One month into MP Qaqqaq’s leave, still unclear how Nunavut’s voice will be heard

Status of “inhumane” housing report unknown with Mumilaaq Qaqqaq’s absence

Nunavut’s member of Parliament, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, seen in this August 2020 file photo, says she will seek a second term representing the territory in the House of Commons. (Nunatsiaq News file photo by Meagan Deuling)

By Mélanie Ritchot

(Updated at 8 p.m.)

Halfway through Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq’s leave of absence and three weeks after a report on housing conditions that “cannot wait any longer” was promised, it is unclear how the territory’s voice will be heard in Parliament until her return.

One month ago, on Oct. 23, the NDP announced Qaqqaq’s eight-week leave of absence for “personal” health reasons. Very little details have been given, except that Qaqqaq’s condition is not COVID-19 related.

Because Qaqqaq is Nunavut’s only member of Parliament, the territory’s only official representative in Parliament is now Conservative Senator Dennis Patterson.

Qaqqaq did not appoint a representative to take her place during her absence, said NDP House Leader Peter Julian.

But Julian said that the NDP will take a “team approach” to making sure Nunavut’s voice is heard.

“It’s important for people in Nunavut to know the NDP will continue to bring up issues that matter to them,” he said.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said in a tweet Nov. 19, that he assured the premier of Nunavut, Joe Savikataaq, he is ready to support the people of Nunavut but gave no details about how he would support them.

Yesterday, Qaqqaq addressed her constituents in a tweet for the first time since her leave, following a spike in COVID-19 cases in Nunavut.

“My time off has been much needed,” she said. “I’ll be back before you know it.”

In the House of Commons Oct. 2, Qaqqaq said she would present a report on the “inhumane” housing conditions in Nunavut “in the coming weeks.” This was three weeks before she went on leave.

The report would follow Qaqqaq’s housing tour in the Kivalliq and Kitikmeot regions where she saw “homes where babies and young children were living that were overcrowded and mould-ridden, and that had not been renovated in years.”

“Inuit and Nunavummiut cannot wait any longer,” she said.

Julian would not confirm whether the report would be delayed by Qaqqaq’s absence, but said it would have to be done right to do the serious issue justice over the coming “weeks or months” before its release.

Her leave technically ends on Dec. 21, but MP Qaqqaq may not need to be back in Ottawa until the end of January, as Parliament is scheduled to take a break until Jan. 25 after a sitting in mid-December.

“There is no doubt that Nunavut would see a major drop in deaths by suicide if the federal government would just honour their obligations and provide adequate housing,” said Qaqqaq in the statement where she first announced her leave.

Qaqqaq, elected in 2019, is one of Canada’s youngest members of parliament at 25 years old, which is the average age of the population of Nunavut.

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(27) Comments:

  1. Posted by Melissa on

    What’s the point of this story? To bash our MP who’s taking a short break, as requested by her doctor? Shes still fighting for Nunavut. Let her rest for a moment.

    Thank you Mumilaaq for everything you do to fight for Nunavut.

    • Posted by Tyrion Lannister on

      8 weeks is not a “short break.” It’s a long break.

      Very few regular working people, the kind of people the NDP is supposed to represent, get the chance to just snap their fingers and say hey boss, I’m gonna take 8 weeks off work, see you later.

      If she has a genuine health problem, fine, take the time off. But this person has not said what this big health issue is and she has not even provided us with the date when she expects to return.

      This person is a federal MP making 170 thousand dollars a year and she owes us a lot more than a tweet wth cute little emoji in it, we need more transparency.

      • Posted by Mats Smallsacomber on

        Very good points here Tyrion.
        I just hope Mumilaaq doesn’t pull a disappearing act like
        Hunter Tootoo did.

      • Posted by Roberta Baikie-Andersen on

        I hope you never have to take leave to deal with health issues (and its obvious you have never had to up to this point) only then will you understand. The last time I was off leave for medical it was for over three months, I felt guilty about work getting left (and my position was running a direct programs and services position) but no matter how much my clients could benefit from me and my work there was no way the need could perform miracles and cure my health issues, I wish that’s all it would take. Or would you be happy and expecting her to work herself into the ground for everyone else, so basically sacrifice herself for you and others, because I don’t think that is in her job description, or anybody’s definition of a decent way to treat people.

  2. Posted by Does it matter anyway? on

    It’s not like her absence makes much difference in our day to day lives, even as the pandemic peaks?

  3. Posted by It Matters on

    It does matter. Her absence is a missing piece of the puzzle to advocating for Nunavut during the pandemic. Like coordinating messaging with stakeholders, governments, Inuit Orgs, and her colleagues to work with and hold to account the majority party. It’s missed time to recommend policy changes for the benefit of Nunavummiut, especially as governments across the country are responding to and dealing with the impacts of the pandemic. It’s tough being a rookie . It takes time to learn the game. I hope she has a good team. That’s the key.

  4. Posted by No Answer to Emails on

    I have written an MP twice in my life. Mumilaaq was one of them. Neither she nor her office responded or even acknowledged receipt of my questions. This was before the announced medical leave. Complete lack of service for Nunavummuit. I like the NDP but can’t say I have any faith in her ability to represent.

  5. Posted by Prescribed on

    The absence is recommended by a doctor for her health. It is very different from Hunter Tootoo disappearance. At least understand some basic things. The housing issue will not get resolved in a few more weeks. It has been a grief for Inuit since long time ago. Be kind.

