Ashley Callingbull Burnham, a 25-year-old Cree woman from Alberta, Canada’s Cree Nation, is the new 2015 Mrs. Universe. She is stunning, of course, but she is much more than just what meets the eye. Not only is this Mrs. Universe a First Nations woman, she looks at the multi-national platform that she has earned as a megaphone – and she will not be silenced.
The model, actress and advocate who can be seen on the APTN series Blackstone was quick to hail her good fortune as a victory for Turtle Island’s Indigenous people. She also knows what it is to grow up in poverty, and firsthand the sexual and physical abuse that many First Nations and minority women grow up with.
“Representing First Nations on the international stage was the best feeling in the world,”she wrote on Facebook. “I’m so proud to be MRS Universe 2015.”
You know what is even better, she is saying things that are making people uncomfortable and drawing criticism that she may be “too political,” which certainly means she has found her voice – a voice for all women, but especially those that are seemingly deemed as “less important.”
She has spoken out against Canada’s neglect of Aboriginal, or First Nations, women. She has made it clear that she will not be silent – and that is the kind of female leadership we need, unafraid to speak their truth even if it means ridicule. Not everyone is comfortable with beauty that is outshone only by the intelligence behind it, but too bad for them, because I hope that Ashley becomes the kind of role-model that girls hang posters of– not afraid to speak, not invisible, and yes, loud!
Some have said that Ashley is just too political, especially for her first day as the most beautiful woman in the Mrs Universe pageant. They are entitled to their opinion, but should probably be aware that they are also entitled to the push back that opinion deserves. Ashley’s response on her facebook, however, was epic:
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. 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!
Here’s video of her reaction to the win:
Use your voice, Mrs. Universe, you are right to not let them silence you. This “beauty queen” seems to be showing everyone that her beauty is anything but skin deep, and she won’t let them make her pretend it is either.
Watch the video below:
Featured image via Flickr