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Meet Roxanne Bilski, the Canadian Activist Fighting for Women’s Rights

Gender equality is a human right, but our world faces a persistent gap in access to opportunities and decision-making power for women and men.

Globally, women have fewer opportunities for economic participation than men, less access to basic and higher education, greater health and safety risks, and less political representation.

The gorgeous Roxanne Bilski, who'll be competing for the crown of Miss World Canada 2018 later this year, has launched a platform called Project Equity. The mission of this platform is to shift the conversation around women’s rights and gender equity from why to how.  Their focus is to provide visibility into the various issues that women continue to face day-to-day, with focus on topics such as workplace dynamics, sexual harassment and violence against women, and the underrepresentation of women in certain fields (i.e. Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Politics, and the underrepresentation of women at senior levels) - "Together, we hope to educate and empower women and men through workshops, debates, and involvement in the community" - she explained.

If she wins the crown Roxanne will have the opportunity to represent Canada in Miss World in Sanya, China on December 8, 2018. The canadian beauty queen hopes to inspire and influence those who look up to her with her words, actions, positivity, kindness, and hard work.  "It is very important to have strong female role models.  I hope to be a role model to young girls and women in my community and in my country, and promote body positivity, self-love, confidence, and inspire women to pursue their personal and professional goals, and to empower one another along the way."

Let's know a little more about Roxanne's story through this interview!


You will compete at the Miss World Canada Pageant, how will you prepare the contest?  

There are only two more weeks until I compete for the national title of Miss World Canada.  I am beyond excited for pageant week, which will be hosted in Toronto, Ontario from July 22 to 28th

In order to prepare for the pageant, there are a few key areas I have been focusing on: my physical fitness, my fundraising efforts for the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, and my Beauty with a Purpose Project. 

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(1) Physical Fitness

Living a healthy and active lifestyle is very important to me.  Physical fitness has always been an important part of my routine.  Growing up, I was involved in various sports, including track and field, volleyball, basketball, and I was most heavily involved in competitive cheerleading (I was a competitive cheerleader for 7 years!).  I enjoy the outdoors, hiking, horseback riding, running, boxing, spinning, and hot yoga.

In order to physically prepare myself for the national Miss World Canada pageant, I have been combining my regular workouts in the gym with boot camp classes three to four times a week for some added intensity.  I also enjoy working on my cardio by going on runs along the lakeshore in beautiful downtown Toronto. 

Eating healthy is also a key factor in preparing my physique for the swimwear and physical fitness portion of the pageant.  I have been upping my protein intake and have been cooking healthy, wholesome meals.  After all, you know what they say… Abs are made in the kitchen!  I have also been drinking lots of water (with lemon, cucumber, and ginger added) to stay hydrated, flush any unwanted toxins, and keep my complexion clear. 

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(2) Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada

The Miss World Canada organization is committed to giving back.  Each year, Miss World Canada is proud to support different charities across Canada. As a delegate for the national Miss World Canada pageant, I have been raising funds for the Children's Wish Foundation of Canada.  

The Children’s Wish Foundation is the largest and only all-Canadian wish-granting charity dedicated to granting wishes to Canadian children between the ages of 3 and 17 who are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. For more than 30 years, Children’s Wish has worked to grant heartfelt wishes to more than 25,000 children and their families – that’s three wishes each and every day, all year long!

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Wishes have a positive and lasting impact on the children and their families, beyond the experience of the actual wish. Wishes help to aid the overall healing process, provide a distraction that helps children cope with the emotional and physical stress of treatment, improve family cohesion, and inspire Wish children in long-lasting ways.

I am excited to support the Children's Wish Foundation in their mission to grant heartfelt wishes by raising funds and volunteering my time with the foundation.  

I had the pleasure of volunteering at their annual Princess and Superhero Dance Party, where I traded my pageant gown for a Disney Princess gown (I dressed up as Queen Elsa from Frozen).  The Children's Wish Princess and Superhero parties take place across the country, with the goal of bringing joy to Wish children and their families through a magical, fun-filled evening.  I spent the evening mingling with little princesses and superheroes, as they enjoyed an action-packed party filled with interactive games, music, and delicious treats.  As a volunteer at this event, I am so happy that I could help to make the magic happen!  It was not only a huge success in terms of an afternoon full of memories for our attendees, it was also successful in raising $100,000 in support of the mission to make heartfelt wishes come true.

What unique characteristics would you say you bring to the competition?

To me, winning a title and representing who I am in my entirety and where I come from is an important responsibility, and it would be an honor to hold the title of Miss World Canada and compete at the international level at the Miss World pageant. 

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As a delegate for Miss World Canada, I am representing my hometown of Chatham-Kent, my current city of Toronto, the province of Ontario, and the Polish-Canadian community at the national Miss World Canada pageant.  Being a titleholder means representing my title with the best attributes I possess, including my confidence, courage, strength, hard work, honesty, kindness and generosity.  I hope to inspire and influence others with my words and actions and to make a difference in people’s lives that will be remembered.

