A woman from southeastern Manitoba will be vying for the title of Miss International Canada.

Ashley Martel Lepine competed in Miss Universe Canada last year and this year she is getting ready for the Miss International Canada pageant. The former resident of Steinbach notes the dates have not been finalized, though she expects the event will likely be held in September in Windsor, Ontario. 

The winner of Miss International Canada is then flown to Japan to focus on being an ambassador for Canada in Japan.

"They really do focus on the world peace and friendship," she says. "They bring women from all different countries together in Japan and really foster that community of understanding and acceptance."

Coming from a peaceful country, Martel Lepine says this could be advantageous for her.

"We really do focus on that and the peace and being friends with your neighbours and all of that," she says. "I'm really excited because I think that I can bring something and really tie into what their main focus is and put emphasis on that."

Martel Lepine says the format does not change much from one pageant to the next, noting they all have the same segments, including the bikini competition and wearing an evening gown. But she notes they like to focus on the humanitarian work.

"You are often given a charity to do some sort of fundraiser for and show how you were creative in raising funds for the charity that they choose that year," she says. 

There is also an interview where judges get to know a little bit more about each contestant.

"It's super fun," she says. "It's over in a blink of an eye it feels like."

Martel Lepine says competing in Miss Universe Canada in 2023 was a great learning experience. She notes it is easy to get caught up in the opinions of others and says she is thankful to have competed last year in order to know what to expect in 2024. One thing that last year's pageant taught her is just how expensive her hobby is. 

Martel Lepine says the list of expenses goes on and on but includes entry fees, airfare, and coaching. And then there is the cost of clothing, noting one evening gown alone can cost between $1,000 and$3,000. 

To help cover her costs, Martel Lepine is holding a fundraising social on May 4th beginning at 7 pm at Pat Porter Active Living Centre in Steinbach.

The public is also welcome to make a donation through her GoFundMe page.

Her GoFundMe page says that as an indigenous advocate, Martel Lepine is committed to using her platform to break down stigmas and to foster a community of understanding and acceptance. It says through her unwavering passion for helping others and her efforts to create positive change, she strives to make a lasting impact on a local scale and soon, on an international stage.


With files from Corny Rempel