maryanne oketch

Ajax woman becomes second Canadian in a row to win Survivor

Toronto-area Gen Zer Maryanne Oketch was officially named the winner of the latest season of the long-running CBS reality show Survivor this week, and as the second Black woman to ever take the title, as well as the second Canadian ever and in a row, her honour is an extra special one.

The 24-year-old, who hails from Ajax, spent more than 20 days as a "castaway" on the Mamanuca Islands of Fiji alongside 17 other competitors, including fellow Canadians Omar Zaheer from neighbouring Whitby and Drea Wheeler from Montreal.

She eventually won out over them all in the final episode, aired Wednesday, taking home a cool $1 million in prize money, which she celebrated in Ontario at a private party with loved ones.

Oketch, a seminary student who formerly studied at McMaster University, told Entertainment Weekly she was "an emotional wreck crying every day" following her return home, and that though sitting on her win for an entire 11 months until the season fully aired was hard to do, it gave her more time to reflect on and appreciate it.

She's described herself as energetic, empathetic, and chaotic, and is also a huge tabletop and video game buff — which perhaps helped her hone the sense of competitiveness and exceptional strategy that won her the show.

Oketch took to Instagram Friday to share her love for her fellow contestants in a slideshow of selfies with them, writing in a caption: "Thank you to my new family! The ones I got to see in the past 24 hours and the ones that I have yet to see! (Expect me to be at your doorstep ASAP)."

"I am so blessed to have met every one of you, pictured or not pictured, and you are NEVER getting rid of me!"

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