t change people’s hearts and minds by just telling people it’s not what they think it is,” she said. She said she and her committee keep doing what they do and let the chips fall where they may. She said the leadership growth of the young women in the competitions is proof enough for her.
“It’s always been about the young ladies and their leadership,” she said, and agreeing with Bridson-Pateman that the young women take the skills they have learned way beyond the competition.
“I’m honoured to be able to do this,” she said.
Bridson-Pateman said she learned something very important during her Apple Blossom experience:
“Personal growth never stops,” she said. “Just when we think we are the best people we can be, life events can change that opinion of ourselves..”
She said that after her Natal Day 2013 experience she, like the other girls involved, had grown into strong leaders. “But through Apple Blossom I ‘blossomed’ even more into a better leader myself who will now represent this valley as Queen Annapolis the 82nd with honour, confidence, and pride.”
Annapolis Royal Mayor Michael Tompkins said this year’s Natal Day weekend coronation keeps the tradition alive and well in the town since 1946.
“The competition is designed to provide opportunities for networking and career building to those who enter,” Van Rooyen said following a Kings County Council meeting in which she voiced her concerns and voted against a motion to financially support Apple Blossom Festival. “I think that it is discriminatory to deny these opportunities to the many people disqualified from entering based on the limiting criteria they must meet to be eligible to enter.”
Van Rooyen said the specific rules surrounding the leadership competition that she finds troubling include the requirement of a high school level of education or the equivalent certification; women may not participate if they have children and they can’t be pregnant at the time of the competition; women can’t currently be or ever have been married; and the competition is open to females only and requires a birth certificate to be submitted in order to compete.