Mumilaaq Qaqqaq announces she will not seek re-election

‘Together, we have been able to show the realities we face in the North,’ Nunavut MP says

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq announced she will not be seeking re-election as Nunavut’s member of Parliament on Thursday. (File photo)

By Mélanie Ritchot

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq says she will not be seeking another term as the member of Parliament for Nunavut.

The 27-year-old politician made the decision following weeks of reflection and discussion with friends and family, she said in a written statement that was posted on Twitter Thursday afternoon.

“Just because I have decided this institution is not the place for me right now, all Inuit, and Nunavummiut should know that change is possible and our voices matter.”

Leading up to the end of her term, she said she will work with leadership to ensure the Mary River mine expansion respects all stakeholders and that Nunavut gets proper support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have taken every chance I could to fight and speak out,” she said, referencing her housing report and issues she raised in the House of Commons.

Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq renewed her call for increased housing funding for the territory in a member’s statement in the House of Commons on May 13. (Screenshot from ParlVu live stream)

She says she will also be tabling legislation to get Indigenous languages included on federal ballots.

“As we know, federal institutions like the House of Commons aren’t easily changed and governments don’t help Indigenous peoples without an immense amount of pressure,” she wrote.

“Together, we have been able to show the realities we face in the North — the rates of death by suicide, the low availability of housing, and the struggles people face every day just for their own basic human rights — to the rest of Canada,” she wrote.

Qaqqaq launched her re-election campaign in March 2021, after saying she was on the fence about whether she would run again in early February.

The NDP politician was first elected in 2019 during the last federal election, after a last-minute campaign.

“I wanted to do my best to advocate for Inuit and Nunavummiut…. It was a long-shot campaign but with a lot of support from across the territory, we were able to surprise people.”

Her announcement leaves the NDP, Conservatives and Liberals without a candidate to represent Nunavut in the next election. Because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have a minority government, the next election could come if they can’t get enough support from other parties to stay in power. There has been widespread media speculation the next election could take place within a year.

Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq is seen speaking to supporters at the launch of her campaign in Iqaluit in 2019. (Photo courtesy of the NDP)

In an interview on Thursday, before Qaqqaq made her announcement, she said when people ask her what made her want to get into politics, her answer is that her life is nothing but political.

“The moment I’m born as an Indigenous person, it is influenced by nothing but politics,” she said.

“Whether I like it or not, there will always be some kind of unspoken, unheard, unseen parental force you have to deal with … but directly can impact the quality of life and outcome of it.”

In an interview on January 8, Qaqqaq spoke about how Inuit not having the right to self-determination affected her career path.

“The truth is if I did have the right to self-determination, I would have grown up living a life where I had learned about my history, I had an understanding of who I am as an Inuk, a connection to my tradition and culture,” she said.

“That would have resulted in me learning much more about who I am and what I want to become,” she said. “And who that would have been, would not have been a member of Parliament.”

“That would have probably been someone in the arts, someone in dance. I love dance, I love music, I love fashion.”

“Because I grew up understanding that I had privilege and support in ways that other people didn’t, I was always taught to help wherever I could.”

Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, left, and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, are seen visiting the Qajuqturvik Food Centre in 2019, when Singh visited Iqaluit a few weeks after the election. (Photo by Dustin Patar)

When asked on March 5 what she was most proud of accomplishing in her first term, she mentioned speaking in the House of Commons on multiple occasions, doing a three-week housing tour to raise awareness for Nunavut’s housing crisis, and having NDP leader Jagmeet Singh visit Iqaluit a few weeks after the 2019 election — when they visited Blackheart Cafe, browsed a local craft fair and went dog-sledding between visiting local organizations and meetings with local leadership.

In her statement on Thursday, she said she felt listened to by others in the NDP and feels they are committed to continuing to serve Inuit and Nunavummiut.

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(40) Comments:

  1. Posted by The Penny Drops on

    Best news of the week
    Can we now finally elect someone serious?

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    • Posted by Reality check on

      When the young pups cannot pull the sled, you need an old dog to lead. All party’s

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  2. Posted by Seeking re-election or booted? on

    It’s more likley that she acted poorly while representing the NDP and they will no longer back her as the representative of their Party. The very poor actions om her part followed by a leave to exit the public eye to this announcement. Seems to me she got the boot.

