MISS UNIVERSE: Vancouver beauty representing Canada will always be an activist, win or lose

Published: November 26, 2012

Miss Universe Canada Sahar Biniaz, left, says she hopes to attend the Miss Universe pageant to lend her full support to runner-up Adwoa Yamoah from Calgary, who will now be competing for Canada. Photo illustration/Miss Universe

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

Sahar Biniaz already feels like Miss Universe — but the competition isn’t until Dec. 19.

The Indian-born Vancouver resident was crowned Miss Universe Canada in May and now she’s gearing up for the international beauty competition in Las Vegas. She’s set to fly out Wednesday.

“I feel like with the Miss Universe Canada title I’ve done exactly what Miss Universe will do. I’ve travelled the world, I’ve raised awareness of the organizations
I’m passionate about,” Biniaz told Vancouver Desi from her Vancouver home.

Biniaz has been training hard for the competition: She just returned from Panama where she worked with a professional coach and on Monday she was en route to hike the Chief in Squamish.

But it’s not just about the title.

“Regardless of what happens I will still do what I’m doing, I will still do charity work, I’ll still travel the world,” she said. “I don’t want to wait until I get Miss Universe to go and do all this stuff — I’m doing it now.”

At 27 years old, Biniaz has already travelled to 30 different countries and worked with a number of charities, like Operation Smiles and SOS Children’s Villages.

While her title as Miss Universe Canada has helped her accomplish these things, she plans to continue her charitable mission even if she isn’t crowned Miss Universe next month.

“It’s a great way to humble you as a person and … to bring you back to reality and realize how valuable life is and how we take it for granted,” she said.
But Biniaz never forgets her roots either — calling Vancouver home and having grown up in Richmond — she still helps local charities, like BC Transplant and always finds time to lend a hand in the Downtown Eastside.

“Whenever I’m back in town I find it just very humbling and it also brings you back to reality because this world travelling and all the gifts you receive it’s a very glamorous world, but I think it’s very important to have balance in life,” she said.

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A main cause she also supports is anti-bullying and suicide prevention.

“Suicide is very big issue and it’s not talked about until we have an incident like Amanda Todd,” she said. “Prior to that nobody wants to talk about it, nobody wants to deal with it.”

As a child Biniaz was bullied and while it’s hard to believe a beauty queen still gets caught in negativity today — she does.

Most recently, she visited a young girl who was the victim of a vicious pitbull attack and according to Biniaz, she was misquoted by media.

“I said I don’t want to see another dog put down wrongly and another kid have half their face be destructed by a pitbull, so why don’t pitbull owners just muzzle and leash (them) when they’re out — that way both are happy,” she said.

But instead she was portrayed as a supporter of banning pitbulls and she faced threats and negativity from the public.

“People were putting on the Internet that I should be killed,” she said. “They wanted me to get my crown taken away and look at me, I’m still Miss Canada.”

“That’s a great example of how you should rise above it and how you should be transparent.”

For Biniaz, it only mattered that she helped the young girl.

“She was so happy to see me,” she said. “Me and her family now we talk, she’s doing great and she’s recovered.”

“The biggest bully in life is our self, so if we learn to not bully ourselves, then regardless of who bullies us we can deal with it.”

And she wants to continue spreading that message by climbing Mount Everest in support of the Pink Shirt campaign, an anti-bullying initiative, and plant a pink flag at Everest’s base camp.

“I want to be the first beauty queen that climbs (Everest),” she said.


Sahar Biniaz


Picture 3 of 16

Miss Universe Canada Sahar Biniaz attends the Rhino Season premiere during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at The Elgin on Sept. 12, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. Jemal Countess/Getty Images





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