Madison Tinker with her family after winning the people’s choice award. Photo courtesy Madison Tinker, Facebook.

Northern Saskatchewan has helped a 15-year-old girl win the vote-based national people’s choice award at the Miss Teenage Canada competition.

Madison Tinker from Pinehouse Lake was representing Northern Saskatchewan when she won the people’s choice prize at the Toronto pageant earlier this month. She said jigging during the talent portion was a way to represent her Metis culture on a national stage.

“Most people haven’t seen someone jig before so after my performance I had a lot of people coming up to me and hugging me, saying ‘oh I wish I could have come up there and danced with you.’ So it was just a great feeling knowing I was representing my community,” Tinker said.

Her highlights include making it to the Top 20, winning the people’s choice award, and most of all, getting out of her shell while meeting young women her age from across the country.

“Before I wasn’t really much of a social person. I had a hard time talking to people that I didn’t really know. This experience just changed my life for the better,” Tinker said, adding that the 58 other competitors were incredibly supportive and easygoing.

“I’m better at talking, I’m more outgoing now than I was before.”

Madison said the confidence she has gained is thanks to her family, principal, and mayor who all urged people to vote for her throughout the competition even though she initially had doubts, thinking “I won’t make it,” before entering and winning runner-up in the Saskatchewan competition in April.

Tinker said she doesn’t expect to enter any pageants in the future, instead planning to focus on her studies as she heads into Grade 11 in the fall.

“What I want to do after school requires a lot of prep and a lot of good grades and whatnot, so I have to really focus on my school for now because I want to be an optometrist,” she said.

Tinker and her family’s travels to Toronto were helped along by fundraisers, and they just got back late last week.