Emma Morrison, your new MTC 2017!

The night of August 13th marked the end of the Search for Miss Teenage Canada 2017 when Emma Morrison from Chapleau Ontario was crowned. Congratulations Emma, as well as to all the 59 girls from across Canada who competed. I am so amazed at how much my fellow delegates have done over the last couple of months to promote their titles, platforms, and hometowns. As national finalists, we are already very accomplished young women who have used our crowns to surpass our full potential while discovering our true identities in the process, and regardless of titles or placements, we should all feel SUPER proud of ourselves for undertaking this new challenge!!

Now that #MTC2017 is officially over, I feel a mixture of emotions, ranging from sadness, to confusion, to nostalgia, to relief. But most of all, I feel victorious. Although I didn’t walk away with the crown, I left equipped with knowledge, experience, and 58 life-long friends! I now know how to carry myself with poise, to have that charisma needed to ace a job interview. I also better understand the importance of community work and volunteerism. And finally, I got an inside look into the entertainment world, by first-hand experiencing the pros and cons of living a life as an actress/model. Life is a storybook, each chapter a new memory, and now I have these wonderful experiences to look back on and cherish forever.

This will most likely be my final blog post, so I intend to make it as special as #MTC2017 itself. I try to describe every detail of our adventures in Toronto during competition week, while adding some tidbits of my own reflections as well. If you are a girl interested in joining the Miss Teenage Canada family, hopefully this will give you the push to sign up and undertake perhaps one of the best voyages in your life. If you are one of the 58 other delegates, thank you for being there for me and making the experience even more memorable. Hopefully you can relate to this post a bit too!! And finally, if you know me personally or are a member of the Truro community, think of this post as my way of thanking you for the tremendous amount of support I’ve received along the way, I owe it all to you!!

So… let’s begin!

It started off the morning of August 7th, when I woke up early to head to the airport from little Lunenburg Nova Scotia. My family and I stayed over the night before for my mom’s rug show, this mini retreat was a great way for me to relax and refresh before the big week! Anyway, after heading to the airport, I once again met up with Lindsey, Miss Teenage Northern Nova Scotia, another delegate for the Miss Teenage Canada crown! It was so nice to see her again, and I was so thankful to have a flight buddy to and from Toronto!

The flight was just over two hours long, and before we knew it, we were touching down at the Toronto Pearson International Airport! After claiming our luggage, we popped in the van with some of the Alberta girls, before arriving at the Edward Village Hotel, where we would be staying the whole 7 days. This is where we were assigned our rooms. I was so happy to be rooming with Lydia, Miss Teenage Halton! She is such a sweet, funny, and outgoing girl, and we became sisters immediately! Throughout the week, we shared everything, from makeup, to jewellery, to dresses! She even taught me how to walk and pose properly, which improved my onstage confidence immensely.

After relaxing in our rooms, it was time to head down to the sponsor party! Since I’ve already done a post detailing the party, I won’t spend too much time explaining it, but I do want to say that thousands of girls across Canada are being positively impacted because of the ongoing support of the sponsors, this experience definitely wouldn’t be possible without them!

My official MTC headshot

The next day, we woke up bright and early to enjoy an array of muffins, fruit, yogurt, bagels and more! We had a busy day up ahead, we would be completing our one-on-one interviews with the judges, shooting our video interviews, rehearsing for finals night, and getting our official MTC photoshoots! Overall, I’m pretty happy with how my headshot turned out. Looking back, I remember being fairly nervous about the photoshoot and especially the interview, but both turned out to be a breeze and I felt comfortable as soon as I walked in the room!

On Wednesday, we headed out to the Vaughan Sportsplex to play volleyball, soccer, and my favorite, bubble soccer! I always wanted to feel like a hamster, haha!! In bubble soccer, the same rules as regular soccer apply, except your upper body is completely surrounded by an inflatable, strap-on, sphere! It was super fun and I thoroughly enjoyed letting loose and bouncing around in a bubble for the first time!

   

We spent the afternoon rehearsing some more for finals night. It does require a fair amount of endurance and I had to take off my heels a couple times, but hey, practice makes perfect!

Dave and Busters with Kaitlyn and Nicole!!

To top off the day, we had dinner at Dave and Busters before heading off to their expansive arcade, where I blasted some zombies, played PAC-MAN, and engaged in other classic arcade games. Coming from a small town, this was probably the biggest arcade I’ve ever seen, and I loved the fact that I got to experience something like this.

Thursday was another busy day of touring the city of Toronto. We started off by exploring the Clarington Family Outdoor Adventure Park, where we met pygmy goats, lemurs, a giraffe named “Morgan”, and some adorable baby lion cubs! So cute!!

 

    

Thank you Nine West!!

After the zoo, we headed down to the Yorkdale Shopping Centre to visit one of our sponsors, Nine West Canada , where each of the delegates received a $50 gift card to purchase some footwear or an accessory of their choice. I absolutely love the shoes I bought with my gift card as well as the ones we received for our swimwear/opening number dress! After visiting Nine West, we got about an hour to shop and browse the stores before returning back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. I don’t recall the name, but it was a delicious sushi restaurant and my favorite part of the meal was of course dessert, where we enjoyed some creamy mango ice cream!

On Friday, we finally got to sleep in!! It felt nice to get to relax, but once we were up, we went straight to rehearsal! Today, a new choreographer came in, his name was “Hollywood”. He taught us the swimsuit dance and helped oversee the other portions of the show, including the evening gown parade, routines for top 20 and 10, and the opening number dance. During rehearsals, you could feel this nervous energy coming from the girls, because tonight was the night of PRELIMS!!!

Onstage on preliminary night!

Basically, prelims are a way for the judges to get a glimpse of your onstage confidence, elegance, poise, and fitness so they can tally up your scores to narrow it down to the top 20! During prelims, each girl had about 45 seconds to captivate the judges and audience in swimwear with an upbeat, cheerful walk and smile. We could do pretty much any poses we want, as long as we went up and down the catwalk and didn’t take too much time. After that, we got changed into evening wear and did the exact same thing, except this time, we went slow, graceful, and elegant. But no matter the category, CONFIDENCE is KEY! Everyone looked so amazing in their evening gown and swimwear, and I think we represented the MTC slogan “Be Your Own Kind Of Beautiful” pretty well that night!!

