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iss Canada is not about how tall or thin you are. It is not about recruiting the most gorgeous models from across Canada. It is a personality contest. It is about bringing together a group of VERY intelligent women who are confident, brave, and goal oriented. These women from across Canada are focused on making a change in our country and standing up for what they believe is right. I had never heard of a pageant that judged women based on personality but I was impressed with what Miss Canada stood for and decided that this was a journey I wanted to begin.

Through a variety of activities, such as skating, bowling, laser tag and even a spa day, I really got to know the girls in the contest and became good friends with them. Each and every one of them were strong and inspiring women. They truly all fit the description of what Miss Canada should be. We also had the honour of participating in all of the activities with Tara Teng, Miss Canada 2011, who is one of the most amazing women I have ever met. She gave me the confidence to speak up about an issue that is so dear to my heart…

I did not choose my platform, it chose me. I am a victim of domestic abuse. Ever since I freed myself of this abusive relationship, I vowed to help anyone I knew who was going through a similar situation. I knew that I was destined to help other people with their struggles as victims of abuse as well as to help prevent others from becoming a victim. As an aspiring teacher, I have worked in various schools always trying to prevent bullying or in some cases helping teens with abusive relationships in their lives. A teacher impacts the lives of students in so many ways that is immeasurable, but I wanted to do more! I wanted to “break the silence”; and tell my story with a voice that inspires others to realize their self-worth. I want to give our future generations the confidence to stand up and say NO to abuse in any of its forms.

As Miss Canada 2012, I am honoured to be able to dedicate this upcoming year to preventing abuse and supporting victims by encouraging our society to “break the silence”. One of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to do was admit that I was abused to an audience that was deciding my fate as Miss Canada 2012. It was humiliating to admit that I could allow myself to be broken down and treated with that amount of disrespect. I was scared to be judged and ashamed to talk about it, but this is exactly the problem.

Ahmad A. Taam
of signature design & photography

The first step to ending abuse in any of its forms is to break the silence. Whether you are a victim of bullying, sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse or even elder abuse, you need to take a stand and speak up. Our youth lack confidence, self-worth and respect. In order to prevent abuse in all of its forms, we need to teach these values to our future generations. As a society, we criticize those who have been victims of abuse. We blame them, assuming that it is their fault. We put them down and make them feel embarrassed and ashamed. As a victim, I have learned that it is not our cries that are making this issue worse, but our silence.

I plan to use my education and experience in this field to reach my goal of putting a stop to this tolerance our society has of abusive and unhealthy relationships throughout this year. I will reach as many people as I can to tell my story and inspire our citizens to make a difference. Join me as I represent Canada in this journey to end abuse in our country. Let us be an example for global change.