Meet Laura Lewis, newest social media influencer for the FNHA
Laura Lewis is a First Nations woman of many talents. She's a member of the All My Relations women's basketball team from Vancouver who can shoot three-pointers, dribble between her legs and score at the hoop. Off the court and online, she sings, tells “rez jokes" and shares inspiring and empowering messages to more than 30,000 people who follow her on TikTok.
The Indigenous student support worker says she never expected to become a social media star.
“I didn't actually really know about TikTok until COVID. For me it was just a part of my healing journey, especially since we were all isolated. I could sing and bring comedy and bring laughter and that's a piece of medicine. And so I wanted to do that in a way where it was healthy for not only myself, but also all those who are watching from young to old."
The Nisga'a, Tsimshian, Tahltan and Tlingit woman is the newest influencer for the FNHA's sponsorship of the upcoming 2024 All-Native (ANBT) and Junior All-Native (JANT) basketball tournaments. She joins Kiefer Collison of the Haida Nation and Big Brother Canada fame as First Nations influencers to help promote messages of health and wellness during the live streams of the games on the CFNR website.
“Honestly, it's such a blessing," Lewis shares. “I used to play at Junior All-Native. I play at All-Native. And for me, it's beautiful because way back in the 1940s, my grandfather played in All-Native as well, and he was the first team to actually win that tournament. So that's some really fun information that I love to share any chance I get."
“What was always told to me, is that you're not only just representing the person on the back of your jersey or yourself, you're always representing the community that you come from and also to the family that you belong to. So always carry yourself with respect, but also never forget to have fun with it as well," she shares with First Nations youth participating in the tournament for the first time.
The All My Relations women's basketball team won the championship in the women's division in 2022, however were not able to defend their crown last year.
“So this year, we really want to make sure that we buckle down on everybody's individuality," Lewis says. “We really wanted to capitalize on the fact that we all bring something to the team. We just needed to find our confidence. And we've been working our butts off. We want to prove to everybody that we can win another championship and we're not just a one and done team."
Having roots in several Nations that are sending teams to the ANBT, Lewis says, is both an honour and makes for friendly competition within her family and communities.
“I love the fact that I can not only have my family cheer me on for an urban team, but also for me sitting in the stands cheering on the masters, the seniors, the intermediates, and even the other women's teams as well. I get that joy and I get that sense of community regardless if we're competing against each other in the tournament."
The ANBT takes place Feb. 10 - 17 in Prince Rupert. The Jr. All-Native takes place March 17 – 22 in Terrace.