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 says she didn’t mean to “upset” Labrador MP Yvonne Jones by saying she “is not an Inuk.” Jones demanded an apology in the House of Commons. (Nunatsiaq News files photo; Prime Minister of Canada’s website)

By Nunatsiaq News

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.”

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(67) Comments:

  1. Posted by Hurt people hurt people on

    Reminds me of when Towtongie told Obed he wasn’t Inuk enough to be ITK president because he didn’t speak Inuktitut.

    This type of lateral violence shows our MP needs to do a lot of healing before she can be an effective leader for Inuit. I hope she reflects on her attacks and non-apology and gets the help she needs.

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    • Posted by Growth Is Needed on

      She doesn’t need to “heal”, she needs to grow. She needs to get over the “NS speak” and realize that her focus on identity politics is very unhelpful and divisive. It is not getting Nunavummiut anywhere.

      From what I’ve seen, she has not shown growth over the last few years.

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      • Posted by MARS on

        I used to recommend the NS program but not anymore mainly because of “NS speak”. One can and should be proud of their heritage without being divisive and ignorant to everyone else. I feel most of it is learned behaviour unfortunately.

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        • Posted by NS on

          NS is merely a summer camp to congratulate beneficiaries who got a graduated high school. Look at the curriculum, 50% of it is arts and crafts, and still for some reason most successful applicants can’t even finish the program. While these are important from a cultural perspective, they don’t align with the reality of today’s office work environemtn. This program needs to change if they truly want to prepare high school graduates for the prospects of Government work.

          The only thing it seems to be good for is to orient someone who may have College or University aspirations, and is not used to the differences in the south vs. the north. It is sad to think that graduating from NS is considered a suitable requisite for a Government Job in Nunavut.

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          • Posted by Consistency on

            Unless i am mistaken NS was started to be a bridge between High school and University. However the GN has a problem where it grabs people that show potential and toss them into jobs that they should not be ready for. this leads to them being overwhelmed and quiting. And NS students that graduate are the ones with a lot of potential. because yes it may look easy but it still takes effort to stick it out and finish. but after a student finishes they should then go to University or College. then go work for the GN.

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          • Posted by Obed adams on

            I m getting sick people using the word Inuit to benefit from Jobs,now I’m gonna speak out and say my sir name is not from inuit but from native of labrador indians but my father thought we need to call ourselves inuit to get Jobs.

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          • Posted by Former NS’er on

            Not sure what’s meant by “NS speak.” Can someone explain please? And two impressions created by the writer deserve some correction: 1) the NS curriculum is not “50% arts and crafts”. Of the seven credit courses students take in the 1st year, only one is devoted to cultural studies, the rest relate to communication skill development (Inuktitut, English, and computers) or academic study (focusing on Inuit history, the land claims agreement, contemporary issues and Inuit-government relations). 2) the claim that “most successful applicants don’t even finish the program” is factually incorrect: on average, about 75-80% of successful applicants finish the program. Just saying.

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    • Posted by ProblematiKs on

      Is ‘healing’ really the word here? It almost sounds like you are trying to frame her bullying in a way that elicits our pity.

      Imagine digging back a year and a half through someone’s tweets to find something to attack them with? That’s just plane nasty

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    • Posted by Baffin on

      This MP for Nunavut should make a public apology to Ms.Jones who has been helping the Labrador Inuit for nearly 3 decades❣️
      Apologize or leave your position since you embarrass all Inuit.

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      • Posted by Inuk on

        Why should she apologize? Yvonne Jones is trying to push her agenda to benefit herself and the group that is trying to claim being Inuit when they are not, they tried to claim before as Innu and Métis and now Inuit.
        Simple question can Yvonne Jones prove her claim? Also the Inuit in Labrador do not recognize them as Inuit alone with the Innu Nation, that says a lot, Inuit know who are Inuit and they do not recognize this group as Inuit.
        Yvonne Jones is trying to shift the focus so she does not have to provide proof and what she is doing is unethical and criminal. It needs to be brought to light and exposed, Yvonne Jones stop your lies and step down as MP.

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  2. Posted by Squirm Factor on

    Frankly, I’m getting a little bored with the whole Qaqqaq show.
    Time to find the remote and change channel.

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  3. Posted by Igunaaq on

    The Labrador Inuit Association back in the day had a membership criteria to include families who settled pre 1940 and were ‘settler’ class, whilst Qalunaat, could reap benefits of indigenous Labrador Inuit. I suggest this is where Jones claim comes from. In defending herself here, she claimed one of her parents was “Inuit’ I would argue that is the case when pre-1940 families were Inuit by association only.

