N.B.'s top doctor recognizes young child during press conference

·2 min read

A three-year-old girl from Fredericton got a special shout out for dressing her dolls in masks from New Brunswick's top doctor during Friday's COVID-19 briefing.

Reese Belyea was playing at home with her dolls, which she refers to as her girls, while her mother, Melanie, was streaming the briefing in the background.

The daughter recognized Dr. Jennifer Russell's voice and put stickers and clothing over four of her favourite dolls while she was playing to get them ready to go pretend shopping.

"Look mommy the girls have masks on, Dr. Russell would be so happy," the young child said to her mother.

Her mother thought it was such a sweet moment that she decided to take a picture and send it to Dr. Russell during the news conference, despite not having any previous connections with the province's top doctor.

Submitted/Melanie Belyea
Submitted/Melanie Belyea

Much to Belyea's surprise, the doctor read the message while she wasn't speaking at the podium and replied instantly.

"I got a message back from her saying, 'Thank-you, that's so cute," Belyea said.

But the moment didn't end there.

When Russell returned to the podium to answer questions from the media, she began her first answer by taking a moment to recognize Reese.

"There's a little girl out there who's watching right now, who's name is Reese, and she has put masks on her dolls. And I just want to acknowledge that that is a really, really safe thing to do. And good for you Reese, good job," Russell said.

Belyea said she was in disbelief when she heard Russell give her daughter a shout out.

"I was shocked, I kind of had to backtrack and say, 'Did I just hear that right?'' she laughed.

Gary Moore/CBC
Gary Moore/CBC

Reese was in another room at that point, so her mother replayed that section over for her daughter to hear it for herself.

"She just had a great big grin on her face," Belyea said, adding that they've watched that clip again several times since it happened on Friday.

"I just thought it was so kind of Dr. Russell to do that. She didn't have to, that's not what we were looking for at all, I was just hoping to make Dr. Russell smile during all of this."

And it worked. Dr. Russell said the following day that moments like that are special during the pandemic.

"Well it makes me feel good, obviously to know that there are people out there watching and listening and taking everything I'm saying to heart," Russell said.

"It's heartwarming, I like getting those messages, it definitely helps at a time like this for sure."