Emma Reflects on her Fairmont Empress Experience

During the pandemic, we were all locked-down, spending far more time indoors than we ever had before. It was not something twenty-two-year-old Emma from Nanaimo, BC was used to. Living with a compromised immune system during the pandemic was scary and isolating but luckily her three best friends were a huge support and brought her a lot of comfort. In addition to the change of routine as a result of the pandemic, the four of them were also coping to life as university students. It was stressful and oh-so busy! 
With the help of the Shine Foundation, Emma was able to connect with her friends to enjoy a relaxing staycation at the Fairmont Empress hotel in nearby Victoria*. 

Reflecting on her experience, she shares that it was an opportunity for her to stop and feel grateful. For the first time in her life, she was able to think about all the people who supported her and the progress she made since being diagnosed with Lupus at the age of fifteen. Back then, doctors didn’t think she would be able to walk again or even graduate high school – and here she was, almost finished her university degree. Emma’s Shine Experience helped her take time to feel proud of her accomplishments, the barriers she overcame, and recognize her achievements. In the letter below, Emma describes the activities that were included as part of her Shine Experience and the impact it had on her:

Dear Shine,

I wanted to tell you how immensely grateful I am for the staycation you granted me. […] It fulfilled my needs and gave me the opportunity to celebrate my success and hard work of surviving kidney failure plus a stroke as I never take the time to actually recognize how tough that was on me as a child growing up.

Staying at the Fairmont Empress made me feel as if I was true royalty, the staff were extremely nice, and many unexpected surprises made me feel more and more like a princess! 

The activities you planned for each day created new memories I wouldn’t have every thought of. For example, at Buchart Gardens I had completely forgotten there was a carousal and I have childhood memories of riding them and it bringing me the simplest form of happiness. So, my friends and I hopped on a couple ponies, and we rode the carousal for one round before continuing our lovely walk among the flowers and constant photoshoot fun between all of us girls! 

The next day, my favorite part was taking the harbor taxi to our restaurant reservation at Boom and Batten which was the nicest restaurant I have been to in months. Taking the water taxi made it even more of a memorable experience that I could’ve rode it around the harbor all day! Our waitress at the restaurant sent us home with a box of my favorite flavored macaroons. Later that evening the whale watching was spectacular. Even the crew said they’d never seen the whales put on a such an amazing performance before! I had an amazing time!

The last couple days were absolutely blissful and relaxing [at the spa] with massages and high tea. After so many days of absolute fun and especially getting to share the experiences with my best of friends I can’t thank the Shine Foundation enough for such a wonderful time. I will forever be truly grateful and have so many memories to cherish now.

Help make futures shine bright. 


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* Shine delivers staycation experiences within the health unit region of the recipient's city.