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    • Posted by iWonder on

      Interesting argument, is this based on something verifiable or factual, or is it an intuition you have?

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      • Posted by Let me add on

        Notice the use of language by Igunaaq here. “I suggest” and “I would argue.” – These are fair terms to use, but you should never use them if you are not prepared to justify what you ‘suggest’ or explain that which you ‘argue’

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    • Posted by Louisa G. on

      I wonder how many percentage of Inuit Jones is, 1 Inuit grandmother or 1 Inuit grandfather, I have a great great grandfather of a Viking, does that make me a Viking?

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      • Posted by Norse Ancestry on

        Viking was an occupation, not a race or ethnic group, though it was largely Scandinavians, not all Scandinavians were Viking.

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        • Posted by Truestory on

          Wowzers. I didn’t know that. Now, I have to do some research. Thanks for the info. I’m a “Vikings” fan by the way.

  4. Posted by Bbff2012 on

    QQ is of mixed decent as well, she should be promoting federal programs like Cerb and federal school claims – stop complaint and step up an help the people you represent.

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  5. Posted by Race Police on

    Who said Jones was Métis?

    Her parents are none of your business.

    Shame on you and Qaqqaq for your racial abuse!

    Jones has been a loyal servant of the people of Labrador for decades, unlike the Member for Nunavut whose only function to date was to reiterate the housing crisis that was already well-documented in a Senate Report.

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  6. Posted by Race Police on

    What percentage must she be, in order to “be Inuk”?

    Jones has spent her adult life helping the people of Labrador.

    What has a “real” Inuk like you ever done for anyone?

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  7. Posted by No Clear Water on

    It is just not clear what is the heritage of Yvonne Jones is. How does the NunatuKavut decide who there members are? My best guess is if you were born in the region.

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    • Posted by Missed point on

      To me it seems the real question is what motivated Mumilaaq to make this comment in the first place?

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      • Posted by Inuk on

        Because it’s a treat to all Inuit, if this group that claims to be Inuit succeeds then it will set a precedent for other non Inuit to do the same in other areas, the Inuit and the Innu do not recognize this group as Inuit or even Indigenous, this should be taken more seriously as Inuit know who Inuit are not the government. If this goes through it will set a precedent for other groups to claim the same in other areas, to benefit and use the system.
        If your bloodline has a Inuk from the 1800s but the rest are European right up to today that does not make you Inuit. Other groups in the Maritimes have tried to claim to be indigenous when they are not and this is the same.

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        • Posted by Non-sequitur on

          It’s really no threat to you at all, Inuk. None. Maybe you are afraid you will lose something by this, but what would you lose?

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          • Posted by Inuk on

            I’m afraid if this group can claim being Inuit when they are not it will affect me as a Inuk and our fellow Inuit that our word does not mean anything to the governments.
            If we say they are not Inuit but it falls on deaf ears.
            The implications are huge and we have to be careful and make sure things are done properly.

  8. Posted by Kenn Harper on

    There should be a clear distinction made between people who are Inuit, and people who are of Inuit ancestry or Inuit heritage. Example – I have some German ancestry way back (along with English, Scottish, French) but I wouldn’t dream of self-identifying as a German; that would be ridiculous. But I can still be proud of my German heritage. And it wouldn’t make any difference if I ate weinerschnitzel or wore lederhosen – still not German. William Anderson from Labrador posted today: “Anyone can wear sealskin boots, anyone can live off the land, but that doesn’t make them Inuk.” Identity politics and identity shopping are all part of the federal government’s grand plan to divide and conquer. There is strength in numbers. That’s why there are over 600 First Nations in Canada, so they will continue to have no real strength that would come from unity. Pit friend against friend. Pit neighbour against neighbour. It seems to be working.

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    • Posted by Observer on

      And what percentage of ancestry is acceptable to you? Should we go with making sure at least three grandparents were Inuk? Maybe take inspiration from some of the more notable pure blood laws that had such *fascinating* results in the 20th Century?

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    • Posted by Alan Klie on

      I don’t think the Canadian government has a policy of dividing and conquering. I think that attributes far too much credit and foresight to the institution. As well, since governments change fairly regularly I think it unlikely that any such policy would survive for long in successive administrations. Although, I do acknowledge that there are policies which transcend political parties and survive. I just don’t think there is one like you describe.

      You raise an interesting point regarding ethnicity, though. But I have a question. If we accept that someone’s gender or sexual identity can be fluid, why not their ethnic identity? Is ethnicity somehow more immutable than gender? If, in your example, you are only a smaller part German but you, for whatever reason, more closely identify or have an affinity for your German heritage, does the percentage really matter?

