Ashley Burnham has made history — two times over. This past weekend (Aug. 29), the stunning brunette became the first Canadian and First Nations contestant to ever claim the Mrs. Universe crown, similar to the popular Miss Universe pageant but catered to married contestants.
The 25-year-old, who is better know by her maiden name, Ashley Callingbull, announced the news on her Instagram page shortly after her win. “I’m so proud to say I am now the new @mrsuniverse2015 !!! I am the first First Nations woman to win this title! I am also the first Canadian Delegate to win as well!! Sooooooo happy right now!”
Speaking to Canada AM on Monday, the Enoch Cree First Nations’ native said she plans to use her title to speak out against the physical and sexual abuse of children, something she experienced growing up.
In her bio for the 2013 Miss Universe Canada contest, Ashley openly discussed her challenging upbringing. “I had an incredibly difficult childhood and was raised mainly by my mother and grandparents… My mother as strong as she is, raised me to be grateful for what I have and showed me all the love in the world.”
She went on to say that her experiences have made her appreciate the strong woman she has become. Today, not only is the Alberta-born beauty a celebrated model but she’s also an actress who can be seen on APTN and Showcase in the series Blackstone. Back in February, she married the love of her life and partner of several years.
Over the course of the Mrs. Universe pageant, Ashley wore several traditional Native ensembles, including a beautiful Canadian jingle dress designed by Dabney Warren and a white, V-neck gown crafted by Aboriginal designer Lyn Kay Designs.
The new star admitted to the CBC that she’s loving the attention the win has brought her, but that she’s also feeling a little overwhelmed. “My phone is blowing up. Everything is blowing up. I love it.”
Sarah Kelsey is a gal in the know who regularly appears on television and writes for a variety of outlets. Check out her work at sarahkelsey.ca, on Twitter @sarahkelsey, Instagram @sakelsey and Pinterest @sakelsey.