Chaslyn McKay grew up watching Miss Universe competitions but she never thought she might some day compete in a pageant.
That changed this week after the 18-year-old Dene and Cree woman from Fort Resolution, N.W.T., flew to Toronto with her mother to compete in the Miss Canada Globe 2020 crown.
"I'm excited, really excited. I'm nervous too but it's a good nervous," McKay said Wednesday.
The contestants will be going through different training sessions and rehearsals leading up to the competition on Sept. 26.
McKay said she wanted to compete to prove to herself and her community that she could do it.
"It means a lot to me that I do this and then other young women see me doing it, they think they can do it for themselves too," she said.
McKay said what inspired her to participate in the pageant was the fundraising work that comes with it.
I'm working. I'm fundraising. It's not just about being judged about how you look. - Chaslyn McKay
She said participants act as a voice for different charities. McKay is passionate about the environment so she raised money for Yellowknife-based Ecology North. Her profile on the Miss Canada Globe website said she's hoping to study marine sciences after high school.
She said that while she's concerned that pageant culture seems to emphasize external appearances, she's not approaching the competition with that foremost on her mind.
"The way I see it, I'm working. I'm fundraising. It's not just about being judged about how you look," she said.
She's looking forward to the whole experience, including the events that will include fitness, dancing and karaoke, the training in hair and makeup, confidence, walk and pose, and interviewing.
As she participates, McKay said she'll be wearing some fashion items from northern designers.
Her mother, Rosy Bjornson, said she was baffled when her daughter first approached her about the pageant and asked for her help in fundraising.
"I'm not into fashion and hair and makeup, but I am a professional co-ordinator. So what I've done is I've taken my skills and I assisted her," she said.
Bjornson said she's excited to spend time with her daughter this week in Toronto and "see her blossom and learn all these new skills and having the adventure."
Bjornson thinks the trip to the pageant and all the preparation that went into it will help Chaslyn understand that her parents are there for her.
"No matter what she decides to do in her life, whether it's the pageant or whether it's her research and science field work that she likes to do with different organizations, we support her, 100 per cent," said her mother.
"And then in the future, you know, 20 years from now, she'll be able to help her kids do whatever they want to do. And she'll remember the effort that I put into it."