Lindsey and I at the talent gala!

The next day, Saturday, was gala and talent night! The morning and early afternoon was spent rehearsing for both the final show on Sunday (again), and for our talent showcases! Many girls had unique talents, and this was the night where we got to showcase them to our friends and family! We got the choice to either perform a talent, or to present a short speech about our platform. Since I am a very musical person, it is no wonder that I chose to sing one of my all-time favorite songs, “Summertime”, from Porgy and Bess. Of course, I enjoyed listening to the other girls amazing gifts just as much as I loved performing my own piece! Some of the talents included hip hop improvisation, an acting monologue, musical instrument performances, and fencing. Besides the talent showcase, we also got to dress up in gowns and enjoy a delectable dinner!

Talent gala was definitely my favorite part of the whole week, for two reasons. Firstly, who doesn’t love a fancy night with delicious food? And secondly, any opportunity I get to sing is an opportunity I take, and that is how I improve. I remember I used to be so terrified of singing onstage after a couple bad experiences when I completely bombed my performances, and it took years before I fully got over it. I have conquered that fear by consistently forcing myself to perform even when I’m tired, in a bad mood, or super nervous. Now I absolutely love to sing in front of an audience, to share my special gift with others, and every successful performance reminds me of what I overcame to get this far.

Talent gala was a blast, but of course, the next day was the moment we’ve all been waiting for. It was time to show off everything we’ve worked on over the past couple of days and see who becomes the next Miss Teenage Canada! Early in the morning, we took a bus over to the Richmond Hill Performing Arts Centre for a final day of rehearsals before the big show! Not going to lie, I WAS pretty nervous, but I understood that I had tried my hardest in terms of fundraising, platform development, community service and events, blogging, interview prep, and stage presence in prelims, and that whatever happens, happens.

It felt so good to be up on the Miss Teenage Canada stage. This event would be live-streamed all around the world, while friends and family would be cheering us on in the audience. Woot! I spent every moment of my free time during rehearsal practicing and perfecting my walk, as I knew that going into the pageant that this area would be my weak point. But thanks to my roommate Lydia and the Pageant Planet for coaching me, I managed to strut on that stage with the authentic, unique, and confident version of me!!!

The day went by pretty fast, and before we knew it, it was time to get our hair and makeup done by the lovely professionals who came for photoshoot and prelims too. I opted for a bold eye with voluminous lashes, dramatic contour, and a neutral lip, and got nice tight curls in my hair (that surprisingly stayed in for days afterwards!). After putting on my black opening number dress and my Nova Scotia sash, I headed backstage to take a few deep breathes. I was as ready as ever!

As soon as the show started, it was all a blur of lights, music, and emotions! After the opening number, I remember standing anxiously as the MC’s (Miss World Canada, Cynthia Menard and Miss Toronto World, Alice Li) called out the names of the top 20 finalists (including the 5 fast-tracks). My roommate was first to get called. Congrats, Lydia, I’m so happy for you!! As girls got called up to the front one-by-one, I began to realize that maybe I wouldn’t advance this year. There were so many beauty, inspirational, and deserving young women, I bet it was already super hard for the judges to pick 20 finalists, let alone 1 girl for the title of Miss Teenage Canada. As I returned to the dressing room after exiting the stage, I did feel slightly disappointed, but hey, at least all 59 of us still got to be in the show! It was time for me to relax, have fun, and do my very best for the remainder of the show!

After opening number, the show proceeded as so…

  • Top 20 finalists competed in swimwear
  • Whole group performed the swimwear dance
  • Top 10 were pulled out of the 20
  • Top 10 competed in evening gown
  • Whole group performed onstage in evening gown
  • Top 5 were pulled out of the 10
  • Top 5 answered an onstage interview question
  • Top 5 did one last individual walk
  • Samantha Pierre did her final walk as MTC 2016 to a speech she wrote
  • All delegates were welcomed back onstage for the announcement of special awards and crowning of the new Miss Teenage Canada 2017!

So that was pretty much how the show went for the rest of the evening! It was super emotional watching Samantha Pierre’s final walk and her narration of a speech she wrote thanking her sponsors, her family, and detailing some of her best memories during her reign as Miss Teenage Canada 2016. She had such an eventful year of international  competitions (she placed 1st runner up at both Miss Teenager and Miss Teen Universe), modeling around the world, and representing our beautiful country at national events!! Her comedic sense of humor, down-to-earth personality, and charming onstage confidence and elegance will go down in history in the pageant world! Congrats Samantha on an amazing year!

When all 59 delegates were called back onstage to crown the winner, there was a lot of excitement. MTC 2017 was about to be announced. Who would it be?? We patiently waited as they announced the five fast-tracks (Miss Supermodel with Style, Miss Swimwear, Miss Photogenic, Miss Top Fundraiser, and Miss People’s Choice), the special awards (Scholastic Achievement Award, Miss Congeniality, and Social Media Queen), the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd runner up, until it was only two girls left. Both girls clutched hands as they awaited their fate. And it was then that the 1st runner up was announced, leaving Emma Morrison from Ontario standing in shock as she was crowned as Miss Teenage Canada 2017. The audience roared with applause. Emma’s reaction was priceless, she is so deserving and I hope she has an amazing year full of new memories and unforgettable experiences!!

