A pageant contestant with a message of suicide awareness is taking her platform to the competition’s national stage.
Shareena Ermineskin, 13, from the Montana First Nation is the youngest contestant to be crowned as Miss Teen Central Alberta during a Miss Teen Alberta pageant held in Calgary recently.
One of the challenges in the pageant was for contestants to have a platform. For Ermineskin, it was a personal one, explained her aunt Katherine Swampy; Ermineskin’s best friend committed suicide last year and it had a lasting affect on her.
“It completely devastated her,” said Swampy.
Seeing the pageant took Ermineskin on a positive upward path of advocacy and raising awareness. It helped channel her pain into something positive.Since starting this process, Ermineskin has spoken at area schools and events.
While Ermineskin was nervous about the whole experience, considering she was so young compared to the others, Swampy encouraged her to compete. The first step was getting past all the different questions, interviews and photos.
“She was selected out of hundreds of girls,” said Swampy.
In her platform, Ermineskin pointed out how serious the issue of suicide is in Maskwacis. She wants to help end the stigmas on mental health as well as encourage youths to seek help and hopefully prevent suicide, said Swampy.
“I really see it uplifting her. Not only her, the teens around her are uplifted.”
Next stop: Toronto, Ont. in August for the Miss Teen Canada Nationals pageant.
It’s going to be an experience to remember, suggests Swampy, who pointed out this will be Ermineskin’s first trip out of Alberta.