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    • Posted by No Moniker on

      With all respect due to you, Kenn I have to agree with Alan. It’s beyond unlikely that government could coordinate such a grand plan as to divide us via identity politics (what’s the end game anyway?), though I grant you the current government has made a performance art of ritual of nods to the identitarian left; which itself has made a hard pivot toward identity outrage.

      What some above have called ‘NS Speak’ above is part of a larger movement birthed by French academics and intellectuals in the 60s that for decades moved organically through academic discourse (where this term was popularized) and has recently broken into our public consciousness, now going parabolic, partly because of the amplifying (and corrosive) effects of social media.

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  9. Posted by Who cares on

    Who cares if shes inuk? Who cares if shes white? Metis? Who cares. Shes human and at the end of the day that is all that matters. Funny when our leaders are less mature than preschoolers. Zero humanity at their elitist level. Preschoolers don’t insult and discriminate based on race religion or creed — they only know humanity and existence.

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    • Posted by Soothsayer on

      I agree with you. We should really be asking ourselves why Mumilaaq seems to care? Sadly what this tells me is that to her a political opponent is someone who deserves less respect and someone who carries less humanity.

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    • Posted by Cares on

      A DNA test is possible. A lot of people care. Look up to the comments. These people care a lot.

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      • Posted by Soothsayer on

        Fair enough, maybe you can address my first question then. Why do people care about this? And if you don’t mind, what is it relevant to? Also, why do you think Mumilaaq raised this issue?

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  10. Posted by Alan Klie on

    The confusion could stem from a different use of the word “Metis”. I seem to recall reading an article that in Newfoundland and Labrador, the term Metis was applied to anyone who had mixed Aboriginal and European heritage. Individuals who were part Inuit and part European were called Metis and it didn’t have the more specific meaning of the culture we know as Metis.

  11. Posted by #idpoli is ugly on

    Is there a term for rooting a year and a half back through a political opponents twitter just to bludgeon them in a racial purity contest?

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    • Posted by Unamused on

      “Vindictive” would be one. The whole thing came about because of a political dispute having nothing to do with Jones’s status that Qaqqaq immaturely decided to make personal.

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  12. Posted by Northerner on

    She should be let go or step down. This happens in the South and she would be gone immediately but in Nunavut we need to protect and feel sorry for her because she is Inuit. The Nunavut Govt is a Joke.

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  13. Posted by AS MY WORLD TURNS on

    How can inuit rely on someone who cringes at every non-inuk person? How do we give or ask a leader like Qaqqaq anything for help when she trips out on something along her path of political glory. Qaqqaq! Start working on our housing problems, etc., not look see whose in front who might be trying to help inuit. Quit or and start behaving like a respected leader!

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    • Posted by John B on

      Qaqqaq’s attempt at creating a solution to the housing crisis in Nunavut has been laughable.
      .
      Her only reasonable course of action after her racialized actions is to resign.

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  14. Posted by Embarrassing on

    This is an embarrassment to the territory. She should be ashamed of herself for being so childish.
    This MP needs to grow up the way she is acting I wonder if she even knows her color’s.
    How the NDP has not censored this MP is unbelievable, the demands she is putting on the process is unacceptable.
    The sad part is most people care more about jobs and doing the process right as far as Baffinland is concerned but this MP doesn’t understand that yet. She hasn’t learned how hard it is to work for a living and have to provide.
    Respect others should be the 1st thing she learned, understand others the second.
    I call on our party leader to step in and step up for the sake of the party.

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  15. Posted by Taparti on

    How long has she spent living outside of Nunavut ?? She manages to get a good job and automatically assumes the “inuk only” stance.

    Immature, has no clue about governing. Maybe she will go back on anxiety leave if this becomes a bigger issue. Get her out of office. Makes the North look bad.

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  16. Posted by Tell it like it is on

    Indigenous groups in Nunatsiavut agree with our MP.

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    • Posted by Immature and embarrassing on

      Does Nunatsiavut troll Twitter to attack these people, for political reasons unrelated to their claims?

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  17. Posted by Beginner vs Veteran on

    Stop complaining and start creating some new ideas you collected ideas before you got elected and this is how you go that’s not the way to work, she has 25 years of political office and you have what?? 3? Come on start focusing on Nunavut and not only on housing the idea can go on and on come on you’re just an beginner beginning to become a politician.

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    • Posted by John B on

      “Beginning to become a politician”!?
      .
      She needs to stop now before the “become” actually takes place. She’s done enough now to galvanize the handicap the North continues to impose on itself.

