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Posted On: Categories:Miss Teenage Canada
Written by: MTC Blog Team Tagged with:, , , , , , , ,
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Posted On: Categories:Miss Teenage Canada
Written by: MTC Blog Team
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Posted On: Categories:Everyday Things

As apart of our lovely stay here in Toronto, we had the opportunity to listen to four very inspirational, successful women. The purpose of this was for us to learn some really valuable lessons from true stories full of inspiration and meaning. The four women who we had the pleasure of listening to were Melanie Chong- the athlete turned model, Katrina Hadden- the model who had once felt she couldn’t fit in anywhere, Alexandra Orlando, the olympic athlete turned author and motivational speaker, and Dr Archer, the powerful dentist and full time mother.

Melani Chong

Melani Chong showing her stunning model side.

Melani had spent her teenage years heavily engaged in athletics, especially track, until one day that all changed. Her father had heard about the Canadian Ford model search, and asked her if she would be interested. Her initial reaction was to laugh it off, since she could never imagine herself as a model. That soon took a 180 turn. After a week or two of continuing with her busy, hefty athletic based schedule, Melani’s father asked her if she’d like to go shopping at the mall. Like any teenage girl, her instincts quickly accepted the invitation. That is, until Melani had discovered it was all a clever trap. As they shopped through the busy, bustling hallways of the mall, Melani’s father said to her “Oh look, the Ford model search is here today!”. I think the

During the speech she gave us.

rest is quite predictable. Melani applied, and her natural beauty was quickly discovered, landing her a spot in the agency. Something about Melani’s story that really struck me was that she wasn’t restricted to being successful at one thing. Being a high school jock and a feminine model seem like completely different ambitions, but she was able to accomplish both. As if that weren’t impressive enough, before becoming a mother of 2, Melani also earned a university degree as a chemist, and started her own natural, organic skin care brand, Soya Boutique. One of Melani’s favourite quotes is “The wisest is he who knows what he wants what he does not know”, by Socrates. Her advice to us is to maintain our passion, which leads to drive, which leads to core actions. Although rejection is crucial, you must always stay focused and confident.

Katrina Haaden


Katrina's stunning headshot.

Although radiating with beauty and confidence on mentor night, Katrina had confided in us of her childhood and teenage years resulting in low self esteem due to bullying to her tall height. Also like Melani, she spent most of her free time participating in sports, although in particularly basketball. Her dream was to make a team on the WNBA. Something Katrina shared with us that really related to me was when she told us that she went in to make a shot, she would visualize the ball going through the hoop before it even left her hands. Even though I can’t relate in the way of being tall enough to have a chance at basketball, one of my secrets is that I love imagining my goals and dreams coming true before they do. Back to Katrina. Although basketball helped her find her place in the world, her world quickly crumbled like an old chocolate chip cookie, due to an injury.

Myself with Katrina.

Her dream of the WNBA seemed unreachable. Because her height opened some opportunities, she tried modelling. However, she once again felt that she couldn’t fit in, and had no place in the modelling industry, or really anywhere. Unfortunately, this eventually lead to an eating disorder, in order to try and feel adequate to the strict standards of the fashion industry. After a steady recovery back to her own beautiful, healthy shape, Katrina was contacted by the Ben Barry Agency. Their motto is “A Real Woman is Every Woman”. After the agency sent her on an audition for a commercial, she was shocked to have won the part despite the competition of stick thin girls. She asked the director why, and he replied that it was because the confidence and positive energy she exuded. This even led to landing a spot on the Toronto Fashion Week runway, with the designer Sunny Fong. She says that you should always use your uniqueness to your advantage. She also gave us 5 tips to living a happy, successful life.

  1.  Take care of your body and health.
  2. Find a way to forget the world.
  3. Carry an attitude of gratitude.
  4. Forgiveness- don’t hold onto negative energy.
  5. Don’t quit.

