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Nova Stevens reigning Miss Universe Canada
Nova Stevens reigning Miss Universe Canada

Nova Stevens Represents Possibility and Hope

Nova’s We*R One Campaign: Peace and Security for all

Nova Stevens stands heads and shoulders above much of her Miss Universe competitors in more ways than one. At six feet tall, her height serves to give her even more perspective on her life and journey from her birth in Kenya after fleeing the brutal civil war in their home in South Sudan to arriving as a refugee at age 6 in Canada, leaving behind all her immediate family. By 15, she headed West, eventually making her way to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Nova is passionate, determined, resilient, and multi-talented model, actress, spokesperson, Ambassador, mentor, and social activist for human and animal rights. She has also been an athlete, server, collection queen and youth coordinator along the way to her goals for her personal, family and professional life.

It is her deep faith, on many levels that has given her the conviction and drive to become the second Black Miss Universe Canada, to represent her adopted country of Canada May 7-16th in Florida, and to have fulfilled her longstanding dream to reunite with her family in Ethiopia. Beyond this, she also brought thousands of HIV and COVID tests to Ethiopia and South Sudan,where she met with heads of state to discuss longer term ways she can make a difference in the country her mother spent 8 years in a UN refugee camp before a dangerous 24 day trek by foot and small boats to reunite with her husband and children.

By the young age of 15, with the help of the Youth Transition program in Alberta, Nova had already forged a life for herself, living independently, finishing school and learning the importance of guidance for youth. At age 18 she earned the manager position for the program because of her maturity and her drive to give back.

Being separated from her family and growing up without her immediate family in Canada, in fact, helping her family financially since high school, Nova is acutely aware of the critical need to foster the healthy development of children and youth regardless of their circumstances. That is why, while continuing to work towards reuniting her family, she is continuously looking for opportunities to serve young Canadians as she is so grateful for the opportunities that being Canadian has given her.

On Unconventional Beauty & Being Black

“Not everyone is going to like you”

“In 1989, Juliette Powell was the first (and last) Black woman to win Miss Universe Canada until Nova Stevens in 2020. That was over 30 years ago and 2 in the 68 years of the pageant. “It’s bothersome to me that in the last 30 years there has not been another Black woman good enough for the crown. I will not accept that. Because I don’t believe that to be the case at all. Canada’s a land of immigrants and it’s our diversity that makes us so beautiful. But I find that often times in certain industries—a lot of industries—it’s always one face that’s being shown as the face of Canada and I’m tired of it. We have to show the world that Canada really is diverse and a land of equal opportunity.”

“I was modelling in Milan and I remember doing a casting where the casting director said ‘what are you doing here, we told your agent – no Black girls.’ In my mind, I was like ‘that is not okay, you can’t just say that to someone.’ I was a grown woman so that didn’t really affect me as much but imagine if I was a 16-year-old girl hearing someone say that to me, at a point when I’m still trying to figure out who I am. That can cause a lot of damage in someone.”

Even this last week, Nova’s social media has been hit with very racist remarks from international social media, including from Asian countries. She put out a press release pointing out how small minded this is, especially given the rise of anti-Asian sentiment this past year. She fears not for herself, but for young, less experienced men and women who take these mean spirited comments to heart. Tolerance for one is nothing until there is tolerance for all. Other Miss Universe have come out condemning the bullying and shaming practices of “fans”.

“I consider myself “a lover of life” simply because I can find joy in all things- especially traveling; one of my greatest passions because it allows you to explore the world while learning new cultures and meeting new people. In my opinion, this is one of the best ways one can truly learn different aspects of themselves.”

I think we should all work on conquering our fears as it inhibits us. I am open to whatever opportunity the universe grants me as I believe life is full of surprises and that’s the beauty of it. Be in the moment and cut out all the extra “noise”.

Finding Your Voice

When Silence is Not an Option

In 2020, during the pandemic, and after events in the United States, Nova Stevens spoke at the first Freedom rally and then she and Shamika Mitchell co-founded the ‘Freedom March Vancouver’ and ‘Black Freedom Society,’ The mission is to eradicate hate and racism experienced by black and indigenous people of colour in the world today. On Friday (June 19) in the city's first large "Juneteenth" demonstration and celebration, thousands marched from Jack Poole Plaza down Thurlow Street to Sunset Beach. On August 1st, during their emancipation day march, Nova and Shamika announced that they had the city of Vancouver declare August 1st as emancipation day with an official document signed by the Mayor of Vancouver Kennedy Stewart 155 years after the first declaration was signed in Texas. One year later, the Canadian government finally recognized it federally.

