“We are in desperate need of a new PM”
Newly-crowned Mrs. Universe, Ashley Callingbull, is calling on Aboriginal people in Canada to vote out Stephen Harper during the 2015 federal election.
“It’s so crucial that we vote a new prime minister in, because we need a new prime minister,” Callingbull, 25, a member of the Enoch Cree Nation in Alberta, told APTN News. “I believe we need to fight for our rights and we need to vote.”
Callingbull, whose married name is Burnham, was crowned Mrs. Universe 2015 on Saturday in Minsk, Belarus, becoming the first Canadian and aboriginal woman to win the international beauty pageant for married women.
Then she took to Twitter and shared her thoughts on the October 19 election:
I urge all First Nations people in Canada to vote in this upcoming election. We are in desperate need of a new PM. Fight for your rights.
— Ashley (@AshCallingbull) August 31, 2015
Callingbull, an actor on APTN’s popular TV drama series Blackstone, was criticized on social media for being too political , too soon. Her badass response:
Really? People think I’m too political for my first day as Mrs Universe. Did you really think I was going to just sit there and look pretty? Definitely not. I have a title, a platform and a voice to make change and bring awareness to First Nations issues here in Canada. I’m getting all this media attention and I’m going to use it to the best of my ability. I’m not your typical beauty queen. Look out… I have a voice for change and I’m going to use it!
Callingbull’s call for Harper’s ouster is understandable. She grew up in poverty. She survived sexual and physical abuse. Callingbull is another strong voice on the perennial issue of 1,200 missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada.
A groundbreaking report released by the RCMP in 2014 says that 1,181 aboriginal women have gone missing or been murdered in Canada in the last 30 years. Aboriginal women comprise only 4.3 per cent of the Canadian population, but they are three times more likely to experience violence than non-Aboriginal women. They also comprise 11.3 per cent of missing women and 16 per cent of female homicides in Canada.
First Nations leaders and rights groups have repeatedly demanded a fully-funded national inquiry. A report released by Professor James Anaya, the former UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, last May, also called for an inquiry. In March, the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women stated that “the Canadian police and justice system have failed to effectively protect Aboriginal women, hold offenders to account, and ensure that victims get redress.”
The response from the Canadian state and policing elites? During an interview with the CBC News in December, Harper said a national inquiry “isn’t really high on our radar.” According to the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, an inquiry “would only delay action.”
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