Ashley Callingbull has been snapped up by a top modelling agency.
The fashion industry traditionally lacks representation of Indigenous people in fashion shows and magazines but in recent years there has been a push for representation of diversity across turtle island.
Alberta’s very own Cree beauty from Enoch Cree Nation is leading the way in representing Cree women in Canadian fashion.
Callingbull recently signed a prestigious contract with Next Models. This new endeavor places her amongst the top brass of Canadian female models. The major Canadian agency represents top international models like Crista Cober, Jenna Earle, Kim Cloutier, and Yasmin Warsame.
Referring to signing with NEXT modeling, former Mrs. Universe said, “I never thought I would see it.”
Callingbull explained it was her 2021 September Cover for Fashion Magazine and the success that followed its release that got her the attention of Canada’s top modeling agency.
In Fashion Magazine, Callingbull was able to shed light on the trauma caused by Canada’s residential schools system on her Cree family and from her grandparent’s perspective.
The overall photoshoot for Fashion Magazine showcased Indigenous representation, from featuring Ashley on the cover, right down to the outfits by Angela DeMontigny, a top Canadian fashion designer of Cree-Métis heritage, and earrings by Warren Steven Scott, an Indigenous queer male from Nlaka’pamux.
“Because of the success, I ended up being signed by Next Models. It’s such a huge organization to be a part of. I’m excited,” said Callingbull.
“I’ve been modeling for a long time. I started way back in the day when we first met (referring to the author of this article) at Western Canada Fashion Week.”
Callingbull said those early experiences at Western Canada Fashion Week exposed her to the world of fashion.
According to the WFCW website, “they were established in 2003 and have developed into nationally recognized fashion and design events and the second largest fashion week in Canada.”
Callingbull has come a long way since those days at WCFW.
She shared a personal story about when she realized her star was rising in Canada. “I did my first billboard which was for the Hillberg & Berk, a major Canadian jewelry company. I was driving in downtown Toronto with my sister, and she pointed out the billboard. My sister told me I looked powerful and strong. Hearing that from my younger sister meant a lot.”
She explained Indigenous women “are looking at my billboard in Toronto and seeing what’s possible. This is why representation matters because it helps Indigenous youth dream of possibilities.”
Callingbull opened up about her battle with shyness and being insecure as an Indigenous youth. “I used to be that insecure girl from the reserve,” she said. “When I was growing up there wasn’t anyone who was chasing the things that I wanted to chase.
“I was this little insecure girl that didn’t have dreams.
“I’ve grown, I’ve evolved; I’ve grown to love and respect myself for the way the Creator made me.”
Her advice to youth is that they should surround themselves with positivity. The people in your life do have an impact on whether you are successful or not.
(2012) Canada’s first and largest LGBTQ march called Hate to Hope. Callingbull came out to support her friend Chevi Rabbit. Photo Soko Fotohaus.
“Who you surround yourself with really determines where you’re going to go in life,” said Callingbull. “I believe if you surround yourself with positive people that want to uplift you and who focus on what’s best for you and they bring out the best in you as a person, they are your true friends,” said Callingbull.
She said stay away from toxic people who only want to bring you down; try to use you; take you away from your goals or live for the moment. “For example, stay away from people that say let’s go party instead of focusing on school.”
“Ask yourself how is that going to amplify my life? How is that going to better me as a person? “Those are things that you need to think about in regards to your future,” she added.
Callingbull can’t stress enough the importance of creating circles of friends who are supportive if you aim to be successful in this life.
She has been able to create a positive support team around her that pushes her to excel at her dreams and aspirations.
“I’ve completely changed, I’ve grown and I’m excited to see who I’m going to become in the future,” said Callingbull.
Callingbull is currently dating former professional hockey centre Wacey Rabbit, a member of the Blood Tribe.