Cree model uses her platform to advocate for Indigenous women and girls
Published Friday, June 18, 2021 10:12PM EDT Last Updated Friday, June 18, 2021 10:12PM EDT
When Ashley Callingbull was crowned Mrs. Universe in 2015, she was the first Canadian and Indigenous woman to ever hold that title.
Since then, she hasn't stopped breaking barriers for Indigenous women and girls while using her voice to be a change-maker.
A member of the Enoch Cree First Nation in Alberta, Callingbull has used her platform to be an advocate for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
"That's how I got into pageantry. I thought I would use it as a way to raise funds and awareness for all the charities that I work for," Callingbull said.
"Working a lot with women and children who are at risk was a big part of my duties. It was something I already did before joining the pageant."
Her desire to be a change-maker is driven by the abuse she faced as a child, spending much of her time making sure no one has to go through what she went through.
"What happened to me, it was because of intergenerational trauma, what was instilled in my abusers, abusers from residential school."
Callingbull's work as a model has crossed international borders, representing numerous brands and even becoming the face of Nike's N7 campaign, which has raised money for Indigenous athletes across North America.
"Seeing myself on a billboard is not something that I would ever see as a young girl, seeing an Indigenous woman," she told CTV National News.
Crossing borders in a different way, Callingbull and her dad also placed third in the fourth season of The Amazing Race shortly after winning Mrs. Universe.
Now, Callingbull has her sights on creating her own foundation and building a women's shelter in her community.