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Aamjiwnaang’s own Sereena Nahmabin is competing to be Miss Indigenous Canada

The inaugural pageant is being held on July 27.
Sereena Nahmabin and her grandmother.

Sereena Nahmabin is excited to be one of 26 contestants vying for the title of Miss Indigenous Canada in July. 

“It’s a self-development and leadership program for Indigenous women across Canada. Their mission is to empower and encourage young Indigenous females to develop leadership skills, work within their communities, and connect culture,” Nahmabin explains adding, “People hear pageant and they automatically think beauty and there are no ties to that.”

According to its website, the Miss Indigenous Canada is a “three-day event geared towards young Indigenous leaders of tomorrow….and was created in an effort to provide an outlet for young Indigenous women to celebrate their abilities and achievements, make connections with like-minded peers, work to serve their communities, and promote cultural involvement and connection.”

Nahmabin almost didn’t apply. It was her sister who sent her the details. “It was an opportunity that came up at the last minute. My sister sent it to me I believe around March 16 and the deadline was April 1. And she was like, ‘hey I feel like you should do this’. So I looked into it and I was intrigued. Mostly because it wasn’t a beauty pageant it was about your qualities and skills and community involvement,” Nahmabin tells the Journal. “What really drove me was that the age gap is 18 to 30 and well if I want to do this, I have to do this now. I have to try.”

With around 400 applicants, Nahmabin was one of 26 selected to compete at the finals in Ohsweken, Ont.  At the finals, participants are required to complete an interview, write an essay, and do both a community and traditional presentation. Nahmabin’s traditional presentation is one that is close to home and involves her grandmother. 

“My gram has a business in holistic medicine, so she goes out into the woods and collects different types of various medicines, that are roots and plants, and so she takes them and she sets them aside for specific illnesses and injuries,” Nahmabin says. “She is going to be my traditional presentation. It’s so great because I get to build that bond even stronger with my gram and she is going to pass down that knowledge to me, which is amazing.”

In addition to preparing for the Miss Indigenous Canada weekend, Nahmabin works as a police constable in London, does boxing and jiu-jitsu, and volunteers her time as a Big Sister.

“I had a Big Sister when I was younger, and she was amazing. We still keep in contact, and she had a huge impact on me at that age…I just remember thinking at that time when I was young I wanted to be a Big Sister,” she says. “I wanted to give that back, it’s something that means so much more to me.”

There will be a lot of people cheering her on as she gets ready to compete and that isn’t lost on Nahmabin.

“I am overwhelmed with the support that I’ve got so far through Aamjiwnaang, my friends and family, online, through my work. I’m so grateful,” Nahmabin says. 

Another component of Miss Indigenous Canada is to raise funds and awareness for We Matter, an organization dedicated to Indigenous youth support, hope, and life promotion. Nahmabin has decided to host a charity boxing match at the Aamjiwnaang First Nation Community Centre on July 13.  “The goal is to raise $10,000. I’m so excited,” Nahmabin says.

Competing in the first-ever Miss Indigenous Canada pageant is a big thing and Nahmabin hopes her involvement and what she stands for will inspire others in her community. 

“I truly believe the only way to lead is by example. You can say that you’re going to do all these things, but people need to see it actually being done. I’m excited to have this opportunity, and be like, "if I can do it, you can definitely do it too.”

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