BY: KABRENA ROBINSON
After an eventful and exciting evening of talent showcase, evening wear and question and answer segments at the Miss West Indian Canadian Pageant, Canadian-Guyanese contestant Alexsis Theodore came out on top and was crowned Miss WI Canadian 2017, taking on the title from last year’s winner Chanelle Lee.
The event hosted by prominent emcee Reneil Kistodial was held on Sunday, October 22nd at the Red Rose Convention Centre in Mississauga. With the beautiful sunny weather and a full action-packed day of dance competitions, fashion shows, expos and also a Little Miss WI Canadian pageant, community members and supporters were out in numbers indulging in the annual festivities. The Miss WI Pageant being the main event of the day was left for last and ended the evening on a celebratory note with a newly crowned winner and audience members walking away with special prizes and gift baskets donated by special sponsors.
Organizer and CEO of WI Canadian Julie Rambali a Guyanese-Canadian, started the organization in 2010 after she felt a need “to not only give back but take it to the next level and coordinate different opportunities for the West Indian Canadian community” here in Canada. Her goal going forward with the organization is to get more support from community businesses to continue the event.
The pageant was kick-started by an introduction from all seven radiant and talented contestants all hailing from various Caribbean backgrounds such as Guyana, Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. The first contestant was Keisha Deoraj followed by Shelly-Ann Diptee, Shannon Green, Shivanie Mangal, Ivana Morrison, Shelly Nascimento and Alexsis Theodore. Contestants later made their second appearance on stage for the talent segment dominated by mostly dance numbers with a few singing performances and a monologue. Contestant Shelly Nascimento was seemingly a crowd favourite with an energetic cultural dance performance.
They later returned wearing evening gowns. One after the other, they strutted across the stage inside the Red Rose Convention Centre, parading exquisite gowns that were met with excitement and awes from audience members. Up next was the most nerve-racking and suspenseful segment of any pageant, the question and answer section. Each contestant was presented with the question of what social issue they would focus on if they were to be crowned Miss WI Canadian. All contestants were powerful and articulate in their responses as they highlighted topics such as racism, xenophobia, cancer awareness, mental health, love and unity. Winner Alexsis Theodore stated boldly that her platform would be working with organizations that empower young girls like herself.
After the question and answer segment and a short intermission, contestants made their final appearance on stage along with the Little Miss WI contestants and the 2016 winner Chanelle Lee who took her final walk across the stage to a recording of her heartfelt farewell speech.
Lee who is of Bajan heritage has been focusing on her platform of bringing awareness to anxiety disorder throughout her reign and was also able to work with Operation Smiles, a medical charity that provides free cleft surgeries for children. Lee also went on to compete in the Miss Universe Canada Pageant where she walked away as a top ten finalist. Her advice to the new queen is to use the platform to the best of their ability.
After the final walk from the 2016 reigning queen, the top four contestants were announced. Third Runner-up was awarded to Keisha Deoraj, who also won the Miss Popularity Award based on online voting. Second runner-up was Ivana Morrison followed by first runner-up winner Shannon Green leaving Alexis Theodore triumphant.
In an interview with the extremely elated winner, she expressed that she is excited the most to get started with her platform of working with Canadian organizations that empower young girls. She also commended the organizers of the pageant for establishing a platform for young girls like herself to stay connected to their community and various cultural backgrounds.
“It’s so amazing that we have this pageant and all things that happened today just had me amazed,” she said. “I am looking forward to representing the West Indies everywhere and all the events also getting involved and helping out places in the Caribbean and all over the world.”
According to pageant organizer Julie Rambali, the winner’s reign will include attending various charitable and non-charitable events throughout the year and also the opportunity to pick a charity of her choice to work with and to build awareness for it in the community. Along with all the perks and bragging rights from the title, her special gift from WI Canadian involves a trip to Vegas.
Miss India Guyana Sangeeta Bahadur who was a special guest at the pageant and also a past contestant expressed in an interview that she hopes the new queen will use the title as a great opportunity to help the community.
“It is so important when you have a title and you are in a position of the public eye and so many people are looking up to you so you have to be that influence,” she said. “Use that to do something wonderful for your community and motivate and inspire youths to really go for what they want.”