Nova Stevens Top 10

50 Most Influential in British Columbia, 2020

Once Nova Stevens spoke at the first Freedom rally, and co-founded the ‘Freedom March Vancouver’ and ‘Black Freedom Society,’ she knew there was no turning back, only setting her sight on the bigger picture of eradicating hate and racism. After the "Juneteenth" demonstration and celebration, with thousands marching across the city, Nova and Shamika knew that their next goal of the Canadian government finally recognizing August 1st federally, was in their future.

Nova could not remain silent as a refugee and a Black woman. “I think it definitely made me more resilient. I have to thank my past experiences because they really have shaped me and who I am. If not for the struggles I experienced growing up I don’t think I would be as strong as I am. I don’t think I would have the ability to overcome obstacles that arise out of nowhere. I’m a firm believer that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It’s a motivating factor to keep pushing and to keep pursuing my dreams. Because not only do I have to be there for myself but also my family who are in a war-torn country with very little respect for human life.”

Canada’s a land of immigrants and it’s our diversity that makes us so beautiful. But I find that often times in certain industries—a lot of industries—it’s always one face that’s being shown as the face of Canada and I’m tired of it. We have to show the world that Canada really is diverse and a land of equal opportunity.”

Nova Stevens is determined to be part of global solutions from Vancouver to South Sudan
Nova Stevens is determined to be part of global solutions from Vancouver to South Sudan

Act Local, Think Global

Go SuperNova

Less than one year after those actions in Vancouver, Nova was given an honorary welcome to South Sudan to bring lifesaving HIV and COVID tests and guaranteed laboratory results as a beginning towards her desire to be instrumental in diminishing the civil war that tore her own family apart for over 20 years. Her ambitions to be a change maker have a strong foundation already. It is just one of her strengths that will make her an ideal Miss Universe, with your support .

“I consider myself “a lover of life” simply because I can find joy in all things- especially traveling; one of my greatest passions because it allows you to explore the world while learning new cultures and meeting new people. In my opinion, this is one of the best ways one can truly learn different aspects of themselves.”

Dreaming while awake is imperative for a visionary
Dreaming while awake is imperative for a visionary

Think Like a Queen

Nova Stevens sets her sight on 2021 Miss Universe Crown

I live by Oprah Winfrey’s quote “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.” Those words have inspired me from a very young age. I have not been fortunate to grow up with my immediate family. It was people like Oprah that I looked up to, for inspiration. I remember always watching her talk show and listening to her advice carefully as if she was my mother. I learned that it’s not where you’re from, rather where you’re going. Your past does not define you, it strengthens you.

“I am very proud of the woman I’ve become and my accomplishments in my past, especially fulfilling my dream to see my family united these past weeks, of what I was able to do in South Sudan as a woman of South Sudanese heritage. I will take that with me these next weeks as I become the first Miss Universe of South Sudanese descent to walk on the Miss Universe stage. I am excited for my future and the example and role model I can be and for what I can inspire others to aspire to. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you recognize the power of your own voice and use it accordingly.”

“I want to leave a legacy of love, philanthropy and impact. I think the first key to success is knowing what you want. Once you know what you want, then you can orchestrate a plan on how to achieve it. Miss Universe Canada and the path towards achieving my goal of Miss Universe are platforms to open more doors for young girls of color who will see themselves in me and know that they too are capable and worthy of representing Canada at Miss Universe. I will also use this platform to continue the fight of injustice and racial inequality experienced by black indigenous people of colour. Currently, I am in the process of creating a non-profit organization that helps unprivileged youth lead a positive lifestyle.”

“I was 15, when I moved out on my own as I realized how important it is to surround yourself with positive energy. Things aren’t always easy, but ultimately we are in control of the people we decide to surround ourselves with.”

To those who can’t equate her role as a social activist and be part of what many consider to be a sexist beauty pageant, she replies:

“I disagree. Beauty pageants can empower women. The skills that you use in the competition are skills to use for the rest of your life. You’re public speaking in front of thousands of people, which takes a lot of courage. Preparation—you have to be mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared. It’s not as easy as people think it is. The questions that we’re being asked on stage are not easy. There’s more to it than ‘world peace.’ You have to be able to eloquently answer questions while remaining diplomatic all within 30 seconds. I don’t think a lot of people can do that. These women are strong and confident. They’re resilient, they’re diverse and they’re leaders. To put yourself out like that is a mark of leadership. These are leaders that have worked hard and they’re representing their countries by using their voices. I want to win so badly because I want to use that platform to not only encourage others to use their voices but also to advocate for change.”

