“I am Nova Stevens. I am a Canadian and a Black woman. As I stand before you, I want you to see me as a black woman. Yes. I want you to see colour. Because seeing colour does not mean you’re a racist; instead, it allows you to see the struggles experienced by people of colour,” said Nova Stevens who has been crowned Miss Universe Canada.
The 27-year-old model and anti-racism activist is the co-organizer behind Vancouver’s Freedom marches, which saw thousands stand up against anti-racism and support the Black Lives Matter Movement this summer.
Prior to competing in the pageant, Stevens had stated that she would use the platform to amplify her message of supporting Black Lives Matter and racial justice. Her win marked only the second time a black Canadian had won the title, following Juliette Powell in 1989.
Stevens attracted attention for her introductory statement she made in the competition, stating: “You’ve heard the news, you’ve read the stories. Innocent black lives have been lost to police brutality and hate crimes. We want you to see us. We want you to hear us. We want you to feel us. I ask that you diversify your surroundings, because when you do that, it creates a better understanding. Know that hate is taught; therefore we can unlearn it. So let’s do that! Let’s get back to our truest essence, which is love. My heart is full with gratitude. Thank you very much to everyone that has believed in me and supported me through this journey. As your new Miss Universe Canada, I promise to remain true to who I am and use my power, which is my voice.”
As Miss Universe Canada, she will represent Canada at Miss Universe 2020.
Stevens was born in Kenya to parents who fled the civil war in South Sudan and was sent to Canada at six.
At age 15, Stevens left home and began living on her own. The following year, she moved to New York City and began working as a professional model, until moving to Vancouver in 2014, to continue her modeling career and venture into acting.