To be heard

Miss NL pageant of­fers con­tes­tants chance to get mes­sage out

The Compass - - NEWS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­

Ask any con­tes­tant at the Miss New­found­land and Labrador pageant and they will tell you the same thing.

It is a great ve­hi­cle to get their mes­sage out on a sub­ject close to their hearts.

Hun­dreds of peo­ple at­tend the event an­nu­ally, giv­ing con­tes­tants the per­fect op­por­tu­nity, and a cap­tive au­di­ence, to in­form and ed­u­cate peo­ple on a va­ri­ety of sub­jects. This year’s event was no dif­fer­ent. Each of the seven con­tes­tants were re­quired to give a short speech on the sub­ject of their choice.

Two of the con­tes­tants were from the Con­cep­tion Bay North re­gion.

“How of­ten do I get to stand on a stage in front of a large au­di­ence and share my mes­sage,” said Car­bon­ear’s Gina Col­bourne. Col­bourne, 23, spoke on women and heart health. “If there is one per­son in the au­di­ence who looks up the signs for women, then I have ac­com­plished a goal for sure,” she said.

The other lo­cal con­tes­tant was Kourt­ney Lake, 20, of Bay Roberts.

How of­ten do I get to stand on a stage in front of a large au­di­ence and share my mes­sage.

— Gina Col­bourne

She re­cently made his­tory when she be­came the first mother con­tes­tant in the 55-year his­tory of the event.

Not sur­pris­ingly, Lake chose sin­gle moth­er­hood as a sub­ject.

“I’m the first sin­gle mother to be on stage, and I’m proud of that,” she said. “Hope­fully, next year, there are more moth­ers up there.”

Sec­ond place fin­ish

Col­bourne was the sec­ond place fin­isher to win­ner Char­lotte Gushue of Gan­der.

She was named Miss Teen Trin­ity Con­cep­tion in 2006 and was the first win­ner of that pageant to par­tic­i­pate in the Miss NL pageant.

There was a sense of an­tic­i­pa­tion in the S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace as Col­bourne’s name was called.

Af­ter Melissa Lan­non of Labrador City was named the sec­ond run­ner-up, that sense of an­tic­i­pa­tion was even thicker.

Next up was the nam­ing of the first run­ner-up. That’s when Col­bourne’s name was called, much to the de­light of the nu­mer­ous fam­ily and friends in at­ten­dance.

Af­ter hear­ing her name, she made her way across the stage and took her sash from 2012-13 Miss NL Chelsea Ash, Col­bourne made her first turn of the cat­walk.

“It feels so ex­cel­lent,” she said. “I had no idea it was com­ing.

“To be rec­og­nized for your ef­forts and your abil­i­ties is a pretty great feel­ing.”

Con­tes­tants were put through a se­ries of tri­als, which in­cluded a fit­ness test, an im­promptu ques­tion pe­riod, pub­lic speak­ing and an in­ter­view with the four judges.

Col­bourne is in her sec­ond year of med­i­cal school at Me­mo­rial Univer­sity af­ter grad­u­at­ing with a nurs­ing de­gree, mak­ing the dean’s list in the process.

She is the daugh­ter of John and Judy Col­bourne of Carbon- ear.

A na­tive of Car­bon­ear, Col­bourne said she has al­ways wanted to be a part of the pageant.

“I’ve been lit­er­ally watch­ing this pageant since I was 10,” said Col­bourne. “I al­ways said, ‘I wish I could do it, I wish I could do it.’

“This year I fi­nally got the courage to do it, and I did well, I guess.”

In an in­ter­est­ing twist, Col­bourne has a unique con­nec­tion with both Gushue and the sec­ond run­ner up, Melissa Lan­non of Labrador City. All three are room­mates in St. John’s. “We call our­selves the dream room now,” said Col­bourne. “They’re room­mates and best friends. It’s awe­some.”

Pageant ex­pe­ri­ence

Each con­tes­tant had glow­ing re­views on the pageant ex­pe­ri­ence.

Both said they will cher­ish the friend­ships made at the event.

“It was ab­so­lutely crazy, it was won­der­ful, it was amaz­ing,” Lake said of her pageant ex­pe­ri­ence.

Bay Roberts’ Kourt­ney Lake.

Pho­tos by Ni­cholas Mercer/The Com­pass

Car­bon­ear’s Gina Col­bourne.

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