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About the Mask Debate…

So, I’m just going to be blunt. I know this may be an unpopular opinion, but I’m speaking my mind- you can like it, love it, or hate it.

Yes, masks are now mandatory in some public places. Not a big deal. Let’s put this in perspective. It’s 2020 and we have the option of disposable masks, reusable masks, and masks that show our personality through colours and patterns. Flash back to 1915 on the front lines on World War I where Canadian soldiers outside Ypres, Belgium were wearing urine soaked handkerchiefs to protect them from chlorine gas. We’re complaining about a minor inconvenience that protects our communities but my country’s soldiers had to use unpleasant makeshift “masks” to protect themselves from chemical warfare.

As for the complaints about social distancing and limits on how many people can gather… We have Zoom/Skype/Facetime/Messenger. We can still communicate with out friends and families. Even in places where the internet connection is shoddy, there are landlines so we can speak to our family and friends even if we can’t see them. In both World Wars our soldiers only had snail mail to communicate with loved ones at home. And as for social distancing- they had an ENTIRE OCEAN separating them from their families. Six feet/two meters is nothing compared to what our soldiers and their families faced.

Even these days when our military overseas can communicate with family at home via modern technology, they are still geographically separated by more than 6 ft.

Yeah, it sucks that we can’t see our families. My family didn’t get to celebrate my mom’s birthday together a couple weeks ago. We always spend birthdays together. And my heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones but haven’t been able to have a proper funeral. I am NOT saying that these are easy times. And I am not mitigating the hardships that social distancing and limits on gatherings are causing. I understand that these limits on how many people can assemble are causing problems for people who are already in difficult situations.

I think that before we complain about having to wear masks or having to stay 6 ft (2 m) apart we should reflect on the sacrifices that our World War I and World War II soldiers made to give us the right to whine about such trivial inconveniences. We need to step back from whining and do what other people did or are doing- put the “we” before “me”.

Those are my thoughts and opinions, feel free to disagree. But remember that the Allies served and sacrificed to a far greater extent so you have the right to complain about relatively insignificant things such as wearing a mask.

Canada · Culture · Entertainment · Evening Gown Competition · Guyana · Health · Heritage · Pageants · Saskatchewan · Uncategorized · Western Canada

Miss Regal World πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦πŸ‡¬πŸ‡ΎπŸ‘‘

Last month (on 7 August 2020) something amazing happened: I won an international pageant! I am your reigning Miss Regal World! Yeah, this girl from a town of 700 people in rural Saskatchewan won an international pageant!!!

Miss Regal World 2020/21 (Dress: Armando Medina; Makeup and photography by Hazel Envoy)

To say I was/am honoured is an understatement. The finalists in the Miss division were all remarkable women and I was honoured to be grouped as a finalist with these ladies. There were 56 of us from around the world in the Miss division and I was honoured to be a Top 8 Finalist. The finalists included an NHS nurse, a full-time pageant coach, a NYFW model, and a wide range of diverse individuals from different career paths and countries. The one thing we have in common is that we’re all passionate about our respective platforms.

The Top 8 Finalists (I’m in the middle row, on the far right. Recognize the dress? If not, see my other blog about upcycling clothes.)

My platforms were epilepsy awareness (surprise, surprise πŸ˜‰) and education for girls especially those in developing nations (also not a big surprise). I intend to continue to act for anti-racism during my reign (no surprise to anyone who knows me in real life or anyone who started following me because of my platform as International Ms Canada 2018) and to support small businesses especially those hit hard by COVID-19.

I guess it’s taken almost a month to write about this because I’ve been busy and not sure if this is reality or a dream. I’ve won local, provincial, and national pageant titles in Canada before. I even represented Canada when I placed in the Top 10 at an international pageant in the USA before… but winning an international pageant is completely uncharted territory for me. I have fantastic sister queens in the Junior Miss, Teen, and Ms divisions though and our director is a wealth of knowledge and support. ❀ But any readers who have experience in pageantry at the international level please feel free to contact me with advice or pointers! I need to utilize this year with an international platform to the fullest extent.

Halter and skirt: Armando Medina; Makeup by Hazel Evoy; Photography by Ezra Aleczander.

Ultimately I want to use my crown and sash to bring smiles to people through either in-person or virtual appearances especially for epilepsy groups and small businesses. Even more important, I want to make a difference in the civil rights movement. I want to be on the right side of history.

I can’t wait to write another blog and spill the tea on some of the different delegates I formed relationships with through this pageant! I have so many happy memories from the day I was first welcomed to the fold back in April and new memories with these ladies are continuing to be formed. Actually, just a couple days ago a delegate in the UK messaged me to let me know that she was listening to Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) by the Backstreet Boys and thought of me! πŸ₯° I felt so special that she thought of me, all the way across the Pond πŸ’•

If you’d like to watch the crowning moment announcement it can be found on the Miss Regal World facebook page. The Miss division announcement starts at the 7:15 mark. Crowning Moment Announcement (7min, 15s) And yes, you heard that correctly, I was privileged to represent my parents’ homeland of Guyana in the pageant. They both became naturalized Canadians years before I was born but I’m still proud to be Caribbean-Canadian and Guyanese-Canadian.

Disclaimer: Don’t @ me! Due to COVID-19 we did *not* have 125+ delegates (across the four age groups) fly in to the UK from across the globe for an in-person pageant. The pageant was completely online this year. Next year the pageant will be in-person. I can’t wait to meet this year’s delegates who will be competing again next year and next year’s new delegates!

beauty · Community · Culture · Entertainment · Pageants · Uncategorized

The Scary Truth Behind Pageant Security

It seems that many state/provincial-level pageants are taking place soon. And some international pageants will be taking place soon too. Some pageants such as the international Galaxy pageants and Miss America have been postponed as a preventive measure to keep COVID-19 from spreading between delegates who would then take it back home to their state/province or country (hello second wave).

