'Now I have a voice:' Chapleau Cree First Nation teen wins national pageant
Emma Morrison wins Miss Teenage Canada with message of self-acceptance
When Emma Morrison took the stage at Miss Teenage Canada earlier this summer, all she could see was her mom in the audience.
"She was so proud of me, saying 'you won, you won!'" says Morrison.
Morrison says her title came a bit unexpectedly, since this was the second pageant in which she's competed — ever.
'Luck of the draw' getting into pageants
The teenager from Chapleau Cree First Nation never saw herself as a pageant queen until the director of Miss North Ontario messaged her on Facebook, asking if she was interested in competing.
"We had someone else compete [in that pageant] earlier, and I was friends with her on Facebook," explains Morrison.
"I had no pictures on Facebook. I had a picture of me and my boyfriend on a swing. So it was pretty much luck of the draw."
Morrison won that pageant and used her winnings to enter Miss Teenage Canada, a national competition with more than 50 contestants.
After weeks of pageant coaching, interview work and public speaking practice, Morrison says she felt ready to compete.
'I want to stand up for all Canadians'
Her main focus during the competition was encouraging self-acceptance.
"I want to stand up for all Canadians, regardlesss of gender, race, personal identity or preferences," she says.
"Everyone needs to gain more self-love because I find today's society is more based on looks, how great you look on camera."
Morrison says her hours were long and she felt stressed over details during the pageant, but it was all worth it when she was crowned the winner.
"At that moment, I was so shocked and so happy because now this little, small town girl has accomplished such a big task," she says.
"It shows that no matter where you come from, you can set your goals high and big and work hard, and you will succeed. I feel like now I have a voice."
with files from Wendy Bird