Nova’s Priorities

Empowerment, Education and Financial Literacy

What’s important to me is education and financial literacy. Part of what I want to do with my organization is to have scholarship funds for kids and to give business grants to Black entrepreneurs. It’s important to empower yourself and I think business really does that.”

To me, winning this title means: showing the world that there isn’t an “ideal” beauty, we are all beautiful regardless of colour, shade, shape, physical attributes or whatever construct society has created to be considered “more beautiful “. It is time to show the world the true beauty of Canada which lies within our diverse culture and love for one another. Most importantly, I want to encourage young girls of colour to see themselves as beautiful, regardless of what society considers as “beautiful” I want them to see my image and think that they too can compete for Miss Universe Canada and win despite being of African descent with dark skin and non-Eurocentric features. We are all beautiful when we are authentically ourselves.

Nova Stevens in #pursuit365. Available again soon
Nova Stevens in #pursuit365. Available again soon

Nova Stevens Co-author in Best Selling Book

Pursuit:365 Features 365 Canadian Women Living by Example

It is an honour to be part of Pursuit:365 inaugural edition as one of 365 women from across Canada to share a common thread of humanity. While there were women who are household names in entertainment, government, arts, activism and community service, there were also stories of family tragedy, personal illness and hardship and pure inspiration.

I chose to talk about finding and using my voice, and encouraging others to find their passion and purpose and use their voices so people know they are not alone. All the proceeds of the book go to support affordable housing for women and children.

If you are a Canadian woman or man with an inspiration to share, consider being part of the 2022 Pursuit:365 editions.

Family Reunited After 21 Years
Family Reunited After 21 Years

The Latest Interview with Nova Stevens

Here’s Why You Should Support Nova’s Bid for Miss Universe

Interview by Randi Winter for

The P2P Life & LuxeBeat Magazine

What are you earliest memories from South Sudan from your family?

I’ve actually never been to South Sudan. My first time ever being there was just two weeks ago. I also had the pleasure of meeting the president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir. The reason for my trip wasn’t only to see the land and the people, but to also bring solutions. I donated 10,000 Covid-19 and HIV rapid tests. I’ve partnered up with a lab; we will be opening testing centres for Covid-19, HIV, cancer and the 15 other diseases that are currently affecting the people of South Sudan.

***

What gave you the courage to leave your family at such a young age to go so far from home?

I’m not sure if courage is the right word considering I was 6 when I left. I had no idea I’d be gone for so long. If I can recall correctly, I thought it was a vacation. I think I hold the record for the longest vacation ever! 21 years to be exact, since I’ve seen my family. I finally broke that record April 17, 2021.

***

What do you remember of the trip to Canada?

I don’t remember much aside from being on the plane, arriving in St John, Newfoundland in the middle of winter and being very cold!

***

You have always had a commitment to continue to help your family. What did you do when you were young, to help them and how did it make you feel?

Family has always been very important to me. In fact, I think my strength and motivation comes from knowing that my family is suffering in Africa and that I am their only hope, so I have no choice but to succeed. Not only for myself but for them as well. I’ve been working since I was 10 years old. My first job was raking leaves and babysitting. I didn’t start supporting my family until high school where I worked various jobs as a teenager. This is also around the time we started communicating. The first 10 years we had lost contact. Thankfully with the help of social media and globalization we were able to find each other.

***

What was the role of sports in when you were growing up?

I grew up an athlete. Whether I liked it or not, I was always in sports. I loved playing sports (except track and field) I used to hate running. Now, as an adult, I’ve grown to love it. Some of the best lessons in life, I’ve learned from playing sports and being on teams. The most important ones are ‘never giving up’ and understanding ‘the power of teamwork’ and confidence.

***

Did you have mentors in school and what lessons do you feel have served you the most during all these intervening years and going into your Miss Universe pageants? From the first time until winning Miss Universe Canada on your third try, and now heading into Miss Universe in May? What do you remember most from each of your competitions?

My teachers and coaches in high school have become more like family to me. They taught me that love sees no colour and that family is not always blood bound. They also taught me the importance of having a good support system and choosing those in your circle carefully. Lastly, it’s ok to ask for help. It doesn’t mean you’re weak. I am Miss Universe Canada and excited to compete for Miss Universe because I have amazing people in my corner that believe in me and have helped me during this journey, especially as this all happened during the Pandemic with its own very unique, ever changing and restrictive considerations that meant we had to be very resourceful, and I cannot say enough about my team and sponsors who stood by me with all the twists and turns every day-sometimes, minute by minute. There were lots of disappointments, but my same philosophy and ethics helped get me where I am at this moment, ready to embrace the Miss Universe experience in Florida.

