2011 was an incredibly exciting year!
Words cannot begin to describe the lessons I have learned as Miss Canada International, but I am delighted to share the stories of my adventures that have made this past fall and winter a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
In Ontario, during the Toronto International Film Festival, I experienced my very first red carpet walk when I attended the TORO After Dark — Artists for Peace and Justice Fundraiser hosted by movie actor Gerard Butler, TV host George Stroumboulopoulos and APJ founder and film director Paul Haggis.
I had never even seen a red carpet before.
True to my western roots, I enthusiastically enjoyed the Canadian Country Music Awards in Hamilton, Ont., with incredible front row seats, and got to meet some of the country music superstars I have grown up listening to at the VIP reception after the show.
Congratulations to all of the nominees and winners from that evening.
While in Toronto, I attended many inspirational women’s events including the eWomenNetwork event at the Jeanne Lottie “Pink House” Boutique in Yorkville, the Women in NAAAP “Be Heard” Event, and the first ever All Women Summit to promote the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness.
I attended a variety of cultural events including the opening of the Colours of Peru Art Exhibition at the Glendon Gallery at York University where I met the Consulate General of Peru in Toronto and the Ultimate Bridal Show in Mississauga where I hosted the Bridal Fashion Show along with Miss Ontario Canada, Melanie Williamson.
I worked to support many Canadian organizations through different events. The Toronto Luxury Chocolate Show at the Roy Thomson Hall featured delicious treats while raising awareness for Gilda’s Club.
Before indulging (in too many samples!) at the Chocolate Show, I took a tour of the Gilda’s Club located in Barrie, Ont., which is one of only two in Canada.
Gilda’s Clubs are incredible support centres designed to assist those who are dealing with cancer.
For Thanksgiving, I rolled up my sleeves to serve a hot lunch to those who needed it and took some time to play with the children while taking a tour of a 70-year-old, faith-based shelter, The Scott Mission, in downtown Toronto.
Home in time for Thanksgiving dinner leftovers, I worked very busily to promote the Teddy Bears of Hope.
I encouraged youth to donate spare teddy bears to children in Haiti and Japan through dozens of classroom presentations and school assemblies.
While spreading the word at the Thompson Rivers University campus in Williams Lake, the student council there included me in the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony of the student food bank and Teddy Bears of Hope drop-off location.
Venturing into different parts of the Cariboo, I attended the fabulously co-ordinated Central Cariboo Chilcotin Tourism Association annual meeting and also spent a day with our hospitable neighbours in 100 Mile House, escorted by my new friend, Mayor Mitch Campsall.
Thank you to everyone, in my community and across the country, who has supported the Teddy Bears of Hope cause by sending special story-stuffed animals with the hopes of bringing smiles to children’s faces across the globe,
Back to Ontario!
While remembering those that have fought for our freedom in November at the 10th annual Veteran’s Appreciation luncheon in Oakville, Ont. Melanie Williamson, Miss Ontario Canada, and I joined dozens of volunteers to serve lunch to more than 1,000 veterans and their loved ones.
Travelling ViaRail to the capital city, Ottawa, Ont., I shared a moment of silence with the nation at the National Remembrance Day ceremony where I laid a wreath at the foot of the National War Monument.
On a visit to the Canadian War Museum, I served dessert to veterans and volunteers and spent the afternoon with the children making Christmas cards to send to our troops overseas.
I attended winter parades in my two neighbouring communities of my second home in Ontario: the Orillia Santa Claus Parade which, is the largest parade north of Toronto and the Barrie Christmas Parade, which began with a tour of the Barrie Firehall that brought us to a 1930s fire truck which I was thrilled to ride in for the parade.
The mayor even invited me to help flick the switch as part of the downtown Christmas light-up.
I enjoyed a lot of CFL action this past season, from acting as an honorary cheerleader for the Toronto Argonauts to assisting in the opening coin toss with the lieutenant governor of Ontario with the Hamilton Tigercats.
Flying back across the country, I headed to the Grey Cup festivities in Vancouver, joined by former Miss Canada Internationals Bridget Nickerson, MCI 20010/2011; Catherine Thomas, MCI 2009; and Lorenza Sammerrilli, MCI 2003.