By Holliston Logan
This week we join Matriarch Movement's podcast host and founder Shayla Oulette Stonechild in conversation with Ashley Callingbull. A woman of many talents, Ashley is an activist, model, actress, jingle dress dancer, motivational speaker, and an ambassador for Nike N7, RW&Co., and Dress for Success. Ashley is a former beauty queen with the title of Mrs. Universe 2015, and was a competitor on the Amazing Race Canada where she placed third with her teammate and step-father, Joel. Ashley's accomplishments and community involvements are many, and we hope you will join us in listening to and reading these excerpts from her story and journey through life. A fearless trailblazer, Ashley inspires us regularly and we hope you her story will do the same for you.
Motivated, determined, and fearless - these are just a few of the words that describe Ashley Callingbull. Ashley is a member of Enoch Cree Nation (just west of Edmonton, Alberta), and over the years has become a role model and source of inspiration for many. Many of us first became familiar with Ashley and her work when she won the Mrs. Universe competition in 2015, becoming the first Canadian and first First Nations woman to receive this crown and title, an accomplishment she achieved at only 25-years old.
One of the many things we admire about Ashley is her strong encouragement for youth to take pride in their Indigeneity, and to embrace their cultures and communities. Ashley utilizes her platform and voice to break down stereotypes of Indigenous people and showcase her pride in Cree culture whenever she can, and even found ways to bring this to the Mrs. Universe competition by proudly wearing a jingle dress during the competition, and singing a traditional song while wearing a white buckskin dress during the talent portion.
“I want to inspire and encourage others to love and embrace their identity and never let fear stop them from chasing their dreams. We should all love and live fearlessly.” - Ashley Callingbull
Ashley's story is one of hard work, resilience, and overcoming adversity. In an interview with New Journeys
, Ashley stated: “My upbringing was rough. Difficult. It was pretty tragic. It was a constant struggle, but I overcame it. We lived in poverty. [My mom's] boyfriend at the time would take everything from us. I had really low self-esteem. [The abuse] started when I was 5. I didn't know what was right and what was wrong. When we finally escaped [around age 11], we went to my grandmother's house [on Enoch Cree Nation]. As I got older, I had really bad trust issues with everyone. I was angry for a long time. I hated myself. I thought everything was my fault.” It takes great courage to share stories of childhood physical and sexual abuse, and even greater courage to do so openly on public platforms. Ashley's vulnerability and courage in sharing her story shows young people going through similar experiences that there is hope, and we raise our hands to our hearts in gratitude.
Ashley's accomplishments are the result of years of hard work and perseverance. From a young age, Ashley was involved in dance and performances, and is a professionally trained dancer in tap, ballet, jazz, and pointe. Her acting career also began at a young age. "Ashley’s interest in acting led her to starring in a commercial for The Hudson Bay, and has appeared in television mini-series, acted in countless stage performances and has lent her voice for cartoons. She appears in Blackstone, a television show that airs on APTN, Showcase, Maori Television in New Zealand and Hulu Television in the United States. Ashley is also featured in CBC’s 8th Fire Series and the Catch The Dream Series. Her youth foreshadowed her young adulthood, as she continued with acting and dancing." (from Ashley's biography on her personal website
Alongside her many career accomplishments, Ashely is also an activist in the community with particular passion for motivating and inspiring youth, and supporting initiatives that promote Indigenous rights and environmental causes, and other causes that are close to her heart. Join us as we chat with Ashley and hear her journey in making history and creating a new narrative for Indigenous women.
connect with Ashley Callingbull
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