Alexandra Orlando

For as long as she could remember, her life and identity had been focused around gymnastics. However, she admits to growing very arrogant, and believing that if she worked hard enough she could make the olympics, simply because she had always gotten all of her goals. The sharp reality of failure then hit her when she missed qualifying by 1/10 of a point. Although she had spent her time mourning, her family and friends told her that enough was enough. This learned to an incredible self discovery, and she even has written a book (by one of our sponsors, Burman Books), and has another in the progress. What she realized that what her goal was , was to stand on the olympic podium for a few, short lived seconds. What would bring her there would be years of training, thousands of dollars, and countless support and energy from multiple people. Even though she didn’t make it to that moment, it didn’t erase the 12 years of what gymnastics taught her, aside from repertoire. During her soul searching, she realized that she didn’t love her life as a gymnast because of her talent, but because gymnastics brought out the best in her. She grew resilient, she had endless efforts and took peak care of her body- it wasn’t being able to do double back twists that made her love her life.

Dr. Archer

First off, I must say that Dr Archer shared a quote that I’ve grown up with. My mom has also always said that “Nobody can take an education away from you”, which I absolutely love. Its so true! Clothes go in and out of style, the economy rises and falls, but your education is always valid. Something very admirable about Dr. Archer is that she’s such an overachieving, modern day, super woman. Not superman, super woman, since she exercises her abilities that only a woman can possess. Not only has she dedicated over 8 years of her life to university to build such an impressive career as a dentist, she’s also a full time mother and wife. I thought it was so important that she stressed to us that even though its important to want to have a strong relationship and maybe even kids one day, that we must be so careful. She really explained to us that although having a marriage and a family appear that it can be fun, that they’re huge commitments and steps in life that you won’t be ready for until you have a very clear understanding of yourself, and the life you surround yourself with.

Written by: Justine Orban Tagged with:, , , , , , , , ,
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For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to travel to South America. In particular, I would love to visit Colombia. Although there has been dangerous encounters in the past, there are safe places aswell. One of my current aspirations is to learn Spanish. This would help me a great deal, and a lot of social interactions would go a lot more smoothly compared to if I only knew English. I think it would be amazing for me to learn more about my heritage, and get to experience a lot of it first hand.

A photo of Shakira while visiting her home of Colombia.

There are a number of things that really attract me to the Latin American culture. I’ve always loved Latino music. Some of my favourite artists are Romeo Santos, Daddy Yankee, Shakira, and Enrique Iglesias. Something that a lot of people don’t know about Shakira is how much she keeps in touch with her roots, and how down to earth she still is, regardless of her huge success. She has actually began a $36 million education project for more than 6000 Colombian students, in order to promote university educations.

Colombian Empanadas. An appetizer composed of a pastry filled with chicken, several peppers and spices.

If you have any latino friends, or access to any food channels, you’ll know that a very attractive aspect of Latino culture is the delectable food! A wide variety of flavours are present in nearly every dish. From the sweet chiros and creamy flan (although flan is traditionally Mexican), and the juicy fruits to spicy fajitas and enchiladas, there are tastes for every eater imaginable! And who could ever forget a rich cup of Colombian coffee! In my house we’re very picky, and just about only buy Colombian coffee grounds. Once you experience the strong, delicious taste, you will fall in love.

The tropical rain forests have some of the highest levels of biodiversity in existence. It is estimated that 50%- 80% of all plant and animal species in the world are present in the tropical rain forests.

Finally, something that completely allures me to the beautiful country of exotic Colombia is definitely the climate and landscape. Completely contrasted to Canada, Colombia has a tropical climate. Since it’s so close to the equator, this is an explanation for the consistent hot temperatures such as 27 degrees celsius, and levels of high humidity. In terms of precipitation, its safe to say its nowhere close to receiving four feet of the snow the way Alberta or Ontario does. However, in the tropical rainforest areas, a mean level of rain precipitation can easily reach 4000 mm annually. I think its absolutely incredible how preserved the rain forests are specifically in South America. The rich biodiversity is a beautiful indicator of preserved plant and animal species that haven’t yet been extinct, especially due to human activity or pollution (phew!). All of your senses are stimulated when visiting a rainforest. The touch of soft leaves, the smell of fertile, fresh plants. The taste of ripe fruits. The sound of calling birds. And of course, the beautiful view of colours and shapes you can find nowhere else in the world.

