B.C.’s South Asian contestants for Miss Universe Canada discuss their heritage (w/gallery)

Published: May 22, 2014

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Mina Khtaria


The annual Miss Universe Canada pageant, which kicked off in Toronto on Thursday, is a true representation of the country’s multiculturalism.

Miss Universe Canada

Miss Universe Canada Sahar Biniaz. AFP/Getty Images

As more than 60 diverse Canadian women compete for the 2014 crown, Vancouver’s very own Miss Universe Canada 2012, Sahar Biniaz — who was born in India and raised in Iran — reflected on how her cultural background plays “a huge role” in her everyday life, which ultimately helped in her pageant success.

“You have to use it to your advantage and make sure to be very positive about it,” Biniaz said from her New York City home. “It represents multiculturalism — and that’s what Canada is all about anyway.”

Being born in India, she’s learned about tradition and respect for elders, while being raised in Iran has helped develop the “sense of gratitude” she has for being Canadian.

“Women in Iran can’t compete in pageants — if they do, they’ll be going to jail or even they can be killed,” said Biniaz. “In that sense, because I’m a Canadian, it really gives me a confidence that I’m not only doing this for me, but I’m doing it for so many other people around the world who might not have had this opportunity.”

And although Biniaz was unable to compete in the international Miss Universe pageant due to a foot injury, she was pleased the runner-up who took her place, Adwoa Yamoah from Calgary, was able to represent Canada’s multiculturalism as an African-Canadian.

Miss Universe Canada 2014 will be crowned Saturday night in Toronto.

A total of 15 women from B.C. have travelled to Toronto to compete for the Miss Universe Canada crown. Vancouver Desi caught up with B.C.’s four South Asian contestants to see how their culture influences them, while asking some pageant-style questions.

Click through the pages to find out what each contestant had to say.

Related stories:

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