Ashley Callingbull is a 25-year-old womyn from the Enoch Cree Nation in Alberta, Canada, who recently became the first native woman and the first Canadian to ever win the Mrs. Universe pageant. The Mrs. Universe pageant honors married women (and is in no way affiliated with the Donald Trump conglomerate), and while it still may feel quite archaic and anti-Feminist to most of our readers, what’s important to note is that Ashley has been utilizing this privileged position to leverage her voice for the needs of her Native Peoples, and against the mainstream in a very activistic and Feminist way.
Callingbull is a model, actress, and dancer, as well as being the former Miss Canada. She currently stars in the Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network show “Blackstone,” which we are thrilled to be able to stream full episodes of online (and yes, you read correctly: Aboriginal People in Canada have a Television Network to honor their creative work in a mainstream way).
[Ashley had actually originally planned to compete in the Miss Universe pageant but switched to the Mrs. Universe pageant after getting married in February. Her legal name is now Ashley Burnham, as her Instagram handle denotes, but she still uses her maiden name professionally, and it seems to be the one she is best known by.]
During the pageant’s national outfit parade, Ashley proudly wore jingle dress, which is traditionally worn by dancers at Native powwow celebrations. She took to the stage wearing a beaded belt, hair ties and crown made by her friend Dabney Warren, all in maple leaf red and white. Ashley sang a traditional Cree song for the talent portion of the competition while wearing a white buckskin dress made by native-owned label Lyn Kay Designs of the Shxw’ōwhámel First Nation in Hope, British Columbia.
It is quite clear that even before she had won the crown, Ashley had begun her work on stage as a beautiful representation of and an activist for her Native Peoples’. It is also no secret that this warrior womyn has been making waves since her time having been crowned. With this in mind, we have compiled a list of 5 times Ashley Callingbull has enacted Intersectional Feminism since her short reign:
1. The Tweet Read ‘Round the World
Upon her crowning, Ashley promptly took to Twitter to express her political opinions on the current state of affairs for Canada’s Nations First Peoples.
2. The Insightful Political Interview
Readers can head over to Ashley’s Instagram for even more video clips from one of her first interviews as Mrs. Universe. She makes it clear exactly where she stands on the issues of her country, which is a refreshingly intersectional viewpoint.
3. Boldly Wearing Her Voice
This is probably one of my favorite Feminist quotes of all time now, I could safely say that the rest of team WYV would agree – Ashley has no problem not only making her opinions and political stance very clear, but she proudly backs up her actions with even more powerful statements such as this one.
4. Staying True to Her Roots
By staying true to herself, and even frequently reflecting back upon her childhood and her culture’s traditions, Ashley is setting a beautiful example for girls and womyn everywhere to be proud of exactly everything that they already are. She understands the position of power she has been placed in and she’s making it quite clear on how she plans to utilize it: as a positive force!
5. Promoting and Engaging with Charities that Support First Nations People
Ashley hasn’t hesitated to continue her charitable work as she further raises awareness for important causes close to her heart such as Who Is She – working to eradicate abuse and neglect of Canada’s Indigenous womyn. (If you are able to, we encourage readers to check out the site and donate if you’re able, or simply spread the word – it is a cause near and dear to our hearts).