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    • Posted by Votey McVoteface on

      It could be that she was ‘encouraged’ to consider stepping aside due to her affect on the brand, we will never know…. if so it was likely framed as “you’re not well, you should really go look after yourself, this life isn’t for you at this time.”

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  3. Posted by This Person on

    I thank you for your help!

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  4. Posted by Constituent on

    This is the right move for her I believe.

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    • Posted by Niruaq on

      it was not possible for her and it was not, for different reasons, for her predecessors. It all boils down to the VOTERS. They got in because of us! Voters!
      A Vote 101 course is needed or a list of what to look for/avoid in a person (without names or basic ‘mistakes’ but rather a guide on how to vote!).

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      • Posted by Pork Pie the Pundit on

        It’s a nice thought that we could develop a manual for the ‘right’ characteristics and chose accordingly, but on a broad scale people and politics are just too complex for that. Yet, in a way we do all develop our own personal checklists and criteria for whom we believe is the ideal candidate / leader. These are informed by our experiences, biases, preferences and worldviews in a way that almost never gets at the reality hidden beneath those representations.

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  5. Posted by Wassa on

    In Canada governments are in large servants to big business., no arguement there. And governments and governments-in-waiting, the opposition largely reject and reprimand any member who may stray outside of the apprived talking points. Singh has shown himself to be such. Have a nice post covid season.

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    • Posted by articrick on

      Let’s get real here, we all seen this coming. Maybe she can try again in years to come after some growing up. This was the right decision be her.

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  6. Posted by Constituent on

    Good Riddance

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  7. Posted by Non political on

    She deserves kudos for trying at such a young age. She should not be discredited for her efforts. Mumilaaq, thank you for you efforts.

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  8. Posted by Third Wave on

    I wondered when the THIRD WAVE would hit. This is great news for Nunavut. It’s nice to see that the MP finally accepts defeat but should remember her defeat is off her own doing.
    The two things she focused on was Housing and Baffinland. Accomplishment, none.
    1. Housing. The MP should have understood that the report she submitted for the housing crisis was already completed by the Senate. The solution is to help people find a way to be able to afford their own homes. I think she expected the Federal and Territorial government to provide free housing. The solutions that the MP put fourth were…Oh there were no solutions offered, you can’t keep crying and expect change.
    2. Baffinland. The MP is out to kill any job opportunities for Inuit in the region. The solution from the MP… Oh there were no solutions. It isn’t rocket science, indoor crusher would solve the problem.
    The MP will leave office with a great legacy. The MP accomplished outing Yvonne Jones as a non-Inuk. This has helped bring Nunavut together.. Just kidding. The MP would have been much better off focusing on how Yvonne Jones serves her people in NL.
    At the end of the day the NDP party set out to prove to the world that movie stars are not politicians. The MP wasn’t set up for failure, she just wasn’t big enough to play in the federal sandbox. She will cry that she wasn’t given the tools to play in the box and blame it on colonialism at the end off the day.
    I wish you well in the future, Nunavut deserves a voice that will be heard, a voice that will bring solutions to the issues of the day. We need a voice that is focused on the mission not one that is swayed by interruptions of personal choices. It didn’t work with Tootoo and this MP could have learned so much about that failure. Nunavut had so much potential with Tootoo but personal choices destroyed the opportunities. We have now been set back at least 10 years. We need to find the right candidate to represent Nunavut. Someone who has the true interest at heart.

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    • Posted by Ditto on

      Her comment “As we know, federal institutions like the House of Commons aren’t easily changed and governments don’t help Indigenous peoples without an immense amount of pressure,” show that she doesn’t get it. Politics is a game and unless you master it, you won’t get anywhere. Going in and pounding your chest puts you out of the game right from the beginning. She still doesn’t get it and probably never will.

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      • Posted by Not controversial on

        I’m glad she decided not to run again, I am not a fan of her politics. Still, she is right to observe that institutions are slow to change. What is missing here?

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  9. Posted by Oscare on

    She tried, but it wasn’t what we all needed. Good luck in ur future adventures.