Gorgeous photography by Darren Lee

No words can truly and accurately describe my week at Miss Teenage Canada this summer. I cherished every moment, getting up early and staying up late, because I knew that this would probably be my last time experiencing something like this. Back in January, I was determined to become a better version of myself, I knew that I had to start taking advantage of more opportunities and challenging myself more, because after all, change ALWAYS starts from within. Although I didn’t walk away with the crown like I envisioned, my one goal was to come out of this pageant with no regrets, and I’m proud to say that I’ve accomplished exactly that. Actually, I do wish I practiced walking in heels more before leaving for the pageant, but hey, I totally made up for it by practicing in my room and during my spare time in rehearsals, right!? It is moments like these where you realize that all the blisters, the thousands of dollars spent, and the sacrifices you made were all worth it. We are all WINNERS, regardless of titles and placement, because I know everyone of us 59 delegates has conquered so much to get here, from mental health struggles, unsupportive family or friends, to monetary troubles. I still have my crown and sash until mid 2018, but I hope that my legacy will go down even further, I hope that I will continue to make at least a little difference in others’ lives, either through my youth empowerment group, Maritime Futuremakers, or through every day interactions. Thank you to Michelle, Ryan, Christi, Rob, Samantha, and everyone else who are making the Miss Teenage Canada dream a reality for hundreds of girls across Canada, for gifting them with the skills they need to flourish in the entertainment world, or in whatever field their path may lead them.  🙂

-Zoe, Miss Teenage Nova Scotia 2017

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On Monday afternoon around 2:30 pm, my plane touched down at the Toronto airport. “This is it”, I thought. “This is the week we’ve all been waiting for, and alas, it has come!”.  Miss Teenage Canada has been quite a journey for me, there has been plenty of obstacles to overcome but at the same time there has been sheer joy. Meeting inspiring young Canadian girls while learning invaluable life and career skills is such a wonderful experience that extends beyond the limits of pageant week. I am so grateful for everything I have gained through MTC organization and of course it is all made possible because of their lovely sponsors!!

This event was not only special because we got to interact with some of Miss Teenage Canada’s most influential supporters but also because it was our first official activity with all 59 girls together! Each one of us is here representing our home province, which means I get to meet up with girls from all across Canada!!

We started off the event with some talks and briefing from Michelle, Rob, and Samantha, MTC 2016. We were then sent to get our new sashes with our provinces we are representing written in bold letters. I love these sashes a lot better because they show that when we arrive, everyone has a fair chance at the crown, no matter your previous title!

So first of all, the first sponsor booth I went to was Nine West Shoes! This company will be supplying our footwear for the opening number, and here we got to check out some of their shoe selections we will be receiving. I can’t wait to try mine on when we get them later this week!

 

Next we visited Archer Dental for some free dental hygiene products! In pageants (and in general!), it is important to keep a clean and shiny smile to let your best personality shine through! Thank you Archer Dental for caring so much about our teeth!

 

After that we stopped by the Super Adorbs jewellery and fashion booth to pick up some cute headbands and accessories! This is also where we met Alice, Miss Toronto World, who placed in the top six in the recent Miss World Canada Pageant.

 

Next, we visited Golden Glamour Goddesses, where we received gift bags of scented soaps and body butter! We also had the option to sign up for some of their services such as spray tanning, This booth actually had my favorite set up and the soaps smell sooo good!

We then visited the booth of Up to the time, a luxury watch company with a photo station where we could pose with the watch of our choice. The new Miss Teenage Canada (who will be crowned on Sunday) will receive the watch she posed with to make sure she is always up to the time for her events and appearances!

 

    


One of the most interesting stations was definitely the Wandering Minstrel Music School stage, where we could choose from one of five instruments to perform a song. Whoever gets the most likes using #mtcsongsolo by Wednesday wins a prize!! I loved listening to the talented girls perform their favorite tunes! 🙂

Another sponsor I should mention is Hashtagio. They have been working behind the scenes to develop the hashtag #mtc2017 and to put the best posts on a website. Social marketing is extremely important and it can connect us with the most current fashion and events.

The last sponsor station I visited was Street Chic edited by Lily Liao, the magazine that the delegates recently wrote articles for. They handed out beautiful earrings that I will definitely wear with my outfits for during the week in Toronto.

After visited the sponsor stations, I had the pleasure of meeting Miss Teenage Canada 2016, Samantha Pierre. She is such a mature, elegant, and beautiful person inside and out, and she 100% deserves her title! Her year of reign was jam-packed with international competitions, events, and traveling, and I know she is going to continue to do BIG things in out country and in our world.

And finally, to top off the night, we enjoyed some pizza and some delicious cake! The moment that cake was cut, MTC 2017 began! We have already completed our photoshoots and interviews, and now it is time to rehearse for prelims and finals while going out exploring the beautiful city of Toronto! This is going to be a SUPER exciting week and the sponsor party was a perfect kick-off to our upcoming busy week!!!

-Zoe, Miss Teenage Nova Scotia 2017

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Trends are constantly changing, and sometimes, you have to sprint to keep up with them! Also, different styles are specific to different regions, and Nova Scotians are known to have a laid-back, comfortable, and practical style, often with a kooky artistic flair! People of our province can be seen sporting sundresses in the Annapolis Valley, to plaid skirts on the South Shore. I feel that our Nova Scotian styles really exemplify our casual way of living. Comfort is certainly one of the main qualities we look for in clothes, because when we feel good, we look good!! Despite our love for comfort, that doesn’t mean we are any less stylish! For our Miss Teenage Canada Blog Assignment #2, we were asked to venture out to the streets of our hometowns to find and photograph some of the most inspiring fashions, to help grow an online Canadian look-book called Street Chic. We then interviewed the subjects to find out as much as possible about the clothes they were wearing and the person that was wearing them! And finally, we snapped a couple shots and put together a promotional blog post on the Street Chic Canada Website.

On August 2nd, I took the street of Truro Nova Scotia to interview and photograph some of the latest fashions right here on the streets! Here are four subjects I found that are really are rocking their “passion for fashion”.

Which street did I choose and why?

In my town, we have a King Street, a Queen Street, a Duke Street and a Prince Street! King Street is located more in the suburbs, while Queen Street is a long strip that leads down to the commercial area. Duke Street is in the historical side of town, it is a beautiful street, although still fairly quiet! As for Prince Street, it is located right in the heart of Downtown Truro, and is home to chic boutiques, the Truro Farmer’s Market, the popular Nook and Cranny restaurant, Noveltea Bookstore and Coffee Shop, Clay Café, the Marigold Cultural Centre, and of course the Truro Public Library and Civic Square, where most of these photos were taken. It is no wonder that I chose Prince Street to find the funkiest fashions around! With cool coffee shops and bakeries popping up at every corner of the block, Truro is the perfect place to express one’s individual style, and beautiful Prince Street happens to be the most vibrant and expressive place in town.

