Following an incredibly brutal child and teenagehood, I became vulnerable to a gang of males from my neighbourhood who were targeting and trafficking young girls. For right now, I can’t go into much detail about exactly what happened to me, because I will finally be testifying against them at the end of November.

But what I can tell you is that by the age of 19, all the physical, mental and sexual violence done to my body was gruesome to say the least. I have even had suicidal thoughts in the past, so heavy was my burden. I have been abandoned by boyfriends after opening up to them about what I went through, labeling me “damaged”.

But what’s important is how I have picked myself up from the darkest bottom of humanity, how everyday I wake up and think of how I can make the world a better place, how everyday I study so hard to become a lawyer so that I can help other girls who were like me. Despite what has happened to me, I am still loving, I am still compassionate, I am still whole. I still am.

So many pageant winners’ platforms has been human trafficking on behalf of other people, but now it’s time to hear from a survivor herself.
I am the embodiment of Beauty With a Purpose; my purpose is clear. I will become a lawyer, and eventually a judge, who will spend my life fighting Human Trafficking in Canada and worldwide, protecting and defending women and children, and shining a light on all things that have been done in the dark.

Katherine,

Miss Montreal

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My love for animals began at an early age. Born and raised in Ontario, I encountered my turning point moment with animals when I was ten years old and went to a zoo camp.

Seeing animals cruelly crammed into tight spaces, I vowed to make it my mission to advocate for these incredible creatures.

Since beginning my career in politics and animal welfare, I led campaigns to pass legislation to ban the trophy hunting of grizzly bears, end the captivity of whales and dolphins for entertainment, and ban the cruel shark fin trade. Further, I assisted in the shut down of three dog meat farms and a cruel roadside zoo.

I have witnessed some of the worst cruelty to animals imaginable. But I also see so much hope. We all have our own special relationships to animals; whether it’s our pet dog or majestic wildlife we admire from afar.

I started “The Humane Education, One Dialogue” (T.H.E.O.D) project with the objective to promote animals’ humane treatment and to alleviate animal suffering on a grand scale.

T.H.E.O.D. is named after my shih-tzu mix rescue dog Theodore. Theodore came from a past of abuse and neglect, He experienced things that he should have never experienced. I feel so grateful to have him in my life. Even after everything he has been through, he is forgiving and loves so unconditionally.

My project facilitates conversations focusing on promoting animal welfare at a school level. My vision is to one day weave the animal welfare education into existing primary and secondary school systems.  This includes encouraging schools to start animal kindness clubs to spread the message.

Animal welfare is closely aligned with human health. The source of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) is widely believed to be a wet market in Wuhan where both dead and live animals were sold. When animals are stressed and crammed in crowded, unsanitary conditions, it creates a breeding ground for the development and spread of infectious diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

These conditions for animals exist globally, even in Canada, and it’s time to end it.

Thank you for supporting my vision for a more humane world through humane education!

Julie MacInnes, Miss Gatineau World

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If you’re wondering what I’ve been up to for the past couple of months, wonder no more!

This summer has been life-changing for me. I believe that every year of one’s life should be an improvement on the last, and to help me accomplish this, I keep a daily journal of my progress to keep me always in a state of self-reflection and seeing where I can improve (and where I am already doing great!)

In July, I began a new job as a restaurant hostess and I’ve been having a lot of fun! Meanwhile, my Aesthetics school has slowly began to integrate us back into physical classrooms, with some restrictions, and with sporadic online classes. Although I do love Beauty School, I have discovered a passion for law and justice, so I spent some time reaching out to various law schools across Canada, and decided to register for the LSAT (also known as the law school entrance exam), which I will write in April.

I would say that August was a month of exploration. I did some road trips to waterfalls all over Quebec, from Rawdon to Roxton, and finished up with visiting the whales in Tadoussac!

I posted even more pictures of my adventures on my instagram, @katherineleblanc_

I also moved in to a new condo in my beloved West Island (a neigbourhood in Montreal) so I have plenty to keep me occupied while on my journey to  Miss Canada!

