When Drake Cairns was growing up, his friend’s uncle, Greg Debogorski, gave him a life-changing piece of advice.

“Basically, he gave me the advice that as soon as I can, leave my hometown and go find myself,” he says. “So that really stuck with me, and I’ve thought about it up until now.”

Luckily, Cairns’s friends and family in Yellowknife had already encouraged him towards the direction he would ultimately take: modelling.

“During high school and when I was younger, people—family, friends, told me I should try it out,” he said.

Now, the Yellowknife model is pursuing his dreams in Toronto and is a contender in the oldest and longest-running male modelling competition in the world.

Cairns and about a half dozen other models are competing in Manhunt Canada in Toronto. Whomever wins will go on to represent Canada on the world stage at the Manhunt International World Finals.

“I came to Toronto on a mission to become a model to become an actor, and this is what I’m doing,” says Cairns.

“Since I was young, I always just new there was something else out here for me. I couldn’t wait to leave town and find myself.”

Cairns, who also works as a security guard and is an aspiring actor, got the opportunity when he was contacted on Instagram by Manhunt Canada’s national director. “He thinks that I have what it takes to become a winner,” says Cairns.

The next event in the competition is the fitness finals, although Cairns says the exact details of that event have yet to be released.

Despite having moved away from Yellowknife five years ago, Cairns hasn’t forgotten his hometown or his Indigenous heritage. Recently, he was part of a fashion show put on by Jason Baerg, a Métis Cree designer.

“I was about to stop modelling and just focus on acting, and then that came about, and so I’ve just been pursuing it again,” Cairns said.

The winner of Manhunt Canada will be announced on June 12.

“Personally, it would mean the world to me,” Cairns said. “This is a world stage, and I would love to put Yellowknife on the map.”

“This will really open up massive doors for me and propel me to greatness.”

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