I was very lucky to sit down and talk with Miss Canada 2012, Jaclyn Miles. I thought we’d be talking about gowns and pageant tips, but the conversation quickly took a different turn. Jaclyn is an extremely articulate, intelligent, and powerful young lady. She is the epitome of what every pageant contestant should be and it was easy to see why Jaclyn took the title. Jaclyn has been using her reign to campaign her platform “Break the Silence”. Being a survivor of multiple forms of abuse, Jaclyn has become extremely passionate about putting an end to violence in Canada. Her international campaign called “Break the Silence” focuses on the prevention of abuse as well as support for victims.
What made you decide to do a pageant?
“I did Miss Earth Canada a few years and I did well in it, but I didn’t really feel like it was for me. I decided I wasn’t going to do any more pageants. Then Miss Canada contacted me about doing their competition and I originally turned down the offer, because I didn’t want to do pageants any more. They told me their pageant is different. There isn’t any swimsuit or talent. It’s based on finding girls that are really ambitious and already have initiatives started in their community. It’s more about personality and finding a voice for your cause.”
How did you choose your platform?
“It was something that actually chose me. It was something I had been through and that I had already been working on. I had a group at University that I had already been working with about different types of abuse. They suggested that it was something that I take to a national level and an international level. I continued with the program and made it grow.”
What did you do to prepare for the pageant?
“Nothing, actually. I know it sounds weird, but when I decided to go, it was only 2 or 3 days before the event. Everything was very last minute. I was in school too, so we planned everything last minute and borrowed everything from friends. I thought to myself if it’s really what they say it’s about, then it shouldn’t matter if I’m not in shape or wearing the best gown. I wore all borrowed stuff and went just as me. Then I won!”
If you had to do it all again, would you do anything differently?
“I guess I wished that I had known some things then that I know now. Things like who to contact if I need help and what resources I can use related to my platform. I did something almost every day of my reign and I’m really proud of what accomplished, so I wouldn’t do anything different there. Making more connections. I made a lot more connections near the end, because I knew more what I was doing. I wish I had the mentorship in the beginning”
What advice would you give for any future Miss Canada contestants?
“I think that the most important thing is integrity, so if you say you’re going to do something, you stick to it. You live by what you say. I think that’s probably the most important thing, because if you’re not living how you say you should be, or preaching something and you’re not living it yourself, then you can have people place confidence in you or see you as a role model. That’s really what the whole position is about, showing people why you were chosen for that position, so live by the words that you say.”
What was your favorite part of the pageant and what was the hardest part of the pageant?
“My favorite part was that I had a roommate that was awesome and her and I are still good friends. It’s been almost two years now and we’re still really close. The people that you meet there are just a different type of people, because they are really focused, career oriented and goal oriented. There’s some really strong women there.
The hardest part was talking about what I wanted my platform to be. It was one thing to talk about it to a group of people who had experienced the same things I had experienced, but I find when you’re talking about abuse as a victim that a lot people who haven’t been through it aren’t that empathetic. They don’t really understand I didn’t want to be seen as weak for coming out and talking about it, so I struggled a lot with whether I was going to do it or not. When I got to the final night of the competition and had the opportunity to speak, I figured it was for a reason and I just followed my heart. They saw it as courage and not weakness, so that was great.”
How has your pageant experience affected you so far and how do you think it’s going to affect your future?
“I’ve grown a lot as person. I’ve definitely become a lot more confident in not feeling victimized. I’ve helped a lot of other people too. I think for the future, it’s really helped me find my calling. I’m a teacher now. I just got hired a couple weeks ago! I’m taking all those lessons and experiences and applying them to schools, whether it’s clubs or awareness programs. It’s really helped me develop as a person and help me find my purpose.”
Would you recommend the Miss Canada system for someone who is looking to do a pageant?
“I would recommend this system to anyone who thinks they’re strong, independent and has a strong message to send. It’s different than your typical beauty pageant, because it isn’t beauty based at all. If you’re someone who’s looking for a modelling contract, it might not be for you, but if you’re looking to find yourself, to find purpose and to help people while doing it, then I think it’s an amazing opportunity”
“I’m really grateful for my pageant experience and happy to be where I am today. I’m very fortunate and truly blessed. I really do wish that on other girls. I’m always here to help mentor and give advice for any one interested in doing anything. It doesn’t have to be Miss Canada. It can be any competition. I’ve been through it and I’m always here to help”
Thank you again to Jaclyn for sharing her pageant experience with me. You can find Jaclyn at @misscanada_2012, http://www.jaclynmiles,com, or https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jaclyn-Miles-Miss-Canada-2012/223924184360500