Congratulations to Brooklyn Wilkins of Hopewell Cape, Albert County, who was crowned the 2019 National Canadian Teen in Toronto on July 5th. Brooklyn, the 17-year-old daughter of Annick Robichaud Butland and Cory Wilkins, represented New Brunswick and won! We are extremely proud and thankful to Brooklyn for being such a wonderful ambassador of Albert County and New Brunswick on the national stage.
Let's talk with Brooklyn about her pageant experience.
My interest in pageants started with the Albert County Exhibition (ACE) Queen pageant in 2016. I wasn't sure about whether or not I was going to enter, since I didn't think that I belonged in pageants, but Dawne McLean convinced me otherwise. I entered the pageant and, much to my surprise, won! From there I was invited to enter the Miss Teen Atlantic Canada pageant. Similar to ACE, I wasn't going to enter. I had no confidence in myself whatsoever and I was certain that I would only embarrass myself in front of everyone. But, throughout my weekend at the fair that year, I had numerous people (especially Kelly Power and Debbie Steeves) encourage me to just go for it. Their faith in me pushed me to take the next step into the big leagues.
How did you choose which pageants you wished to enter?
When I first started out, I wasn't aware of the pageant community in New Brunswick at all! So basically, if I was invited, I would enter. But then as my knowledge grew, I found that I look for three things: (1) A system that gives me a platform to advocate for things such as mental illnesses or women empowerment and where the title will be taken seriously; (2) The title-holder is chosen primarily for her personality and community work; and (3) It has good reviews from previous delegates and social media.
How have you volunteered in the community and supported charity organizations?
As a titleholder, community involvement is a must. Some memorable events have been the SPCA Paws Walk, the Run for Women (in support of the Beausejour Family Crisis Centre), Phar Dans La Nuit (night of the arts, based around mental health), and the Monster Trot (in support of the Atlantic Wellness Community Centre). I've also visited the seniors at Forest Dale Home, read at Santa in the Park in Riverside-Albert, and volunteered at the Albert County Winter Carnival. As Miss Teen New Brunswick I was involved with the Miss Teen Atlantic Pageant, by helping backstage during the pageant. I judged the first-ever Little Miss Atlantic Pageant and co-Emceed the Diamond Night they held in support of their scholarship fund. What the Atlantic Canada pageant system does for their delegates is incredible
What positive or rewarding experiences have you enjoyed during the pageants?
The sisterhood. It took me a little while to adapt to the term, but there really is no other word to describe the bond you form with these girls. It is remarkable. The amount of support and encouragement we give one another is overwhelming and within just a few days we feel like we've known each other for years. From inside jokes to vulnerable moments to simply being there when the stress of pageant week becomes too much, these memorable moments truly define this word.
What is the greatest impact that the pageant experience has made in your teenage life?
Participating in pageants has shaped who I am. It's made me more confident in both my appearance and in being able to just be myself. It's given me the courage and ambition to speak about things that I am passionate about and to follow my dreams. Pageants have shown me that I am loved, and that beauty is found on the inside where it shines brighter than any star in the galaxy.
What would you say to someone who was interested in entering a pageant for the first time?
Just go for it. You won't regret it. Remember that pageants are about so much more than appearances. They are a celebration of life, kindness, and confidence. So just go out, enjoy yourself and learn things about yourself along the way. Remember who you are and never stray from that.
As the 2019 National Canadian Teen, what commitments will you have during your title year?
I have to do a minimum of ten events throughout the year. I'm super excited to have done my first one at the Shepody Days Kayak Race. I am holding a book drive across Albert County in support of the Multicultural Association of the Greater Moncton Area (MAGMA) on July 27th. Times and locations are on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/NationalCanadianTeen2019). If anyone would like me to attend their event as the National Canadian Teen, they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm always looking for new events to attend and I will do my best to go if my schedule allows it.
Do you have any charity projects you plan to support?
I intend to continue my work as an advocate for mental health. I hope to take my message to schools now that I am in university.
Is there an opportunity for you to enter an international pageant?
Yes! Next July I am going to be a member of Team Canada for the Royal International Miss Pageant in Florida! I can't wait to represent Albert County, New Brunswick and Canada on the international stage.
You just graduated from Caledonia Regional High School, what are your future plans?
This coming fall, I am enrolled at St. Thomas University in Fredericton for Journalism and Creative Writing. I hope to eventually become a Travel Journalist and I hope to be publishing my first book soon.