What inspired you to walk on the course of beauty pageants?

This is my first beauty pageant experience!  I was inspired by past and recent pageant winners who have used their titles and platforms to raise awareness, promote a positive message, and advocate for an important cause. 

Did you know ? It's not the first time that a canadian beauty queen uses her voice to talk about political issues. In 2015, when Anastasia Lin became Miss World Canada, she used the platform to speak out against China's human rights violations. 

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The night she was crowned, she spoke about the Canadian value of freedom and "to do what we think is right and oppose what we think is wrong" and said she would continue to address human rights in Canada. "Afterward I went to the American Congress, U.K. Parliament, Taiwanese parliament, Canadian Parliament to testify to advocate for human rights." Lin said she was inspired by 2003 Miss World Canada winner Nazanin Afshin-Jam, who spoke out about China's human rights abuse.

What do you expect to gain by competing in pageantry?

By competing in pageantry, I hope to work on my communication and leadership skills, and build poise and self-confidence.  I am excited at the opportunity of meeting new people who share similar passions, standards and visions.  I look forward to having a direct impact on others through charity work and becoming a leader in my community.  And most importantly, I strive to be a strong female role model to girls and young women. 

Tell me something about yourself and your work. What do you actually do, and have done in the past?

I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice & Public Policy and a Master of Arts in Criminology & Criminal Justice Policy from the University of Guelph. I have an interest in law and politics, and aspire to be a policy analyst some day.

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I am currently living and working in downtown Toronto in Customer Success at a start-up company for a mobile & web application, that allows businesses to order wholesale restaurant supplies through one easy and convenient network. I have been working with this company for almost two months now!  Prior to this, I worked at one of the world’s leading educational companies as a Student Advisor for their online graduate programs.  I enjoy working in the tech-space, and I have gained some well-rounded experience working in EdTech and now Food Tech. 

Many misses have said that their dream since a child was to participate in a pageant as prestigious as Miss World (or Miss Universe). It this your case ? And if so, why ?

To me, pageantry is a newfound and exciting journey and passion I have come to acquire. Living in a small rural community in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, I was never exposed to pageantry.  I didn’t really know much about pageantry before competing for the provincial qualifier for Ontario in January 2018 and hardly anything about the various organizations involved in this industry.  It took a lot of research to decide between the Miss World and Miss Universe pageants – I was torn between the two!  After doing some research, I was especially drawn to the Miss World Canada organization and their Beauty With a Purpose ethos.  This is what made me decide to start my journey with the Miss World Canada organization this year. 

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Social media seems to play a major role in pageantry nowadays.  Do you think this is advantageous to you?  Why or why not? 

To be quite honest, I am still learning the ropes of social media and am working on building my own personal brand and following in the most organic way possible.

Social media is a powerful tool that assists in promoting an important title and platform.  We ‘follow’ people we admire or those who possess traits that we aspire to emulate. Social media can be both a vice and a virtue.  Women are bombarded with images of what they should aspire to look like physically, what they should wear, and how they should portray themselves, for example, linking the use of many social media platforms to mental health problems, including anxiety and depression.  

It’s important to remember that social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook are essentially a highlight reel of our lives.  We post about the exciting things happening in our life – travel, events, celebrations, outings, and significant life milestones (i.e. birthday, graduation, new job, engagement, wedding, etc.).  In between these more exciting times, we go through periods where we experience a bit of a lull.  During these periods, too often, we get caught up in social media and begin to compare ourselves with others – wishing we had that body, those clothes, or were on that vacation.  

As a role model, it is important to present a positive image, both in person and online. I try my best to promote and inspire others to celebrate inner beauty - intelligence, confidence, kindness, and charity.  I think it’s important to stay true to you and this extends to how you portray your image on social media.  Although I may not be a social media expert, I always try to stay true to myself and post things that truly and entirely represent who I am, and not just what the latest trends or fads are on social media that will get me those ‘likes’ or increase my ‘following.’ 

We’ve all seen the stereotypical portrayals of pageant contestants, a la Miss Congeniality, spreading peace, love and beauty throughout the world.  How do you think you'll make a difference?

I hope to inspire and influence those who look up to me with my words, actions, positivity, kindness, and hard work.  It is very important to have strong female role models.  I hope to be a role model to young girls and women in my community and in my country, and promote body positivity, self-love, confidence, and inspire women to pursue their personal and professional goals, and to empower one another along the way. 

What would you advise any young girl out there who has a dream of being a queen one day?

The experience you want to gain from pageantry is all about you – how much time and effort you put into the preparation and your mindset.  It’s important to stay focused, remember why you started, and go into it with an open mindset and positive attitude.  Use the time you have to prepare yourself to the best of your ability and enjoy the journey along the way!  

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Thanks to the beautiful Roxanne for the interview. Pageants News wishes you all the very best for Miss World Canada pageant.
 

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