Hello everyone! Three days left until I board a plane to Toronto for Nationals, can you believe it? The past two weeks have been chock-full organizing clothes, preparing Free the Night_POSdocuments, finding sponsors and attending events. This past Friday, July 24th, I held my largest event when friends, family and acquaintances freed their night for my “Free the Night” social! Funds raised through this event are being donated to Free the Children, the Miss Teenage Canada organization’s charity of choice for delegates competing at Nationals this year. In addition, I partnered with Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for this event as part of my platform, to ensure drinking and driving would not occur as a result of my fundraiser. Both Free the Children and MADD are wonderful organizations, which I believe everyone should know more about.

What is Free the Children?

Free The Children is an international charity founded Craig Kielburger in 1995. Craig was only 12 years of age when he begun developing the charity, one that is now one of the largest charity networks in the world! Craig’s determination to make a change after reading about another boy, Iqbal Masih, a Pakistani child who was forced into bonded labour at the age of four then murdered at the 12, proves the notion that youth truly can make a difference!

Free the Children’s key values:

  • Believes in a world where all children are free to achieve their fullest potentials as agents of change.FreetheChildrenLogo_950x505px
  • Believes today’s generation of young adults should switch their attitudes from “me” to “we”.
  • Working to break the cycle of third-world poverty through their holistic and sustainable development model, “Adopt a Village”, which focuses on multiple methods of community development.

Why should you donate to Free the Children?

  • If you have running water, a home, bed to sleep in and food to eat, you have more than most people in the world today. Not just you and your friends, but everyone, should be able to have the basic necessities life requires.
  • A small act goes a long way. You should feel good knowing that by choosing to skip out on Starbucks once a week and donating to FTC instead, you could be providing a child with a school kit, or a family with a bundle of baby chicks that would grow, produce eggs, and provide a source of sustainable income for a mother and her family.

As eighteen is the age of majority in Manitoba, I was easily able to have a social in order to raise funds for Free the Children. The event took a lot of organizing, but moved along smoothly thanks to Kristi Stoesz and her team at Whiskey Dix Nightclub, who gave me the venue, designed, and printed my social tickets free of charge! We came to the agreement that I would keep all money I raise through advance ticket sales, while Whiskey Dix would receive at the door as well as liquor sales. As alcohol was being served at the venue, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to raise awareness about my platform, discussing the dangers associated with drinking and driving.

Why is this my platform?

My platform is something I am sincerely passionate about. I’m sure that at one point or another, as teenagers, we have all thought we were invincible. I know I did. So did my friend Alex. Last year, we went to a social gathering out near my friend’s cabin. Instead of leaving when we did, Alex chose to stay longer. Later that night, he got into a vehicle with an intoxicated driver. The driver took a turn going 160+ km/h, and rolled the car 3 MADD Logotimes,landing it in a water-filled ditch. Though, thankfully, no one was killed, the accident left Alex in a medically-induced coma, followed by a long period of recovery time. I do not want anyone to have to experience the emotional trauma he, his friends, and family were put through during this horrific time, which is why I believe it’s so important not to drink and drive. Mother’s Against Drunk Driving is an organization that I’ve begun volunteering with in the recent months, as they’re on a mission to end impaired driving, and help victims affected by this crime.

How did I represent my platform at the social?

According to Stats Canada, the number one excuse for teenagers caught drinking and driving is “I had absolutely no other way of getting home”. Because of this, I came up with the camArrive Alive Cardspaign I call #ArriveAlive. Using the slogan “Arrive Alive… Don’t Drink and Drive”, I printed off business cards with three local taxi companies, after receiving approval from their head offices. Thank you to Spring Taxi, Duffy’s, and Unicity Taxi for supporting me and my platform! As guests walked into the venue, their social ticket was exchanged for one of these business cards. In addition, the bathroom attendants agreed to hand out the cards to guests using the facilities, as those who came without a pre-purchased ticket would not receive one at the door! I’m proud to say that an approximate 100 business cards were handed out that evening. Though it would be their responsibility to hail a taxi, I felt content knowing that guests at least had a sure fire way of contacting one.

My supporters

“Free the Night” was a great success, as I raised my goal amount for Free the Children fundraising. It was filled with fun and friends, who’ve been some of the best supporters throughout my Miss Teenage Canada journey. I am proud of the way I promoted my platform through my event, and truly hope that the next time one of my older readers picks up a drink, they’ll put down their keys.