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  10. Posted by Careful what you wish for, commenters on

    I wonder what the NN comments section regulars will do with all their free time now that they can’t disparage and bully someone doing what none of them would ever attempt to do, let alone succeed in the same way as she did?
    .
    All the anonymous commenters can rejoice that they have successfully bullied a young leader out of public life, for trying to do what’s best for as many people as possible. I think it’s telling that she faced more hostility from the armchair a-holes than she did down south, whereby all accounts she was a very well-regarded member of parliament.
    .
    I hope to see you all run in elections yourselves so you can put your money where your mouth is and realise you’d never come close to what Mumilaaq did in what was one of the most impressive underdog electoral victories of that election cycle.
    .
    I think what Mumilaaq did was great, and she is a wonderful role model for all young Inuit. She also serves as an unfortunate reminder that no one can stay on top forever and that any well-deserved goodwill earned by your accomplishments will eventually give way to those who do nothing but complain from the comforts of anonymity.
    .
    To anyone inspired by her, do not be discouraged by the chatter of chickens from comments sections on Facebook and news sites, your accomplishments from your actions will always be remembered and appreciated no matter how loud the doubters are. Do not let the negativity of others stop you from doing what is good to others. Even the thickest skin feels pain eventually, and you now know what is in store for being a young successful Inuk doing what you think is right.
    .
    Nakurmimarrialuk Mumilaaq, thank you for your time and devotion to your position and your people.

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    • Posted by Paradox Pete on

      A strange flex indeed to criticize the use of anonymity while making use of it yourself.

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    • Posted by Pork Pie on

      I agree that gratuitous and ill-founded criticism has marked some of the commentary here and is needlessly destructive. I wonder if you would agree that the same can be said about uncritical and unwarranted praise?

      You are also right to observe that her audience “down south” went much easier on Mumilaaq. Yet the open fawning must be understood in its context; her admirers outside Nunavut have little stake in her performance. There is also no sense in which her behaviors served as any kind of symbolic representation of them in any meaningful way, for Nunavummiut the opposite is true.

      You say she was a great role model for Inuit, but I am less sure. Consider her intoxicated attack on the racial purity of an opponent. For me this was one of the most grotesque and corrosive displays of discrimination and racism I have ever seen in the House of Commons, certainly in my time in Nunavut. My concern is that that kind of behavior will indeed serve as a model for our youth, but it is not the kind we should hope for.

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    • Posted by Anonymous on

      People are using NNs to comment for good or bad. This behavior shows us how afraid people are of retaliation. People seem not to trust the government or other people. Anyway, sad that we do not trust each other

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    • Posted by Colonial on

      In a world where any non Inuk legitimately criticizes an Inuk MP (like for how she disappeared for months on end leaving them no representation only to return to play overt bloodline racism games with another Inuit group in Quebec without apology) is deemed racist and canceled, I rely on Nunatsiaq to express my views. Many people support those views. Without anonymity, my speaking of truth would not be possible, since I cannot sacrifice my livelihood and risk my family to the mob and cancel culture of this decade. Anonymous comments do not mean they are not true.

  11. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    now about that statue at four corners.

    wait, that’s someone elses schtick.

    Mumilaaq, we thank you for trying. it’s a daunting task if one is not ready and we saw the pain it brought you. rest up, take some time to recharge and you have other avenues in your future.

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  12. Posted by Luisa on

    At least she got the vast housing shortage be made public to the world, the other politicians ‘just sweep it under a rug’ hoping someone somewhere will be able to tackle this problem, even if she made a few mistakes, she got the job done. Okay you naysayers of Mumilaaq, can you do a better job? though calling her childish, she got the message across.

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    • Posted by Reinventing the Wheel on

      Except that the Senate had already produced a thorough, in-depth report of the housing shortage a few years prior. See: “WE CAN DO BETTER:
      Housing in Inuit Nunangat”.

