"Residential schools had a devastating impact on Callingbull and her family. The actor, beauty queen, influencer and September 2021 cover star speaks to fellow Cree David A. Robertson about facing — and overcoming — intergenerational trauma."
PHOTOGRAPHY BY GABOR JURINA. COAT, $380, AND PANTS, $160, EVAN DUCHARME. SHOES, $130, MANITOBAH. HAT, $500, 4KINSHIP. EARRINGS, $60, INDI CITY.
"Ashley Callingbull wears many hats. She’s a beauty queen who was crowned Miss Canada in 2010 and Mrs. Universe in 2015. She’s an actor, playing Sheila Delaronde on the APTN drama Blackstone from 2011 to 2015. She’s an influencer with 1,000,000+ followers on her Instagram. She’s an advocate and a motivational speaker, giving talks on mental health, building self-confidence and her Indigenous culture. She’s a brand ambassador, most notably landing a deal with Nike in 2020. And she’s a survivor of physical, mental and sexual abuse.
Callingbull has been to hell and back, but she is living proof that trauma can be overcome. She speaks with confidence and heart, often sharing her message with a cocked eyebrow, even if tears are falling. She has no fear of vulnerability or of saying exactly what’s on her mind, even if it sets non-Indigenous people off. “I’m not speaking against Canadians; I’m speaking for Indigenous people,” she declares via Zoom from Florida, where she is staying with her fiancé, Wacey Rabbit, who plays centre for the Jacksonville Icemen hockey team. “A lot of Canadians don’t want to hear the truth, but truth is our power.”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY GABOR JURINA. TOP, $220, SKIRT, $280, RING (ON LEFT), $495, AND RING (ON RIGHT), $370, 4KINSHIP. EARRINGS, $240, ISKWEW RISING.