Dannette: The Frugal Female

I caught this lady on her way to a meeting, and I couldn’t help notice her simple yet elegant style. It captures the true essence of “pretty and practical”. Best of all, she buys most of her outfits from thrift stores for $10 or less! In our area, there are several second hand clothing stores, such as New to You, Frenchies, and Louis. In my opinion, it is not necessary to spent a fortune to look great, and you can find plenty of good qualities clothing pieces if you take the time to thoroughly search the bins. And once you tastefully pair them together with a couple accessories, you get a killer outfit!

  • SHIRT
  •  Colors: deep purple
  • Materials: polyester
  • Style: collared long-sleeve blouse
  • Price: under $1
  • PANTS
  • Colors: light grey
  • Material: cotton-lycra
  • Style: leggings
  • Price: under $10                                                                  
  • SHOES
  • Colors: light brown and silver
  • Style: Sandals
  • Price: Under $10

At 58 years old, Dannette is living proof that you can be stylish no matter how young or how old you are! Something interesting about Dannette is that she “tells it like it is”! Honesty sure is a good quality to have! I spotted Dannette and took her picture on the corner of Prince and Inglis Street, another shopping hotspot in downtown Truro! She is a beautiful person inside and out, and all I can say is she totally ROCKED this look!

Chloee:  The Denim Dreamer

Chloee, despite being only 17 years old, has already directed a musical called “Rock of Ages” as well as a movie called the “Charlie Wilcox Film Project”. She is ambitious, goal-oriented girl, as well as an avid arts supporter in the community. I find that this young and playful style really complements her artistic personality, it is a youthful look, yet timeless!

    

  • DRESS
  • Colors: navy, white and blue stripes
  • Materials: denim, cotton
  • Store: Louis
  • Style: high-waisted skirt, tank top
  • Price: $10
  • SHOES
  • Colors: bright red
  • Materials: hemp, cotton and recycled polyester
  • Store: Margolians
  • Brand: Toms
  • Price: on sale for $20

And finally, the blue pearled necklace she is wearing adds the perfect touch to form a colorful, youthful and laid-back style! But of course, a girl’s best accessory is always her smile!!

This picture was taken in front of the Truro Public Library and Civic Square, at about 7:30 pm. Chloee is such an inspirational girl and she really shows her funky, artistic side through her own individualized style.

Islay: The Casual Camper

Every summer, the beautiful Islay tours around our province with her family exploring nature and visiting provincial and national parks. Camping, which one of the best ways to get up and close with the beauty of nature, is something that has become a routine activity for Islay. A frequent camper like herself needs a practical, comfortable, and easy-going style, and her attire serves all of those purposes while adding a casual, colorful flair. She looks super happy and confident in this picture, and in the end, it isn’t the clothes that matter, it is how you wear them. She is 16 years old and with her love of ballet, piano, reading and photography, she is living the teenage dream! Here are the details of what Islay was wearing that day.

  • SHIRT
  • Color: black
  • Materials: 96% rayon and 4% spandex
  • Store: Warehouse One
  • Style: tank top
  • Price:$15
  • SHORTS
  • Colors: dark blue
  • Materials: denim
  • Store: American Eagle
  • Price; $40
  • SHOES
  • Colors: pink, orange, and blue with brown sole
  • Materials: yoga mat and knitted fabric
  • Store: Sport Chek
  • Style: sandals
  • Price: $40                                                                                                 

Although Islay’s outfit is fairly simple, it is adventurous and adorable, just like her!  Islay attends the local Acadian school and is currently working at the French Community Centre day camps for kids! She is a sweet and kind girl and she rocks this outfit even more with her great personality!

Bill: The Local Librarian

I happened to catch this librarian after he was heading out from work for the day. Of course, if you hang out in front of the library all day, you’re bound to come across at least couple librarians! Bill has a casual yet sophisticated style that works great with his occupation while giving him some much needed comfort for the day! After all, dressing for the occasion is so important!! Here are the specifics of what Bill was wearing…

SHIRT

  • Colors: navy with white stripes
  • Materials: 100% polyester
  • Style: collar shirt
  • Brand: George
  • BELT
  •   Colors: tan brown
  •   Materials: real leather
  •   Brand: Canterbury
  • PANTS
  • Colors: beige
  • Materials: 100% polyester
  • Store: Mark’s
  • Brand: Denver Hayes
  • Price: about $50
  • SHOES 
  • Colors: black
  • Materials: leather
  • Style: dress shoes
  • Brand: Clark’s
  • Price: $100

Both the shirt and the belt were Christmas gifts.  He says he generally doesn’t put much thought into his style, but regardless, he still pulls off this look pretty well! After all, once you’ve truly found your own authentic style, putting together outfits to reflect on it is a breeze!! Bill has a passion for reading and running, and he thoroughly enjoys working at the beautiful Truro Public Library!

I’ve really enjoyed meeting the subjects and learning about their own unique styles. Being yourself consists of separating yourself from the mainstream to do what’s best for YOU, regardless of what anyone else says. It DOES take a lot of bravery to go out into the world wearing clothes that describe the authentic you, and all the subjects interviewed capture the true meaning of the Miss Teenage Canada logo itself, “Be Your Own Kind Of Beautiful”. Every outfit tells a story, and often you can figure out someone’s mood, occupation, age, and even the places they have lived or traveled to just by looking at their style! Clothing is also great way for companies to gain wider exposure by printing their logos on T-shirts. Another similar version of this article is now up on the Street Chic Website, and I discuss a lot about the ever changing trends and the rush that comes with keeping up with them. My advice? When in doubt, flash a smile and let your inner beauty shine through! No matter what you are wearing, if you have a beautiful personality, that will always shine through! A Good Heart Never Goes Out of Style in Truro Nova Scotia!!

Writing the article came with both challenges and new learning opportunities. When I ventured out to the streets, I found it difficult to find people who agreed to be interviewed, especially considering their busy mid-week schedules. I then decided to choose a different street (Prince Street!), where I luckily found more subjects with tasteful clothing styles. Although they may not have came directly from the catwalk, their styles are each very individualized and exemplify the diverse demographics we have here in Truro.