  13. Posted by hermann kliest on

    We need a right person at the Hill, Goodness can anyone clarify what PM said on CBC interview? Did he actually say he can act alone to make Quebec a nation? The Constitution must have the last word, won’t this PM be committing a treason if he tries to act on his word? Do we really need a Liberal representation down there? We need a leader who can keep the country together, no to break it apart. His father once said “Just Watch Me” so long ago. Nunavut , let’s not choose a MP by popularity or has been person.

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    • Posted by Multi-nationalism on

      Quebecois are a nation, so are Inuit. This is not controversial a point. Canada is a multi-nation state.

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  14. Posted by Armchair Ascetic on

    Incessantly chiding the federal government for not immediately providing free housing at unprecedented per capita levels is not a political program that is worth entertaining. We are on our own on this, that should be clear by now.

    Reflexively opposing important economic opportunities like the Mary River project is irresponsible; not everyone can be an MP, dancer or fashion designer.

    Whoever our next MP is, I hope they embrace realistic political objectives that rely on Nunavummiut’s own abilities and efforts to improve things. Blaming others for all your problems is poison.

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  15. Posted by Caribou hunter on

    I agree with non political all we do is to appreciate her efforts and at young age in this cut throat business in politics and public opinions thru the media.
    Im sure its learning curve for her and im sure she will help Nunamiut in the future.
    As a true northerner we thank her with her efforts with no bitterness unlike others like we seen thru the media.
    we thank you and good luck in your next adventure.

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  16. Posted by Unimpressed on

    Great! Now can you resign so we can hold a by-election and vote in someone more competent? Why wait until 2023 if you know you’re not able to do the job?

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  17. Posted by hen pecking on

    So many negative comments or negative gloating. It was not long ago our collective comment caused someone else to over use some things and pass from this world. How soon we foget. Or did we just not own up to that?

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    • Posted by Racy Video on

      Is that what really happened though? Wasn’t there another factor in all that, that I simply can not say here because it would not be printed. Portraying it in the way you have seems opportunistic.

  18. Posted by Illia Kurijijakin on

    I am willing to support NDP again now that I know a fresh face who is willing to make a go of it will emerge as fresh candidate. Liberals are the millionaire party, rich persons don’t usually give a hoot…but their bottom line.

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  19. Posted by Jean Grey on

    Being a public representative is challenging at the best of times. I know Ms. Qaqqaq will continue to do good things and make a real difference in the territory.

    The key to change is, however, in my mind – is practical steps and happy mediums. Ultimately, for change to have real lasting value and impact, it has to come from the people of Nunavut believing in their worth and skills and helping each community become more economically secure and self-sufficient.

    Throwing money at a problem can solve/help some things, but lasting, real change is a process of long term planning including building opportunities for Nunavummiut to learn skilled trades and designing housing that meets the needs of different people in Nunavut and can last in the challenging climate of the North.

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    • Posted by Jack Napier on

      Perhaps the government can fund boot straps so people can pull themselves up.

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      • Posted by Jean Grey on

        Let’s not be snarky. People have better mental health when they feel like they are contributing and have valuable skills. Local skilled labour is more cost effective and allows more and ideal better quality housing than having to bring in labour from the south. More housing is needed, but creating local jobs and designing better housing need to be included in that equation.

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        • Posted by Jack Napier on

          Ok, people can make their own boot straps at a new Arctic College program.

  20. Posted by Overjoyed on

    I am so happy Mumilaaq’s name will not be on the next ballot.

  21. Posted by Arctic Circle on

    Perhaps she is seeking the territorial election this fall?

  22. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Ms. Qaqqaq’s decision was wise as she likely had little to no chance for reelection. Nunavut has now been encumbered by two successive lame duck MPs. Unfortunately having recently observed the Nunavut Conservative Party seeking potential candidates on Facebook of all places gives me little hope for the future MP.

    • Posted by No Moniker on

      Few things are more consistently disappointing to me in politics than the conservative party. Here we have what could and should be a viable alternative to the liberals, a governing party that is clearly vulnerable and whose popularity has become increasingly lukewarm. Yet the conservative party is repeatedly dragged into social conservative / culture war issues that it has effectively lost: i.e. gay rights issues, or climate change denial, where there is no possibility to gain wide traction with the electorate and that tar their brand in a way that makes appear toxic and untouchable to even the most committed rationalists and moderates.

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