Hailey Murray, Nalyssa Runge and Sydney Williams will represent Quesnel at a wide variety of local events and events across the province for the next year after being crowned the 2019 Quesnel Ambassadors this weekend.
Murray, Runge and Williams received their sashes, capes and tiaras Friday night (July 5) at the conclusion of the Quesnel Ambassadors Leadership Program Pageant Night at the Chuck Mobley Theatre.
“I’m really happy,” said Murray. “I don’t know what to say. For me, it means they think I’m responsible and respectful enough and good enough to represent our city.”
Runge says she is excited to show off Quesnel and meet new people, and she is “excited for what’s to come.”
“It means I get to be a leader, in a way, not necessarily leading something, but I get to guide younger girls and younger people to show them they can get out there, and they can start making changes if they want to and doing what they want to do,” she added.
Williams said she felt “really, really, really good — as many reallys as you can fit in there.”
“It hasn’t sunk in yet, and I don’t think it will for a while, but seeing everyone here so supportive of us really, really helps,” she said. “To me, it is one of the greatest honours I think you can have in this town, and it is so important that I get to represent my community. I’m definitely very grateful for this.”
The Pageant Night was the second of two nights that celebrated the end of the six-month Quesnel Ambassador Leadership Program (QALP).
During the Speech and Talent Night on July 4 at the Chuck Mobley Theatre, candidates presented their talent and gave a speech to judges William Lacy, Rae Perry, Patty Morgan, Deb McKelvie and Angie Bagri. Each candidate was also asked one impromptu question based on her biography.
Murray, who was sponsored by Willis Harper, gave a speech about the life lessons she has learned from Dr. Seuss and did a curling demonstration.
Taylor Heaton, who was sponsored by Attitude South, shared a speech about public speaking and the tips that have helped her, and she shared some of her artwork while one of her keyboard compositions played.
Gracie Campbell’s speech was about a funny family camping TRIP, and she presented some of her nature photography as her talent. Campbell was sponsored by Service Electric.
Williams, who was sponsored by Bliss, sang “Thank you for the music” from Mamma Mia! and presented a speech about strong women and equality.
Makayla Squinas, who was sponsored by Quesnel Pride, spoke to the judges about Vincent Van Gogh, and she presented a time-lapse video explaining her process for digital sequential painting.
Runge, who was sponsored by the Quesnel Lions Club, played Etude Allegro by Yoshinao Nakado on the piano and spoke about her love of travel and exploring her backyard.
During the Pageant Night, the six candidates performed a dance to “Ice Cream Freeze,” and each candidate was introduced with her sponsor.
The two speeches and two talents that received the most points were performed once more. Runge gave her speech on travelling and also performed her piano piece again, while Murray gave her curling demonstration, and Williams presented her speech about strong women and equality.
As well, each candidate had to answer an impromptu question. All received the same question, which they did not know in advance, and had to tell the crowd and the judges what they think the most important responsibility of a Quesnel Ambassador is.
This year, the Miss Quesnel Self Development Program became the Quesnel Ambassador Leadership Program. The program is now gender inclusive, and it is more in line with the B.C. Ambassador program, which is the next step up from the Quesnel program.
During Pageant Night, MLA Coralee Oakes expressed her appreciation for it.
“What I absolutely love and respect about this program is to see how much [the candidates] have grown over the many months,” she said.
Oakes also noted how many of the program alumni come back year-after-year to help, and she said she is impressed by the candidates, whether they are crowned or not, and everything they bring to the program.
“We have met such a diverse group of young women who will make a difference in our community, province, country and the world,” she said. “I’m incredibly proud of all the work [the committee] has put in to ensure this program evolves and continues.”
Oakes also recognized the outgoing princesses — Gracie Combs, Savannah Audet and Sierra Moore.
“This is truly about empowering young women and giving them the skills to make an impact,” she said. “They give hundreds of hours of volunteering. They are everywhere. They are working diligently, and they do it so incredibly gracefully. They bring such a positive attitude, and I want to thank you for empowering me.”
Coun. Laurey-Anne Roodenburg brought greetings from the City of Quesnel and presented flowers to Combs, Audet and Moore, and she touched on each candidate’s speech as she mentioned the lessons she learned during the Speech and Talent Night.
“These young women, they all rock, and we are a better community having them all,” she said.
Before the awards were presented and the 2019 ambassadors were crowned, visiting ambassadors from West Kelowna brought greetings from their city, and the 2018 princesses each did one final walk.
Each 2019 candidate received a medal of completion and $100 for their commitment to the program.
Heaton won the Bob Graham Award for showing a positive attitude, working hard toward personal growth and being excited to volunteer, while Campbell won the award for Most Improved Speech. Murray won the Friendship Award, which is voted on by all the candidates, and Williams won the Speech Award. Runge won the Knowledge Award and the Talent Award.