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Rankin teen heads to Toronto pageant
Wants to be a role model for other youth in community

Michele LeTourneau
Northern News Services
Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Fifteen-year-old Avianna Mackenzie heads to Toronto Aug. 13 to participate in the Miss Teen Canada Globe 2015 pageant.

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Avianna Mackenzie of Rankin Inlet will be competing at the Miss Globe Canada 2015 Pageant in Toronto Aug. 12 to 25. - photo courtesy Avianna Mackenzie

In a casual chat with her, it became pretty clear what motivated her is more than winning a swimsuit competition - there's an award for that - or even being crowned.

"I want to do this because I want to become a role model for younger youth in the community," says Mackenzie. For her it's about "taking responsibility for a goal and achieving it, to learn to be more confident and have better social skills."

As she goes over the arduous 12-day training schedule - the teens are training from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily, from Aug. 13 to 25 - what does become clear is that the participants will be put through their paces.

Mackenzie has been preparing for a year. She was responsible for raising the almost $10,000 she needed for airfare, registration, gowns and other miscellany participation required. To raise funds, she wrote a letter outlining her efforts and approached local businesses and larger companies. It's the local businesses that really came through to support her, such as Arctic Fuel, Kativik and the Red Top. She also fundraised with cake walks and penny sales.

"I still need a bit for last minute items," she says.

As a participant, Mackenzie needed to explore social causes and choose one that she could throw her energy and smarts into. Part of the pageant involved convincing the panel that her cause is worthy. Mackenzie chose mental wellness because not only is it a Canada-wide issue but a top issue in the territory. She researched with the help of her mother and Rankin Inlet mental health workers.

"The person who is crowned will have the opportunity to promote her choice all over Canada," she says.

Mackenzie's mother Laura considers participation in the pageant a great opportunity.

"There is a bigger world out there to contribute to," says Laura. "You can contribute to helping others. It's a very good opportunity to help remove the stigma around mental health."

Another area Mackenzie researched is her own culture. A segment of the pageant will see her wearing a gown of contemporary Inuit design - made by her mother - and Mackenzie will have the chance, in 30 seconds, to speak of her heritage.

"She's been developing her cultural knowledge on her own," says Laura. "She researched her great-great-grandmother and understanding it was part of our culture. Also the stories that come from singing and drumdancing."

A talent show is part of the pageant. For now, Mackenzie is keeping her talent a secret.

Regardless of how far she makes it in the competition in Toronto, Mackenzie could already be considered a winner.

"It's stressful in a good way," she says. "I have learned many things throughout the process."

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