Miss Canada experience "amazing"
Miss Inuvialuit enjoyed competition in Toronto

by Glenn Taylor
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Aug 22/97) - For Inuvik's Andrea Hansen, competing at the Miss Canada International pageant was "an excellent experience," even though at times it was a comedy of errors for the contestants.

When Hansen arrived in Toronto last Monday to compete in the event, she discovered a "very unorganized" event in the works. Many of the details had been left to the last minute.

During prejudging, contestants were still fixing their dresses and putting on their makeup when suddenly the call came through to get to the stage, pronto. "We raced up the stairs like a herd of elephants," said Hansen. Hours before, they practised a dance routine that was thrown into the event at the last minute. It was a disaster on stage, she said.

Hansen said she was also disappointed with the judges, who were a strange mix of characters. One was a psychic, another a clothing designer who expected whoever won to model his clothes.

Still another judge -- "a very weird guy" -- was removed from the show, after asking the contestants strange questions during prejudging. "Do you have a boyfriend?" and "Do you like hotdogs?" were examples.

"They kept us very busy," said Hansen. They were up at 6 a.m. each day while in Toronto, and went to bed each night at 1 a.m. In between, they went to the Phantom of Opera, the Medieval Times dinner theatre and the CN Tower, and held a cooking class at the hotel's restaurant. The contestants also did a whirlwind tour of a mall with their sashes on, signing autographs and taking photos with snap-happy Japanese tourists.

A couple of days before prejudging, Hansen learned that the speech she prepared for the event had to be memorized. This wasn't easy, especially given all the excitement and activity leading up to the contest. One contestant who gave her speech before her came out in tears, shook up by the whole affair.

Hansen said she "blanked" half-way through giving her speech on the importance of healthy living as a prevention to illness.

Hansen didn't make the final cut of 10, all of whom had to read speeches and answer impromptu questions. She said some of the contestants were professional beauty queens who had been in pageants ever since they were eight years old. "They were products of the pageant," she noted with some disgust.

But all in all, "it was an excellent experience, (and) I am so happy I went through with it," said Hansen. "It was an amazing experience, and I met a lot of friends for life."

A 22-year-old woman from Nova Scotia ended up winning the contest. "She definitely deserved it," said Hansen. "She was such a sweet girl."

"I have no regrets. I think they should keep sending girls down for it," said Hansen. "It builds self-esteem. I have to work on my speaking skills -- that's a goal I've set for myself after this."

Hansen learned of other pageants at the event, including the international Miss Indigneous North America pageant and the Miss Tourism pageant, both of which she is considering entering.

For now, it's back to Victoria for Hansen, who starts next month in the kinesiology program at the University of Victoria.