10/03/2015 08:22 EDT | Updated 10/02/2016 05:12 EDT

Ashley Burnham, Mrs. Universe, Tells First Nations Students It's Important To Vote In Election

"We’re human beings and we’re not being treated as so, and I think it’s time we have a new government.”

WINNIPEG — The first aboriginal woman to be named Mrs. Universe is telling First Nations students at the University of Manitoba that it's important for everyone to vote in the Oct. 19 federal election.

“Our future lies in the hands of the next government and also our children’s future, our grandchildren; we don’t want them to suffer," Ashley Burnham said Friday.

"If we suffer our future generations are going to suffer. So yes, we do need to vote because it’s a crucial time and we can change the future by just one vote.”

The 25-year-old from the Enoch Cree Nation west of Edmonton was crowned Mrs. Universe 2015 in Minsk, Belarus, earlier this year.

As a former finalist in the 2013 Miss Universe Canada contest, when she was then Ashley Callingbull, she noted that she grew up in poor conditions and faced difficulties in childhood that she finds difficult to talk about.

Burnham works as an actress and appears in Blackstone, a television show that airs on APTN, Showcase and on Maori Television in New Zealand.

During to address to the university students on Friday, Burnham said it’s dangerous to be an aboriginal woman in Canada, saying the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper isn't doing enough to find missing and murdered aboriginal women.

She said First Nation issues aren’t being heard.

“We’re not being dealt with, we’re not a priority. We’re Canadian citizens as well, but we’re not treated as important as everyone else. We’re human beings and we’re not being treated as so, and I think it’s time we have a new government.”


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