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(CTV News – March 10, 2022) – Enoch Cree Nation’s Ashley Callingbull is the first Indigenous woman to pose in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

The annual casting call for models garnered thousands of submissions, Callingbull being one of them, and on International Women’s Day it was announced she was one of the 14 women chosen as a finalist in the 2022 SI Swim Search program.

“I found out probably at 6 a.m. while I was lying in bed, not even a week ago and it’s just been a whirlwind ever since,” she said excitedly from her hotel room in the Dominican Republic.

Callingbull arrived in the Dominican Wednesday and hit the ground running, starting with fittings.

The editor of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, MJ Day, gave her free reign to pick from the hundreds of swimsuits in the fitting room. She said the experience was like a dream come true.

“[MJ’s] like ‘We’re not going to pick for you, it’s how you want to represent yourself,'” said Callingbull. “I was like, ‘I love that.’ So it took me forever.”

hough she’s the first Indigenous woman to pose for the SI Swimsuit issue, Callingbull says it’s important to her that she won’t be the last.

“When I walk in these spaces, I’ve got to make sure that other women feel confident and comfortable to walk in these spaces after me so they can shine as well.”

She told CTV News Edmonton that being the first can be a burden, but it’s a weight she’s willing to carry if it makes things easier for the next woman.

“I learned that from my mom and from my grandmother, paving the way you never know whose life you could change.”

Callingbull says the support from Sports Illustrated has also been incredible, and she hopes this experience will create more opportunities for her to use her platform to help amplify the voices of other women.

“For me it’s all about the legacy I’m going to leave behind and I’m excited that Sports Illustrated is a part of it.”

The 14 Swim Search finalists are competing to be a “rookie” for the 2023 SI Swimsuit issue, Callingbull hopes she’ll have lots of Canadian support behind her.

(Source: CTV News)

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