'We can change the future': Canadian Mrs. Universe urges First Nations people to vote
Mrs. Universe and First Nations advocate Ashley Callingbull Burnham speaks with Winnipeg Media on Oct. 2.
Published Saturday, October 3, 2015 12:44PM EDT
A Canadian First Nations woman who won this year's Mrs. Universe pageant is urging indigenous people to vote in the October federal election because their issues aren't currently a "priority."
Ashley Callingbull-Burnham, 25, of the Enoch Cree Nation near Edmonton, was the keynote speaker at a panel discussion for indigenous students at the University of Manitoba on Friday.
Student unions invited indigenous youth at the university to the forum and put on workshops to educate them about key issues in the election.
Callingbull-Burnham said that indigenous people need to vote because, as it stands, they are not being treatment as a "priority."
"I feel like First Nations issues aren't being heard -- they're not being dealt with," Callingbull-Burnham told CTV Winnipeg.
"We suffer, our future generations are going to suffer. So yes, we do need to vote because it is a crucial time and we can change the future by just one vote."
Callingbull-Burnham has been outspoken in her criticism of Conservative Leader Stephen Harper. In a Facebook post earlier this month, she referred to his tenure as a "failed government."
Just a few thoughts ... pic.twitter.com/29PQSz0eUY— Ashley (@AshCallingbull) October 1, 2015
Callingbull-Burnham was also among the speakers at the unveiling of the "leap manifesto" last month, which calls for the end to the country's reliance on fossil fuels and a capitalist economy.
Christopher Adams, a political science professor at the University of Winnipeg, says that many indigenous people who are eligible to vote are young and low-income earners who may have difficulty finding time in their busy schedule to head to the polls.
"If you're busy raising a kid, you're struggling to get food on the table (or) to get your kid to school, or maybe to get to a medical appointment, turning out at a voting booth is not your priority," said Adams.
With a report from CTV Winnipeg