Katherine,

Miss Montreal

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As women, we are taught to put ourselves last. I have no doubt that’s a major reason why I got cancer three times.

In a money-driven, capitalist society; we are taught that our productivity is the most important part of us. We are taught that it’s selfish to literally just take care of yourself. However; self-care is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.

I competed in a bikini fitness competition. This fitness competition was a way for me to prove to myself that I’m no longer a victim to my health outcomes. I’m choosing to do everything in my power to not get cancer again. Because I’m a rebel that can take ownership of my own life. Because I’m not a cancer victim. Because I have the capacity to build my health and immunity.

To build up my health, I needed to get uncomfortably real… with myself. Little did I know, I would need to completely and apologetically put myself first. I would need to drop obligations that no longer served me. I would need to disappoint others. And, I would need to detox myself so completely from the idea that working out and eating well, especially as a woman, is vain and selfish. I had never truly put myself first in such a profound and real way.

My challenge to you: how will you incorporate 5 minutes of movement into your day today? Small, sustainable, micro-habit changes over a long period of time are what will change your life.

What sort of movement sparks joy in you? Dancing? Running? Playing with your dog?  Swimming? Jogging on the spot while you make dinner? What is feasible and easy to act on?

Instead of setting lofty, unreasonable goals all at once, it’s better to set yourself up for success with smaller goals that will sustain.

With love,

Julie MacInnes

Miss World Gatineau

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Hello from Julie!

It’s a pleasure to introduce myself to you all. I’m a three-time cancer survivor, lover of the outdoors, a political trailblazer, an ally and advocate for marginalized folks, and an animal lover. I’m excited to tell you a little more about me:

I’ve fought, and won, two battles against Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and then against thyroid cancer. I’ve learned invaluable lessons throughout these experiences. Life is incredibly short, but can be wildly beautiful and unimaginably meaningful if you live with: kindness, gratitude, and listen to your heart.

My passion and path have always been politics. To get real, sustaining change in our country and world, we need laws that catch up to our values. I studied in the male-dominated field of International Economics, graduating with Magna Cum Laude and the Dean’s Excellence Award.

I worked on political campaigns at all levels, including on MP Joyce Murray’s federal Liberal leadership campaign. I have volunteered on many political campaigns to help get more women into political office. It is impossible for women to get ahead if we don’t lift each other up.

In my spare time, I love to hang out with my rescue dog Theodore and practise parkour. Mediation and dance keep me grounded. You’ll likely find me rock climbing or kayaking in my spare time. I dream of one day living in the forest, right on the water.

Currently, I work for the government at Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. I am part of the Government of Canada’s Treaties and Aboriginal Government team, to forge a new chapter in our history. A chapter of listening deeply to the concerns and injustices that face Indigenous, Inuit, and Métis people, and making changes to pave a more harmonious future.

I’ve helped pass the most substantial pieces of animal welfare legislation in Canadian history, including a ban on the shark fin trade, banning the captivity of whales and dolphins, and a ban on the trophy hunting of grizzly bears in British Columbia. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to do this amazing work alongside incredible animal advocates and with the Humane Society International/Canada team.

I am grateful to represent Gatineau and Quebec in the upcoming Miss World Canada pageant! I look forward to connecting with more of you. I am humbled and honoured.

As my journey continues, follow me on Instagram @JulieMacInnes1. And, if you would like to support my fundraiser for Children’s Wish Foundation, please go here!

Much love,

Julie MacInnes
Miss World Gatineau

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While the world is standing up to defend the lives of black men, I implore everyone to remember that black and indigenous women are at an even greater risk of violence than their male counterparts, including in their own households.

