“Pain is real, but so is hope.”

The Canadian Mental Health Association is not only a nationwide resource I personally found comfort in when I was in the depths of my mental illness, but an organization that has shaped the mental health community in Canada since 1917.  With 33,759 hours of volunteer work, 710 families and individuals that are provided housing, 100 programs that are in place to meet a communities needs, and 310 staff that work around the clock to provide us with these programs and supports for our community, (source)  the CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association) has shown remarkable efforts regarding mental health care within Canada.

I had the great pleasure of speaking at one of the amazing conferences that the CMHA puts on annually. I was met with so many different organizations, mental health professionals, others that personally lived with mental health challenges and an abundance of supports at the #NowWeAreStronger Conference this past May. Connecting with the CMHA has been a tremendous goal of mine for several years, and to finally have the opportunity to not only chat with the executive director, but as well as share my journey through bullying and mental illness to a crowd filled with so many undeniably intelligent and supportive individuals was so unreal!

That’s the thing about mental illness— no matter who you are, how much you have or how successful you become, they do not discriminate. Anyone can be living with one.” -Excerpt from my speech at the #NowWeAreStronger Conference

After finishing up my speech and chatting with a few guests, I was able to make my way to one of the workshops going on that afternoon! I attended the Suicide Post-vention workshop. I walked out of that room with a new understanding on both a clinical side and personal side of preventing suicide after a suicide attempt/losing a loved one to suicide. When someone takes their life or attempts to take their life, we often focus so much on the individual themselves and forget to take a look at the people surrounding said person. It is often that the ones that were once part of that individuals safety net are vulnerable to experiencing these challenges themselves. This workshop educated not only myself, but professionals in how to best support the outer layer of people that are hit by the ripple effect of suicide. If you are ever given an opportunity to attend one of these workshops/conferences please take it! You are given so many valuable tools that aren’t often taught on an everyday basis (but definitely should be!)

By having shameless conversations about hard topics such as suicide, bullying and mental illness, we are combating the stigma that jeopardizes so many’s recovery. Many are scared of having these conversations due to the repercussions that may come about. However, I left not feeling triggered or influenced to engage in negative thoughts or actions, but rather educated and better equipped to talk to my peers who may be struggling and point them in the direction of the endless amount of resources that are provided by the CMHA of Alberta. There is so much we can do to combat this stigma and support the people around us. From taking the time to learn about mental illness’s, breaking down those stereotypes the media often encourages, and changing our attitude and behavior. I believe these are all steps to creating positive, educating and important talks surrounding one’s mental well-being.

Mackenzie, Miss Teenage Western Alberta 2017

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“One of the greatest gifts you can give is your time.”

This past week, I had the great honour of attending the Airdrie, Volunteer of the Year Awards. This is a night that our community comes together and acknowledges the hard working volunteers all around our city, and celebrate them and their contributions. Airdrie is known for being a community that is run on volunteers. From charity events to helping a family get back on their feet, the compassion that exudes out of the homes of these citizens is extraordinary. I always talk about how blessed I am to live in a place such as Airdrie, and thats because this city embodies what it means to be an Albertan. When the Fort McMurray fires devastated our province, Airdrie stepped up and was ready to provide housing, supplies and funds when needed. When approaching businesses to help sponsor a pancake breakfast I, and a fellow pageant sister Kali were organizing to raise money for the Red Cross, many local Airdrie businesses were out of supplies to donate due to the fact they had already donated it all to Fort McMurray. It is at times like the fires, that a community’s values shine through. Airdrie over and over again has stepped up and been a leader for communities all over Alberta, and it’s success and leadership is all thanks to the wonderful volunteers.

Last year, I was awarded the Leader of Tomorrow award for my volunteer work over the past 4 1/2 years. As a volunteer, you often don’t expect anyone to acknowledge this work. Volunteering is a selfless act that doesn’t require recognition. When my name was called as the winner, it was astonishing and a moment I will cherish forever. It is an unbelievable feeling to have your city stand behind you and the work you do. This year, a very deserving man named Ryland Kruk was given this special award. He started from shovelling driveways at a young age, to now being a member of the Airdrie Air Cadets and volunteering at the Hanger Flight Museum, selling poppies at the Legion, and helping out at the Airdrie Food Bank. Ryland has demonstrated the volunteer ethic that Airdrie thrives on. I am so incredibly happy for him and can’t wait to see what he accomplishes next!

