The New Democratic Party (NDP) this evening announced Mumilaaq Qaqqaq as their pick for the Oct. 21 federal election.
“Some of my priorities as Member of Parliament is creating and maintaining harmonious and stable relationships between Inuit, Nunavut, and all different levels of government, and to increase housing, as Jagmeet Singh has committed to increasing housing across the territory,” Qaqqaq told her audience at the Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park pavilion Sept. 12.
“That gives me the opportunity to push for that. We all know that it’s much needed up here.”
Qaqqaq is dedicated to seeing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples put into law.
“These kinds of things include the right to self-determination, the right to maintain and strengthen our distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions. Imagine if these kinds of things were put into law how powerful that could be for us in Nunavut and for our people,” she said.
Qaqqaq also wants to increase youth participation “at all different levels that directly impact our future.”
Qaqqaq, of Baker Lake, is 25 – which happens to be the median age in the territory, according to the 2016 census.
Long dedicated to youth advocacy, Qaqqaq has been a youth leader with Northern Youth Abroad, and has worked for Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the Government of Nunavut and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. She was widely recognized for her speech addressing suicide in the House of Commons in 2017.
Aaron Watson, with the Nunavut NDP electoral district association, noted that in the 2015 election the party received a record number of votes with Jack Anawak as the candidate. Anawak showed his support Thursday night by attending the event.
The NDP came second to the Liberals that year. Previously, Peter Ittinuar won under the NDP banner in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
“Over the past four years we’ve been working hard to further Northern issues specific to Nunavut and Inuit at the federal level. We have worked with other electoral district associations in policy conventions to push motions forward with mutual interests,” said Watson, adding it’s at a convention Singh was elected leader – the first person of colour to be elected leader by a Canadian party.
Watson then spoke about youth, and how Singh says youth have gotten a raw deal.
“I see people regularly dismissing the concerns of youth and young adults. Don’t get me wrong, every single one of us matters. Young people, those under 25, are the majority of our population. A majority of you don’t vote. It’s time to burst that bubble. It’s time to get out your vote,” he said.
“Older generations, including mine, need to show that we’re ready and able to help build a better future for you and for all of us.”
As for Qaqqaq, she vowed to remain honest, driven and inclusive throughout campaigning.
“We all have a part to play to commit to a healed and hopeful Nunavut, where every individual and community has their needs met and are thriving. So I’m going to leave you with two questions. Are you ready for change? And are you ready for a voice in the House of Commons that represents a Nunavut that is strong and passionate? Because I am.”
Qaqqaq said it’s thanks to her mother, father and brother that she decided to present herself as a candidate, for their teaching her the value of hard work, respect and patience.
“Thank you to my home town for helping raise me and giving me opportunities to practice my leadership skills,” she added.