The use of colours in this beautiful building in the capital of Colombia, Bogota, is stunning!

The Social Media Queen prize has been generously sponsored by S-Trip! 

S-Trip! takes student travellers on unforgettable adventures around the world. Celebrate the exciting conclusion of high school in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Cuba, Costa Rica or Bahamas with all your friends on Grad Trip. Spend a weekend skiing or snowboarding at one of Canada’s premier mountain resorts on Ski Trip. Experience culture, sightseeing and events in Montreal or Quebec City on Busaway. Make a difference in an underdeveloped country on an impactful student Volunteer Trip. Explore the culture and history of Europe on Euro Adventure. For more information visit www.s-trip.com.

Written by: Justine Orban Tagged with:, , , , , , , ,
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The Look Good, Do Good, Feel Good video challenge sponsored by Aveda Canada has been one of my favourite assignments as Miss Teen Okotoks- World. The objective was to dress up glamourously in our sashes and crowns (hence the ‘look good’), and perform a good deed which left us warm and fuzzy. Good deeds are something I feel very personal about, and I thought it was an amazing idea for us to show how humble and down to earth us titleholders could still be, regardless of the fact that we’re considered beauty queens.

Ever since I can remember, my mother has always given me the advice to remember that when we perform positive actions, that they will make a difference. No matter how minor a good deed may seem, it’s always one more thing done. Something my mom does is when she goes to the grocery store and uses one of the shopping carts that require you to insert a quarter, she leaves her quarter in when she’s finished so the next person doesn’t have to pay. Even though its only a mere 25 cents, it may have brought a small amount of happiness or excitement to that person, even if it only lasted for a second.

Although sometimes my friends tease me for it, I occasionally pick up pieces of litter and dispose of them properly. This was shown through my video, which was of me picking up litter in a local park in my town. Of course I know that picking up one empty soda can won’t cure the Earth of pollution, I like to hope that I positively influence people around me. I always wonder what if would be like if everybody took a few moments of their busy days to pick up one piece of trash from the ground and throw it out.

My Look Good, Do Good, Feel Good video definitely reflected my own personal beliefs, and really hit home with me. I’m very happy that I’m able to spread the message that small actions and decisions can lead to a chain reaction. I remember a few years ago my mother and I went to a drive through coffee shop, and when we pulled to the window to pay, my mom asked to also pay for the person behind us. The next time we returned, we had the same employee, who remembered us and was excited to tell us that after we payed for the customer behind us, that person had decided to do the same. And that person had then also done the same! That chain had continued for nearly an hour!

I think its absolutely incredibly inspiring when humans can embrace the fact that we all live together, and that we’re all very similar deep inside, in the way that we all want to believe in universal kindness and goodwill. The progress that can be achieved through team work and cooperation can ripple and spread. I always tell myself that no good deed goes forgotten.

Feel free to check out my video here!

Written by: Justine Orban Tagged with:, , , , , , , ,
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Do you enjoy camping? Friendly competition? Going on adventures with your friends? How about helping give back to worthy causes? Look no further, the game of  ‘You Don’t Say’ is for you! You Don’t Say is a reality television show, travelling across the world, one town at a time. How do you play? In each town, a designated area in the local wilderness (ranging from forests to parks) is selected with set boundaries. For one week, five teams of two best friends are playing against each other. Each team will submit one rule that every team, except themselves, must follow to stay in the game. Examples of rules could be ‘You must run one half-hour a day’, or ‘You must go one meal a day without meat’. However, these rules must be approved by the host, Justine Orban, to assure they are reasonable and appropriate. The object of the game is to live according to the rules without giving up, and without speaking.