Until next time,

Devon

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Oh Canada, how I love you so. With Canada Day just behind us, I’ve decided to dedicate tCanada Dayoday’s blog post to my favourite country out there… Canada! What makes the hockey-loving, poutine-eating, forever-apologizing people of the North so great? Definitely an abundance of things. Without further adieu, let me share my top eight reasons about why Canada (and the people within) are absolutely fabulous.

8. The humour. 

Believe it or not, I’m not the only funny Canadian out there! Canadians should be proud to call some class acts their own, such as John Candy, Mike Myers (who could forget Wayne’s World, or Austin Power’s franchise?), Russell Peters and Jim Carrey (best known for his role in Dumb and Dumber), just to name a few!

7. The people are polite… Like, really polite. 

Have you ever been in a rush at the shopping mart, bumped into another person’s cart as you quickly turned a corner, and had them blurt “sorry” at the same time as you, even though it was entirely your mistake? If so, you were probably in Canada. A study done by Queen’s University, (creatively titled “Sorry… I’m Canadian”), reports 90% of Canadians aged 18-25 apologize if a stranger bumps into them! A little politeness goes a long way in my books.

6. The freshwater lakes. 

KenoraThere’s a reason why Northwestern Ontario is referred to as “cottage country”. This photo was taken on Lake Kenora, one of Canada’s more than 3 million lakes… More than any other country out there! In the summer these beautiful lakes (which account for 1/3 of the world’s freshwater supply) are perfect for swimming in, fishing, boating, and attempting to waterski on. Mostly surrounded by lush green forests, the lakes of Canada are definitely a breathtaking view.

5. The food. 

What is crunchy, creamy, and cheesy, all at the same time? Poutine. This is a dish that Canadian’s take great pride in (and they should, because it’s absolutely delicious). Said to be developed in Quebec in the 1950’s, this traditional dish of fries, gravy and cheese curds has now taken off into a world of it’s own, with restaurants such as Smoke’s Poutinerie opening up across Canada. Check out their crazy menu here! Sweet maple syrup is another Canadian favourite, as it’s harvested directly from one of the thousands of maple trees that are scattered throughout Canada. The maple leaf is also symbolic, as it’s the image on the Canadian flag!

4. Multiculturalism 

Canada is one of the most multicultural countries in the world. It is a nation of newcomers. The nation was originally inhabited by Aboriginal people, and the immigration began starting with the French and British colonization in the 17th century… One of the main reasons that CanaFolklarama Ambassadorsda has not one, but two, official languages (The other one being French.) As of 2014, Canada is home to more than 200 other mother tongues, including Mandarin, Punjabi, Chinese and Spanish! This is not unlike other countries, who welcome immigrants with open arms. What is unique in Canada though? The unity of the cultures. Every year, a two week-long festival occurs called Folklarama, right here in Winnipeg, Manitoba! Folklarama is the longest largest and longest-running multicultural of its kind in the world, as determined by the International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts (what a tongue twister, eh?). This festival has approximately 50 pavilions, all representing a different culture. I was lucky to meet some of these ambassadors during one of my recent pageant appearances! The festival, which celebrates the diverse cultures in Canada through food, music and dance, is something that definitely makes Canada great.

3. Canada’s hidden patriotism.

Canada is often considered the quiet and likeable neighbours of the United States. While volunteering for the USA-Australia game at this year’s 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, a fellow volunteer pointed out how Americans seem much more patriotic than Canadians. I believe that she was incorrect in this. Just because they are not tooting whistles or blowingCanada Day horns at every chance they get, it in no way means Canadians are any less patriotic! Here I’m pictures handing out treats to children, all decked out in patriotic colours, at this year’s West St Paul Canada Day celebration! Canadians get loud where it counts. If you don’t believe me, see it for yourself. During the 2014 Winter Olympics Men’s gold medal hockey game, my friend Lisa and I were one of the hundreds of Canadians that squeezed into Sharkclub, a downtown Winnipeg sports grill, at 5:30am to watch the magic unfold. Her and I just so happened to be filmed on television as a local news station covered the event!

2.Tim Hortons. 

If you’re Canadian, you know that nothing can beat Tim Hortons. At the age of five it was where you showed your Timbit’s soccer jersey to get a free bottle of peach juice after the game. At the age of 12, it was where your dad took you to warm up with hot chocolate before an evening of skating at one of Canada’s many outdoor hockey rinks. At the age of 19, it’s where you go to get your coffee before you pull your first university all-nighter… The first of many. No matter the occasion, Tim Hortons coffee chain supplies, and will continue to supply, great Canadian memories for all.