Although this was a day filled with happiness and recognition to so many deserving people, it was also a day we lost a spearhead for volunteering in our city. Jim McPhee was an unbelievable community member. Before ending his battle with cancer, Jim along with his beautiful family accomplished so much in so many different ways, it would be impossible to list everything they’ve done. I admire the McPhee family and am honoured to continue my volunteering with Stephen’s Backpacks this summer. The legacy Jim left with us will always keep our community flourishing, and reminding us to always go beyond ourselves.

Just when I believe that this city can’t impress me anymore, it does. The power that can come about when several people stick their heads together and create change is so inspiring. I am so excited for my next volunteer adventure after such an incredible night!

Thank you to all those that continue to give and give to Airdrie. You are all so cherished in our city and your hard work does not go unnoticed. Lets continue to show Alberta, and Canada just how remarkable our city is!

Mackenzie, Miss Teenage Western Alberta 2017


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“But in telling the truth, you choose among many true stories which true story to tell.” -John Green in ‘Framing’

After taking a little break from social media after the holidays, I found myself starting my Monday morning, for a lack of better words—unmotivated and uninspired. Dragging myself out of bed and into the shower that day was such a chore. These feeling continued from that morning until this very moment when I watched this video. In this discussion, John Green opens the conversation on the person we portray on our Facebook,  Twitter, Instagram, etc, versus the person we are in real life, and ties this all in with our mental health.

I could’ve started this blog out by saying I had the most beautiful Easter break! Described my hiking adventures, the new classes I tried with Oranj Fitness in preparation for Miss Teenage Canada, or the delicious meals I ate and cooked over Easter with family. I very well could’ve told you those stories, and even though its all true, it’s not the pretty story I’m deciding to share tonight. Those stories are my highlight reel. In actuality, I spent this week and a half taking care of myself with some self love. I redecorated my room, applied for a job, did laundry, homework, and binge-watched some Netflix. Although these things may not be ‘like’ worthy, they were what I needed for my mental health at this time.

It’s interesting to me how we can look an individual’s social media feed and automatically dissect who they are. If you looked at my Instagram, you wouldn’t know that in grade 7 I dyed my hair blue. Take a peek at my Facebook, there’s no tell tale signs that I ever played guitar. Wanna stalk my Twitter? You’d have no idea that I live with a mental illness everyday. We look and peer onto others social media like it’s their world, like we know them personally. When really, there’s so many qualities about another person that you cannot pick up on social media unless they allow you to.

Having the ability to peer into someone’s online world, judge it and completely dehumanize an individual thus leads to the cyber-bullying phenomenon that so many are struggling with currently. From comparing ourselves to our fellow Instagrammers (guilty,) to now spewing insults without the fear of repercussions, the online world can be a scary and harmful place.

Among all the negativity on the internet, there’s so much love and support when you really dig deep. With Instagram accounts like my personal favs @selfcaresunday, and @omgkenzieee you can combat those urges to compare your beautiful self next to another and be reminded on an app you look at everyday that you are so worthy, even at your messy bun, sweat pants and no makeup moments.

Take a breath, keep hydrated, do the not so snapchat worthy chores like laundry on your Easter break, and remember that you can admire someone else’s beauty without ever questioning your own.

From your perfectly—imperfect, Miss Teenage Western Alberta 2017

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On April 9th, 1917 at 5:30am, the Battle of Vimy Ridge began. This was the first time ever that all four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought alongside together. In the week leading up to the battle, soldiers spent day in and day out within the trenches of Vimy Ridge protecting not only Canada, but a community of individuals that deserve rights and freedoms just as we do. As the Canadian’s successfully seized Vimy Ridge from the German army, many attribute this victory to the defining moment in which we became Canadians. Our national identity was built that very day. This historical moment however, came with the cost of 3,598 Canadian lives. This is not just a number that will be recorded in history textbooks—it’s a number that reflects someones son, brother, father, uncle or friend.

On April 8th, 2017 I had the honor of attending Airdrie’s own commemoration for the Battle of Vimy Ridge and reflect on the 3,598 lives taken, the 11,285 that were never found, and the total of  100,000 Canadian men who served. Bill Drummond, a special guest and speaker at the commemoration described the importance of remembering our Canadian history.

“I feel we’re not giving our children as much historical evidence as I had as a young man in high school.  If we don’t teach the kids about history, then we’ll make the same mistakes again, and God forbid we should do that.” (source)

Standing alongside Nikaela Barton, candidate for the new Mayor of Airdrie, I noticed thelack of youth in attendance on such a historical day. A heartbreaking moment of reflection for myself, as my generation represents the legacy of these veterans and the future that is now in our hands. Remembering and honoring those who gave us the gift of freedom in our country is much more than just reading a textbook in class. We must continue to make strides in our personal life to recognize these sacrifices made for us. Member of Parliament, Blake Richards stated in his speech the haunting statistics of Canadian youth that didn’t know about the significance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. In my own research, I’ve discovered that a shocking 82% of Canadians (ages 18-24) failed a basic Canadian history exam.  Now, I’m no where near a historian of Canada but as I grow, I continue to learn about the importance of acknowledging and educating myself on the moments in Canadian history that have brought my family and myself to this very point.

