Nanaimo is home to new royalty.
Demitria Rounis, a recent graduate from Dover Bay Secondary School, was crowned National Canadian Miss 2017 last week at the National Canadian Pageant in Edmonton.
The soft-spoken 18-year-old, wearing her new black-and-white sash and glittering crown, says it’s really exciting and she’s “super pumped” for a big year.
“All my sisters, all my pageant sisters, we’re all going to get together and we’re all super close and we stay in touch and I am mostly just excited for that and to promote my cause of female empowerment and positive body image,” she said.
Growing up, Rounis said she felt girls, especially between the ages of 11 and 14, weren’t always confident in who they were and she wants to do her part to help them understand it’s OK to express individuality and be confident in who they are; to lift each other up instead of tearing each other down.
It’s a message not unlike the pageant’s, which aims to build a sisterhood of girls and women that support each other, are smart, community-minded, confident and have a positive body image, an e-mail from the organization shows.
“I don’t know if you watch pageants at all, but the ones you see on TV, they are not us,” said Terry Lee Ropchan, a partner in National Canadian Pageant, with a laugh.
Ropchan said that who the girls are is far more important than the glitz, glamour and makeup. The pageant likes real girls who want to be a real part of their communities.
Competitors wear little to no makeup, are limited in how much sparkle is on their dresses and are scored by what they do in their community, how they show confidence and promote positive image, as well as what they do on stage.
Winning the national title is prestigious, according to Ropchan, who said Rounis stood out because of her growth, level of confidence and behind the scenes, “she’s a kind young lady,” who did a lot of volunteer work and is big into social media, always putting her platform out there.
“She just kind of hit all the pieces and we’re so happy for her and so happy for all the things that she’s already lining up and doing,” Ropchan said.
Rounis has been in five pageants over three years, taking crowns for B.C. Teen Miss and Miss Coastal B.C. She likes the message about lifting women up and positivity and it’s something fun for her to do, she said.
This year, Rounis prepared for the upcoming national competition while juggling school and her work on grad committee and three jobs.
“It was kind of a crazy year, but you know, I still found time to hang out with my friends and have a little bit of free time,” she said.
Rounis kicked off her one-year reign at the Nanaimo Marine Festival, riding in the parade thanks to Harris Mazda, and plans to take part in a lot of different events this year. As part of her title, she’ll get a minimum $400 scholarship, with plans to go into tourism.
She will compete internationally in Texas next year.