Nunavik’s new MP says she will push for housing money, implementing UNDRIP

Sylvie Bérubé plans to visit in the New Year and is seeking an Inuktitut translator

MP Sylvie Bérubé won the Abitibi-James Bay-Nunavik-Eeyou riding in the October federal election. (Photo courtesy of Sylvie Bérubé/Facebook)

By Elaine Anselmi

Nunavik’s new MP says she wants to hear from the region’s Inuit leaders so that she can better share their concerns.

MP Sylvie Bérubé won the Abitibi-James Bay-Nunavik-Eeyou riding in the fall federal election with 37.7 per cent of the vote.

While the Bloc Québécois MP is primarily French speaking, she said she is actively searching for an Inuktitut translator to work with.

“I wish to clearly report the needs in the Indigenous communities,” she said.

So far, Bérubé said that two pressing issues she’s aware of in Nunavik are health care and housing.

Health care may be under provincial jurisdiction, but it’s federally funded, said Bérubé.

In order to see an increase in that health funding, Bérubé said the federal government could reconsider how it calculates the transfers.

Bérubé has worked in the health sector for more than three decades.

In the Bloc Québécois election platform, the party stated the province would need 10,000 homes over the next decade. It’s something Bérubé said she is already in talks about, to have different models for housing development drawn up.

“If we want the [federal] Liberals to move forward, we will have to propose a solution ourselves,” Bérubé said.

The new MP may not be a familiar face in Nunavik, but said she plans to visit for the next annual general meeting of Makivik Corp., which will place in March.

Following Bérubé’s election, Makivik President Charlie Watt released a statement inviting Bérubé up to visit the region at her earliest convenience.

“I look forward to meeting with her, and receiving her support for our work on self-determination, and on issues such as the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” Watt said.

It is those talks with Inuit leadership, Bérubé said, that will determine her role in helping along Makivik’s work on self-determination,

On Bill C-262, which would bring Canadian law in line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Bérubé is fully in support.

Two versions of the bill were put forward by her predecessor, outgoing NDP MP Romeo Saganash. Introduced in 2018, Bill C-262 was held up by Conservative senators this spring but the Liberal government’s representative in the chamber, Senator Peter Harder, said if re-elected, the Liberal government was committed to making it law.

“It is important for me to continue the process of Bill C-262 to align Canadian laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and the work of my predecessor Romeo Saganash,” Bérubé said.

“I will continue to support this project and I’ve already offered my support to Romeo for future action. It’s unacceptable that Canada is not yet at this stage by 2020.”

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