Nunavut’s next MP to be sworn-in to office in Inuktitut

‘I wanted to … highlight how proud I am of my Inuit culture,’ says Lori Idlout

By Madalyn Howitt

Nunavut’s next member of Parliament will be sworn-in on Friday at an unusual location – Iqaluit’s Astro Theatre, rather than the House of Commons.

And when Lori Idlout takes her oath of office, she will do it in her mother tongue, Inuktitut.

MPs were given the option this year of being sworn-in to office remotely, and since 2018, the House of Commons has offered to interpret and translate speeches in an Indigenous language.

“Normally, swearing-in ceremonies are held in Ottawa, but when we were given the choice of doing it virtually, I knew right away that I want to do it in my own riding,” Idlout said in an interview this week.

The ceremony will be held on Friday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Astro Theatre. Idlout is welcoming anyone who would like to attend in person, although space is limited. She said her team is also working on setting up a livestream of the event.

“Normally it’s just a quick five-minute swearing-in event, [but] I wanted just to take this opportunity to ensure that not only is my language reflected but aspects of my culture as well,” she said of the planned one-hour event, which will also include English in the proceedings.

Traditional Inuit music, throat singing, dancing and the lighting of a qulliq will feature in the ceremony. Idlout plans to wear a traditional atigi, which was a gift from a colleague and mentor, she said.

“I wanted to … highlight how proud I am of my Inuit culture,” Idlout said.

The NDP representative said she’s excited to be holding her swearing-in ceremony in her own riding and wanted it to be as accessible to her constituents as possible.

“I’m quite nervous … [but] it’ll allow me to enter the House of Commons officially as the MP and to have my voice shared,” she said.

“It’s so important to me that my constituents know that they can reach out to me, if they want to speak in Inuktitut because that’s what they’re comfortable with. That’s how I’m accessible to them,” she said.

Idlout said she supports NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s recent announcement that the party will move forward with a vote-by-vote plan on whether they will back Liberal legislation in the Commons.

“I trust our leader. He’s been amazing and I support whatever decision that he’s made,” she said.

She added that she’s still deciding whether to file a formal complaint with the Nunavut Impact Review Board, whose public hearing on the Baffinland expansion in early November Idlout said she was barred from attending, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“I think it’s important that we highlight that it’s worked to be a truly public engagement process. And this should not have been restricted, not just to myself, [but] the men and women that want to have access to it as well,” she said.

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(12) Comments:

  1. Posted by Couple of things on

    Instead of having a 5 minute ceremony- cited as the norm – she will have her constituents pay for a 1 hour celebration in her honour. Why get to work when you can begin spending tax payer $ and time on your ego instead…

    Lori was a legal representative in the NIRB hearing and opposing counsel for a lawsuit with Baffinland before becoming an MP. As a “lawyer” She should know that means there is a conflict of interest in her participation in the NIRB hearing and that she should recuse herself from the process entirely …
    Nevertheless as was the case with everyone, there was capacity limits. she wasn’t barred – her constituents were given a seat instead of her. A good MP would see this as a positive. Instead Lori is bragging about wanting to waste more tax payer time and money on submitting a formal complaint.

    Someone should tell her the job isn’t just parties and personal vendettas. There’s Lots of actual work to do in Nunavut !

  2. Posted by Dr professor on

    Ok I get the pride of being a first time mp. But if the normal Swearing in ceremony takes 5 minutes, doesn’t it seem like a waste of money to rent out a place and extend it to a one hour ordeal. That being said even for just a hour seems like a waste of money. Download zoom for free and get to work.

  3. Posted by uvanga on

    Quviagiluaqtagiin! I can already tell that this is going to be a great year for Inuit and qalunaaks in Nunavut! Congratulations!

  4. Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

    Just want to remind Nunavut’s MP and her staff, that there are four official languages in Nunavut. If she intends to have a swearing-in ceremony in the Capital in English and Inuktitut, she had better not ignore Inuinnaqtun and French Otherwise, she will lose some support in a hurry. She does allegedly represent everyone in Nunavut and not just her selected Baffin friends.

  5. Posted by Observer on

    Huh. Not the first Inuk to represent Nunavut. Not the first Inuk woman to represent Nunavut. Not even the first Inuk woman member of the NDP representing Nunavut.

    Why is such a big deal being made out of this other than to soothe her own ego?

  6. Posted by Wow on

    Although I do agree that it’s odd to celebrate after being sworn in, I can’t help but think that the days ahead will be better. Set aside personal vendettas( like making formal complaints) and start working on what is essential. You had your fun and I hope you bring brighter days for Nunavut. Big job ahead.

  7. Posted by M Center on

    Nunavut, commence eating your own at any chance. …Aaand begin now! D’oh! You beat me to it. Hasn’t even been Sworn-In yet and animosity rears it’s ugly head. Perhaps the intent of being available in person as a gesture of good will can be overlooked and in its place is instinct to bring each other down instead of find effort of cohesion. But that’s outside the box view. As you were. Please continue. Well done NU. Well done. (Eye Roll).

    • Posted by Foxy Shazam on

      Scrutiny of politicians should be encouraged. Especially when they are wasting money.

  8. Posted by Coin on

    Can we flip a coin and only if it lands heads we swear her in

  9. Posted by Silas on

    All the naysayers had their say during the election and lost.
    This is a first ever event taking place in Nunavut where Inuit, often less fortunate, will have the opportunity to watch a ceremony that only the privileged take for granted. It includes a ceremonial activity that would never happen in the parliament where only a colonial form of ceremony would have taken place.
    Congratulations Lori, I’m sure you will make the effort to represent the whole of Nunavut.

  10. Posted by Megan Pizzo Lyall on

    Way to be Lori! It is so important to be able to do the swearing in ceremony in Inuktitut! Nunavut elected you and Nunavut stands behind you and the use of Inuktitut!

    • Posted by Truestory on

      As I’m employed at Baffinland Iron Mines, I do not support Lori as she is against us (Eskimos) Inuit hard workers at B.I.M..


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