Current Lady of the Lake princess Rachel Sousa (right) and Michelle Mazur. The latest Lady of the Lake winners will be named July 14.

Lady of the Lake a family tradition

Rachel Sousa will be handing her crown to the next Kelowna Princess July 14

The crown may be a little smaller 33 years later, but the message of the Lady of the Lake remains the same: To increase confidence in young women.

Ramona Sousa had a knot in her stomach when she watched her daughter Rachel win Kelowna Princess in the Miss Kelowna Lady of the Lake Pageant last year.

For her, it was like reliving her pageant all over again as she received her crown and the same title in the same building, three decades earlier.

Ramona won Kelowna Princess in 1983, along with a public speaking and talent award, the same awards her daughter won last year.

“It was surreal and I can’t even explain it, I was speechless,” said Ramona.

The improv questions made Ramona nervous when she participated 33 years ago.

“When Rachel did so well with the questions, I just thought ‘wow.”’ It reminded Ramona of her father, Albert Baldeo, a well-known United Church minister in the Kelowna community, who she said would’ve been proud.

For the talent show, Rachel did a Fiddler on the Roof performance, which her mother also performed in her competition.

Ramona admits Rachel did it better, after watching her old home video.

While sitting in their home on a Tuesday afternoon, Ramona and Rachel made eye contact, spoke clearly and confidently, perhaps a sign of the skill they learned in the pageant.

Rachel is a Kelowna Secondary School graduate and is attending Trinity Western in the fall with the aim to become a doctor. Ramona is a councillor at Central Programs and Services.

Both women say the program is a great opportunity for young women to improve their speaking and writing abilities.

For Rachel, 17, times changed from the Regatta-focused pageant her mother participated in, to a pageant that requires the participants to know their local geography and learn new things.

The Miss Kelowna program runs for six months and is not a typical pageant. The girls learn practical skills like changing a tire, learning about finances and writing speeches which they deliver in front of an audience.

The ambassadors are then chosen from the competitors to reign for a year. They represent Kelowna as they travel around B.C. (and sometimes the United States) to other pageants and events. Miss Kelowna even makes a trip to Kasugai, Japan, which is Kelowna’s sister city.

Rachel became involved in the program after seeing it advertised in a newspaper.

“I basically saw it in the newspaper and went to it on the information night, and after that I signed up,” she said.

Ramona was interested to see how the program had changed and shared positive messages about it to Rachel.

“She planted the seed and I took it upon myself to go from there,” said Rachel, adding she learned a lot about time management, having to quit her part-time job at Cactus Club in order to stay in the program.

On July 14, Rachel will hand over her title to the new princess at the Community Theatre.

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