Once I found the subjects, the next challenge was to take a good picture of them! Considering they time of day and the fact that I took all the photos with an Iphone 6S, they didn’t come out as good as I thought they would. The subjects blended in with the background, when really the whole purpose of style is to stand out!! Nevertheless, I had very good chats with all four of them, and even when a camera fails, the experiences you had and the memories you made will stay with you forever!

Style really is one of the best forms of self-expression, and from working on this assignment, I have learned about not only fashions in my home province, but of the fashions all over my beautiful country. Street Chic Magazine is an excellent way to get an insiders look at all the styles we have here on the streets of Canada, and I’d like to wish them good luck in their future endeavors. 🙂

-Zoe, Miss Teenage Nova Scotia 2017

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I absolutely LOVE hiking, swimming, and everything about NATURE!! I feel so fortunate to live just 2 minutes away from a beautiful park nestled in the back of my hometown. Victoria Park is a premier tourist destination in my town of Truro, with trails, waterfalls, a bandstand for concerts, and even a swimming pool. Whenever I feel stressed from the chaos of everyday life, I simply take a relaxing hike around the park, which refreshes me every single time! Victoria Park has always been a part of my life, and by now, I’ve  explored pretty much every river, trail, and hidden treasures it holds. Ever since I was two years old, I’ve visited the pool, the playground, and the trails, and even though I’ve visited hundreds of times, it never ceases to captivate me! The park itself reminds me of an Elven forest, especially when you venture into the deeper parts. It just has an overall mystical feel to it! At every corner is a new discovery, and every trail tells a story. For me, it is not the touristic aspect that makes this park so special, but rather the stories it tells and secrets it holds. Today I am going to share with you some of my favorite hot spots in Victoria Park!

But first of all… Let’s start off with a little history 🙂

Victoria park was first established in 1887 when Susan Waddell Stevens donated 25 acres of land to the town. That means the park is already 130 years old!! It was enlarged by even more donations of land in the later years, and the town eventually formed a Board of Trustees to manage the land. This Board also created laws to protect the park against commercialization, wildlife abuse, firearm usage, and speed limit of vehicles. In 2010, a zipline company from New Brunswick proposed to develop an aerial adventure company in the middle of the park. Although that would surely be an effective way to improve our town’stouristic aspect and stimulate our region’s economy, the town rejected the offer in favor of preserving the park’s unique heritage. Currently, the park is 100 acres in size and continues to attract thousands of nature enthusiasts per year!

In my recent trip to Victoria Park, I have visited Jacob’s Ladder, the Holy Well gazebo, the  bandshell, the town reservoir, and of course, the Joseph Howe Falls! I also frequently swim at Victoria Park Pool, equipped with a children’s splash zone and a bright red waterslide! You could spend a whole day exploring and still not venture on every trail, so here are just a few of the must-sees!

  Jacob’s Ladder

This meandering staircase is a well-known attraction in Victoria Park! They really are just stairs, but considering the steepness of the slope, we call it a ladder! At 175 steps tall, it is quite a challenge, and whoever makes it up in one piece is rewarded with a chin-up bar at the top! You can sure get a good workout in with this ladder! If you would prefer a more leisurely pace you can stop at a lookout point mid way through the climb.

 

 J. Arch Fraser Bandshell

Local musicians and theatre groups frequently use this space to perform. Every week in summer, park goers get to listen to some amazing local tunes from the Sunday in the Park Concert Series. There were also a couple performances of Shakespeare in the Park in the past years, where performers used the whole park as their stage! It’s quite a creative way to put on a play, and very smart to combine both theatre and nature (both two of my favorite passions!!)

Joseph Howe Falls

And finally, you can’t do a post about Victoria Park without forgetting about the Falls! This area is actually the most popular region of the park, and I totally get why! In summer, the Falls are a like metropolis of billowing water, towering staircases, and winding paths. And in the winter, it is as if you had just stepped foot into a gorgeous winter wonderland! Every day, the Falls look slightly different as they transform along with the ever-changing seasons. On this particular day, they weren’t pouring out too much water, but on some days, they are so loud you can hear the roaring from the other end of the park!

Those are just a few of the highlights of the beautiful Victoria Park,but as with many travel locations, you really have to see it to believe it! The fact that the Town is working hard to preserve the park’s heritage despite the economically alluring offers of business development makes me appreciate Victoria Park even more! Generally, change is good, but it is even better to have a place that grounds us to our roots no matter how technologically advanced our world becomes. The beauty of Victoria Park lies within it’s natural wonders, and that is really all the park needs to make it shine!

Feel free to visit Victoria Park Truro’s Webpage  for more info or to plan your next trip 🙂

-Zoe, Miss Teenage Nova Scotia 2017

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It’s been over a week since I last posted, so I thought I’d do a summary of some of the events I’ve been attending/planning this past week, and what I’ve been doing to get ready for the big week in Toronto.

I’ll start off with last Wednesday, when I did a presentation at one of the Central Nova Women’s Resource Centre’s “Girl Power” camps, for young ladies ages 8-11. It was great that they had camps for girls in rural areas, such as the one I presented at in Maitland! I spent 45 minutes talking about myself, my platform of youth empowerment, and leading a group activity, which involved examining shells from the beach and discovering how even though they are special in their own ways!

Later that evening, I did a very similar presentation, but to an entirely different age group. This time, I presented to teens at the Truro Public Library at their weekly “BLAST” program. I really enjoyed meeting the teens and discussing my plans for my newly founded youth empowerment group, Maritime Futuremakers.

A couple days later, on Saturday, I went down to the Truro Farmer’s Market to promote my Free the Children concert, which is happening tonight!! There will be singers, dancers, and pianists, all performing in support of Free the Children. My town is known for its music and arts culture, so why not have even more opportunities to showcase musical talent while fundraising for a good cause? This is a concert by youth, in support of youth! I honestly never thought I would have been able to plan an entire concert by myself, but one of my personal goals during my reign was to do things I haven’t done before, so I can get out of my comfort zone. I’ve always loved making music, and I can’t wait to see all the talented youth perform tonight!

