“My mother came from a different country, but instilled in me a love for Canada and a love for diversity”– Melissa Felian
Greetings from Miss Ottawa 2019, Melissa! With less than a month away from the Miss World Canada pageant, I have been reflecting about what (or who for that matter) keeps me inspired to achieve greater and better things. I realised that I didn’t need to look too far, as my inspiration has been beside me during my entire life.
My mother was born and raised in Guyana, a small but beautiful tropical country located in South America. She immigrated to Canada at 30 years old, determined to succeed and raise a family here. My mom was keen to have me learn all things Canadian: like skate, speak French and memorize the names of Canada’s great lakes. I was reluctant to learn new things (which kid isn’t though). Skating seemed too challenging and I thought that I probably wouldn’t speak much French in Toronto. Now that I live in Ottawa, I can safely say that I am grateful to skate along the Rideau Canal and communicate in French at work. As for memorizing the names of the great lakes, I am sure that will end up being the winning question at a trivia night some day. The point of this all is to say that even though my mother came from a different country, she instilled a sense of Canadian pride in me because she is happy to be here. She showed me how to love and embrace Canada, something I hope to showcase if I have the opportunity to make it to the national stage.
My mother is a symbol of beauty and grace. She understands the importance of making a good first impression. To her, a strong personality and an impeccable sense of presence demonstrates inner confidence, which is something that you can’t buy. To her it came naturally, but to me it was something I needed to work on because I had always been a bit more shy. My mom understood my personality and taught me how to embrace it. On the aesthetic side, my mom is a queen. She used to sew a lot of my clothes, which earned me a lot of compliments at school. She made me feel beautiful and showed me that I didn’t need designer labels to look good. She understood what went well with my skin and my figure and she always encouraged me to maintain it though a proper diet and a daily intake of cod liver fish oil. As I practice my swimsuit walk and try on my pageant dresses, I aim to channel her confidence and energy.
My mother gave me the tools to face new challenges and uncertainties. In my earlier post, I mentioned that my parents are of different ethnic backgrounds. Toronto has always been a multicultural city, but mixed marriages were less common when I was growing up. I had never been bullied about being interracial, but other kids were curious about why my skin looked the way it did, how one parent was darker or lighter than me etc. I came to my mother feeling distressed, because I didn’t know how to answer their questions. My mom’s response came in brilliant form of a garden analogy. She told me that a garden is more beautiful when it has different kinds of flowers compared to a garden with just one kind of flower. We don’t always know why the garden grows that way, but the differences are what make the garden special. My mom’s response was not only brilliant because it answered my questions, but it taught me the importance of embracing people around me no matter what their differences are. Being humble and having respect for those around you is what makes a real queen and most importantly, a real leader.
This pageant is for you mom.