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Rothesay, N.B., woman ready to break barriers at Miss Universe Canada 2024


For 72 years, the Miss Universe Canada pageant was limited to women between the ages of 18 and 28.

This year that rule has been lifted to allow women over the age of 28 to compete. It was news Lorraine Peters, born in St. Stephen, N.B., had been waiting her entire life for, and at the age of 58 she is gearing up to compete in the national event with plans on winning.

“It was almost like something that I always knew was going to happen had happened,” said Peters upon learning she had been selected as one of the 64 women across the country to compete for the title of Miss Universe Canada 2024.

Peters, who now resides in Rothesay, N.B., has been competing in pageants since she was 15 years old, with multiple wins under her belt. She is the first woman over the age of 28 to compete in the contest, where she plans to use the platform to spread her message.

“Which is to have the courage, and the confidence to pursue whatever you want,” Peters says. “And age has nothing to do with that.”

She says pageants are much more than just the evening gown and bathing suit catwalks, noting the most critical part of the week-long pageant (beginning on July 20) is the personality interview. Peters will have to be prepared to answer questions on just about any topic ranging from pop-culture to what is her favourite pizza and why.

Peters has been spending a few hours each day preparing herself for anything that may come her way. Her wisdom, energy, and high level of enthusiasm she says she brings to the table will be a great benefit to the younger girls competing, and she is ready to break barriers on a national stage.

“Older women can’t allow themselves to be relegated to the shadows,” Peters says. “Being made to feel like you’re not worthy, you’re not of the moment, you have nothing of this day and age to add, and that you’re value is diminished because of your age, all of which are just fundamentally untrue.

“I really want to be that voice that can make women of any age really just look and go, ‘OK, alright, I get this.’”

Her son Ryan Gilmore believes his mother has a great shot at the upcoming event. He says she is one of the best representatives Miss Universe Canada has, and is looking forward to seeing her prove why age is just a number.

“It’s going to bring a different dynamic to the entire overall atmosphere to the event,” Gilmore says. “And there is no one better to spread a message of don’t give up and keep pushing no matter what than my mother.”

Maria Giorlando is an online pageant coach who has worked with Peters in the past. She says the fact Peters has qualified for the event is proof that leaders can come in all shapes and sizes.

“Our entire world, our country, will be so much better when women realize that they have a story to share, and they have people they can impact across all ages,” says Giorlando.

She believes Peters will be an inspiration to not only women over 28 who have a desire to compete in pageants, but women who want to go into any career or field that were previously discouraged by “social norms.”

“The only barriers they set are the ones they put on themselves,” Giorlando says. “Rules are changing all the time, our world is evolving, the pageant industry is moving forward and you don’t want to be last to do all those things. We get to be first and if somebody has not set out to do that is your sign to be the first person to go and do it. That’s exactly what Lorraine is doing.”

Her current coach Ally Bowen is the owner of Fit to Sparkle Queens. She says Peters is a joy to work alongside and a true professional when it comes to pageant preparation.

Like Giorlando, Bowen also believes Peters will empower other women who may be scared or second-guessing that they can do something like this at a later stage in life.

“I think what she is saying is, ‘Come on, ladies, we live once,’” says Bowen. “So why not live out those dreams or take those chances or even if for you, you feel like it’s a risk to do it because of what others might think or others might say, it’s still worth you doing it.”

Bowen also notes contestants often talk about things they would like to do and achieve in life.

“With Lorraine being at that stage of life that she is in she has met a lot of her goals,” Bowen says. “She’s been able to bring to the table a lot of wisdom and history for the success that she has had, obstacles she has had to overcome, and just how I do believe she is going to be the face of a new modern woman.”

Which is a big part of what Peters is hoping to achieve by going to the Miss Universe Canada 2024 pageant, and hopefully winning and representing Canada at the Miss Universe Pageant this November in Mexico.

“It is going to just expand my ability to reach a broader audience of women,” says Peters. “So that I can continue to talk to them about having the courage to do hard things, and building the skills of resilience and confidence that they never ever quit on their goals, ambitions, and dreams.

The finals take place on July 27 in Windsor, ON, a day before Peters celebrates her 59th birthday, hopefully with a brand new crown atop her head.

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