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31-Oct-2019 01:24

When Callingbull was five years old, her mother brought them to live with a boyfriend (“a charming fake type”) on another Alberta reserve that had long been plagued by violence and extreme poverty.

“Not too long after we got there, he started raping me,” Callingbull says.

Callingbull remembers driving down the highway to a nearby town and enduring people’s stares and contempt while scrounging for empty bottles.

The smell of the bottle depot, the odour of stale beer, was the very essence of a certain kind of shame.

In her brief time in the spotlight, she has observed the world of politics from a slightly closer vantage, and she’s come away unimpressed. “You’re being this , you’re telling people what they want to hear, you’re talking out of your ass.” Callingbull has embraced her new role as a voice for indigenous issues, but it’s been a somewhat awkward fit — not just because she is an exuberant twentysomething but because, in her view, so many others have been raising these issues for years.“This place is disgusting,” she remembers thinking.“Maybe I am too.” In a childhood that was broadly horrific, the smaller indignities stood out: the day her Value Village shoes were stolen at school; the racism she and the other First Nations kids endured when they were bused to a nearby town and pelted with clumps of dirt and rocks by waiting students.“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.

In her brief time in the spotlight, she has observed the world of politics from a slightly closer vantage, and she’s come away unimpressed. “You’re being this , you’re telling people what they want to hear, you’re talking out of your ass.” Callingbull has embraced her new role as a voice for indigenous issues, but it’s been a somewhat awkward fit — not just because she is an exuberant twentysomething but because, in her view, so many others have been raising these issues for years.“This place is disgusting,” she remembers thinking.“Maybe I am too.” In a childhood that was broadly horrific, the smaller indignities stood out: the day her Value Village shoes were stolen at school; the racism she and the other First Nations kids endured when they were bused to a nearby town and pelted with clumps of dirt and rocks by waiting students.“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.Callingbull has exploited this failure of imagination, taking delight in busting open stereotypes, but at times, the need to explain herself gets wearying. “They look at me and they don’t think I’ve had the life I’ve had.” That life was, for a long time, an extremely difficult one.