Aiming for Miss Universe Canada
A former Steinbach woman will compete at this year’s Miss Universe Canada pageant in Vancouver.
Ashley Martel-Lepine, 21, will sashay her way across the stage in a bid to win the county’s ultimate beauty title.
Raised in Steinbach and the towns of Marchand, Mitchell, Ste Anne, and Beausejour, before finally moving to Winnipeg, this is the first time the beauty queen is competing in a pageant.
“I have no experience before this and this is definitely something that I’m doing to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone a little bit to help me grow in this new adventure that I’m taking. I was chosen from between 700-800 women across the country. Only 70 women are chosen to compete.”
She said she has always followed the Miss Universe pageant and that competing was something she thought about but never took action on until recently. She said she had doubts about competing and she suffers from anxiety, but she worked on her self-development which helped her to enter and continue her journey to be where she is now.
“Once I made that my mind set and threw out all the other opinions everyone else seemed to have and all the negativity, once I just put that to the side and focused on me and in the moment, that’s when it all changed for me.”
Suffering from an auto-immune disease, Martel-Lepine lost her hair growing up, saying that taught her that beauty comes from within. Learning that has given her confidence.
As the only Indigenous contestant from Manitoba, Martel-Lepine said growing up she always felt different from other kids and didn’t really know why she didn’t fit in. It was only when she grew up and began looking into her background that she understood why. She found out she was Cree and Metis. She said she feels really emotional when she sees a story about a successful Indigenous woman in the news, because she feels Indigenous women are portrayed in a negative light.
“I’m deeply passionate about spreading awareness when it comes to issues Indigenous people face whether that be violence or inequality or anything having to do with the rights and freedoms for our people. It’s something that I really want to advocate on and showcase and hopefully make some sort of difference.”
As there is no talent portion at the Miss Universe Canada pageant, Martel-Lepine said if she makes it to the international leg of the competition (which will take place in El Salvador this year) she said she will perform a jingle dress dance.
“That would be so emotional for me, because to be on a big stage like that and to show people what that means to me and show the culture is so important and I don’t think that’s ever been done on the stage. It’s so beautiful the way it’s done and the way that the dresses are made and the music.”
Although she’s nervous to compete because she’s not sure what to expect, she is determined to win.
“I like to go for something and keep going at it until it’s mine and that’s how I’m treating this pageant. If I don’t win this year, I’m going to go back next year and I’m going to win, or if I’m not going to win next year I’m going to go back, and the year after that, and the year after that, and the year after that. I have until I’m 28 so I’m going to keep going.”
The Miss Universe Canada pageant will be held on Aug. 19 in Vancouver.