1. Hockey.

You may be wondering, how is extremely cold temperatures one of the things that make Canada great? Well, because of these extremely cold temperatures, many Canadians grew up on th2014 Olympic Teame hockey rink. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say some started out on skates not even a year after they started walking! What does this do? Create amazing hockey players. Hockey is the game of Canada, and boy are us Canadians proud of it. Currently, just over 50% of National Hockey League players call Canada home. Second in line is the United States, with 25% of NHL players hailing from that country. Oh, and which country holds the highest amount of gold medals for hockey in the Olympics? I’ll let you take a guess.

So, those are my top eight reasons on why Canada is great. Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment below! If you’ve been keeping up to date with my blogging, you know by now that I love traveling. But Canada? You’re the only place I’ll ever truly consider home.

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Hello everyone! Today is the fourth instalment of my six part blog series, with each update discussing a different place I’ve travelled to! Where was I for a week in November 2012? Orlando, Florida!

A week before Grade 12 midterms my father, brother and I boarded a plane at the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport (unfortunately my mother is a teacher and couldn’t get the time off work), and flew down to Orlando Florida for seven days. I have to say, studying for midterms under the shade of a palm tree is much more enjoyable than shivering & studying in your cold house, trying to keep warm during the dropping November temperatures!

Why Orlando, Florida?

  • My dad goes on a lot of business trips. Hawaii, San Francisco, Banff, Chicago… You name it. If it’s in North America, he’s probably been there. Lucky for him, Family in Floridaright? Lucky for my brother and I, my dad trusts us enough to come along on his business trips once a year and entertain ourselves while he’s in conferences during the day, then we all go out as a family in the evenings! Florida was one of these business trips. With the hotel and food already covered, why would we not join along for the adventure?
  • Ever since I was a child, I had always wanted to experience “The most magical place on Earth!”… Disney World. As our hotel was on Disney property, this was the perfect opportunity to fulfill this goal, and enjoy the beautiful weather Florida has to offer.

What did we do for the week? 

  • Enjoy the sun. Not many Winnipeggers can say they’ve gotten a sun tan in the middle of November! While my dad was in conferences, Brendon and I hung around the pool, explored the resort, and simply enjoyed our week in the sun!
  • Go to theme parks. Florida is known as a tourist hotspot, since it is home to one of the most popular attractions in the world! Walt Disney World Resort, which is comprised of four theme parks, two water parks, a Disney-dedicated downtown shopping area and twenty-one hotels, is forty square miles, or the size of San Francisco. You heard me, a destination created for tourists is the size of one of the most densely populated cities in the United States! As if Disney World isn’t exciting enough, Universal Studios is just around the corner. This is where you can experience rides and attractions based on movies/shows that were produced by Universal Studios, including The Hulk, Despicable Me, The Simpsons, and Harry Potter!

What was my favourite experience in Florida?

  • Attending the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, and the (Alcohol free) ButterbeerAnimal Kingdom in Disney World! One of my deepest, darkest secrets is the fact that I’m a crazed Harry Potter fan… Re-reading the books? Midnight movie screenings? Dressing up as a witch at the theatre? Collecting memorabilia? Yup, that’s me. The following day we headed to Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. After one eight hour day, we still hadn’t seen everything in the park! As I love thrilling rides, my favourite one at Disney World was Expedition Everest. It was a wooden roller coaster that took you through a Yeti’s cavernous lair… You traveled up a mountain to the edge of a cliff. Seeing the jagged, broken tracks at the end I though we were all going to fly off the coaster until it screeched to a halt, and Fireworkswent through the whole ride backwards! Other than that amazing ride, I enjoye going on an animal safari where I saw elephants, rhinos,zebras, lions and giraffes (My long lost relative) roam throughout their natural habitat that had been created for them! To end off an amazing day, a fireworks show erupted behind the glittering Disney castle at Magic Kingdom around 11pm. It was truly one of the most spectacular sights I’ve ever seen.

So, Orlando, Florida is where I was for a week in November 2012! If you’re a thrill seeker, exploring all the amazing rides and excursions these parks have toErica in Disney offer is definitely something you have to do! Another option would be to apply for the Disney International College Program, like my friend Erica did this summer… This program provides students pursuing a post-secondary education the opportunity to spend their summer holidays in Florida, working at a Disney World resort! She seems to be having the time of her life… But I mean living in Florida for the summer? Who wouldn’t like that!

Until next time,

Devon

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