Original Published on Nov 17, 2022 at 15:21
By Amanda Rabski-McColl, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The journey to become the first Indigenous woman named Miss World Canada has been an interesting one for Emma Morrison.
“It’s such a surreal moment in my life right now, I’m so shocked, but so, so happy,” said Morrison about the days since she was crowned.
She has previously been crowned Miss Northern Ontario 2017 and she was the first Indigenous Miss Teenage Canada in 2017.
She had taken some time away from pageantry to pursue her education, but after her graduation, she jumped back in.
“What better time to reintroduce myself to the pageant spotlight?”
Morrison, who is from the Chapleau Cree First Nation, wants to show everyone the beauty of her culture and her community during her time as Miss World Canada, and her work during the lead-up to the pageant showed that connection.
Every participant in the pageant has to have their own grassroots community-based project in order to compete.
Her humanitarian project for the Beauty with a Purpose portion of the competition was Reconnecting with Ribbon Skirts. She was also pushed to reconnect with her own heritage by the discovery of unmarked graves at a residential school site in Kamloops.
“It’s my mission to share a feeling of empowerment through these ribbon skirts,” says Morrison. “As the reigning Miss World Canada, I want to continue to give ribbon skirts, so they’ll have that piece of traditional clothing, to remind them to be proud of their cultural identity.”
The project was started before she had considered competing for the Miss World Canada title, as part of her own reconnection journey.
She has made 23 ribbon skirts for Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people so far, including skirts for several children in foster care.
Morrison said that the humanitarian component of Pageant Canada’s program was part of the appeal of their competitions.
“That’s what made me feel so naturally drawn to the competition, that there is this initiative to back it up,” she says. “It really does drive change and hope in the communities.”
Morrison says the support from her community has been overwhelming, with congratulations coming from all over the province.
“They’ve been my backbone through it all, and seeing all these positive messages from all different backgrounds, it’s been fantastic to see,” she says.
She is working on several projects, including future workshops with Mushkegowuk youth in Timmins.
Her message remains focused on Indigenous youth and their ability to push back against obstacles as they work toward their goals.
“Step outside your comfort zone, regardless of your limitations or surroundings,” says Morrison. “You can accomplish big things and have big goals for yourself. With hard work, passion and drive, there is no limit to what you can achieve.”
She will represent Canada in the 2023 Miss World competition.