The recent Assembly of First Nations special chiefs assembly was a busy few days for Jennifer Laewetz.
Not only was Laewetz interested in seeing who would become the next national chief, she was invited to the AFN gala by TikTok Canada and she had a one-on-one meeting with federal Conservative party leader Pierre Poilievre while in Ottawa.
Laewetz, who is a policy analyst for Warshield, an Indigenous-owned and led consulting firm, was a little surprised it took a concession from candidate David Pratt after six rounds to see Cindy Woodhouse declared the next national chief of the AFN.
Laewetz sees three big challenges for the advocacy organization moving forward.
“I think one of the biggest is going to be that unity component which Cindy Woodhouse did talk about a bit in her platform,” says Laewetz on the latest episode of Face to Face. “I think the second is going to be drawing those fine lines between where the national chief is at and relationships with the federal government because there’s been pushback from nations that think the AFN is taking too much of a friendly approach with the federal government and the decisions that they’re making.
“And I would have to say the third is that forensic audit because I didn’t see a lot about that being talked about at the AFN election in the speeches or in the platforms. So, where that’s going to be in terms of where the national chief takes it, is going to be very interesting.”
Meeting Poilievre was easier than one might think.
Laewetz says she simply posted a tweet and his team responded immediately.
She says she told the opposition leader that consultation is important and “whether or not he listens is another thing” but at least she tried.
Pictures posted on social media of the meeting also have people asking if Laewetz plans on running for political office.
“The answer is ‘no.’ That is probably my number one most asked question on every single platform I have but right now my work is on nations and I truly feel like I have a lot of work to do. I went to school for nearly a decade and I’m a kid who grew up with a non-traditional life and if there’s any way that I can give back that’s through the nations right now,” she said.
“Not to say, I don’t know what the future holds but right now that’s not my priority.”
Trying to get younger people involved in the political process and interested in voting is another priority for Laewetz.
Even though some people have told her she’s “too old for TikTok” Laewetz has amassed nearly 60,000 followers on the platform.
“Kids don’t want to watch a three-hour-long documentary,” says Laewetz who feels short videos on TikTok can make politics more fun.
She’s also had to deal with a fair amount of “gross and threatening comments” over on X (formerly Twitter).
“I used to take it very personally because I’m somebody that’s very conscience about how people feel about me and the actions and what that’s making other people feel like,” says Laewetz. “I had a conversation with Jodi Wilson Raybould because we were at the same event this summer and she actually wrote in my book to keep doing what you’re doing and your voice is so important.
“If I have to be the one who builds those bridges and opens the roadway up for other people to feel comfortable being in their own skin and existing politically then I’ll do that. TikTok is a bit of a different place. I feel that when people can hearing me and see me speaking in such a calm way, I don’t get the vitriol that I do on a place like twitter.”
In the lead up to the next federal election, Laewetz says she plans to start a YouTube page to make longer videos in an effort to get people interested in the political process.