Abbotsford’s Sandy Sekhon is competing for Miss Canada World this weekend. (Mandeep Bhatti from blackbeardphotos)

Abbotsford’s Sandy Sekhon is competing for Miss Canada World this weekend. (Mandeep Bhatti from blackbeardphotos)

Abbotsford’s Sandy Sekhon competing for Miss World Canada

ATSS, UFV grad earned Miss BC World title in July, hoping for national win this weekend

After a lifetime of putting others first and feeling the societal pressures that are often placed on girls, Abbotsford’s Sandy Sekhon did something for herself and chased a dream this past summer.

The 2010 Abbotsford Traditional Secondary School grad stopped thinking about what it would be like to compete in a pageant and just decided to go for it – and she excelled.

Sekhon impressed the judges with her speaking, flare, beauty and charisma to earn the title of Miss BC World. She beat out nine other girls at the socially distanced event in July and is now in Ontario to compete against close to 50 other females for the title of Miss World Canada.

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i n s a n e ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ That’s one way to describe July. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Among this pandemic and other personal commitments, I found myself juggling wedding season, my creative business, and a transition between jobs. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Did I forget something? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Ah yes – I was also crowned Miss BC World 2020! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The weeks leading up to the pageant had to have been one of the most stressful yet rewarding times of my life. The event was on pause due to Covid and I only learned 2 weeks prior to when it was rescheduled. I was already in over my head with my list above and with it being my first pageant, I had no idea what I was walking into. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Honestly my life felt like a big mess. When my life’s a mess, my surroundings become a mess. If my surroundings are a mess, I feel like a mess. Does that make any sense? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I’m not embarrassed to admit it’s taken me this long to feel like I’m in control again. I made it through, thus this post to celebrate my pageant victory! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Thank you to each one of you that talked me through this crazy time, sent encouragement my way, and offered your genuine support. Your kindness made all the difference. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ photography: @blackbeardphotos hair & makeup: @beautycall dress: @everythingbutthegroom

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At age 27, Sekhon is right at the age limit and said she probably would have competed earlier but she felt pressures to achieve things like be married and have children by her age. She said those thoughts held her back and part of why she wants to win Miss World Canada is to let more girls and women know that the path she took is completely fine.

“What I want to highlight in particular is that as women I feel like we’re conditioned to put others before us and make sacrifices,” she said. “Especially in some cultures, there’s a lot of weight put on family honour and what society will think, which doesn’t allow girls to just be themselves.

“I want to empower those girls to not be afraid to put their happiness first and know that it’s OK to do so. I want to inspire them to go after what they want and live the life they dream of. I often look back and wonder what I could have been capable of if I had that kind of encouragement from a young age.”

Being the eldest female in her family with many siblings and cousins, Sekhon said she had to be a role model and that responsibility often led her to make safe life choices.

“From a young age I had this sort of timeline I wanted to follow,” she said.

“By age 17 I’ll have found the one I want to marry, then I’ll go to university, then get a job, start a career and get married. I always held myself back from doing things like pageants because I wanted that timeline. But in recent years there was a point where I just thought, this isn’t the life I want. I travelled, met lots of wonderful people with different points of view and it made me realize what I really wanted and what would make me happy.”

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it was this scene for me ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I watched #IndianMatchmaking twice. Once alone and once with my boyfriend (so I could watch his reactions as he watched). 😂 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I’m not against marriage or kids. I’m against manipulating the choice. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Individuals (more so women) are conditioned to think that marriage is their sole purpose, so they may not realize when their rights are being violated or may not speak up so as not to shame or hurt their loved ones. Although I can only speak from my own experiences growing up in South Asian culture and this show is based around that, it’s important to recognize these issues are universal. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ As a young woman, I heard a lot of remarks that made me feel pressured and shy away from what I truly wanted. What got me through was having people in my life who could understand and relate. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I want you young girls to know that you’re not alone. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I understand you and I hope to inspire you to take control of your life.

A post shared by Sandy ◦ Miss BC World 2020 (@sundeepsekhon) on

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True or false? Someone once saw me perform at an event and proceeded to tell my family I was shaming them because “girls don’t dance”. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This way of thinking is mainly why I didn’t have the courage to join an official team until I was 17. Many of you may not know I dedicated multiple years of my life to Punjabi folk dances, bhangra and giddha (shoutout to my UFV crew). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Traditionally bhangra was male-dominated, so it wasn’t uncommon to hear such comments. It also wasn’t unusual for me to hear I was wasting my time focusing on such hobbies. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Unfortunately, many young women lead double lives simply because they don’t want to hurt their families or deal with the wrath for what are considered ‘wrong’ choices. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I hope by sharing my experiences I can empower you younger girls to be fearless and just be you. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Pursue your passions. Finish school and start a career at your own pace. Get married if or when you please. Have kids if you choose. Do either of the above in any order you desire. Make sure your life is the life YOU want.

A post shared by Sandy ◦ Miss BC World 2020 (@sundeepsekhon) on

Sekhon, who works full-time as a marketing professional, has also taken up photography in her spare time and has now shot engagement photos, fashion, events and weddings with her @capturedbysandy_ brand.

“I don’t like to hold myself back anymore,” she said. “And I want to reiterate that to all girls. If it’s something you really want to pursue, then you can find time to fit it into your schedule.”

The former University of the Fraser Valley student arrived in Toronto earlier this week and there will be preliminary competitions all week long. The title will be awarded on Saturday (Nov. 7).

“I’m feeling very confident, excited and prepared,” she said, noting that she is looking forward to the opportunity to reach and inspire young girls.

If successful, Sekhon would go on to represent Canada at the Miss World pageant, which has been holding competitions since 1951. She would also attend events, help with charity fundraising and any other opportunities that come about. As part of her Miss BC World responsibilities, Sekhon helped raise $1,300 for the Children’s Wish Foundation with a virtual dinner in September.

To follow along with Sekhon on her Miss Canada World journey, visit her Instagram page at @sundeepsekhon.

People’s Choice voting is also available and open to the public, to support Sekhon in that way, visit catchthecrown.com/pageant/miss-world-canada-2020.

For more information on the pageant, visit missworldcanada.net.

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