My poster for You Don't Say

So after reading the rules of this game, you’re probably wondering who in the right mind would want to ever live in the wilderness for up to a whole week, go through physically and mentally draining challenges, and not even be able to speak. The idea of not speaking for a set amount of time was inspired from Free The Children’s ‘Vow of Silence’. If you aren’t familiar with the Vow of Silence, here’s a quick break down. Eager, enthusiastic supporters of the charity receive pledges of money for each hour they can go without speaking a word, and the money is then donated to FTC. This means that with the total number of 10 players, even more is donated to this amazing charity than ever before! Not to mention, the winning team will also receive an awesome prize pack from Me to We Style, and an exclusive S-Trip with other winners of You Don’t Say (except on this trip, they will be allowed to speak!). One main requirement to be a contestant on the show is to have a minimum of 5 sponsors to pledge you on your vow of silence.

So let’s think about it… Going on an adventurous, once in a lifetime challenge with your best friend, pushing your own limits as you create a deep, meaningful connection with nature, and learning to communicate without verbal language, for a chance to win an incredible vacation- all while you’re giving back to charity! The question now is, who wouldn’t want to play?!

About my sponsors

 S-Trip is a well known company with a great reputation for incredible vacations to deserving students. After completing such challenging, difficult tasks during the show, and raising the most money for Free the Children, the winners would deserve a relaxing, rewarding trip with other worthy winners who share the drive and passion which has given them such an opportunity.

A household name in affordable, quality, Canadian everyday essentials. Giant Tiger has been providing the staples of what we need to manage our day-to-day lives easily and quickly. During the show, contestants should all be equipped with the same items to ensure fairness. Some of these items could be food, tools, containers, or first aid. Without these materials, much complexity and conflict could potentially occur amongst competitors.

A partner to Free the Children, Me to We Style generously donates 50% of its generated income to the charity. By wearing Me to We Style, not only is the company displayed in a positive way, but also Free the Children is promoted, all while the wearer feels confident, comfortable and proud to wear trendy, in style clothing. Wearing Me to We Style is a way of unifying FTC supporters and causing awareness for the cause.

When I was first assigned the Dream TV Show blog, I immediately knew I wanted to write a reality show. I’m very competitive and love game shows and competitions. But something else I really wanted to incorporate was making this game show different from the others. During my reign as Miss Teen Okotoks- World, I’ve been fundraising for Free the Children, so this means I’ve done a fair amount of research to learn about the charity. One of the campaigns stood out the most to me, and that was the Vow of Silence. I thought it was an excellent strategy of raising awareness. While many people try to be heard and get attention by being loud, or saying very strong statements, the Vow of Silence gets attention the exact opposite way, which I find absolutely genius. It’s actually something that I would love to participate in. Needless to say, if You Don’t Say were to be a real television show, I’d gladly take an episode off from hosting to be a contestant!

Written by: Justine Orban Tagged with:, , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Calgary International Children’s Festival

As I mentioned in one of my earlier blog posts, I got the chance to volunteer at the Calgary International Children’s Festival. This was an especially significant opportunity for me since I have had to grow up very fast. I think its also very important for children to savour and cherish every moment of their childhood, because its truly a privilege to live life through the pure, youthful quality as a child, and experience life through an innocent perspective, and live through bliss and fun. I think that the Calgary Children’s Festival really captured this essence, and it was a truly unique, special event that everybody, young and old, could feel this aura. I thought it was a heart warming example of how the love and passion for children’s happiness could bring so many busy and dedicated people from around the world together for one reason. In particular, I worked at the Artist Meet and Greet, which was a party for all the performers and artists from all over the world to mingle with each other. For example, I met the band ‘Drums United’, who have  members from Bangladesh, Senegal, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Surinam and Venezuela. They play some amazing songs, with thriving, global rhythms. Heres one of my favourite videos by them. I was also told that it was a CIFC tradition for all of the artists and staff to take a group photo doing a tiger pose, and this was so fierce that I just couldn’t resist!

The fierce artists and staff from the 2012 Calgary International Children's Festival.

