Hello all! My name is Aleria, and I am so excited and honoured to say that I am your Miss Teenage Ontario 2018. It still feels so surreal, and I can’t express how excited I am to meet all the contestants from across Canada in Toronto at the national pageant this summer!
First, I’ll tell you a bit about myself! I am 18 years old, and a proud indigenous woman from Six Nations, Ontario. I personally identify as Onondaga and Anishinaabe. I love theatre and performing, and at the moment I plan on attending York University for Theatre this coming September! I am in my fifth year of high school and am heavily involved in my school’s extracurricular drama program. I actually had the opportunity to write this years entry for the NTS Drama Festival, it’s about youth suicide on reserves, which is also my platform. The play is titled “And She Split the Sky in Two”, and so far we have been invited to perform at Brock University, and a number of other schools! I’m very excited for the coming months to see what opportunities come from our show.
My journey to Miss Teenage Ontario started back in 2014 when I decided to apply for Miss Teenage Ontario 2015. I competed the following January and was awarded the title Miss Teenage Six Nations of The Grand River. For the next year, I had an incredible time attending events in my community and fundraising for a number of charities.
I had known of the pageant for a number of years, as pageants have always been something I loved watching. I thought it was incredible how such inspiring women could be given platforms for them to be a role model and use their voice for things they are passionate about. I had watched the national pageant online since I was 11 years old. Being one of those girls on the national stage was a dream I was so thankful to have fulfilled.
My memories of competing in Miss Teenage Canada 2015 were nothing but positive. I loved the girls I met and the things I learned from my week-long experience are lessons that still follow me today. When finals night came along, I admit I had a sense of disappointment when my name was not called for the Top 20. Despite this, I was still proud since I knew that I had done the best I could, and I knew everyone who supported me was still proud of everything I had accomplished. I knew, however, that my journey was not finished yet. I knew I wanted to compete again, but I decided I would wait till I was older, more mature and confident with myself. I reflected on how I did and where I had room to grow. After the pageant ended, the preparations began.
“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
Over the next couple years, I worked hard in school and got more involved in my community and school. Fast forward to January of this year. Everything was in place and I knew I was ready and had done everything I could. Crowning had started, my goal was top three, anything more than that was a blessing. As we got closer to the top three, I grew more and more nervous.
Beside me was Alice Li, Miss Toronto World 2017 and Miss World Ontario 2018. When we got to the second runners-up, we looked at each other and instinctively reached for each other’s hand. They announced the first runner-up for Miss Teenage Ontario and Miss World Ontario, and this was it. Finally, they called my name as Miss Teenage Ontario. It was a literal dream come true. After my crowning, they called Alice’s name as Miss World Ontario! It’s such a nice moment to look back on, and I still think it’s such a coincidence that we both happened to be beside each other.
Here‘s a video of the crowning moment!
Since my crowning, I have been very busy! I’ve had a number of interviews from local newspapers and radio stations. I have also started my work on my platform, Raising Awareness for Youth Suicide on Reserves. Most prominently, I had a segment featured on APTN National News! (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network). It was posted on Facebook, where it received over 500 shares! This is incredible to me because it allows me to spread awareness for my platform, which is extremely close to my heart. You can watch the segment here.
That’s all for now, I look forward to posting more in the coming months leading up to nationals, stay tuned for more! Also, feel free to follow my social media’s, which I will link below!
Til Next Time,