Ashley Callingbull made history this weekend at the Mrs. Universe competition as the 23-year-old was crowned both the first Canadian and First Nations woman to receive the title of Mrs. Universe. Just two days after her big win, she used social media to address other First Nations people in Canada to vote in the upcoming election for somebody, anybody other than sitting Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Callingbull used Twitter to amplify her political concerns to her nearly 10,000 followers.
I urge all First Nations people in Canada to vote in this upcoming election. We are in desperate need of a new PM. Fight for your rights.
— Ashley (@AshCallingbull) August 31, 2015
While some are criticizing her for playing politics during her first few days as Mrs. Universe, others are patting her on the back for her courage, including Amnesty International. The organization applauded her for using her voice “for missing and murdered Indigenous women.”
According to the RCMP, there have been more than 1,200 cases of missing or murdered Indigenous women since 1980. During the competition, Callingbull revealed that this issue was her main concern.
“I think that the murdered and missing subject is so crucial. It’s so sad. Say, for example, a Caucasian woman is missing in the news, it’s a big deal, but for First Nations women we are just pushed aside because there’s so many of us missing,” she said.
The issue of domestic violence is much nearer to her than just in her community. Callingbull faced sexual abuse as a child and witnessed her mother, Lisa Ground, endure an abusive relationship.
But Callingbull is showing the world that she isn’t afraid to use her voice, and certainly won’t let the spotlight fade in vain. “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.”
The win comes at a crucial point during the campaign. With just a month and a half left before the Oct. 19 election, candidates are scrambling to secure votes. With more than 900,000 status Indians across Canada in the Assembly of First Nations, the native vote weighs especially heavy in this year’s election.
Callingbull’s influence will certainly extend beyond her community and land in the political arena, if by slight chance it hasn’t already. The fame and spotlight that surround her and her victory will be sure to give her voice the megaphone it needs to make her message, and that of many others, loud and clear.
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