WATCH ABOVE: Getting people to vote in this country is a challenge, but it’s an even bigger challenge among First Nations. Many, especially in remote communities, feel marginalized and don’t think any politicians speak for them. They were told that has to change and, as Jacques Bourbeau reports, the message came from a surprising new voice.
TORONTO – Canada’s Ashley Callingbull made history after becoming the first First Nations woman to be crowned Mrs. Universe over the weekend and is now urging First Nations people to vote Stephen Harper out of office.
“I urge all First Nations people in Canada to vote in this upcoming election,” Callingbull tweeted on Monday. “We are in desperate need of a new PM. Fight for your rights.”
Callingbull, whose married name is Burnham, is from the Enoch Cree Nation west of Edmonton. She was crowned Mrs. Universe 2015 in Minsk, Belarus, on Saturday, becoming the first Canadian and First Nations woman to win the title for married women.
Callingbull has noted she grew up in poverty on First Nations reserves in Alberta and is a survivor of physical and sexual abuse.
She posted to Facebook dismissing criticism she had gotten into politics too quickly and reiterated she will use her title as a platform to bring awareness to First Nations issues in Canada.
“Really? People think I’m too political for my first day as Mrs Universe. Did you really think I was going to just sit there and look pretty? Definitely not,” Callingbull wrote. “I have a title, a platform and a voice to make change and bring awareness to First Nations issues here in Canada. I’m getting all this media attention and I’m going to use it to the best of my ability. I’m not your typical beauty queen. Look out… I have a voice for change and I’m going to use it!”
WATCH: Ashley Callingbull made Mrs. Universe history, becoming not only the first Canadian but the first First Nations winner. Watch her interview in ET Canada’s studio.
She received support from the Amnesty International Canada who congratulated her for speaking out on the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
In an interview with ET Canada on Monday Callingbull said she is pleased with the support she has received and that pageant is about more than just looks.
“A lot of First Nations people are supporting me because I am the first First Nations woman to win, but they’re also supporting the pageant because it doesn’t judge you on your looks. There is no swimsuit competition, it all judges on your charitable work and the work you do within communities,” Callingbull said.
“The platform of the pageant is domestic violence and reflection on children.”
The 25-year-old is an actress, model and motivational speaker and is a graduate of the television program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton. She also appears in the drama Blackstone on the APTN network.