For the first time in four years, the Ambassador Program — a youth program which gives young people an opportunity to learn public speaking, and preparing for the world after school, has returned to Nakusp.
The program has taken place in Nakusp and the surrounding areas for over 60 years, the first Queen being crowned in 1949.
When the program first started, girls had to sell tickets. The one who sold the most tickets won, and was crowned Queen of Nakusp on July 1.
In the 1980s, the event was revamped into what it is today.
A sign-up sheet is available at Nakusp Secondary School for students to consider taking part. It doesn’t matter if boys or girls want to sign up, everyone is welcome. This year, there are five participants, all girls.
Some may say it’s just another beauty pageant, but those people have never spoken to Jackie Doyle.
“This is not a beauty pageant in any way shape or form,” she said. “This is teaching young people how to respect themselves, to respect others, how to grow, how to talk.”
Doyle first participated in 1982. Over the years, she’s seen many people take part in the program, some of whom were so shy, they couldn’t even look you in the eye, let alone speak to you, but by the end, they were up on stage giving a speech like it was nothing.
The program is offered to Grade 10 students only. It used to be offered to Grade 11 students as well, but because of the time commitment involved, and because Grade 11 students are busy getting ready for their final year, that was changed.
There are no differences in the program between the boys and the girls, but there are rules to follow.
Profanity isn’t allowed, neither is drinking. You also have to be in school, and stay in school. If a candidate is caught breaking the rules, they would be asked to resign immediately.
In order for judges and the community to get to know the participants, a tea is held. Each candidate has their own table which features something that represents the candidate, like a favourite book, or awards they have won in the past.
Each candidate is sponsored by a local business. When all the candidates participate in the Canada Day parade, the name of the business is displayed on the back of the vehicle the candidate chooses to ride in.
“We had a boy that was sponsored by minor hockey” said Doyle, “And he rode on the Zamboni down the parade route.”
The first meeting for the program was held on March 29, and candidates will meet twice a week until the pageant takes place, which is the last week of June.
At the pageant event, the girls will display their talents (singing, dancing, etc.), along with giving a two minute public speech which they must know by heart. They will also be interviewed by a panel of judges.
The winner will act as a representative for the village of Nakusp for any trips outside the village to other events involving the Ambassador Program.
Past winners include Jessica Demosky, Lara Davis, and Karen Surina. These women all went on to compete in the Miss Interior pageant.
While Doyle isn’t aware of any former winners who have gone on to become councilors mayors, or other people of note, she said having the Ambassador Program on a resume has been a great help to past winners.
“Most girls that I’ve spoken to that have gone through this program and moved onward have said with that on their resume, it’s almost a guarantee they’re going to get somewhere.”