In a historic event on Saturday evening, Ashley Burnham became both the first Canadian to win the Mrs. Universe title, as well as the first First Nations contestant — ever.
Burnham, who is better known by her maiden name, Ashley Callingbull, is from the Enoch Cree First Nation. An actress and model, she has starred in the APTN show "Blackstone," and also was the second runner-up in the Miss Universe Canada 2010 pageant.
Since getting married in February, Burnham changed her participation from the Miss contests to the Mrs. Universe beauty pageant, which has celebrated and honoured married women since 2007.
Taking place in Minsk, Belarus, this year's contest was dedicated to "domestic violence and reflection over children." As Ashely told the Spruce Grove Examiner in 2012, she endured physical and sexual abuse from her stepfather as a child, and watched her mother gain the strength to eventually leave him.
In the national outfit parade, Burnham wore a stunning beaded jingle dress, a traditional outfit worn for a powwow dance, made by Dabney Warren. As she told the Edmonton Journal, "Ever since I was little, I loved acting and being in the spotlight and on stage and everything. When I was a little kid, I danced jingle and entered every powwow and competed.”
Her swimsuit was a beautiful turquoise bikini:
While her talent outfit was created by Aboriginal designer Lyn Kay Designs:
And her stunning evening gown was designed by Joey Galon:
Many people online quickly championed Burnham's achievement, with Canadian author Kelly Oxford writing a beautiful short essay on Instagram:
Plenty of other supporters were easy to find, cheering on everything from Burnham's strength to her beauty.
Congratulations Ashley — we can't wait to see what you do next.
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