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  18. Posted by MQ on

    Nothing but a sad witchhunt to divert the public’s attention from the fact that she is failing her constituents. Was this taught at NS?

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  19. Posted by Colour Blind on

    Everything is so much about race these days. So absurd. Like the government’s black entrepreneriliship program. I mean, are there government race inspectors? Who’s black, exactly? Does some beauracrat say “oops, sorry, you dont look black enough”. Is there some sort of litmus test for Ms. Qaqqaq on who is entitled to a voice in the North? Is there a racial purity test? We’ve had these kinds of things before throughout human history, and hint: they weren’t the good guys.

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  20. Posted by just an Inuk on

    Does Yvonne Jones speak inuktitut? Alot of non inuit say they are inuit descendants , my opinion to “gain jobs” You’re not an INUK unless you speak INUK, Live INUK.

    Everyone wants to be Inuk but look where we live! In a high cost territory! where most jobs are now held by southerners with housing that is furnished already so they will be comfortable.

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    • Posted by Consistency on

      Oh come on. the ability to speak Inuktitut can not be the defining factor to be Inuk. There are southerners that have only lived a couple years in Nunavut that have spent time learning Inuktitut and speak very well (better then some Inuit that only know Nunavut). That does not make them Inuk. It has to do with where your from, how you live and your family. Also getting into what percentage of your grandparents are Inuk is also very dangerous and will lead to much pain for future generations.

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      • Posted by just an Inuk on

        Ability to speak inuktitut and living the lifestyle as a Inuk ,raised as a Inuk defines who you are 100% , There are alot of people that define themselves as a inuk that never lived in the North, who can’t speak Inuktitut.
        Sorry, this is the truth.
        Otherwise how are you going to represent Inuit, through a Inuktitut interpreter/translator? Get real!

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        • Posted by RE: Just an inuk on

          In the inuinnaqtun speaking area of nunavut/nwt and the inuvialuit settlement area in the nwt, only 5-10% of the population speaks any form of inuktut. Are they not inuit because they don’t speak inuinnaqtun or inuvialuktun?

          • Posted by just an Inuk on

            Reclaim your mother tongue, we will always be Inuit.
            There are many many inuit who speak very well in Inuktitut, for the french speaking Inuit in Iqaluit with 0% french speaking Inuit fathers, this is what happens when colonialism takes over!
            So, Inuit descendants who work hard to keep it Inuit, let’s keep fighting before it gets worse for our fellow Inuit and our children.

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        • Posted by Consistency on

          In the next 15-20 years (we keep loosing our elders) there will no longer be any adult that is Unilingual. Just like you are not a unilingual Inuktitut speaker, and I doubt your kids are either (except maybe babies, but once they become teens they will speak mostly English). But if you are Inuk as your name suggests then your kids are also Inuk. And even if they move south, and have babies with a non-Inuk your Inguta will also be Inuk. Even if they dont know Inuktitut or have ever lived in Nunavut.
          But I do agree that if they have not lived the life up here (wither they speak Inuktitut or not) then they should not speak for all Inuit that live here. just as it would be wrong for an Inuk that only lived in Nunavut to speak for the Inuit that live in the South now. they have other issues to deal with that we dont have and wouldnt understand

  21. Posted by Inuki Inukshuk in Iglu on

    Interesting, there are indigenous people that claim to be Inuit, Indian or Metis and apply for funding, most times they are misappropriating Aboriginal Peoples of Canada’s logos, designs, intellectual rights, i.e. songs, stories, books etc. Read about claims to being indigenous https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/2019-federal-election-indigenous-candidates-1.5265989 or https://theconversation.com/how-some-north-americans-claim-a-false-indigenous-identity-121599

  22. Posted by Inuk on

    I had a good conversation with my Labradorian friend about Jones. She says Jones is not Inuk but is of Inuit descent, way way way down the line, if that. If anything, she said she may have more metis descent.

    Here are some points she said:

    Jones is a member of the NunatuKavut Community Council, formerly known as the Labrador Métis Nation, a non-status group representing people of mixed Indigenous and non-Indigenous descent in southern Labrador.

    Since 2018, the group has been pursuing recognition of Indigenous rights in the region, and completed a memorandum of understanding with the federal government in 2019.

    But shortly thereafter, the Nunatsiavut government, which represents Inuit in northern Labrador, joined the Innu Nation in seeking to block the MOU, arguing that it overlapped with their claims. The Innu Nation additionally argued that the group was not Indigenous under terms set out in Section 35 of the Constitution Act.

