Following a six-year pageant absence, a Chatham woman has been crowned Miss Galaxy Canada.
Melanie Renaud, 24, won Miss Galaxy Canada in Toronto last week, beating nearly 30 contestants from across the country.
“I still can’t believe it,” said Renaud. “I am so honoured and grateful to be your new Miss Galaxy Canada. I was not sure what to expect as it had been years since I last competed in a pageant, but I am so happy I did.”
Although she spent time practising her runway walking and interviewing skills, Renaud described herself as being “a lot different” from when she started competing in pageants as a teen.
“Since my last pageant, I have grown so much as a person, and I am thankful that I took those six years to really discover who I am and who I want to be,” said Renaud. “It is okay to take time away and focus on being the best you that you can be, and I am grateful for all the experiences I had that led me here.”
According to Renaud, being a titleholder is an immense honour, but it comes with many responsibilities.
“I am expected to be not only a role model in my community but also nationally. There is a lot of work to be done while I prepare for Galaxy internationals, and I am looking forward to fulfilling my responsibilities as Miss Galaxy Canada and making Canada proud,” said Renaud.
The last pageant Renaud entered prior to Miss Galaxy Canada was the World Perfect Model Pageant in Florida 2015. Previously, Renaud had won Canada’s Perfect Super Model pageant at age 17.
Renaud first began pageants when she was a 15-year-old Grade 11 student at Ursuline College Chatham. She entered the Miss Teen Ontario competition in December 2012.
She finished as a finalist, which earned her an entry into the Miss Teen Canada World pageant in 2013, where she finished in the top 10.
After competing at World’s Perfect Pageant in Orlando, Florida, Renaud started her first year of University. She would choose to take a break from pageants, focussing her time on education and other life experiences.
Renaud, who earned a degree in journalism and communications from the University of Windsor during her time away from pageants, credited that experience for helping her develop into the woman she is today.
“I believe these life experiences and taking the time for myself really helped shape who I am, and I came back to pageantry as a more confident and fulfilled person,” said Renaud.
While she always had a love and passion for competitions, Renaud said she is thankful for Sindy Withans, Director of the Canada Galaxy pageant, who reached out following graduation and convinced her to enter.
“I had said I would come back to pageants after graduating, but if it was not for her convincing me, I might not have,” said Renaud. I made the decision at the beginning of COVID, not knowing I would have to wait to see the galaxy stage a whole other year than expected, but I am glad I did.”
When she was 15 years old, Renaud said she signed up for her first pageant on a whim. Despite being shy and self-conscious, she said the competition brought her out of her shell, making her a more confident person.
Renaud said her advice to young aspiring people who would like to join pageants, but are perhaps hesitant, is simple -- just do it.
“To young ones who are hesitant, I say that some of the most memorable times in your life will not come from playing it safe. You can do anything you put your mind to, and I hope you follow your heart instead of following hesitation,” said Renaud.
Winning Miss Galaxy Canada qualifies Renaud for next summer’s Miss Galaxy International pageant, with the location still to be determined.
While she waits to hear more information regarding the next competition, Renaud said she is thankful for the wonderful support Chatham-Kent has shown her.
Any business wishing to sponsor Renaud’s journey as Miss Galaxy Canada is encouraged to contact her via Instagram or Facebook.
“I would love to support you in return,” said Renaud.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News