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Canadian actress Ashley Callingbull crossed a lot of firsts off her list when she was crowned Mrs. Universe (no, that’s not a typo) last month. She became the first First Nations woman and the first Canadian to win the title.

For the record, Mrs. Universe is a pageant about charity and human rights. It’s open to married women, ages 25-45, who have devoted themselves to their career, their family, and to a cause. And, by the way, there is no parading around in swimsuits in the Mrs. Universe pageant.

But Callingbull, 25, who is from Alberta’s Enoch Cree Nation, didn’t stop after securing the title. She told CBC News last month that she was inspired to enter the competition because of its theme – battling child abuse and domestic violence.

Callingbull is herself a survivor of sexual abuse and has struggled with poverty. “I was picking [up] bottles for food,” she told the news site. “I would have never thought I’m going to be Mrs. Universe some day.”

As a First Nations women, Callingbull said she’s struggled daily with racism, but she refuses to back down or succumb to stereotypes of pageant winners.

“People don’t expect a pageant girl to go out and say really crazy things right off the bat,” she told Canada’s National Post. “They probably just expected me to have a title and be pretty and that’s it: be pretty and shut up. But I’m not going to shut up.”

And she’s taking that seriously. One of her first actions as Mrs. Universe was calling for a new prime minister. Canada’s current leader, Stephen Harper, has been continually criticized by First Nations people for his apparent lack of concern for thousands of aboriginal women who are murdered each year.

We’re so inspired by Callingbull’s fiercely proud message. As a First Nations women, she is not only visible, but vocal, someone who is working tirelessly for the things she believes in. We can’t wait to see what she does next.

(image via Instagram)