Twenty-three-year-old Shannon Baker and sister Shauna, identical Carrier Dene twins from the Stellat'en First Nation are taking the modelling, acting and entrepreneurial worlds by storm.
Known collectively as the Baker Twins, Shannon and Shauna have appeared on television shows such as The Tyra Banks Show, where they were featured as Native American models shattering the typical model stereotype, and Smallville, where one part became two when the producers found out they were identical twins. They've received offers of lucrative modelling contracts in Europe and are currently in the process of creating a Native American women's calendar to be distributed throughout North America in 2008. They are also hard at work on another project-a bid to have Shannon compete in the 2007 Miss Universe Canada Pageant, taking place in Montreal from Feb. 23 to March 5.
In keeping with the traditions of the Carrier-Sekani people, Shannon and Shauna were raised by their grandmother, Emma Baker.
"We were encouraged by our family, particularly our grandmother, to follow our dreams, and we were fortunate to have had such loving support. When you have support with anything you do, you're successful. If every First Nation person had that support they could do everything they set their minds to. Shannon and I work towards inspiring our people and hope that what we are doing will smooth the path for others," said Shauna."We firmly believe that First Nations people need to be represented in mainstream media a lot more, and feel that we can help to facilitate a positive profile for our people through initiatives like the Miss Universe Canada Pageant."
"I hope I can represent First Nations people in a really good way and that's why I am competing in the pageant," said Shannon. "I am raising my own funds to compete, following in the footsteps of the first-ever First Nations woman to compete in the Pageant, Alberta's Jamie Medicine Crane in 2003, and Vancouver's Claire Robinson in 2004. It would be an honour to be crowned Miss Universe Canada and to represent our country on an international level through competing for the title of Miss Universe."
Competitors in the pageant are responsible for all expenses associated with the national event and the Baker Twins are facing up to the challenge of raising the funds together. By merging Shauna's sales and marketing expertise with Shannon's business and management skills, combined with the experience they've gained through marketing themselves as the Baker Twins, they believe they will succeed.
Shauna and Shannon Baker recently attended a successful fundraising event hosted by the Penticton band where they spoke to a group of more than 40 young women about how they got to where they are today and shared their messags-nothing can replace hard work, determination and education, and stay away from drugs, smoking and other negative influences.
Shannon was touched that members of the Penticton band would organize an event to help her, someone none of them had ever met prior to the fundraiser.
"They did that because they believe in our people, in reaching out to another tribe, another nation. And we are all starting to do that. It is actually happening and things are changing. When we have children, we will pass this onto them. It gives me so much hope for the future," Shannon said.
"The world doesn't realize how many beautiful and talented Native women there are in this world. We may not account for a large population of Turtle Island, but we do exist."
More information about the Baker Twins can be found at www.thebakertwins.com