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Northern Ont. woman is first Indigenous winner of Miss World Canada

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A woman from a First Nation in northern Ontario has made national pageant history as the first Indigenous winner of Miss World Canada 2022.

Emma Morisson is a 22-year-old proud Mushkegowuk woman from Chapleau Cree First Nation, 200 kilometres west of Timmins.

Over the weekend she competed in Toronto against 49 competitors from across the country and took home the crown.

"I was recently taught, it's not about being the first, it's about opening that door for others to walk through," Morrison told CTV News in a Zoom interview.

"And that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to show all Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous youth, and all Canadians that it doesn't matter how small the community or reserve you're coming from, you can still accomplish big things and make a large impact," 

Emma Morrison, Miss World Canada 2022, was crowned by the previous year's winner Jaime Yvonne VandenBerg. (Pageant Group Canada)

Not only did she win the title of Miss World Canada, she also won the Beauty with a Purpose 2022 title.

The Beauty with a Purpose portion requires all delegates to have a humanitarian project or be of service to their community.

Morrison's project involved reconnecting with her Indigenous culture by making traditional ribbon skirts, which took her a year to prepare.

"After the 215 unmarked graves were found at the Kamloops residential school, this inspired me to reconnect with my culture. And this is when I began sewing ribbon skirts for myself to wear to remind me to be proud to be an Indigenous woman and all these feelings I knew I wanted to share with others," she said.

"So this is when I began creating ribbon skirts for other Indigenous women to wear so they'll have a physical link to their culture and remind them to feel empowered, to be proud to be an Indigenous woman."

This is not the first national beauty pageant Morrison has won.  

Her interest in pageants began when she won the title of Miss Northern Ontario 2017.

"Growing up in Chapleau, I really was just hunting and fishing and playing sports and doing all the small town northern things, but what attracted me to pageants is it was something new," Morrison said.

"It sounded so exciting to step outside of my comfort zone and be surrounded by empowering women."

She then went on to nationals where she won Miss Teenage Canada the same year and was the first Indigenous woman to win the title.

Miss Teenage Canada, Emma Morrison of Chapleau

After taking four years off from the pageant world to pursue her education in hair and esthetics, Morrison hasn't skipped a beat.

Now, she will spend the next year preparing for the Miss World competition in Vietnam.

"This is the oldest, most prestigious competition, beauty pageant in the entire world where I'll be meeting over 90 delegates to compete for the title," she said.

Her advice for other young beauty pageant hopefuls?

"Always be brave and have courage to step outside of your comfort zone and through this, it will only expand and open more opportunities for you," Morrison said.

She said in 2012, she was a young girl watching someone from her town compete in a pageant she would go on to win years later and calls her recent title a "full circle moment."

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