Ashley Burnham crowned as Mrs. Universe
YEREVAN, AUGUST 31, ARMENPRESS. A 25-year-old from Alberta's Enoch Cree Nation has become the first First Nations woman — and the first Canadian — to win the Mrs. Universe pageant. “Armenpress” reports, citing “CBC news”, that Ashley Callingbull, whose married name is Ashley Burnham, was crowned as the winner in Belarus Saturday night.
"I'm really overwhelmed right now," Callingbull said.
"My phone is blowing up. Everything is blowing up. I love it."
The Mrs. Universe competition, which started in 2007, is an international beauty pageant that focuses on married contestants. Callingbull said winning the Mrs. Universe crown is a blow against the stereotypes surrounding First Nations people. When competing in previous pageants, she said she was judged for coming from the Enoch reserve, west of Edmonton, and told that she wasn't expected to place well in the competitions. She gained attention after becoming the only First Nations contestant in the 2010 Miss Canada pageant. She said that while she got a lot of support, she was also the target of racist comments.
"A newspaper (wrote) 'what is she going to do for her talent, write a welfare cheque with her toes?'" Callingbull said. "Just horrible, horrible things."
That made her only more determined to showcase her culture. During the competition, she wore a jingle dress, often worn during pow-wow dances. For the talent competition, Callingbuill chose to sing a traditional song while wearing a white buckskin dress.
"Everything basically stated 'this woman is First Nations native and she's proud of it,'" she said.