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Okanagan woman aims to increase body diversity at Miss Universe Canada competition

Kelowna's Shanelle Connell is headed to Toronto to compete at the Miss Universe Canada competition. Victoria Blaire

Kelowna’s Shanelle Connell is one of 67 women from across Canada who will be competing for the title of Miss Universe Canada in Toronto next week.

The competition sends winners to compete internationally, including at the Miss Universe competition.

The UBC Okanagan Psychology student said she wants to use the pageant as a platform to speak out against domestic, sexual and mental abuse in Canada.

“It’s a message I believe needs to be spoken more on in Canada. We are aware of it but we almost don’t want to talk about it still,” said Connell.

“It’s a little hush hush still and I don’t think it should be because, I think, the more we talk about it, then perpetrators or offenders won’t feel they are as able to victimize someone.”

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At 5’3” Connell said her petite stature would also make her an outlier at the Miss Universe competition.

READ MORE: Miss Universe Canada calls out body shamers: ‘This is not OK’

“I’m aiming to also increase body diversity that way. Siera Bearchell increased it last year by being what they called a ‘bigger contestant’ where she looked beautiful the way she was, but because she wasn’t a typical model weight she got really body shamed all over the internet after competing,” said Connell.

“She also made a huge wave in pageantry where they are now accepting more body diversity. I think that needs to be included with height as well.”

The final competition for Miss Universe Canada will be held Oct. 7 in Toronto.

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