Ashley Callingbull, the actress, TV host, model and Indigenous activist, was on the third cover of KIND in which she said, "They have yet to see the power of the people—but it's coming." Callingbull, former Miss Universe, Tweeted on her first day of winning her crown: "Did you think I was just going to sit here and look pretty?" True to her word, Callingbull has not ceased to use her platform as a megaphone and a stepping stone—for lifting up other Indigenous women from her community.
"Part of my healing journey is helping others heal. I myself am a product of intergenerational trauma. The way I grew up, my abuser was abused by his parents, who were abused in residential school and that cycle continued on with me and it's up to me if I want to continue that," Callingbull says. "I decided it ends here."
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Orange Shirt Day, is emotional for Callingbull, who has mixed feelings on her country's approach to making amends. "Sorry will never be enough," she says, "and a day where we honour those we have lost, who are still here, and honour our tradition and culture is important, but the Prime Minister was drinking beer in Tofino on Orange Shirt Day, while, with my people, our strength makes us who we are, but it sucks to say resiliency runs in our blood. I don't want us to have to be resilient any more."
Callingbull mentors young women from her community and, a gifted jeweller, she works with Hillberg&Berk, making, among other things, a pendant inscripted with Every Child Matters, with 100% of the profits going to the Native Women's Association of Canada. Callingbull's work with the NWAC isn't from afar. The organization, and organizations like it, helped her growing up, and she doesn't speak to young women as a tourist. She suffered the same fate as many people in her shoes. But she's been able to lift herself out of the systemic racism and abuse too many Indigenous people suffer.
On the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, she says the time has come for Canada—while we discover mass grave sites and see suicide and imprisonment rates of Indigenous youth way above that of the Canadian average—to give back what was taken, and fix what was broken.
"In Canada, some people don't want to acknowledge history and just focus on what they can benefit from, but I'll never be satisfied with the current status quo and I'll continue helping my people while screaming at the top of my lungs: I don't care if it makes people feel uncomfortable—the truth needs to be told."
To help raise your voice for the Every Child Matters movement, please visit the website for the Native Women's Association of Canada, and make your voice be heard.