       

After the Farmer’s Market, I helped out at Downtown Truro Partnership’s Kids Fun Day, where there was an art class, face painting, pony rides, a cheer leading demonstration, and a dance class. I got to hand out free Clay Café coupons, coloring books, and fidget spinners (the kids went crazy over those haha!), and I also got to stunt with the cheerleaders! I had such a fantastic time!

   

On Sunday, I volunteered at the Wayward Cats yard sale in front of the veterinary clinic. Wayward Cats Society is a non-profit dedicated to trapping, spaying and returning feral cats in the area, to improve the lives of stray cats and help them find good homes. They raised over $800 that went towards trapping equipment, food for the cats, and other expenses. It was great to meet the Wayward Cats team!

The next day, I had my first photoshoot as Miss Teenage Nova Scotia! Kala Woods did an excellent job with the makeup, and Jody O’Brien took some photos I just can’t get enough of! Not all of them are ready yet, but here are just a couple shots we took. I absolutely love them! Thank you Jody and Kala!

   

As for Tuesday, I pretty much shopped the whole day! My family and I went down to the city to pick up some heels, outfits for during the week in Toronto, and a ton of makeup! Hopefully I have everything I’ll need, but of course, I can always go shopping again!! My gown shoes I’ve ordered will be coming next Monday at the latest, and I can’t wait to show you guys them!

I’d also like to mention my newest sponsor! This is Peter Thompson from Landmark Dental Care, and I can’t thank him enough for his generous donation. I have gone to Landmark Dental for check-ups my whole life, and these are some nice and supportive staff who truly care about your teeth!

On Wednesday, I led a workshop for Maritime Futuremakers at the Truro Public Library, and this time it was for children ages 9-13. We talked a lot about volunteerism, what it means to be leader, and the notion of “working together to create something better”. We even enjoyed free chocolate, and worked on an activity which focuses on what we love about our community and what we would like to improve about it. We finished off with a craft where we put together the pieces of a giant puzzle, to represent of our visions of our town and how we can unite together to make them become an everyday reality.

Maritime Futuremakers has been something I’ve wanted to do for months, and my experiences in Montreal and Ottawa with Canada 150&Me have really broadened my perspectives on what we can truly do when we use our full potential. I knew it was up to me to take that vision out of my head and make it a reality for youth across the maritimes, so that is exactly what I did!

My fundraising concert for Free the Children is 7:00 pm tonight, and no matter how much money we make or how many people come, I know it will be success to me no matter what. The process is what really counts, and I am so proud of my fellow performers for supporting this cause and making an impact with the beauty of music.

-Zoe, Miss Teenage Nova Scotia 2017

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I can’t believe that in three weeks, I will be in Toronto with some of the most inspiring, determined, and beautiful girls in the country competing for the title of Miss Teenage Canada. Time sure flies when you’re busy :D. Lately, I have been mainly focusing on organizing fundraisers (including a musical concert for Free the Children), practicing interview questions and walks, and planning the first meeting for my youth youth empowerment group, Maritime Futuremakers. When I first announced that I would be organizing a concert and founding a youth empowerment group throughout my reign, I wasn’t 100% confident that I would be able to carry out my plans. After all, I had never even done anything like this before! Now I understand that although it’s not always easy, the satisfaction that comes with helping a community and overcoming your obstacles will ALWAYS make it worth it!

I have also spent a fair amount of time going to events, and I have prepared several youth empowerment presentations that I will be giving in the span of the next couple days. This weekend, I went down to the town of Middleton, located in the center of the beautiful Annapolis Valley, to participate in the Grand Street Parade as part of the Heart of the Valley Festival. Surprisingly, I was the only princess in the parade, but that meant I got extra attention from the wide-eyed little boys and girls! Shout out to my grandparents for last minute organizing me a ride in a super cool convertible!! My original plan was to walk in the parade handing out candy, but having a car to ride in was even better! Although the parade was only one hour long, so many beautiful floats flooded the streets of Middleton, all decorated with the theme of Canada 150! Since it is the year of Canada’s 150th birthday, the event was re branded to the “Heart of Canada Festival”, to celebrate all the accomplishments we’ve earned and obstacles we’ve overcome as a country. It is great to see so many festivals and events popping up in my home province for Canada 150!  Some of the other activities and attractions included a children’s bouncy house, a fun run, a strong men and strong women challenge, and other things to delight the whole family. In the evening, they finished off the event with some beautiful fireworks, including some patterns shaped like hearts in the sky!!

I would also like to mention that I have colored my hair for the pageant! I decided to lighten up my blonde and to get more highlights near the top of my hair, while still maintaining some of my natural chocolate brown roots. I also got a minor trim. 🙂 Overall, I am super pleased with how my hair color turned out, I can’t wait to rock the blonde bombshell look when I go to Toronto :D. THANK YOU Victoria Court Hair Salon for doing an awesome job on my hair!

               

Now that there is only 19 more days until I leave to compete, I pretty much live and breathe pageant haha! There is still so much to do, yet I am very proud of myself for all that I have accomplished and  what I’ve done to conquer my fears throughout the past couple months I’ve been a titleholder. I plan to perfect my talent performance, finalize my wardrobe, continue to raise money for Free the Children, and get Maritime Futuremakers up and going! This summer has been truly amazing for me and it’s not even half way over! I can’t wait for the upcoming weeks, and the surprises they hold 🙂

Zoe, Miss Teenage Nova Scotia 2017

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Every summer, the town of Pictou organizes a three day long festival to celebrate the end of the fishing season, local music, and Nova Scotian heritage. The carnival weekend is jam-packed with activities for all ages, such as boat races, an antique car show, a mid-way fair, musical performances, a Run for the Lobster event, a parade, and more! It was even voted as one of the top 100 festivals in Canada!! The Pictou Lobster Carnival attracts thousands of festival goers from all regions of the province, and I loved having the opportunity to take part in the celebrations on Saturday.

