As a child growing up in Enoch First Nation, Ashley Callingbull used to watch beauty pageants on television. Life has now come full circle for the 21-year-old woman who is competing for the title of Miss Universe Canada on June 14 in Toronto. Even though she submitted the pageant application herself, Callingbull was surprised when she found out that she had been selected as one of the competitors. “I thought because it was my first time, I wouldn’t get picked. I thought I was going in there for experience - just to see how the training was,” she said. Although she always adored the women on televised beauty pageants, Callingbull’s idea of a female role model comes from her family. “My role model was my grandmother, she passed away,” said Callingbull. “My grandmother taught me my culture, had such a big heart. She raised over 25 foster children, someone like that should be recognized. She made a difference in everyone else’s life.” Inspired by her grandmother, Callingbull hopes to make a difference someday as well. “I want to teach drama to under-privileged youth in Canada. I want to work with Native youth and kids. I know what it’s like to not have anything to do after school. That’s how you get into trouble.” Currently, Callingbull is working toward a BA in drama to make her dream a reality. As if school and monthly training for the pageant do not keep her busy enough, she also acts and models in her spare time. Most recently, Callingbull, who stands at six feet, modeled in the Western Canadian Fashion Week which took place in April in Edmonton. Standing behind Callingbull is her proud mother, Lisa Ground. Ground was “pleasantly surprised” when her daughter told her about the pageant. Ground is happy for her daughter and wants to help her achieve her dreams. “Whatever support I can give her, I will be there for her,” she said. Ground plans to travel to Toronto to cheer her daughter on during the competition. Although she has gone further than originally expected, Callingbull does not take the pageant, or herself, too seriously. “Being there would be an amazing experience,” she said, “But I’m not in it to win it. That’s not what I’m going there for.” As the only First Nations woman in this year’s competition, Callingbull hopes to serve as a positive example for other First Nations youth. She is also focused on achieving overall success and pursuing whatever lies ahead. “I’m always open to new things,” she said, “I’m set on what I want, but I always want to do more things. Anyone can do anything.” To learn more about Callingbull or vote for her in the People’s Choice Award, visit www.beautiesofcanada.com.