In honor of this week’s featured muse, Megan Red Shirt-Shaw and her passion for Native Rights, we thought it fitting to further highlight the need for these changes with a fellow Native Rights activist from Canada.
As the first Canadian and First Nations woman to win the Mrs. Universe title, the first thing Ashley Callingbull did with her newly-found fame was to dive head-first into the fight for Native Rights in Canada. Ashley is a 25-year-old from the Enoch Cree nation of Alberta and has participated in pageants before, all with the goal of establishing a platform where she could forcefully advocate for positive political change for the Native peoples of Canada.
By encouraging all aboriginal citizens of Canada to register to vote, and hopefully vote out the current conservative government of Canada that is restricting Native Rights, she made a forceful statement that put equal rights for indigenous peoples front and center, something she says is always “put on the backburner.”
Not only is Ashley sparking political change in Canada, but she is also opening channels to further educate society on Native culture. Rather than perpetuating the “pocahottie” stereotype of Native women, a derogatory term referring to the revealing and not culturally appropriate style of dress often associated with First Nations women (think Disney’s Pocahontas and Coachella-wear), Ashley made sure that her pageant routines and costumes were entirely authentic. In a customized Canadian jingle dress, she sang a traditional round dance song and played the hand drum as her talent, in the hopes of teaching the audience about the sacred traditions of Native culture and opening their eyes to the misguided stereotypes entrenched in Western society.
We love that she is using her voice to speak out for such a marginalized, yet crucial issue!
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!
– Ashley Callingbull, via Facebook
If you’d like to get involved (and we truly hope that you do!) check out the Who Is She? campaign, brought to you by the Chiefs of Ontario to increase safety and respect for indigenous women throughout Canada. And of course, don’t forget to vote for Native Rights in the upcoming election!