COVID-19 causes some logistical problems for delegates. For example, if a pageant is being hosted somewhere that has a mandatory 14 day quarantine on new arrivals the delegates have to budget for an additional two weeks of food and accommodations. Or they may have to quarantine after returning home from the pageant.

But there is a problem with delegate security that has been around since long before the novel coronavirus hit and will be around long after COVID-19 is under control. Let me tell you the story of when I was a judge at an international pageant. This is more so applicable to delegates who are travelling to another country to compete rather than delegates who are travelling within their home country.

This is a firsthand account of what I saw a few years ago when I was a judge at an international pageant. This pageant had delegates fly in from different countries across the globe, from five different continents. Of course, in order to enter the country that hosted the pageant they needed a valid passport. One night I went to the director’s hotel room and I saw two stacks of passports on her nightstand. That immediately made me uneasy. I asked why she had the delegates’ passports and she said it was for security because she would be held responsible if anyone ran off and stayed in the host country illegally.

I’m going on the record as saying that I do NOT believe she had nefarious plans when she took the passports away from the international delegates. Even still though, the logic didn’t make sense. If someone has the resources and/or connections to abscond in another country they could have a fake passport and fake ID made. But even with no ill intentions it was wrong to confiscate passports from the delegates who were coming from outside of the country.

Pageant delegates: LISTEN TO ME! Never, ever hand over your passport to someone. Keep your passport on you or in your hotel vault. Never give anyone else possession of your passport. For your own safety, never let anyone have your ID especially when you are in another country. Also keep in mind that your passport is not yours to hand over to someone else. On both the inside cover and the first page of my passport it is clearly stated that my passport is the property of the Government of Canada. As such, I cannot just give it to someone else. But aside from my passport not being my personal property, it is incredibly unsafe to give someone your passport. Again, I do not believe this particular pageant director had bad intentions when she confiscated anyone’s passport but there are some people/groups who hold fake pageants used to attract beautiful women from around the world who they then force in to prostitution or human trafficking.

I’ve competed internationally and when I competed in the USA the pageant director did not ask for my passport. She knew I was coming from a different country and would have my passport with me but she did not ask to hold on to my passport during the days leading up to the pageant or from the pageant until the day I returned to Canada.

Ladies (and gentlemen competitors), I’m one of you regardless of if we compete in different pageant systems or different countries. I’m a Sash Sister, Sashionista, Sister Queen, Pageant Girl, or whatever term you want to use. I want you all to be safe while travelling. I want each of you to get home safely. I want you to have a safe and enjoyable pageant experience. Fundamental to all of this is your safety. Do not give your passport or any other government issued ID to anyone. Before you leave home make sure to confirm in writing that you will not be asked to hand over government issued ID to any pageant officials upon arriving in the host country. Print out that email so you can show it to any pageant staff who asks for possession of your ID.

We need to watch out for each other. Please listen to what I’m saying. I know from seeing it in person that some pageants will ask for possession of your passport upon your arrival. I also know from personal experience that some pageants do NOT ask for possession of your ID. Be smart and be alert if someone asks for your ID. It’s not your property to just hand over and it’s not safe to just hand it over. Even if the person asking for your ID doesn’t have ill intentions, your passport may not be safe. As I said, the stacks of passports were on the pageant director’s nightstand, not even in the room’s vault. Myself and other female pageant staff had access to the passports. Did hotel staff also have access to the passports when we were out at events and appearances in the weeks leading up to the pageant???

National pageant directors: You need to talk to your pageant delegate about her safety before she leaves home to compete in an international pageant. Parents: You need to talk to your children about safety while abroad. Even if your child is a legal adult she/he may not be aware of the dangers of travelling internationally for a pageant. You need to discuss rights and responsibilities before they leave. Delegates: Use your common sense.

I wish all of my fellow pageant delegates the best in their respective competitions. May you be the best version of yourself, make new friends, have fun, learn about different cultures, stay safe, and return home safe and healthy.

Uncategorized

Hey, Parents: Y’all Still Mocking Trudeau?

Well this post is going to make me Public Enemy #1…

Most Canadians know that Prime Minister Trudeau was a drama teacher. A lot don’t care to look in to his teaching career any further than that. The Huffington Post reports that Trudeau also taught math, French, and humanities. But even without knowing that his scope expanded beyond drama, it never made sense to me that he’s job shamed for having been a drama teacher. Why denigrate people who make an honest living??? As long as it’s an honest job, it’s worthy of respect regardless of how much or how little prestige comes with the position.

Now that schools are closed due to COVID-19 it’s surprising how many parents are saying that they are homeschooling. Ummm, no. You are just going through a lesson plan that a real teacher came up with. Unless you developed the lesson plan you are not homeschooling. To simplify: If I sing Purple Rain I can’t pass it off as “my” song, it would just be Purple Rain covered by Janice MacGregor. If you go through a lesson plan that someone else came up with you are not homeschooling, you are going through someone else’s work. And after life gets back to normal, if you’re thinking “I handled homeschooling during COVID-19” try coming up with a lesson plan the way that your kid’s real teacher does. Teaching isn’t that easy, is it? Are you still mocking teachers?

As countless parents drone on about the difficulties of “homeschooling” I hope they become more appreciative of real teachers and how much work, time, and energy they put in to being a teacher for a class of 20+ students. And hopefully people will be less likely to job shame teachers regardless of which subject they teach.