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
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.