Miss Teen Okotoks In The Newspaper

Recently, I also had some exciting new from my mom that the local newspaper for Okotoks, the Western Wheel had requested an interview with me! This was very exciting for me, and although interviews are typically my weakest spot, I ended up feeling very comfortable with the entire thing. I think it was such a privilege, and it really added to the whole atmosphere of just how big of a deal it really is to be a national finalist for Miss Teen Canada- World. It was even a pleasant shock for me to see just how real this entire experience is when I got to see myself on the finalist page! The newspaper interview was actually so much fun, I love having questions asked about myself, because that way I can share so much about myself that some people may have never guessed to be true about me. I encourage you to check out my interview, I think you may learn some very interesting facts about myself, and my mom’s perspective on how the pageant has effected me.

The photo taken of me for my town's newspaper in front of a very recognizable Okotoks location- The Sheep River.


I felt like a mini celebrity seeing myself in the newspaper!

Written by: Justine Orban Tagged with:, , , , , ,
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This 1969 Chevy Camaro sold for nearly $70,000!

Recently, I volunteered at my town’s collector car auction. I thought it was such an interesting experience. Even though it’s usually boys who like cars, I do too, even though I admit to being a full on girly girl. I thought it was so awesome how many car enthusiasts gathered for the whole day, from all walks of life! Men and women, boys and girls, young and old, it seemed everybody enjoyed seeing beautiful vehicles I could only dream of owning.

I particularly liked this purple 1973 Plymouth Cuda! This sold for $40,000.

Lucky for me, one of the organizers of the auction was kind enough to let me bring my donation box for Free the Children! Since I was working at the admission table, people would donate their spare change after purchasing their passes for the auction. From the change donations alone, I earned $109! It was also an incredibly generous surprise, for me to find out at the end of my work day that I was getting paid for my volunteer work. I decided to put this towards my fundraising, which gave me a total of $191.

This classic Corvette was a favourite!

I’m not going to lie, I honestly find that fundraising has been the most challenging component of the entire pageant for me, it can be quite intimidating asking people for money, even though it’s for a charity. However, I now realize the purpose of this challenge, and why we get bonus impression marks if we raise $1,000 and above. It shows a lot of initiative, organization and leadership to be able to raise such an amount of money, and in the end it is all donated to such a worthy cause. After experiencing first hand how difficult it can be, I find it absolutely astonishing and inspiring to hear that the most money every raised by a Miss Teen Canada- World delegate was $14,000!

My Free the Children donation box after the Car Auction.

Since plenty of fundraising happens at high schools, I decided to ask the upper school principal at my school if there was anything we could do. Unfortunately, since I go to a private school, there can be much more specific rules, and in the constitution we aren’t permitted to fundraise. However, this doesn’t mean that my teachers haven’t been incredibly supportive.

My principal actually used to be the Free the Children representative at the school he last taught at, and he actually did the Vow of Silence for an entire day, while he taught classes! He suggested that I prepare something short I can say to the upper school explaining what Free the Children is, why I care about it, and why they should as well, so that way they can feel free to donate without breaking any school rules. Also, today I spoke to my badminton coach whose extremely easy going, and easy to talk to. He suggested that I speak to a few teachers about collecting their bottles, or even asking the school’s headmistress about getting a week’s worth of the school’s recycled bottle bags. It was also so kind of him to donate $5 to me today for my donations box- random acts of kindness ALWAYS make my day!

Working at the Okotoks Collector Car Auction.

Although I’m quite nervous to ask, I have to tell myself that the worst possible scenario is a no. But honestly, rejection is a part of life, and it is something that everybody faces through their life, no matter how successful or prestigious they may be. Something my mom tells me when I vent my concerns to her is, “You know, most people probably find it easier to ask your teacher for a bag of recycled bottles than to model a bikini in a  provincial beauty pageant”. Her advice always makes me laugh- it’s brutally honest yet hilarious!

Written by: Justine Orban Tagged with:, , , , , ,
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Posted On: Categories:Events, Fundraising