Island representative breaks down stereotypes and shines on national stage

TORONTO— She went, she sang and she won! Miss Manitoulin 2014 Katie Harper represented Manitoulin Island at the Miss Teenage Canada pageant in Toronto last week, winning the title of Miss Teen Talent Canada 2015 in the talent division.

“I was one of 82 girls selected from across the country to compete in  all aspects of the Miss Teenage Canada competition,” explained Katie. “One of the aspects we competed in was talent. All the contestants had to perform a talent—there was singing, dancing and even poetry reading. I felt confident going into the talent portion of the competition at the Saturday night gala where all the contestants perform their talent and 30 second platform presentation, but once I saw how amazing all the girls were I got a little nervous. It was some pretty steep competition. I sang ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ from the musical Funny Girl (the song that won Katie the talent award at the Miss North Ontario pageant earlier this year).”

Miss Manitoulin 2014 Katie Harper of Little Current sings ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ at the Miss Teenage Canada pageant in Toronto this past weekend. Her  performance earned her the title of Miss Teen Talent Canada 2015. photo courtesy of Miss Teenage Canada
Miss Manitoulin 2014 Katie Harper of Little Current sings ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ at the Miss Teenage Canada pageant in Toronto this past weekend. Her performance earned her the title of Miss Teen Talent Canada 2015.
photo courtesy of Miss Teenage Canada

“I started at the back of the room and made my way through the crowd to the stage,” Katie continued. “It felt so good to perform, I hadn’t performed in a long time and it was a huge release of energy and negativity. I was so happy when I received two standing ovations following my performance and was named in the top three for talent.”

Being named in the top three for talent earned Katie a spot on the famous Queen Elizabeth Theatre stage performing her song during the finals for the judges.

Her performance wowed both judges and the audience again, and Katie received another standing ovation and the talent award making her Miss Teen Talent Canada 2015 and awarding her a $500 cash prize.

“The stage was huge,” exclaimed Katie. “It was my first time performing on a stage that big. It was amazing. I started in the audience, down by the judges and then worked through the crowd again and onto the stage. I think the performance aspect of my talent is what made me stand out, because I was up against some good singers.”

Katie and the Northern Ontario girls having  breakfast with Miss Teenage Canada 2014 Francesca  McFadden.
Katie and the Northern Ontario girls having breakfast with Miss Teenage Canada 2014 Francesca McFadden.

She also got the attention of a talent and modeling agent while at the pageant.

Katie was hand selected to represent Manitoulin Island at the Miss Teenage Canada pageant after competing in the Miss North Ontario pageant this spring. She travelled to Toronto last week for a busy week filled with interviews, photo shoots, sightseeing and a lot of rehearsing.

“It was a crazy week,” Katie told The Expositor. “We woke up every day between 7 and 9 am, depending on the day, and had a quick breakfast before we headed to rehearsals until 2 pm, followed by a quick lunch and then back to rehearsals. Then we would usually have an outing of some kind. We went to dragon boat racing, shopping at the Yorkdale Mall, lunch one day at the Eaton Centre and even a trip to Niagara Falls.”

“It was really challenging at times,” said Katie. “Everyone was really sleep deprived from long days and long rehearsals in heels. There wasn’t a lot of down time and many of our outings were spur of the moment.”

Though Katie said she had an amazing time, she shared that other elements of the pageant were personally challenging for her.

“I started losing confidence during the first few days,” Katie said. “Preparing for swimwear was hard. They gave me a tankini, which I was thankful for, but I started feeling like I wasn’t good enough to be there. I was getting discouraged.”

Miss Manitoulin 2014 Katie Harper, second from right, with her fellow Northern Ontario contestants including Alyssa Chiasson, Chelsey Pitfield and Madison Kvaltin at the Miss Teenage Canada pageant last week in Toronto. photos by Cheryl Kozera
Miss Manitoulin 2014 Katie Harper, second from right, with her fellow Northern Ontario contestants including Alyssa Chiasson, Chelsey Pitfield and Madison Kvaltin at the Miss Teenage Canada pageant last week in Toronto.
photos by Cheryl Kozera

Katie said the turning point for her was positive feedback from friends and family and she worked hard to bring her confidence back.

“I realized that I was chosen for a reason and I was there because I wanted to represent a group of girls who don’t feel that they are good enough. To show them that it doesn’t matter what you look like, everyone is special and unique and perfect just the way they are. That’s what I based my platform on,” she continued.

“I stand for a healthy, natural, self loving body,” states Katie’s official platform. “If you have these qualities you, my friend, are ‘perfect.’ ‘Beautiful,’ ‘perfect,’ ‘flawless,’ ‘sexy.’ All of these words are just excess. They are typically used in our society today to define a skinny body, but have I got some news for you. Nothing in this world is more important than loving yourself. If you don’t have that, you having nothing to go off of. To the girls who look in the mirror every single morning and are almost in tears because of what they see, forgive yourself, cut yourself some slack and love, for heavens sake. This body is the only one you have. To the girls breaking the stereotype, continue. There are so many different girls out there, and every single one of us deserves to be appreciated. I stand for the equality of appreciation of every body type and that deterring from your hope and dreams because of your physical traits is unnecessary, and so ‘last year’.”

The seventeen-year-old Little Current resident is looking forward to some downtime after a crazy summer balancing her duties as Miss Manitoulin 2014 (which included crowning Miss Manitoulin 2015 Brittany Manitowabi on July 31), fundraising and preparing to attend Miss Teenage Canada plus rehearsing for Theatre Cambrian’s RENT in which Katie plays one of the leads, Joanne.

“This fall we are doing the production of Cats at my school, which I am really looking forward too,” said Katie. “I’m also looking forward to a family vacation to Florida in January.”

Katie will be going into her final year at Sudbury Secondary School, triple majoring in vocal music, drama and dance and graduating next spring with a SHSM (Specialist High Skills Majors) in the arts. She hopes to pursue a carrier on Broadway.

The Miss North Ontario delegants including Katie, far right, spell out MNO and a heart for ‘Miss North Ontario love’ while showing off their evening wear.
The Miss North Ontario delegants including Katie, far right, spell out MNO and a heart for ‘Miss North Ontario love’ while showing off their evening wear.

Katie’s fellow Northern Ontario contestants stood out at the pageant too, with Miss Teenage Sudbury Madison Kvaltin winning Miss Photogenic and Miss Teenage Rainy River District Alyssa Chiasson placing in the final top 10.