Hi, my name is Tia-Lynn McCann.

I am 16 years old. I competed last year in the Miss Teenage Canada 2018 pageant and loved it so much that I decided to recompete in the Miss Teenage Canada 2019 pageant. I am Miss Teenage Southwestern Ontario 2019. When I competed the first time, it was something to do that was new and out of my comfort zone.

I didn’t realize how much work being involved in a pageant can be. As a title holder, you can choose how much work you want to do.
I chose to be involved in my community and participated in various events. I followed the suggestions in the Delegate kit and started participating in events such as parades, festivals, open houses. Through being forced to get out of my comfort zone and try new things,  I have discovered a lot about my self and what I am capable of learning and how I can improve each day and become a better person than I was yesterday.

As a titleholder, you are asked to choose a platform to work on. For me, it was easy choosing my platform. I chose to partner with the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society (WECAS). The reason why I wanted to partner with them is that I was once a child in the foster care system, along with my brother and sister. I stayed in the foster care system for 3 years from the time I was 6 months old. We went through at least 5 foster homes. I was 3.5 years old when I was adopted, and my brother was 6 and my sister was 2.5 years old. We were lucky because a loving family chose to adopt all 3 of us. They already had a birthson called Patrick who was 11 years old.

My goal in working with CAS is to raise the awareness in the community of the desperate need for foster and adoptive homes. My hope is that my efforts will make a difference and increase the number of foster homes. In Windsor, we have 470 children in care and 168 foster homes. Couple of years ago, we had over 243 homes. Some homes have closed because they adopted the children they were fostering; while others have retired after being foster parents for 30 years.

Working with CAS and attending their events or speaking on their behalf as a guest speaker for other events; doing parades; and fundraisers; have all helped me to learn new skills and improve upon the ones I already have.
On July 1st, I participated in the Windsor Canada Day parade. At first, doing parades was little awkward as all the attention is on me. Even though I am bubbly and outgoing, I am also shy and reserved with people I don’t know. Being in a parade forces me to always be happy, smiling and not be afraid to be at the center of attention. I really like how I affect young children. Little girls will hug me and treat me as if they met a real queen. After the parades, there were both kids and adults who were lining up for pictures.

CAS has several information sessions each month to answer questions on fostering and adopting. Whenever my schedule allows, I attend the meetings and answer questions prospective foster or adoptive parents want to ask. This has forced me to own my own story. A story of loss, pain, being a survivor, and working through my insecurities and growing every day into a better person than I was yesterday.

There is a quote that states: “Real Queens fix each others’ crowns.” Beauty pageants can be viewed in different ways. Some people feel beauty pageants are filled with self centered barbie dolls. However, there are a lot of girls that truly get involved in beauty pageants for the opportunity to grow, learn and become a better person. I believe that a real queen should always be available to help another title holder and provide guidance, inviting other titleholders to events, doing their makeup or fixing a crown. Heling others has taught me to be humble and to share the spotlight. It is when we learn to help other “queens” that great things can happen, such as building friendships that can last a lifetime or working on a common project that can make a difference in someone’s life.

Through being asked to be a guest speaker for various events, I have learnt that I love public speaking and being on stage. I think my parents are shocked as they never imagined me being so natural on the speaking stage. The biggest crowd so far that I have spoken in front of has been 500 people. I can’t wait to see what other speaking opportunities will open for me where I can share my message of second chances with adults and kids.

I chose to exit my comfort zone and because of that decision, I have become a more confident speaker, I am more comfortable in front of a camera, I talk to strangers more easily, I get to interact with children, I am learning how to be a role model and bring children hope, I am learning to accept and love my self each day and hopefully my struggles and the lessons learnt from those struggles can help other teens so that they too can know that “Even though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” Word by Carl Bard.

In November 2018, I volunteered with CAS at information booths at movie theathers as the movie Instant Family featuring Mark Walhberg came out. It is a movie about fostering and adoption. It is a really great movie. They did a great job taking the reality of the foster care system and making it into a comedy that will make you laugh and cry at the same time. As my siblings and I were a handful growing up, my mom needed a support system. My mom believes that it takes a village to grow a child. My family decided to go watch the movie with whoever of our support system could go watch it.

Written by: Tia-Lynne