What is it that empowers you most?
I always feel empowered when I see other women totally smashing their goals and accomplishing cool things. I'm always like "shit ya! I can do that, too!" I like to think that empowerment is directly connected to self confidence and being true to yourself.
What is it that you love most about yourself?
I really love the way I can talk to people. I had a bit of an unusual upbringing and was raised in a community with people with intellectual disabilities. The community would also employ assistants from all over the world, so from an early age I was introduced to different cultures and backgrounds. That experience and my parents were instrumental in teaching me about compassion and how to relate to others. I'm also a bit of a chatty Cathy from my years serving in the restaurant and bar industry which has helped me open up a lot more.
What makes you feel most beautiful?
I guess when I take care of myself. Drinking tea, a good night's sleep, yoga, journalling, fostering positive relationships, etc. I think feeling beautiful is such a mindset thing. I see gorgeous women who have the worst relationship with themselves. It's heartbreaking. Women tend to have this lifelong battle of "I'm too x or I'm not enough y". I try to keep a mental note of how I talk to myself and make sure I'm being kind to myself.
Who is your biggest role model and why?
Without a doubt my mom. She's everything I could dream to become. I can think of 30 people who consider her to be their second mother. She's so caring and so selfless. She's always stood behind me, even in times I didn't know what the hell I was doing. I remember she once gave me a card that read "When a door closes, God always opens a window first." It makes me cry just thinking about how her support has always been so unwavering.
Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
So, I looove Sophia Amaruso (author of #Girlboss). I think we have very different personalities - but I'm really attracted to her fierce, don't fuck with me, better get out of my way attitude.
If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
Cher. Clueless. That digital closet tho.
What is your biggest life goal?
The problem with this question is that I don't have ONE big life goal. I have so many. Things like: creating opportunity for myself as a photographer (I'll be going to Kenya in January 2016 working with an NGO - which is a major goal of mine), becoming a mom, becoming an educator in my field, slow dancing with Bryan Adams, etc. I have a lot of goals - too many to list!
What is your biggest accomplishment?
Two come to mind: 1) Passionately growing my photography business and 2) Co-creating Prairie Love Festival with Rachelle Taylor. I will never, ever forget how special that day was. My heart explodes just thinking about it.
What is your favourite quote?
The Alchemist is my favourite book, so...
"And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." - Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be?
When I was 12, I was bullied. I remember feeling so devastated over it. I would tell myself that everything was happening exactly how it was supposed to. To trust that although momentarily things are uncomfortable, it's for good reason that I'll be able to see later on. As the saying goes, "everything happens for a reason, babe."
What does feminism mean to you?
To me, feminism just means equality. I love being a woman and feel lucky to live in Canada, where although we still face challenges- we're light years ahead of many countries. Girl Power ;-)
Monique is owner of Pantel Photography in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.