The first Canadian and First Nations woman to win Mrs. Universe is using her new fame to urge aboriginal people in Canada to vote to oust the Conservatives in the federal election.
Ashley Callingbull said the Tory government treats First Nations people like “terrorists” and that the government is working against them.
“I believe that this government was created to work against us and not for us,” said Ashley Callingbull in an interview with Rosemary Barton on CBC’s Power & Politics last Wednesday. “There’s just so many problems with it for First Nations people. We’re always put on the back burner.”
Callingbull, who is trained as a professional actress and featured the APTN series “Blackstone,” said she’ll use her Mrs. Universe win to voice her concerns about First Nations issues in Canada.
“With the bills that have been passed, we are being treated like terrorists if we’re fighting for our land and our water,” Callingbullsaid. “It’s our right to, and now we’re being treated like terrorists if we do anything about it … It’s ridiculous.”
The theme for this year’s competition was “domestic violence and reflection over children.” As a survivor of both sexual and physical abuse, Callingbull told CTV News that she “wanted to be there for other women, to have a voice for them, because a lot of people can’t talk about things like that. And a lot of people can’t heal on their own. They need someone to guide them.”
Callingbull has been open about her past, saying she hoped her story would help others dealing with the same pain.
“I was picking bottles for food. I would have never thought I’m going to be Mrs. Universe someday,” she said. “Growing up and dealing with that, I thought this is a perfect platform to share my story … to be a success story for them.”
She also wanted to celebrate her First Nations identity, wearing a traditional jingle dress for the parade of nations, and singing a traditional song for the talent competition. “A lot of people misrepresent us in pageants,” she told CTV news. “For example, if a Canadian woman is representing Canada, they might wear a revealing, sexualized outfit, with a head dress, and that is a complete misrepresentation.”
Twitter exploded with support for Callingbull — posts crowned her “an inspiration,” “a trailblazer” and “the most interesting person in Canada right now.”
Author and fellow Albertan Kelly Oxford penned a congratulations message on Instagram, saying that while she is “typically anti-pageant and objectification of women,” she believes “Ashley will be such a positive inspiration for so many Canadian First Nations girls — who are the group of Canadians needing it the very, very most.”
“I urge all First Nations people in Canada to vote in this upcoming election. We are in desparate need of a new Prime Minister,” Callingbull said on social media. “Fight for your rights before they get taken away. Please vote to make change. Say NO to Harper’s government!”