September 1 2015
The newly crowned Mrs Universe has called for political action against Canadian Prime Minister Stephen and demanded Indigenous issues take precedence.
” If I have that voice to bring awareness, I’m going to use it” Ashley Burnham
Ashley Burnham, the first ever Indigenous or Canadian crowned Mrs Universe, encouraged the country’s First Nations people to vote out Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the upcoming elections in October.
In an interview with the Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network Monday, Burnham said that is it “so crucial that we vote a new prime minister in, because we need a new prime minister.”
“Other countries need to know what’s going on in ours. It feels like the government just does not care about us (First Nations),” she said. “This government is very controlling of our people and soon enough our rights might be taken away. And if I have that voice to bring awareness, I’m going to use it.”
Burnham is from the Enoch Cree Nation near Edmonton, Alberta, and has worked as both a model and an actress. She was crowned Mrs Universe at this year’s contest in Minsk, Belarus last weekend.
The contest this year was dedicated to the topic of combating domestic violence, a topic that resonated with Burnham who has in the past spoken out against physical and sexual abuse in the home after enduring abuse as a child.
Missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada
Burnham has now extended that argument and is using her new title to talk about the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada, a major problem in the country.
According to the most recent report by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada’s national police force, there were at least 1,181 cases of murdered and missing Indigenous women in Canada over a 30 year period from 1980 to 2012. That number has also continued to rise over the past three years, with most of the cases remaining unsolved and not pursued by police.
Canada’s Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has been in power since 2006, has repeatedly denied that it is a sociological issue and refused to open a national inquiry, ignoring the demands of many Indigenous communities across the country.
“I think that the murdered and missing subject is so crucial. It’s so sad,” Burnham told APTN. “Say, for example, a Caucasian woman is missing in the news, it’s a big deal, but for First Nations women we are just pushed aside because there’s so many of us missing.”
Burnham encouraged the Indigenous community to vote Harper out of power in the federal elections Oct. 19, but did not specifically back another candidate.
A role model in many dimensions
Burnham has received many messages of support on social media, claiming she is “a role model in many dimensions,” and encouraging her to take charge and “do the damn thing!”
However, the messages of support include comments of astonishment such as “Beauty AND Brains,” which highlight the nature of beauty competitions that glorify beauty and bodily perfection over women’s ability to think.
On her Facebook account Monday night, Burnham posted a message in response to apparent criticisms that the new beauty queen was being too political.
I have a title, a platform and a voice
“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!”
Her comments highlight what women’s rights activists have deemed a major societal issue – that people only listen to you when you are beautiful. Despite Burnham’s apparent critique of the industry, she has long competed in beauty pageants both nationally and internationally.
One Twitter user commented that, “It’s clear Ashley Callingbull is the most interesting person in Canada right now,” despite the fact that many activists – who have not won beauty pageants – have tried for years to raise awareness of these issues, but have gained little media attention inside or outside the country, such as Harsha Walia and Pam Palmeter to name only a couple.
Source: Beauty Queen Uses Power for Political Good TeleSUR