By Chevi Rabbit, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – Lannie Houle, an extraordinary Plains Cree and Syilx Okanagan woman, is not merely a contestant in the Miss Universe Canada 2023 Pageant; she is a champion of authentic cultural representation and Indigenous beauty within the world of pageantry. Born and raised in Goodfish Lake, AB, and Vernon, BC, Houle is on a mission to shatter barriers and forge a new path for Indigenous women on the beauty stage.
“I’m wearing traditional Indigenous Attire. I’m wearing authentic indigenous beaded earrings and ribbon skirts,” Houle declared resolutely, emphasizing her commitment to normalizing Indigenous women’s wear within contemporary settings. She highlighted the value of Indigenous designers who stand behind her on this transformative journey.
Houle’s ribbon skirts transcend being just clothing – they encapsulate generations of history. “By adorning them, I pay homage to matriarchal women within my family and showcase the beauty of our heritage,” Houle revealed, shedding light on the depth of cultural significance behind her choice of attire.
Houle’s journey is marked by resilience and achievement. From excelling in AAA/JR. A hockey and elite fastball to representing Team Canada at the World Indigenous Games and participating in international Nike races, she has proven her prowess. Houle’s dedication also led her to the University of Concordia and the University of Alberta, where she competed in cross-country and indoor track events.
“Opportunities to represent Team Canada at the WIG games in Brazil, attending University, and running for Nike at multiple international races…have given me the ability to set up running/walking groups where everyone receives a free pair of running shoes,” Houle proudly shared about her uniquely impactful journey.
Currently, Houle’s commitment to her roots is evident in her work with Spirit North, a non-profit organization. Through Spirit North, she empowers Indigenous youth using her athletic achievements, sports culture, and land-based teachings.
“Teaching and coaching my gift of running to younger kids in Indigenous communities…when not on a golf course, that’s where you’ll find me,” Houle said, underscoring her dedication to her community and her passion for driving positive change through sports.
While her journey has been a testament to determination, Houle hasn’t been blind to challenges. The underrepresentation of Indigenous women within the Miss Universe Canada organization has been one such obstacle. This issue mirrors broader societal struggles, where Indigenous women’s voices often remain silenced.
“I walk in [Ashley Callingbull’s] footsteps with gratitude, yet I also feel responsible for building on their legacy,” Houle said, acknowledging those who have laid the groundwork for Indigenous women in the beauty industry.
Houle’s vision extends beyond the pageant’s boundaries. She aims to challenge stereotypes, illuminate authentic Indigenous experiences, and amplify the voices that have been stifled for too long. Her tenacity and determination have positioned her as a change-maker.
“Cultural representation matters. I hope to have my own non-profit that supports youth to follow their dreams…no matter where I end up, I hope I’ve lived to my full potential and continued to strive to be better every day,” Houle revealed, expressing her ongoing commitment to meaningful impact.
As her journey unfolds, Houle’s message remains clear: every Indigenous girl deserves to embrace her heritage, Indigenous beauty, and culture with unwavering pride.
Her main goal is to advocate for authentic cultural representation and embrace Indigenous beauty standards that resonate loudly.
Houle encapsulated her mission: “With hard work, faith, and stepping out with confidence, you can make your dreams a reality.” In a world where representation matters, Lannie Houle’s journey is catalyzing change and inspiring all to strive for a more inclusive future.