The fishing industry is a very important part of Nova Scotian culture, and lobster remains a popular food choice for many people in our province. With the Atlantic Ocean right next to us, it is no wonder that we love everything that has to do with the sea! The Pictou Lobster Carnival celebrates the end of the busy fishing season in the maritime provinces.   The first event that I helped out with was the Children’s parade awards! This is also where I met Lindsey, Miss Teenage Northern Nova Scotia, and Makenna, the queen of the lobster carnival who was just crowned the day before! Both girls are such lovely people, and it was really a pleasure getting to know them. About an hour later, I hopped up on the main stage to crown the boys and girls taking part in the Little Mermaid and Prince Neptune Pageant! OMG… Are they ever adorable! They even gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers to thank me for helping with their pageant. 🙂

The next place I headed off to was Sobeys along with Miss Teenage Northern Nova Scotia and the Pictou Lobster Carnival Queen! We spent a couple hours greeting shoppers while helping with for Curl for Cancer fundraiser. You could pull a sucker for only $2.00, and the best part? You got a prize every time! (The prizes included frisbees, candy, and even some sidewalk paint!). Plus, free ice cream bars and ice water were being handed out! What a great time spent for a great cause!

 

And last of all, after a couple hours exploring the village of Pictou, I started to get ready for the evening parade! There was such an array of floats, they were all so beautiful! The car I was going in was stationed right behind the train of princesses from the Pictou Lobster Carnival Pageant the night before. I got to wave and blow kisses to parade viewers from a jeep, it was so nice to see the wide-eyed excited faces of all the little girls! I’m glad I got to brighten up their days a bit 🙂

This was the first time I went out of town for an event, but it certainly won’t be the last! Although Nova Scotia is a relatively small province, it sure does pack a punch, and there always seems to be new excitement and adventures at every corner of the peninsula. This weekend, I will be attending the Heart of the Valley annual Festival in Middleton, where I will walk in the parade and help with some of the children’s events. I also plan to get some fundraising done, which I will accomplish with a youth musical talent concert I’m in the process of organizing. I hope to raise as much money possible for this important cause, so children all over the world can feel inspired, valued, and empowered. Their voices DO matter, they deserve to be heard and listened to just as much as anyone else!! Free the Children is already doing so much to help families thrive, and it really feels great to help them out!

Zoe, Miss Teenage Nova Scotia 2017

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After a 10 days of volunteering, meeting senators, discussing our country’s future, and celebrating Canada 150 in the nation’s capital city of Ottawa, I am back in Nova Scotia! I  have many things planned for the next five weeks leading up to the pageant, including fundraisers, youth empowerment group meetings, events, and more!

For now, I am going to amalgamate all the fun activities and events I have taken part in Ottawa over the past week into one giant blog post! Canada 150th birthday is a time to reflect on the past, celebrate the present and create the future, and I am so honored to have been chosen as one of the 150 youth selected to partake in the celebrations and to attend the national youth forum as part of the Experiences Canada 150&Me program.

The day I arrived was the day it all started. I was already meeting so many interesting and inspiring people from regions all across Canada, and I loved listening to their stories and learning about their own unique cultures. After we got settled at Carleton University, where we would be staying the whole week, a group of us walked down to a powwow near the canal! After that, all 150 youth gathered for an opening dinner to celebrate Canada and discuss our plans for the coming week.

The next day, we were split into groups for our forum presentations that we would make in front of His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston at the National Gallery of Canada. The presentations were to be done in the form of a video, a speech, a song, or anyway we wanted to convey our ideas about the challenges and opportunities facing the next generation of youth in Canada.  Since many members of our group, including myself were dancers, we decided to do a presentation of spoken words and song, called 150 years of momentum. Our country is constantly evolving as new ideas, concepts, and technology are introduced into society, and no matter what, we will always be moving forward.

The presentations turned out to be pretty good! There were a lot of inspiring speakers at the National Canada 150&Me Youth Forum, and I left feeling hopeful for the future of our country. We finished off the day by heading to the Canadian History Museum across the Ottawa river in Gatineau.

On Tuesday, we volunteered at Gatineau Park to help clean up the pathways and to preserve the wildlife. Gatineau Park’s numerous lakes, trees, and heritage buildings attract 2.7 millions visitors per year, and the park is run almost fully on the efforts of volunteers. After cleaning up the walking path and going on an 8km hike, the 150 team enjoyed a nice picnic on the beach!

On Wednesday, we visited Aga Khan Foundation Canada on Sussex Drive, which serves as the Saudi Arabian embassy of the Ismaili Imamat. AKFC is an organization that works in developing countries to promote the 17 sustainable development goals, including the elimination of poverty, clean energy, and gender equality. The 150 youth attended workshops to learn about ways we can have a positive impact in the lives of impoverished children from around the world.

After touring and learning about the beautiful architecture of the embassy, we headed off to the Aga Khan community gardens to volunteer on the farms. 🙂 It was great to help out and learn about one of the most important industries in Canada, the agriculture industry.

On Thursday, we started off by touring the exhibits of the Canadian Museum of Nature, then we headed to the Rideau Shopping Centre! I was surprised to find a WE store there, and coming from a small town, I didn’t even know they existed! As member of the WE program at my school, I’m impressed on how much this organization is doing to help families and communities flourish, and they have many opportunities for youth to get involved in helping make our world a better place!

After a couple hours of shopping, we made a brief stop at Carleton to get ready for the 25th Governor General Performing Arts Awards. All 150 of us youth, as well as the youth ambassadors, were invited as special guests of the Governor General of Canada.  Performing arts is such an important element of our history and our culture, and I think it’s amazing that our country is acknowledging the contributions our people have made to the art world. Musical sensations such as Michael J. Fox, Martin Short, and Michael Bublé were among the nominees for the 2017 Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award. It was a great chance to hear some awesome music and to meet some of the most prominent Canadians!

On Friday, we returned to the National Gallery of Canada, where the youth presented speeches on the Canadian and Indigenous pieces of artwork. We then met up with the French-Canadian politician Mélanie Joly.

To finish off the day, we had a reception with senators in downtown Ottawa. It was truly inspiring to hear their stories as well as their words of wisdom. I am so thankful for all the cool things we get to do with Experiences Canada. I even got the opportunity to meet a couple senators! After the reception, we returned to Carleton to get a good night’s sleep before Canada day.

