By Cecile Favron
Harjinder Atwal, the contestant from Terrace on The Amazing Race Canada, won the coveted title of Mister World Canada 2015 on May 16 – which is also his birthday.
“What an incredible [birthday] gift,” Atwal posted on his Facebook page shortly after his win.
The Canadian TV star will now go on to represent Canada at the Mister World competition held in Italy this year.
Atwal, with his sister Sukhi, was a contestant on the second season of the Amazing Race Canada in 2014.
Their team was eliminated the day before the finale.
The Mister World Canada prize is an all-expenses paid trip to the finals in Italy, a cash prize of 4,700 dollars, and the position as an ambassador for the Miss World Canada humanitarian organization.
Atwal said that he chose to compete for the title in order to get noticed by the Indian film industry. “The main reason I did this was to get into the Bollywood industry,” Atwal admitted.
“Within a couple of days of winning, people in the industry here and in India started reaching out to me.”
Atwal’s father immigrated from India to Terrace without any prior knowledge of English and Atwal, 27, cites his father’s journey as his inspiration.
Mister World Canada is coined as “a search for Canada’s Most Desirable Man” according to the organization’s website.
It is a beauty pageant, but with a male twist that puts the contestants through a variety of tests. Atwal has survived all eliminations since he was first accepted into the competition one year ago.
There are five televised competitions held over the week-long event: a sports competition, a Best Talent award, a Style and Fashion award, a Social Media Genius competition, and a People’s Choice award.
Atwal won the People’s Choice award and credits his support in Terrace for his win.
“I wouldn’t have won if it wasn’t for Terrace, the whole community campaigned for me,” explained Atwal.
Even though he won the People’s Choice award, Atwal said he did not expect to win the big prize because he did not win any other challenges.
“You don’t know how well you are doing all week, the judges don’t tell you,” Atwal said.
The final gala and the talent competition provided Atwal with a large audience to get him noticed. He sang Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly With Me” to an audience of thousands for the talent competition and remembers being swarmed by “fifty or sixty people taking pictures of me” after his big win.
The competition itself required Atwal, who says he was not involved in singing or dancing prior to the competition, to work hard. They had to be at the rehearsal space practicing their choreography every day at 6 a.m. for the finale with the Miss World Canada contestants.
The competition took place over May 11-16th. It was televised last weekend and can be streamed online.
Atwal was born and raised in Terrace.
He went to Veritas, Skeena, and Caledonia for school and worked at the local Safeway before he moved away when he was 18.
He first competed a Bachelors of Science in Cellular Molecular Genetics from the University of the Fraser Valley before he moved to South-East Asia to start a business.
The avid traveller sold his business and moved home to start a career in show business when he was inspired by India’s cinemas.
“India is such a poor country, but the Bollywood industry gives the people so much hope for a better life,” Atwal explained of the accessibility of the cinema for India’s poor.
Now the Canadian is determined to make it big and is not afraid to put himself out there to do it.
“What I have learned is that you might as well dream big because it will probably come true,” he said.