When Lana Bibeau heard her name echo across the auditorium, naming her as Miss Wood Buffalo at the Wood Buffalo Pageant presented by Exit Realty – Fort McMurray, she found herself frozen for a moment in disbelief. Bibeau, now 20, is an avid jet ski racer with many wins under her belt, but she says her pageant win took her completely by surprise.
“I didn’t think I was going to win. It was very surprising when I did,” she admits. “I’ve never felt suspense like that in my entire life. When I’m waiting for the results of a jet ski race, I always have an idea of what the outcome is going to be, but with this, I had no idea!”
“I felt like we were waiting up there for hours and when they finally called my name, I just stood there in shock,” she continues. “For the first time in a long time, I felt very pretty, very proud and excited for the responsibility that was coming my way.”
Bibeau has recently embarked on a brand-new career in real estate, and she says her experience as Miss Wood Buffalo has helped her immeasurably.
“People have come to recognize me as a representative of the community. It’s an honour,” she says.
Bibeau says she was inspired by her mother’s success as a realtor when she decided on a career path after graduating from high school. “My mom is so successful and so happy with her job. I wanted to see if I could get to that kind of enjoyment helping people find a place to call home,” she says.
Selling homes isn’t always the easiest job, as Bibeau has learned for herself. “The biggest challenge is being on everyone else’s time and putting your own life on the side,” she says. “As a 20-year old, that can sometimes be hard, but it will be worth it.”
Bibeau is used to the naysayers who believe that pageants are outdated and sexist, and she isn’t daunted by the criticism. “’Toddlers In Tiaras’ is a little extreme – please don’t put makeup on your one-year old – but if you’re of an age where you can make your own decisions and you want to go into a pageant, it’s not a waste of time,” she says. “You may walk away with something you never expected. When I was standing up there, I didn’t think I was going to win but I was happy either way, because I was walking away with a confidence I never had before.”
“It made me proud to know the girls that were standing up there with me, because they weren’t shy orashamed of who they were,” she adds. “They wanted to show it off to the whole municipality. It really was a great experience.”