***

What brought you to leave Newfoundland and head out west alone? Where have you lived in Canada?

I’ve lived in Newfoundland, Ontario, Alberta and now, Vancouver, British Columbia.

***

What was your most interesting or unusual jobs you may have had.

I was 18 and was hired by a third party debt collection company. Ironically, I was the number 1 debt collector in North America during my tenure with the company. That would probably be my most unusual job. This to me was a clear indication of my people skills. I have always been great at communicating with people and genuinely enjoy it.

***

What causes and volunteering have you been proudest of ?

• Freedom March Vancouver (March/protest)

SOS Children’s Villages

Operation Smile

Emancipation Day Vancouver

Keep6ix.org

Calgary Alpha house

• Aspen

YWCA

***

Do you feel that friends can become family when you have no family around?

Absolutely! Friends are they family you get to choose, which is one of the biggest testaments of love in my opinion.

***

What characteristics and values do you value the most in your friends and have adopted in yourself?

The characteristics I value the most are: honesty, kindness, loyalty and being supportive, to name a few.

***

What are your most inspirational sayings?

Oh lots! Some of my all-time favorites are:

“If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far for together” African proverb.

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I am possible” Audrey Hepburn

“If you can dream it, you can do it” Walt Disney

***

What are the actions or words of others that upset you the most and what do you do to get beyond those thoughts and feelings?

Hateful/ discriminatory/ derogatory, racist words/actions upset me. I believe we are one and should treat one another with love and kindness because words have tremendous power. How I combat hate of any kind is with love. I am a firm believer in “Kill them with kindness”. If someone chooses to be hateful and you choose to not entertain them, after a while they’ll most likely feel foolish for being so hateful, especially if you don’t give them the hate back. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. In fact there have been numerous cases recently of very racist, disparaging posts on my social media. They question my skin, my hair, my looks. If they continue, I just ignore and move on with my life. I am very cognizant however, that other young women could take it much more personally and to heart and might prevent them from following their own dreams because of someone else’s racism and prejudices. That is tragic.

***

Who are your current role models?

My mother is my number 1 role model, even if it was not going to be Mother’s Day this weekend. She has endured more than most people can handle and yet, including being separated from her husband and children all this time. She risked her life fleeing to Ethiopia by walking and travelling on small boats for 24 days. She still remains positive with a big smile on her face. She bears the physical scars of the inhumane and precarious situation of living for 8 years in a UN refugee camp. She is by far the epitome of a warrior. She taught me to always keeps fighting and never gives up. Other inspirational women would include the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Maya Angelou as well as Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama.

***

Beyond the Miss Universe contest in May, what are your personal aspirations?

Beyond the pageant, I want to spend more time with my family and buy them a home to ensure they can live with a real quality of life, wherever they are. I envision my non-profit, Go SuperNova, operate internationally, be a successful entrepreneur and run for political office in Canada.

***

I have read your story in Pursuit:365 and you talk about finding your voice and becoming active in helping get Vancouver to recognize Emancipation Day on August 1, 2020, during a pandemic. You managed to co-organize Juneteenth and shortly after, a 15,000 ally strong, safe and respectful public march. Less than a year later, Canadian national recognition of Emancipation Day became a national reality. Can you share how and why this became such an important passion for you?

Helping people and using my voice is something I feel is a civic duty. I spoke extemporaneously at the Freedom March and was approached by Shamika Mitchell to create the Juneteenth and Emancipation Day events. You owe it not only to your country but your fellow citizens to stand up for the rights of those that can’t always speak for themselves. For me it was a no-brainer stand up and use my voice. It was important that Canada recognized this part of our history, and why were adamant about the country recognizing emancipation nationally.

***

You were able to finally realize your greatest dream of getting your mother out of the South Sudan UN refugee camp after 8 years of civil war and separated from family long before that. How were you able to help make your biggest wish and dream come true? Can you share a bit about this journey and how you felt during that time?

One of the reasons why it took so long was due to safety concerns. The past 8 years, it was not safe for anyone to leave the country. The UN was the safest place, although my mother has severe burn marks on her right arm from almost being burned alive. Once the war subsided, it was a matter of collecting funds and devising a plan to help her during her 24 day journey to Ethiopia and the rest of the family. Having her out of the camps was one the happiest moments of my life. I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Her being there broke my heart. I finally feel whole again.

