Brooklynn Longhurst had a hard time figuring out what to wear Saturday morning.
It was a day the seven-year-old had anxiously been waiting for. But it wasn’t just any old Saturday, it was the day she got to meet Prince William and his wife Kate, who came to visit The Cridge Centre for the Family — a non-profit society that offers a number of social services such as child care, supportive housing and support for victims of domestic violence — on their final day in Canada.
Longhurst was amongst one to the 150 children invited to attend the royal visit, and was tingling with excitement after meeting and shaking the prince’s hand.
“I said ‘Good morning your Highness,’” said Longhurst, while proudly showing off the sparkly red dress and sparkly silver shoes she carefully selected to wear for the special day.
A nervous nine-year-old Jane Schultz couldn’t stop smiling after shaking Kate’s hand as the couple made their way down the Cridge centre’s driveway lined with excited young children (from the childcare centre) holding Canadian flags and large teddy bears sitting on children’s bikes.
“She said what’s my favourite thing to do and she asked my name. I said I like to play in the back of my yard,” said Schultz, who also took great care in selecting the right outfit to meet the royal couple.
“I knew this (red) dress would probably get them to talk to me because it would stand out.”
The visit marked the first stop on the final day of the week-long royal tour. Those hoping to catch a glimpse of the royal couple began lining the streets outside the centre a few hours before they arrived. A few enthusiastic onlookers held home made signs and waved British and Canadian flags.
Excitement and cheers swept through the large crowd once the couple arrived and went inside to meet overcomers of domestic violence, a young mom and a brain injury survivor. Outside, the couple helped unveil a new sculpture honouring those who’ve overcome difficulty in their lives.
— Pamela Roth (@pamelasroth) October 1, 2016
Cridge centre CEO Shelley Morris was struck by how engaged the couple were with making a connection to each person’s story.
“I really have respect with how they have used their positions to really be affective in shining a light on different issues that matter to them,” said Morris. “To come here and to really focus on those issues brings a profile that really raises people’s awareness of how much of a struggle it is for someone who is a victim of domestic violence, how much of a struggle it is for a teenage mom or someone who is recovering from a brain injury.”
Linae Point is one of the overcomers who shared her story with the Duke and Duchess. The single mother of three young children connected with the centre through the young parents support program and has been using its daycare services for the last two-and-a-half years.
With no family nearby for support, the centre has become a family for Point, who wouldn’t be able to attend college full time without its daycare services.
The Duchess asked Point how the Cridge has helped her and her family.
“It means so much just to be acknowledged as an overcomer and for them to want to know my story and how the Cridge has helped me,” said Point. “It was a wonderful experience.”
— Arnold Lim (@arnoldlimphoto) October 1, 2016
Cridge Centre board president Val Fuller said the Cridge Centre offers programs for people with brain injuries, victims of domestic violence, infant, family and seniors care.
She welcomed William and Kate to the Cridge, saying their visit to the centre touches “the common thread of the courage to overcome.”
Premier Christy Clark gave the royals matching child-size Vancouver Canucks jerseys, with Charlotte and George on the back.
Cafe visit highlights mental health
William and Kate also stopped for tea at Victoria’s Breakwater Cafe and Bistro where they met with young people who have struggled with mental health issues.
The youth have used the services of Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre, a branch of B.C. Children’s Hospital.
William and Kate sat down in the cafe and shared cups of tea with the youth. William put sugar in his tea. Andrea Vukobrat, 25, said she told William and Kate she suffered from anxiety issues in her teen years and it took her years to seek help.
“When did you realize what you were feeling, you needed to deal with?” William was heard asking.
Vukobrat said she told her father she needed help and her father surprisingly told her he had been suffering mental health issues as a Canadian Forces soldier while serving in the Balkans.
Jasmine Rakhra, 21, said she had suffered from depression since a child. She said William and Kate genuinely cared about her and asked questions about how she is managing her life.
“It was a very great experience,” she said.
William and Kate are now on boat the tall ship, Pacific Grace, and are sailing towards Victoria’s Inner Harbour.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government will donate $100,000 as an official gift to be split between two charities – Prince’s Charities Canada to promote education in indigenous communities and the Immigrant Services Society of B.C. to help assist newcomers with housing, employment and language skills.