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'Challenge accepted': Winnipeg Metis woman's tweet turns into a day with Justin Trudeau

Breanne Lavallee-Heckert challenged the Liberal leader to invite her on board. She didn't think he'd agree.

Breanne Lavallee-Heckert, a 23-year-old Métis woman from Winnipeg, meets with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday.

James MacDonald / Plan International Canada

Breanne Lavallee-Heckert, a 23-year-old Métis woman from Winnipeg, meets with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had some help leading the country on Thursday.

Breanne Lavallee-Heckert, a 23-year-old Metis woman from Winnipeg who's studying law at McGill University, shared Canada’s top post, trailing the Liberal leader as he prepped for and attended question period, a reception for the annual Rolling Rampage wheelchair race and meetings.

It’s believed to be the first time a sitting prime minister symbolically shared his seat for a day as a reminder that women shouldn’t feel deterred to aim for their dream jobs.

Trudeau’s move was an early way to mark Plan International Canada's initiative #GirlsBelongHere, which celebrates the International Day of the Girl and will see more than 500 young women share coveted roles on Oct. 11, including the minister of industry, science and technology, the CEOs of Unilever and RE/MAX, an ET Canada host and a Snapchat business leader.

Lavallée-Heckert’s road to the House of Commons began when she tweeted the prime minister around 8 a.m. on Sept. 25, asking him to share his role for a day. Just after noon, she was stunned when he replied, "Challenge accepted. If you dream it, you can do it – and I’ll
be happy to host you in your future office very soon.”

“I didn’t do any school work for the rest of the day. I was sitting looking at my computer and thinking, ‘Wow, this just happened,’” said Lavallee-Heckert.

“It didn’t feel real” until she was outside Trudeau’s office and he invited her in for a 45-minute chat, followed by a Parliament tour, where he stopped at his favourite spot, the library.

After the race reception, there was lunch with his chief of staff, where Lavallee-Heckert
was relieved things were a “bit more unscripted,” so she snuck in questions about the U.S. administration, the missing and murdered women inquiry and his role as the minister of youth.

“It was the highlight of the day. Having lunch with the prime minister. What is more intimate than that?” she said.

Lavallée-Heckert, who has worked for the Department of Justice researching legislation to protect Indigenous languages, says she’s still keen on becoming prime minister, even after experiencing question period, where Trudeau is often in the hotseat. She admitted “elected officials discuss issues in a way I probably wouldn’t discuss issues with my colleagues.”

While the pair didn’t exchange gifts, Lavallée-Heckert said she left the House of Commons with “memories” and a reminder “that this is not something that is unattainable.”

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