“I became a Canadian on Vimy Ridge. (…) We became a nation there in the eyes of the world. It cut across French and English, rich and poor, urban and rural. Vimy Ridge confirmed that we were as good as, if not better than, any European power.” -Reginald Roy, WW1 Veteran.

As I soon head back to my school day, I would like to thank all those that served and those that gave the ultimate sacrifice so I could be here in my classroom learning today. I know one day when I have children, that I will never allow them to forget the lives that were given and the soldiers that were impacted in order for them to be Canadian. Today like most days, I am proud to call myself a Canadian.

Mackenzie, Miss Teenage Western Alberta 2017


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Did you know, 1 in 5 Canadians have a mental illness and/or struggle with an addiction? What’s shocking, is that Canadians between the ages of 15 to 24 are more likely to experience mental illness and/or substance abuse than any other age group. (source) We use statistics to graph the impact mental illness and addiction has on our community. However, these numbers do not even amount to the inspiring, and sometimes heartbreaking stories these 1 in 5 have to share. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to be included in an event that showcased these stories of struggle and triumph, and even share my own.

Mike Loughman, an Airdrie local who has lived through both mental illness and addiction created ‘Surrender 2 Sobriety.’ This organization is unique in that it reaches out to youth in the community in hopes to spread the message of responsible drinking habits. As I turn 18 in a few months, introducing myself and my peers to the idea that you can have a blast sober is so important to ensure that we all grow up with these healthy habits and mindsets.

Alongside Mike, Ryan Gudwer created and hosted the event ‘Sober Takeover.’ From poetry, to speakers, to DJ’s, this night was an upbeat time with so many influential people. I had the honour of sharing my experience with mental illness to this incredible crowd, and the support and love I received after was unbelievable! These are individuals that on a typical Saturday night, you wouldn’t have the chance to speak with— let alone about the stories that were kind enough to share with me.

“The story I want to tell you today isn’t about my success, it’s rather about my failures. (..) To anyone sitting here that feels like they are less than who they are because they relapsed or because they didn’t achieve their goals the first time, I want to let you know that you are worthy. You’re still here, you’re still trying and that’s all that matters.” -Excerpt from my speech at Sober Takeover

We often attached these prejudgments and stereotypes to individuals who have lived with and through mental illness or addictions. I’ve experienced this firsthand from my peers, teachers, and employers after sharing my mental illness publically for the first time. Words like ‘crazy,’ ‘dysfunctional,’ and ‘unpredictable’ often came up. But, these words, illnesses or past addictions do not define someone as a whole. For me, I looked at my illness and decided—after lots of therapy and seeking professional help, that it was not going to limit my abilities. It is because of Borderline Personality Disorder that my passion as an activist is unwavering. When I’m happy, I am genuinely happy. I never feel anything half-way. But, do not be mistaken, living with a mental illness is hard and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. However, I spent years wishing that I could become someone else. I hoped that one day I would have a ‘normal’ mind—whatever that was. But hating myself and an illness I couldn’t change didn’t solve anything. Once I was at a healthy point in my recovery, I found the strengths that this illness could possibly give me and learned to love and cherish those qualities.

I may not be able to relate or truly understand what it’s like to live with an addiction, but I know what it feels like to feel trapped. It’s scary and sometimes seems lonely. But the wonderful part about living in a community is that you have supports and resources all around you. Some days, we’re so blinded by pessimistic thoughts that we cannot truly grasp the kind of love that surrounds us from every direction. But, it’s always there. It’s demonstrated in your family, your friends, your councillors, therapists, school, work, and even in individuals like Mike and Ryan that take the time to create initiatives to open your eyes to these avenues of support.

I applaud these two, and everyone who was involved in this event. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me the opportunity to be involved in such a wonderful night.

You can find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter simply by clicking the cute little icons in my description box to the right! Make sure to comment or email me if you have any questions or comments.