So… everyone was up bright and early to head down to Parliament Hill. Despite the pouring rain, the lines to get in were INSANE. Luckily, all 150 of us were performing in a number with singer-songwriter Marie-Mai, so we had backstage passes! Some of us were flag-bearers, some were in charge of shooting the colored smoke, and others were dancing in Canadian mascot masks. It was a great experience to perform onstage live on Canada Day.

We stayed on Parliament Hill for pretty much the whole day until midnight, where we watched the fireworks show. The rain even cleared up at some points! Regardless, I never would have thought that I would have have the chance to celebrate Canada Day in Ottawa, let alone Canada’s 150th birthday!

 

For the final day, we volunteered at the Picnic on the Bridge over the Ottawa River. My group had the clean-up shift, and even though we didn’t get to serve lunch to picnic goers, we got to enjoy the beautiful views of Ottawa and neighboring Gatineau. It was the perfect end for a perfect trip!

  

In my opinion, traveling is one of the best ways to learn more about culture and to become a more open-minded  person. My experiences in Montreal and Ottawa have shaped the way I am as a person and have inspired me to make change in my community. The last 150 years have been full of discovery, innovation, and contributions. Canada is one of the best countries in the world to live in, and it is time to learn from our past mistakes to make the next 150 years some of the best times in history!

Zoe, Miss Teenage Nova Scotia 2017

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Whew! Exams are finally  over! Personally, I actually like exam periods because as long as I study for them beforehand, I have a ton of free time during exam week to work on projects that I otherwise wouldn’t of been able to do.  Last semester, I did the filming and editing of a music video I created to promote cultural preservation in Nova Scotia. This was the video that sent me to Montreal (and now Ottawa!!) for the Experiences Canada 150&Me program. Going to forums, meeting new people, and discussing the future of our beautiful country in the multicultural city of Montreal is what empowered me to create change by giving youth in my community the same type inspiration to keep a more global, goal-oriented, and problem-solving mindset.

At Truro Elementary School, teachers cultivate something called a “growth mindset” in the classrooms. This perspective helps children overcome their problems and obstacles and view them as opportunities for change. Because of that reason, I thought that this local school would be the perfect place to go and promote my platform and my core message!

Over the course of the week, I gave 45 min long workshops and presentations to grade four and five classes. I helped them recognize their passions, goals, and obstacles preventing them from reaching their full potential. I also led a vision board making craft to get all those wonderful ideas and thoughts down on paper. We also discussed what they can do to start living their own desired lives, (thought is first, then comes action!), and I talked a bit about youth who are already making a difference, and how THEY can do it too, no matter their age.  I feel like it is an important message for younger children to hear, especially as many of these kids are progressing into junior high school next year. It is a busy exciting time in their lives, and I wanted to help guide them through it and teach them that everything IS truly possible!!

My passion for youth empowerment is what led me to create my own group with two other of my friends who have kindly agreed to help. There isn’t anything like it in my community yet, and I want to be a role model and mentor for those who do not have one. I have decided to name the group Maritime Futuremakers, as you can SHAPE your own path, your own future. I am not saying this to pressure, I am saying this to inspire. There are so many opportunities available to youth and it is important that we take advantage of them so we can learn and grow.

I plan to run this group in the summer and all throughout my remaining two years of high school. I will aim to empower local youth by the means of activities such as vision board making, school orientation sessions for incoming students, one-on-one peer mentoring, yoga and meditation workshops, and much more! I am super excited to get this started and I feel like it is a great way to promote my platform to youth in the community!

I will be catching a plane to Ottawa in less than two hours, where I will be discussing the past, present and future of Canada with government leaders and 150 other youth chosen to attend the nation’s capital for Canada Day for Experiences Canada 150&Me program. I know that when I get back, I will have a whole new set of ideas to bring back to my home province Nova Scotia, and to my new empowerment group! Experiences Canada has really changed my perspective on life and the world and grateful for all the wonderful opportunities available to me because of it!

 

Zoe, Miss Teenage Nova Scotia 2017

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On June 21st, the cultures of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit are celebrated in regions all across Canada. It’s a great opportunity to recognize the amazing contributions they have given to their local communities and to our country. Culture is one of the subjects that I am highly passionate about, and our multicultural diversity we have is one of the many  things that make me proud to be Canadian.

 

When I found out that the Mi’kmaq reserve of Millbrook, located approximately 10 minutes away from my home, was having their annual National Aboriginal Day at the Cultural Heritage Centre, I signed up right away to help out. What a great way to spend the afternoon of the first day of summer (after a morning of writing a math exam!).

When I arrived, there was already a ton of festivities going on for youth and adults alike! Some of the activities included a 50/50 raffle, traditional drumming and dancing, a barbecue, a giant teepee tent for children to play in, craft booths, music performances, and a reptile zoo! I had the pleasure of helping out with the barbecue, where we sold hot dogs, cheeseburgers, pop, and water. There was amazing turnout for not only the barbecue, but also for the entire event! It really is a great way to get everyone together to celebrate indigenous culture. I even got to meet this little guy, who was among the children and families dressed in a traditional Mi’kmaq ceremonial outfit.

On July 1st, Canada will be celebrating her 150th birthday. As this exciting time is approaching, it is important to recognize the culture and contributions of the aboriginal people. It is a perfect opportunity to reflect on the past and to learn from our mistakes, so we can create a brighter future for Canada. In fact, I am pleased to announce that I will be traveling to Ottawa for Canada Day with Experiences Canada and 150 other youth from around the country. We will be attending forums, visiting museums, volunteering, discussing the past, present, and future, and best of all, doing a group performance on Canada Day at Parliament Hill, broadcasted live on CBC Television! The details of the performance are TOP SECRET, even I don’t know them yet, haha! I am super pumped to be spending 10 entire days with some of the most inspiring youth and leaders in this country! I hope you will get a chance to watch the broadcast, or even the youth forum (which will also be streamed live!).

Anyway, happy first day of summer, and of course, happy National Aboriginal Day!

Zoe, Miss Teenage Nova Scotia 2017

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