***

What are the challenges that being Miss Universe Canada during COVID-19 and how has it impacted your preparation for Miss Universe?

One of the challenges was having no audience. There’s nothing like a crowning moment with your friends and family. Unfortunately, I couldn’t have anyone there to watch me achieve one of my biggest dreams. Luckily, I had my Pageant sisters with me. In terms of preparation, I left Canada at the end of last year to go to the States. As I was planning to return, the country went on lockdown. It was then that we had no choice and decided it was best to go to Mexico so that I could continue my training with my full team.

***

Can you tell us about your We R One Project and what your goals were? We know you’re your plans had to keep changing due to COVID-19 medical and political restrictions. I am sure that your donations to Ethiopia and South Sudan of medical testing supplies will save many lives. What are your plans after Miss Universe?

My We R One campaign is all about reminding people of our Oneness and bringing people together to make everlasting change. It’s about lending a helping hand to anyone that may need help. With my GoSuperNova non-profit I plan on traveling the world to do just that.

***

What would you tell other young women blessed with an unconventional beauty on how to believe in themselves? What was your epiphany? Were you always comfortable with who you were? Did living in a multicultural city like Vancouver help?

I think for the most part I was comfortable with myself. When it comes to beauty ideologies, I think I fell into that trap growing up. I used to straighten my hair, wear weaves and wigs all the time. This is not inherently bad, as hair is merely an accessory. It becomes bad when you don’t feel comfortable showing your natural beauty. When I cut my hair at first it wasn’t because I wanted to, but because my hair was really damaged from relaxers (chemical straightener) and so I had no choice. I hated the idea of having short hair because I thought it would make me look like a man. Once I did it, I felt liberated from the traditional constraints of beauty and femininity. With that being said, I would tell young girls to believe in themselves and not make themselves smaller, just because society expects them to. I would also tell them that being different is good. It allows you shine in your own way and that the best version is always the original, which is you. So please, don’t change for a prototype.

***

What are the most important “beauty” secrets or tips that anyone can attain?

For me less is more. You don’t need to use a hundred products. For me it’s this: Always washing my face no matter how late it is, drinking lots of water and mostly organic products. For years as a model I was told to do my own hair and makeup because make up artists and hairstylists had no experience with Black hair and skin.

***

What are the challenges and misplaced stereotypes that arise, and how do you overcome them?

The stereotypes that I often hear are those that fall into old concepts of beauty preconceptions. Some feel I should have hair as a beauty queen. Another is that I am more of a model not a beauty queen. I’m not sure what that means to be honest. It could be the fact that my hair is short once again, as most beauty queens have hair, which helps with the glamorous photos. The reigning Miss Universe was chosen with short, natural hair. I get it, you can do a lot with hair, but it is still only an accessory. In Milan I was asked why I came as my agent was told “No Blacks” for castings.

***

What has being Vegan taught you that you value the most and have you always been vegan?

Being vegan has taught me that food is medics. You truly are what you eat! I have more energy as a vegan than I have ever had. I’ve learned the importance of healthy eating and feeding your body not your cravings.

***

Miss Universe offers a platform for each contestant, what would you say about Canada as your adopted country, being the first woman from South Sudan to walk the Miss Universe stage, and what will your message be to the world as a contestant and beyond?

I have so much gratitude towards Canada. Canada has given me another chance at life. Being here was the best case possible for me. My life wouldn’t have been any better had I remained in Africa. Canada gave me many opportunities and raised me to be a strong, independent woman. That just shows you exactly what kind of country Canada is. Canada welcomes and Canada cares for all people and accepts them as they are. No changes required. THAT is Canada. My home. I intend to represent all Canadians and ensure that we always to our best and always try to do better.

***

What kind of role model and legacy do you want to create for yourself?

I want to be remembered for challenging the status quo of what is considered beautiful. Remember me as someone who has fearlessly used her voice to fight for racial equality. Remember me as a warrior who has peacefully fought for the rights of all people. Lastly, I want to be an inspiration to people of colour who have been told the colour of their skin is a hindrance. I say to you, it is a badge of honour so wear it with pride.

***

Your life has required tremendous discipline and values from early on. What’s your secret sauce as a social activist, representative of your country and your heritage, an international model that has graced the world’s most famous runways and represented the most famous brands?

