The Miss Quesnel Self Development Program is undergoing a name change.
The self development program will become the Quesnel Ambassador Leadership Program instead. The name change is intended to bring the program more in line with the B.C. Ambassador program — the next level up from the one in Quesnel — and to make it gender inclusive.
The director of the self development program, Sierra Cook, says: “We didn’t want to make it just girls, because it’s not a beauty pageant: men can improve themselves just as well as women can, so why not let them have this opportunity?”
While she doesn’t expect there to be too many male applicants to the program, she says she believes it’s an important step. “Making it more open, again, breaks that stereotype that this isn’t a beauty contest. It has nothing to do with beauty; it has all to do with being confident and being a role model in the community,” says Cook.
As part of the name change, participants will be offered the choice between wearing a tiara or medallion. There are also no requirements for participants to wear a dress, makeup, or heels.
Cook took over the program in July of this year, after the former director, Ashley Schmidt, decided to step down from the role. Cook, a former Quesnel Princess and B.C. Ambassador, credits the program with making her a more confident person and a better public speaker.
Cook says aside from the name change, very little of the program is actually changing.
“It’s still all about public speaking, and improving yourself, volunteering in the community; nothing is being taken away from the program, it’s just, more is being added,” says Cook.
The program will include things like a meeting with Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes to learn about politics and how to be a leader in the community, talking to local entrepreneurs, learning self-defence in a series of workshops, attending a resiliency workshop, and confidence building and public speaking workshops. They will also learn the appropriate etiquette for formal meals — for example, which fork they should use first when there are three at their place setting.
Candidates will also attend different events in the community, where they will get to practise their public speaking skills, and will do lots of volunteering throughout the community. At the end of the six months, each of the candidates will receive a certificate for their time spent in the program, and the three candidates chosen to become Quesnel Ambassadors will each earn a $500 scholarship to be used toward their post-secondary education.
Along with their shift toward gender inclusivity, a local lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender and questioning (LGBTQ+) group, which is responsible for the Quesnel pride parade, has offered to sponsor one candidate who identifies as LGBTQ+.
The program relies on sponsors, typically local businesses, to sponsor candidates in the program each year. Cook says there are often more people and organizations who would like to sponsor the participants than there are candidates. The entire process, adds Cook, is a community effort. Particularly when it comes to the gala where the new Ambassadors (and past princesses) are chosen.
Once selected, candidates are expected to meet with and find their own sponsors, with the help of the Quesnel Ambassador Leadership Society as needed.
Anyone who would like to apply to the Quesnel Ambassador Leadership Program must meet specific criteria: they must have resided within the City of Quesnel or surrounding for at least six months prior to Dec. 31, 2018; they must not be engaged, married, divorced, or have given birth; participants must be between 15 and 17 years of age by Dec. 31, 2018; and they must reside with their parent(s) or legal guardian(s).
The application does state, however, that applicants who do not meet all of these criteria may request that the Quesnel Ambassador Leadership Society wive one or more requirements on a case by case basis.
Potential applicants can find the application form at https://quesnelambassadors.wixsite.com.