Liberal MP demands apology from Qaqqaq
Nunavut MP says she didn’t mean to upset Yvonne Jones by saying she is not an Inuk
Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq said she didn’t mean to “upset” Liberal MP Yvonne Jones when she tweeted “Jones is not an Inuk” last week, but hasn’t apologized for the remark.
“I didn’t realize that Yvonne Jones claimed Inuk identity,” Qaqqaq said in a written statement her office sent Tuesday. “I realize I may have made a mistake in missing the full picture.”
Jones, who identifies as Inuk, accused Qaqqaq of “racial erosion against her own culture,” in the House of Commons on Monday, a reaction to the tweet the New Democrat posted, challenging Jones’ heritage.
Qaqqaq challenged Jones’ heritage on April 16, in a response to a Twitter post on election night in October 2019 — made two and a half years ago — that identified Jones as an Inuk and predicted she “will likely cruise to victory” in her re-election campaign.
On Monday, in the House of Commons, Jones called Qaqqaq’s comments “laterally vicious and threatening,” adding that her “domination attitude is the most prevailing one I have heard in some time.”
Jones said she is the descendant of Inuk and white parents and was raised with a deep connection to the land. She added she practises traditional ways of “our people.”
“I have never seen such disrespect from another parliamentarian in my 25 years of political office,” Jones said.
Jones could not be reached Tuesday to say whether the statement Qaqqaq issued to the media satisfied her call for an apology.
Jones’ MP’s page on the Liberal party’s website does not mention her Inuit heritage, but a Wikipedia page about her describes her as a “politician of Inuit descent.”
Jones’ website does refer to her volunteer work with the NunatuKavut Community Council, the governing body for about 6,000 Inuit in southern Labrador.
Qaqqaq said Tuesday, “there is much debate around NunatuKavut and whether or not that should be recognized as Inuit.”
Jones has represented the Labrador riding in Newfoundland and Labrador since 2013. She is currently the parliamentary secretary to Liberal Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal.
Qaqqaq posted her tweet about Jones’ heritage on Friday, less than an hour after the two politicians had an exchange in question period over Baffinland Iron Mine Corp.’s proposal to expand its Mary River mine.
Qaqqaq directed a question to Vandal about what she said was his department’s refusal to meet with the Nuluujaat Land Guardians, a group opposed to the mining company’s proposed expansion.
“Reconciliation requires meaningful interaction with Inuit,” she said.
Jones, who is the parliamentary secretary to the northern affairs minister, answered the question, saying the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s assessment of the mine expansion proposal is “ongoing.”