I don’t think it’s a secret. It’s more of a having a ‘Can do’ attitude. I’ve received many ‘No’s’ I’ve told myself over the past that “No” is an acronym for ‘New Opportunities’ so when I hear those words, I continue until the right path opens. Just because you don’t achieve your dreams at your desired time, doesn’t mean you never will.

***

What gives you the most hope for the future?

Life! Life has been great to me. I am hopeful that it’ll only get better.

***

Are you planning on sharing your life lessons to others either by speaking or writing?

Always! I believe in using your voice and sharing your story to inspire. Words have the power to empower whether oral or written.

***

How do women who often do not speak the same languages manage to communicate and create the kinds of friendships that last beyond the competition?

I haven’t competed with anyone that doesn’t speak English yet, but I know that when I do at Miss Universe it won’t be a problem, because love is a language we all understand. There are many ways to communicate; you just have to be open.

***

How can people find and support you on social media for your We R One project and your foundation as well as for the Miss Universe Competition which will be televised on May 16th, 2021 from Florida?

You can follow me on Instagram,Facebook and Twitter ‘TheNovaStevens’ @thenovastevens Check out my website www.Novastevens.ca and my foundation, Go SuperNova.

Also, it would mean the Universe to me, if you can vote for me on the official Miss Universe app to help get me into the top 21!

Voting is officially open for the 69th Miss Universe Pageant.

To vote, just visit the official page vote.missuniverse.com or download the Miss Universe official app on your Android or iOS application.

You can vote once for free or pay for additional votes. Voting will end on Saturday, May 15 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Seventy-five contestants are confirmed to participate in the pageant. The final competition will be on Sunday, May 16 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, USA.

The Many Facets of Miss Universe
The Many Facets of Miss Universe

It Takes a Village

Teamwork makes the Dream Work!

Again, how can people find and support you on social media for your We *R One project and your Go SuperNova foundation as well as for the Miss Universe Competition which will be televised on May 16th, 2021 from Florida?

You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter ‘TheNovaStevens’ @thenovastevens Check out my websites www.novastevens.ca and TheNovaStevens and watch for my new foundation, Go SuperNova.

Also, it would mean the world to me, if you can vote for me on the official Miss Universe app to help get me into the top 21!

Voting is officially open for the 69th Miss Universe pageant. To vote, just visit the official page vote.missuniverse.com or download the Miss Universe official app on your Android or iOS application.

You can vote once for free or pay for additional votes. Voting will end on Saturday, May 15 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

*******************************************

Here are Nova’s words of gratitude upon arriving in Ethiopia to be reunited with her family after 21 years:

I want to give me deepest appreciation to my team and amazing sponsors.

Words can’t explain how I feel right now. I’ll try my best to express all these emotions I’m currently embodying. It has taken me 21 years to reunite with my family. Being separated and living alone without my family has not been easy for me; neither has it been for them.

My strength comes from my family. They are some of the strongest people I know. My mother, I don’t even have enough words to describe how incredible, strong and beautiful she is. If I can be half the woman my mother is, I’ll be extremely happy.

For a parent to send a child away on their own is one of the biggest sacrifices. My parents took a chance and sent me away to Canada for the opportunity to have a better life. We were a part for so many years but the bond never faded. It was always there and today I saw and felt the strength and love of my family both near and far. I felt the presence of my ancestors.

I’m both happy and sad. Happy: because I finally got to see and embrace my family and tell them 'I LOVE YOU' in person. Sad: because of the conditions they are living in. My mother got out of the United Nations camp on January 21 , 2021 after 8 years of being stuck there due to the conflict in South Sudan.

The fact that she was able to make it out of there alive is a miracle on its own. Hearing the stories she would tell me and knowing that they once tried to burn her alive terrified me. There were times I didn’t hear from her and thought of the worst case scenario because it was very common to lose loved ones during that time. I truly believe that God made all of this happen. God brought her out and brought me back to them.

I am forever grateful to everyone that has been instrumental in making my dream come true. Ethiopian Airlines @EthiopianAirlinesCanada, thank you so much for bringing me back to my roots. God knows had it not been for your generous sponsorship, I wouldn’t have been able to see them this year.

To my God given family the Saads, Miguel and Gui of @mgmode , my National Director of Miss Universe Canada @davila.denis, I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done for me and for my family. Thank you to Randi Winter of The P2P Life for creating this magazine to share my journey and encourage you to find your voices. My heart is full of love.

WE*R ONE

Thank you everyone ❤️ See you May 16th for Miss Universe final.

https://linktr.ee/NovaStevens

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