BY NADIA PERSAUD
Sunday July 24th 2016 – Gorgeous gowns, dazzling smiles and outstanding talent are all required to make a perfect pageant. Add in beautiful ladies representing the Caribbean countries and their hometowns, and it transforms into the Miss Caribbean Canada Pageant 2016.
The Miss Caribbean Canada Pageant was founded in 1991 by Lloyd Dwyer, the President of the Pageant. Dwyer began hosting the pageants as a platform to transform young ladies in the community from self-conscious, to self-confident leaders. After a brief break, the Miss Caribbean Canada Pageant commenced once again in 2013, as Dwyer said, “There was a motivation to start back up again because there was a lot of young ladies within the community who still needed that development, lacked self-esteem, lacked the encouragement, the education…and we just wanted to lay that platform for people to go further, because they have that potential.”
Every year, part of the proceeds made from the Miss Caribbean Canada Pageant goes to a charity. This year, a percentage of the proceeds made from ticket sales and other funding will go towards the Sickle Cell Association of Ontario. Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder which causes the hemoglobin molecule in the blood cell to release oxygen prematurely, preventing nourishment to reach the other organs and creating painful blockages in the joints. According to Dwyer, the pageant “predominantly embrace(s) sickle cell because it is a disease that affects the Caribbean community and there isn’t much light that is really shed on it [sickle cell].”
This year’s Miss Caribbean Canada Pageant featured 12 contestants, including Princess Aye Asentewaa representing the city of Ottawa, Priscilia Van Vield representing Guyana, Abigail Flokes representing the city of Richmond Hill, Danielle Dennis representing the city of Milton, Chelsea Thomas representing the city of Brampton, Niquel Malcolm representing the city of Toronto, Jahail Darby representing Jamaica, Latoya Mcleod representing Trinidad & Tobago, Shanice Malcolm representing the city of Scarborough, Tiana Knight representing the city of Markham and Colleen Jones representing the city of Mississauga.
These ladies were not just beautiful faces, but were also intelligent and bright individuals, as some either hold or are pursuing degrees to work in the medical or legal field as nurses and lawyers, and the rest are entrepreneurs.
Throughout the night, each lady strove to showcase her own unique and energetic personality, whether it was by professing her love of breadfruit or revealing her passion for dancehall.
The Miss Caribbean Canada Pageant 2016 consisted of three categories: talent, swimwear and evening wear, all of which were evaluated by judges Stacy-Ann Buchanan, Dwayne Osbourne and Roushelle Green. Buchanan and Green both participated in pageants themselves, though the evening was Buchanan’s first time judging a pageant.
For the talent portion of the Pageant, the judges’ criteria included appearance, performance, confidence, style and creativity. The ladies delivered, many choosing to showcase their dancing and singing skills, however, a brave few took it a step further and performed their own sketches.
The judges were looking for something a little different when it came to the swimwear and evening wear portion, including smile, poise and posture, a confident walk, physical attractiveness and during the question period, an intelligent answer.
During the swimsuit section, the ladies walked down the catwalk, presenting their best selves and striking their perfected poses. As each lady walked down the catwalk, her passions, hobbies and favourite food were read out by the Masters of Ceremony. Once she completed her walk, each contestant then spoke a few words about her sponsor, projecting her elegance and eloquence.
Next, the contestants displayed their evening wear in a parade of whites, reds, greens, sequins, glitter and gems. The ladies were absolutely stunning as they were escorted to the catwalk in their gowns. Each lady addressed the judges and the audience, explaining what made the country or city they were representing so special. Two of the most memorable speeches were delivered by Miss Guyana and Miss Jamaica through a sketch phone call in a Guyanese accent, urging a visit to Guyana for its diverse peoples and historic buildings, and through a poem dedicated to the beauty of Jamaica.
The contestants went backstage to prepare for the final question period, while Caribbean comedian, Marc Trinidad entertained the guests in attendance. Trinidad had the whole crowd laughing and hollering as he picked on all of the Caribbean communities.
The contestants returned on stage for the question period, where they were judged for an intelligent and well-spoken answer. Each lady was asked a different question such as, “The word ‘respect’, what does it mean to you and why?” and “In what ways do pageants help women?”
From here, Abigail Flokes, Jahail Darby, Priscilia Van Vield, Princess Aye Asentewaa and Tiana Knight made it into the Top 5, and were each posed one last question for the judges to make their final decision.
At last, it was time for the winner to be crowned, but first last year’s Miss Caribbean Canada Queen, Desley Andrew Augustin said her goodbyes and gave up the crown stating, “It was honestly a rewarding experience because I saw how much the girls worked hard for it, so just knowing that I was there with them on their journey made me really comfortable. I felt like a sister towards them to give up this crown and all these responsibilities.” Augustin’s ultimate goal is to partake in a larger pageant, like Miss World or Miss Universe, however she made it clear that her schooling comes first.
A series of awards were rewarded, including Best Talent to Miss Markham, Tiana Knight, who was also named Runner Up and Miss Caribbean Canada Ambassador. Miss Ottawa, Princess Aye Asentewaa was named Second Runner Up and Miss Caribbean Canada Community Advocate.
Finally, Miss Jamaica, Jahail Darby, was crowned Miss Caribbean Canada 2016. Darby, a fourth year Brock University student and aspiring family lawyer, had her own family in the crowd, cheering her on throughout the night, including her grandparents, nieces, nephews, brother, mother and even church members. Darby’s aunt, Maxine Brown explained that Miss Caribbean Canada was Darby’s first pageant since competing in the 2014 Miss Black Beauty Canada pageant and being named Runner Up and Miss Congeniality. As the Miss Caribbean Canada Pageant Queen, Darby will receive $1000 cash, a trip to the Caribbean and a three night stay in Montego Bay.
Overall, the Miss Caribbean Canada Pageant 2016 was an evening filled with beautiful, intelligent, talented ladies, great entertainment, all the glitz and glamour of a pageant, and most importantly, a well-deserved win for Miss Jamaica, Jahail Darby.