    My Labradorian Inuk friend from Nain said:

    1. Most Nunatsiavummiut don’t believe they have a right to call themselves southern Inuit
    2. They are metis in their eyes
    3. NunatuKavut borrows the foundation of the Nunatsiavut Inuit culture
    4. They’re trying to claim some Nunatsiavut land
    5. They have a large presence at northern events, taking space away from Inuit
    6. They try to represent Labrador Inuit on a national level
    7. They are confusing other Inuit regions who the Inuit really are

    If ITK refuses to acknowledge them and grant them Inuit status at their table, that speaks volumes

    Mumilaaq getting so much backlash for this, but I’m behind her 100%

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    • Posted by Discrimination on

      Riiiiight … because Inuit leaders and Inuit organizations never discriminate against their own and others. It’s all about power.

      Also sick and tired of this BS about who is a real Inuk or not. What you have to do or be to be an Inuk. Our own culture police suck. We’re fighting each other so much that its not surprising we have the highest rates of suicide and highest rates of violent crime. Enough. Taima.

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      • Posted by Not discriminating on

        It’s about the truth, it’s not discrimination but seeking the truth and putting a spot light on this group that may not be Inuit.
        Where is their evidence for their claims? Will this open it up for other groups to call themselves Inuit when they are not? How will this impact Inuit as a whole?
        You might be sick and tired of it but it’s a important question and it should be answered, can they prove they are Inuit? Should we just accept them as Inuit without any proof? Just take their word for it? How would this impact the rest of Inuit?

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  23. Posted by Nunatsiavut on

    It never made sense how people “define” themselves as “inuk”. Each group has a different definition and regulation on how you “prove” your ancestry. There are a lot of people in Iqaluit who are barely 30% Inuk, let alone speak fluently their own language. I know more beneficiaries in Iqaluit who speak more french then Inuktitut, from a french 0% inuk father. So are you going to deny them status as well? Yet you want to discriminate against different groups of Indigenous groups?

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  24. Posted by Paradigm Shift on

    The real issue here is not whether Yvonne Jones is an Inuk, it’s Mumilaaq’a disgraceful representation of herself as a member of Parliament and as the representative of our territory.

    She has repeatedly shown an inability to build bridges or find common ground with other members of the House, who would likely help in her efforts to help Nunavut. Instead, her strategy is partisan attacks, noise making and trolling anyone she see’s as an ideological opponent on twitter. While this clearly resonates with some elements of our society, most thoughtful people see the liabilities this presents and how counterproductive these characteristics are.

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  25. Posted by Senator Attack on

    It was has been like this when comes time to attack the Nunavut Senator. He has done good work but people go after him for the colour of his skin. Racism is focused on skin colour and merit is based on effort and effective on matters of the day.

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  26. Posted by Here ye on

    A tad tired of our MP who is/was far too young for such a role however smart or fitting it seemed. there is a lot to say about experience.

    Again we are losing our voice in Ottawa and our MP has yet to take back the roles she had or should have. It is too much for her.

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  27. Posted by Philip Uvilluk on

    I am an Inuk who live in N.B. I grew up living in qangmaq and igluvigaq in earlier years. Some of us were also were sent to Residential School. While in N.B.,I buy hunting and fishing licenses, so does my son. We grew up knowing this is a do it yourself world. As an Inuk, we help one another, which includes Nunavut MP, who was elected to be a voice for Nunavutmiut, which includes training programs for Nunavutmiut, which means not trying to shut down industry (mining). We Inuit who live outside of Nunavut have no representative. Some Residential Survivors have learned professions and trades, pay more income tax larger than average Canadian household income. Inuit tradesmen cannot be on boards in Nunavut because they are not residents. Everyone of you politicians help your constituents, instead of being immature to one another. I say Nunavut MP, get proper human information from elders while they are still with us.

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    • Posted by Janet on

      I believe our MP got the information from Inuit from Labrador who are saying Yvonne and that group are not Inuit, as the Inuit in Labrador are not getting the help from their MP they are asking others for help.
      This is not about Inuit living in other parts of Canada but about people that are not Inuit claiming to be Inuit.

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    • Posted by Thanks to Yvonne on

      Thanks to your NunatuKavut Member Yvonne Jones who is also the Liberal MP for Labrador, I wonder if there is some conflict in that?
      Two groups the Inuit and the Innu disagree with the NunatuKavut claims but the NunatuKavut member Yvonne Jones refuses to acknowledge these two indigenous groups.
      This might have to go to the Supreme Court.

  28. Posted by hm on

    It sounds like Jones only identifies as Inuit when it benefits her, and otherwise does not often self-identify.

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