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No contest

Jennifer Geens
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Mar 25/05) - Lila Fraser Erasmus had a list of things she wanted to try before her 40th birthday later this year, such as running a marathon and vying for the coveted title of the Caribou Carnival queen.

Lila Fraser Erasmus reacts to being crowned Queen of the 50th anniversary Caribou Carnival on Wednesday night. - Jennifer Geens/NNSL photo

Now that she's won the antler and fur crown, that's one item she can cross off her list.

The 39 year-old assistant negotiator with the ministry of Aboriginal Affairs sold nearly 12,600 raffle tickets in two weeks. Her nearest competitor sold 3,420.

"I am so bar-ed out," she said.

Bars, grocery stores, malls... no place in Yellowknife was safe from Erasmus' crew of friends and family hawking tickets.

"We had an awesome team," she said. "Everybody chipped in. Everybody helped. It was unreal."

She credited a last minute push by Aurora Village for sending her over the top. But regardless of whether she won or lost Wednesday night, she would end the night feeling like a queen. Her husband, Roy Jr., rented a limo as a surprise, and it waited out front of the theatre to whisk her to the Ernest Monias concert at the Explorer Hotel.

"I don't know if I would do it again, but it was a great experience," she said.

Jesslyn Strand looked stunned when Carol Van Tighem announced her name as the new Caribou Princess.

"I didn't expect to win," she said later. "I was completely surprised."

She entered the competition because a friend of hers ran last year, and she thought it was a great way to meet new people and experience new things. Originally from Benalto, an Alberta town with a population of 300, Strand has lived in Yellowknife for 4 years.

The 13 year-old Weledeh Catholic school student blanked on the number of tickets she had sold -- it turned out to be just under 1,300. But the sales process was fresh in her mind.

"It was really hard," she said. "Before you'd finish talking, people would say no."

She encouraged people to come out to the carnival this weekend and have some fun.

Mildred Wilke, who had her own cheering section during the ceremony at NACC, won the title of Miss Congeniality for the second year running.

Tickets sold:

Queen candidates

  • Lila Fraser Erasmus - 12,580
  • Mary-Ellen McGonigle-Roberts - 3,420
  • Mildred Wilke - 2,922
  • Kelley Merilees-Keppel - 938
  • Kathryn Bourgeois - 896
  • Twyla Brule Vachon - 785

    Princess candidates

  • Jesslyn Strand - 1,291
  • Itoah Lydia Scott - 1,190
  • Stacey Grandejambe - 802