A University of Saskatchewan law student is hoping to use her new position as Miss Universe Canada to elevate the discussion around awareness and understanding of indigenous culture.
Siera Bearchell, a 23-year-old Métis from Moose Jaw, Sask., won the title in Toronto last weekend, emerging the winner over 64 other finalists. She will represent Canada at the Miss Universe pageant later this fall.
“Students aren’t taught a lot about indigenous culture at school and I’d like to see that change. I took an indigenous law class and I think more needs to be done in terms of exposing students to that area of the law,” she says.
Bearchell, who is a past recipient of the Helen Bassett Commemorative Student Award that assists Aboriginal women in post-secondary education, just finished her second year of law school and one day hopes to use her law degree to further her interests in business.
An entrepreneur, Bearchell has her own brand of clothing — Watered Down Apparel, which helps provide clean drinking water. Every item sold provides 30 days of clean drinking water for people in developing countries.
She has worked with charities such as Free The Children, the Canadian Red Cross and SOS Children’s Villages. She was inspired to start her business after a trip to Kenya to build a school with Free The Children.
“My family lost our home in a house fire in 2009 and it was a very difficult time but it changed my perspective on things and I realized the important things in life are family and friends. It led me to volunteer with the Red Cross,” she says.
Bearchell says she also wants to use her platform to break down stereotypes about pageant participants. She was first runner up at Miss Universe Canada in 2013, and first runner up at Miss Teen World in 2009 — her first pageant.
“It’s a great opportunity to have experiences and learn leadership skills one might not otherwise have,” she says.
While she worked last summer at Robertson Stromberg LLP in Saskatoon on family and criminal law matters, Bearchell says in the future she would like to try and marry her law degree with a business opportunity.
She will be travelling to Nicaragua in July to volunteer with Operation Smile.