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HUMANS OF SARNIA: Sereena Nahmabin

The Sarnia Journal has partnered with local photographer Art Connolly to feature his captivating “Humans of Sarnia” series as he delves into the lives and experiences of everyday people in Sarnia. Follow his series on Instagram and Facebook


I had the honour of meeting Sereena Nahmabin, one of the 26 contestants chosen from an impressive pool of 400 applicants for the Miss Indigenous Canada 2024 pageant. This isn't a typical beauty pageant; as Sereena explained, the four-day event is “geared toward the young leaders of tomorrow.”

The Miss Indigenous Canada website highlights their mission to empower and encourage young Indigenous women to develop leadership skills, give back to their communities, and connect to their culture. According to Nahmabin, contestants will complete an interview, write an essay, and present a traditional presentation.

An integral part of the Miss Indigenous Canada initiative is fundraising for “We Matter.” This Indigenous youth-led organization is dedicated to supporting Indigenous youth, fostering hope, and promoting life. To contribute, Nahmabin has organized a boxing event scheduled for Saturday, July 13, 2024, from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM at 1972 Virgil Avenue, Sarnia, ON N7T 7H5. Tickets are available online at Eventbrite.

What drives Sereena Nahmabin, you may wonder? Meeting her, one is immediately struck by her genuine smile and direct eye contact, creating an instant sense of comfort and undivided attention.

Sereena was born and raised in Sarnia by her mother, along with her five siblings, in the Aamjiwnaang community. As a member of the Bear Clan, known as protectors, she faced challenges, and witnessed domestic violence but found guidance from her older cousin and grandmother.

In her teens, following a difficult breakup, Sereena attended a boxing class with her mother and sister. Her coach quickly recognized her talent, calling her “a natural.” This encouragement propelled her into competitive boxing, achieving gold medals in esteemed tournaments such as the Ontario Golden Gloves tournament in 2015 and the Brampton Cup tournament in 2019. Additionally, she proudly earned a silver medal at the Canadian Nationals in 2019. Although she considered an Olympic career, by the end of 2019, Sereena shifted her focus to her career, continuing to coach women’s boxing classes.

Boxing, for Sereena, is more than a sport. It’s a metaphor for life’s challenges and victories. She shared a poignant story about two boys with an alcoholic father: one became an alcoholic, citing his father as the reason, while the other abstained for the same reason. It's all about perspective.


During Sereena’s high school years, she participated in a seven-week military program but ultimately chose to enroll in the Police Foundations program, encouraged by her high school counselor. Now a police constable with the London Police Services for five years, she also practices jiu-jitsu and remains actively involved in boxing.

In addition to her professional and athletic pursuits, Sereena serves as a Big Sister, inspired by the mentors who guided her, including her mother, grandmother and her best friend Kailee’s mother, whom she lost to suicide.

Sereena Nahmabin is not just a contestant in a pageant; she is a beacon of inspiration, resilience, and leadership. Her journey and dedication to her community make her a true role model and a promising leader for the future.

“Humans of Sarnia” founder Art Connolly is a man fuelled by curiosity and a passion for connecting with people in Sarnia. Inspired by the renowned “Humans of New York” series, with a camera in hand, he captures the very essence of the individuals he encounters, preserving their stories through his lens.

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