Ava Vanderstarren

I had the honor of participating in the Miss BC Pageant and that experience changed the course of my life. My platform during the pageant was rehabilitation of former child soldiers, inspired by my partner, Fazineh Keita, who was a child soldier in the Sierra Leone civil war. When I became Miss BC I decided to create a non-profit foundation to help rehabilitate former child soldiers through education, skills training and art therapy. In 2013, Fazineh and I started "Innocence Lost Foundation", which has become a registered Canadian Charity. We are currently fundraising to build a rehabilitation center in Kabala, Sierra Leone, West Africa. You can learn more about our project at:

I always knew that I wanted to do humanitarian work, and Miss BC gave me the confidence to pursue my charitable goals. The pageant itself is so wonderful and I would recommend it to anyone. The focus is on personality and charity work and the program includes workshops on public speaking, self defense, interview skills and etiquette. During my year I volunteered extensively in the Downtown East Side and at many fundraisers and events for organization such as Battered Women's Support Services and Variety, to name a few. I met many amazing young women who I am lucky to now call friends.

Since the pageant I have been focusing on growing our charity and project, and my work in acting, modeling and public speaking. Fazineh and I regularly speak at schools around BC about child soldiers and Innocence Lost Foundation.

Thank you Miss BC! I'm so excited for our family reunion this year!

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