A beauty pageant contestant with brains to boot.
Chayla Delorme Maracle is just 24 years old and is both Cree and Mohawk from the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan and from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in Ontario. She competed as Edmonton’s Miss World Canada delegate in the pageant this past May and went home with the third place in International Costume with her beautiful jingle dress.
Chayla Delorme Maracle is not your typical beauty pageant contestant. In fact she fell into the pageant life when she was recruited through her Model Mayhem profile. She is in her third year in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta where she is majoring in Psychology, and minoring in Native Studies. Her goal is to become a psychologist to meet the needs of Aboriginal peoples.
Her top three role models in her life are; her mother, her grandmother, and retired Psychologist Dr. Sudha Choldin, who worked to service the Aboriginal community in Edmonton.
“With my mom being a social worker in Edmonton, she really sees the need for there to be an Aboriginal psychologist, and that’s one of the reasons that I’m going to school and want to get my masters and PhD for Psychology,” she says.
“Our culture is so strong and powerful, it’s one of the most beautiful and powerful things I’ve ever experienced in my life. I realized this once I started sundancing,” she says. “It was a feeling that I’ve never felt in my life ever felt before and that’s really what helped me become sober. I realized that this connection with my culture and the Creator was way more meaningful than drugs and alcohol and trying to fit in into the society where I wasn’t who I really was.”
“Sometimes after I’m done dancing I will just feel like bawling,” she says. “It’s a pure happiness and a pure love. It’s so hard to explain but it’s just like this feeling like even though you are crying it just feels so good.”
Delorme Maracle is a seasoned jingle dress dancer and has been on the pow wow circuit for over eleven years. She uses her background in learning Native culture and pow wow dancing to work with high-risk Aboriginal youth in Edmonton, which she enjoys very much.
“A lot of them suffer from disorders like FASD and ADHD,” she says. “ A lot of workers have said they are surprised at how well the kids listen when I come there and that’s one of the things that I feel is needed is a positive role model who lives a sober lifestyle, identifies with their culture, and is proud of their culture.”
“It’s all very exciting and I practice my faith a lot, so I believe that the Creator will always put me in the direction that I was supposed to be going in,” she says. It’s the cultural strength coupled with determination that will enable Chayla Delorme Maracle to be an outstanding role model for young Aboriginal women for years to come.