Chatelaine cover story shoot

All hail Ashley Callingbull: from ‘pageant girl’ to powerhouse

She turned her Mrs. Universe crown into a megaphone, championing First Nations issues and challenging Justin Trudeau to keep his campaign promises. But that’s just the start.

The pageant world follows a certain set of conventions. After the announcement, the winner performs a pantomime of overawed humility. Her hand comes to her chest. Tears come to her eyes. She hugs the woman next to her and accepts the prize, incredulous and grateful. “Usually girls cry,” Ashley Callingbull explains, shrugging. “I’m not really a crier.”

When Callingbull won the Mrs. Universe pageant in Belarus last August, she flung her arms above her head in delight, fists clenched.

Location: Six Nations, Ontario at Ashley’s home
Photographers: Raina + Wilson
Hair and Make up: Sheri Stroh for Plutino Group/GreenBeauty.ca
Stylist: Jessica Albano
Writer: Nicholas Hune-Brown