“The rapid spread of coronavirus/COVID-19 has created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis around the world. As with most disasters, women and girls are likely to be disproportionately affected. The outbreak presents huge challenges for shelters in terms of safety and training for staff, protection of clients, measures to contain an outbreak within a facility, helping staff work remotely while still supporting victims, and ensuring adequate resources are in place. In addition, as families are encouraged or forced to stay at home, women and children who are vulnerable to domestic abuse will be at greater risk.”

source: https://www.homelesshub.ca/resource/coronavirus-and-womens-shelters-planning-preparation-and-response-covid-19-pandemic%C2%A0

With this in mind, I managed to fundraise enough to purchase 100 face masks and 2 bottles of hand sanitizer for the ladies at the Chez Doris women’s shelter in Montreal!

It’s better to purchase face masks when donating, because homemade masks are not good quality enough for use in commercial settings, although they are fine for personal use when running errands.

If you have PPE to spare, this website https://en.donnezlaprotection.com/ will match make you with those who are in the greatest need, so that you don’t have to figure out for yourself where to donate!

Katherine, Miss Montreal

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As lockdown restrictions ease here in Montreal, we must remember who has been hardest hit by COVID: the elderly. Two-thirds of Quebec’s coronavirus deaths have been in senior’s homes and long-term care centres. Our province’s seniors feel scared and alone. I am going to be personally writing a letter to as many care homes as I can in Montreal.

I want our senior citizens to know that they are loved, that people care, and they are not alone. I encourage all my followers and friends to do the same. While we have spent quarantine snacking and complaining about hair cuts, the elderly have been scared for their lives.

Look up a private senior residence (RPA) or nursing home (CHSLD) in your area, and send them a simple letter to put a smile on their face! Let’s do this!

I am crestfallen that I didn’t think of this idea before, during the thick of things, but there is a Chinese proverb that says, “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the 2nd best time is now.”

88 smiles ready to be delivered today!

Katherine,

Miss Montreal

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COVID-19 has devastated the developing nations of our world. According to the United Nations Development Programme, “Income losses are expected to exceed $220 billion in developing countries. With an estimated 55 per cent of the global population having no access to social protection, these losses will reverberate across societies, impacting education, human rights and, in the most severe cases, basic food security and nutrition.”

I have been using the website freerice.com on and off throughout my life, it is a very fun way to spend time while at home, learn about new subjects, and feed our fellow human beings who need our help.

FreeRice is ad-supported (so make sure to turn off your ad blocker!) and free to play, both on the web and on their mobile app. It allows players to donate rice to families in need by playing a multiple-choice quiz game. You can choose your category, such as Vocabulary, Geography, Humanities, Language, Math, Science, and even a new Coronavirus category, where you can learn more about the disease. You will be asked multiple choice questions (you can adjust the difficulty level) and for each question you answer correctly, 10 grains of rice are donated via the World Food Programme!

www.freerice.com

From Katherine Leblanc,  Miss Montreal

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While I was driving around today enjoying the sun, I heard on the radio that it was international nurses day! I decided to pull over and pick up 10 large pizzas to distribute to nurses at different Montreal hospitals. Since it was a spontaneous thing, I did not have a chance to pick up gloves or a mask. We did however respect social distancing, I did not enter the hospitals themselves, nor did I stay long.

They were all so sweet and so excited to take pictures with Miss Montreal haha, when I was the one who was honoured to meet THEM. Nobody even knew that there was a Miss Montreal, beauty pageants don’t really exist in Quebec, which I definitely want to change because pageantry is amazing!

Thank you to all the nurses who are putting their lives at risk during this pandemic, all for their love of humanity and their selfless need to help others. Nurses are our heroes, especially here in Montreal where 55% of Canadian COVID19 cases are.

Katherine Leblanc, Miss Montreal

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The brave workers at my local pharmacy put themselves in danger everyday to serve my community; to make sure we can still have access to our medications, toiletries and household items. So I made care packages for them, with lots of candies, lotion, lip balm, scented tea lights (vanilla, of course!) and messages of hope and thanks!

I am not the only one with this sentiment, messages of gratitude have appeared all over Montreal.

For our heroes.

Katherine Leblanc, Miss Montreal

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