Mackenzie, Miss Teenage Western Alberta 2017

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“Never underestimate the power of a woman.”  -Nellie McClung

These words have never been more true since I, alongside so many intelligent and passionate young women who were crowned at Miss Teenage Alberta 2017. I am incredibly honoured to have been selected to represent Western Alberta, and beyond excited to get started with this job! Representing my province really is a privilege that I do not take for granted. I’m quite shocked to say the least! I intend to share with all of you the beauty within Alberta that I have the pleasure of experiencing everyday. However, before I get into what life is like in Canada’s wild west, how about I share a little bit about myself?

My name is Mackenzie! Aside from being your new Miss Teenage Western Alberta, I am a highschool student, passionate advocate, motivational speaker, and a goofy and adventurous 17 year old from Airdrie, Alberta. I absolutely love learning! Although waking up for school in the morning is typically a battle within itself, once I am in the classroom learning—especially if I am in Social Studies class, I am all ears. I credit my excellence in Social class to spending the past 4 years being closely involved in local politics after I began advocating for anti-bullying, and working to provide accessible mental health resources in Alberta. Being an advocate and motivational speaker is not just a hobby of mine, it’s my life.

Photo credit: Joseph Leung

After struggling with bullying for several years in elementary and middle school, I hit a breaking point. In December of 2012, I attempted to take my life. Although this was a dark moment in my life, it gave me the motivation and drive to look beyond myself and take my cause into my community. I approached Airdrie’s City Council about an anti-bullying bylaw, and after 8 long and hard months of working with the community to ensure this bylaw would benefit a variety of people in our city, it was passed! Ever since, I have been a vocal advocate, sharing my story of failure and triumph on an international scale. I’ve spoken at Pink Shirt Day events for several years across Alberta, schools, and even Alberta’s own WeDay! Which funny enough, is the same organization (Free The Children) I will be raising money for in the months to come in preparation for Miss Teenage Canada 2017 this August.


Having the opportunity to compete for the chance to represent Canada internationally is a dream come true. I am extremely patriotic when it comes to my country and will always stand behind it and for the individuals that have served to make Canada the wonderful place it is today. Kim Campbell said it best when she explained that Canada is the homeland of equality, justice and tolerance. I believe a responsibility that comes with the honour of being crowned Miss Teenage Canada, is representing something larger than yourself. Miss Teenage Canada represents the powerful young women that reside here. Being apart of this pageant is much more than being given a crown. You are given an unbelievable opportunity to fundraise for an incredible cause, meet girls that have made impressive strides to better their communities, and showcase to the world what it means to be a Canadian from all walks of life. And may I add what a perfect year to be crowned Miss Teenage Canada as it’s Canada’s 150th birthday!

I have already gotten started with my preparation for the big send off to Toronto on August 7th! I’ve been taking advantage of Alberta’s beautiful rocky mountains by participating in hikes all around Banff to clear my mind and maintain a healthy lifestyle among all the chaos of balancing school, pageant duties and this crazy ol’ teenage life. As overwhelming as it seems when I look at everything at once, after you break it down and take it one step at a time it’s quite easy to manage! I’m extremely excited to get out into my community this April as I attend my first of many appearances this year. On April 1st, you’ll be seeing me at Airdrie’s Just For Her! trade show supporting local women in our community. Aside from appearances, I’ll be spending my days planning my fundraisers for Free the Children! I absolutely love fundraising and feel that fundraising is an example of one’s determination and dedication to their community. In May of 2016, 72 hours after the tragic forest fires in Fort McMurray began, I alongside a friend of mine and fellow pageant sister hosted a pancake breakfast in support of the Alberta Red Cross. We ended up raising $10,000.00 for the Red Cross in just 3 hours!! My first ever fundraiser was a huge success and supported an incredibly deserving community that has been the heart of Alberta for many years. Being apart of the Free the Children family for just over 4 years now, attending WeDay every year since 2013 and even having the opportunity to appear on stage in Toronto and Alberta, I’ve learned so much about the work they do and aspire to head off on a Free the Children trip in the upcoming years to take my support to the next level. For now, I’ll be devoting my time to this organization and raise funds to support their mission.

I am extremely honoured and excited to be your Miss Teenage Western Alberta 2017. This year will be nothing short of amazing. Thank you to all those who helped make this possible. From my family, friends, supporters and my sponsors Davis Chevrolet GMC Buick LTD, AirdrieHassett & Reid LLPFiander Marr Chartered Professional Accountants, Bronze Baxx Tanning, and Photography by Courtney Borgford, you all are the reason I am able to partake in such unbelievable experiences like this one. I hope to make you all proud as I begin my journey to become Miss Teenage Canada.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter simply by clicking the links in my bio to get updates on all my latest activities and newest blog posts!

Mackenzie, Miss Teenage Western Alberta 2017

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