by Candace Stetch
This year 22 women from The Cridge Dovetail Program headed out to the Butchart Gardens. What a wonderful gift to arrive at the gate, and be ushered through with complimentary passes! Some women had never been to Butchart Gardens, while others had been last Christmas. There was much chatter during the van ride from Cridge to the Gardens, as we prepared the first-timers for how beautiful it was. There was a buzz of excitement as we made our way through the parking lot and into the Gardens.
The Gardens were covered in a dust of snow, which made them all the more magical. For some of the refugee women, this year is the first time they have seen snow. We shared stories of their previous experiences, or lack thereof, with cold weather as we walked through the Sunken Garden. Women were teaching each other the 12 Days of Christmas song… it was an old favourite for many, but a brand new song to quite a few!
One of the biggest gifts of this experience is that it provides women a chance to do something special for themselves alone. Their children are cared for at The Cridge, and they can experience the value of taking time to fully enjoy the Gardens without any concern or distraction. This is often the only time each year that our women have this type of experience, and you can see the joy of that freedom on the faces of each woman that comes. My favourite example of this is when we all jump on the carousel… the playful fun & laughter that these group of grown women experience is wonderful to see!
As we walked out, one of the women (a single mother, who recently came to Canada from East Africa) said to me: “this is the most beautiful place I have ever been.”