  6. Posted by Uvaali on

    Mumilaaq wanted and got the position. Get a representative or someone to tweet/communicate daily to address homelessness which is extreme for some now with lockdowns and pandemic, cold, depression, lack of food, etc.
    Hire assistance if it is too much to handle on your own.

    Nunavunmiutat need help.

  7. Posted by Ever Stunning & Brave! on

    I really miss her commentary on twitter, she has proven to be a true warrior for social justice. The taking down and dismantling of oppressive systems, like resisting the patriarchy and cis hetero-norms, her rejection and ‘whiteness’ and ‘colonialism’ are all so inspiring to me. Her tweets really encapsulate such a powerful force. I fear that without her very brave vice the entire western project will creep back toward hegemony. For all her critics, every time you criticize her you prove her point!

  8. Posted by OF on

    What did she expect? Instant gratification? Unfortunately most 25 year olds are used to seeing results immediately, and that is not how things work. She went on a housing tour looked at houses to show that they were in disrepair — things everyone already knew. We’re in the middle of a pandemic and she’s on a stress leave? Reality check being an MP is stressful!
    At least Leona ran a full term, and has lots of political experience. Hopefully Nunavut will vote for Leona again next election. I put a lot of faith in Qaqqaq and now I understand I was being naive.

  9. Posted by Thomas Aggark on

    Nunavut shoildnt be a experiment for political sciences. Inuit are not mascots, same with government poilictical sciences.

    • Posted by Dazed and Confused on

      Thomas, what are actually trying to say here? I can’t make any sense of it…

  10. Posted by Support for Mumilaaq on

    This article, while factually accurate, is unfair. Unspoken and unwritten is the suggestion that our MP has failed/is failing in her duties. She is on medical leave. The same suggestion was not made when Dominic LeBlanc took leave to obtain treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma, when Seamus O’Regan took leave to attend addictions treatment. Indeed, they are encouraged to get well. Perhaps these are sentiments reserved only for men, and women aren’t afforded the same respect?

    While some MPs who become ill in office share details about their medical issues, it is their choice to do so. Our MP’s health is not for public consumption and she owes us nothing about her medical information.

    Get well, Mumilaaq, and know that your constituents support you and want you to take care of yourself.

    • Posted by Hurdy Gurdy Man on

      The point is we have no representation. If our MP needs to go on leave, that’s fine. But as her constituents some of us would like to know who we can turn to to act on her behalf in her absence.

    • Posted by Same but different on

      The difference between Mumilaaq and Domenic Leblanc/Seamus O’Reagan is that Leblanc and O’Reagan told us *WHY* they were taking medical leave.

  11. Posted by Sam on

    It’s a bad time in this world to be a politician,turn on any tv channel,you reap what you wish for,

  12. Posted by Young Trapper on

    – Please! Cut the MP some slack
    – She is young, passionate about her causes, and a politician caught in the midst of a pandemic… not an ideal place mentally, emotionally or physically for anyone no matter what your job or position in life is
    – Let’s be kind to each other
    – We are all in this together ❤👍

    • Posted by Ethos, Pathos, Logos on

      Strange how even the slightest criticism of our MP is taken so personally by so many people.
      Just a thought about your comments; being young and passionate are nice things to be, but they are not the only things you need to succeed in politics. Probably most important, a person needs to know how to work with others and build coalitions (even among people you don’t agree with) in order get things done.

  13. Posted by Kind and Critical on

    We can be kind and critical at the same time. Perhaps this article could have been written with fewer insinuations and more plain analysis of the situation, but I appreciate Nunatsiaq News bringing this situation to the public’s attention. Mumilaaq should be supported to take care of her health and honoured for taking on this tough role. At the same time, Nunavut needs consistent representation in Ottawa, now more than ever. So, we also need transparency about how that work is going and to find solutions if it isn’t happening.

    • Posted by represented by Mumilaaq on

      Mumilaaq has done a gret job were all others have failed , she has gotten the word out of our much needed housing crisis , whereas no other MP would be brave enough to even bring it up against the government of Canada, I commend her and she will return to tackle more issues for all of us realize it just wont happen overnight , Nunavut never had such a great and young representation fighting for their own people , she will continue to get smarter over time once she’s all caught up
      Nunavut has never had an Egalitarian person like Mumilaaq and she will continue on with her awesome work fighting in cabinet for all Nunavumeot. I commend her for promoting the equal status of all Nunavut people and for her philosophical perpectives on social and political concepts prioritizing her own people and that includes me.

      • Posted by Soothsayer on

        When you say Mumilaaq has succeeded where others have failed, I am honestly perplexed. What has she succeeded at? What has she accomplished that no one else has? The idea that she is the only MP to ever raise the profile of the housing crisis seems obviously false to me. It also suggests you must be a fairly young person to see it this way. Let’s be mindful that in and of itself ‘raising awareness of the housing shortage’ is a very low bar to pull oneself over.
        Also, you wax on nicely about her “philosophical perspectives” including some kind of egalitarianism, which, if I am being honest, I have seen very little evidence of. Also, when you say she has done “awesome work fighting in cabinet for all Nunavumeot” (sic) I am curious what you mean buy cabinet? Mumilaaq is not a member of the Federal Cabinet, let alone the ruling party, or even the opposition.

        • Posted by Unreal & Total Baloney on

          I was kind of wondering about her roll in cabinet! Why do people write this kind of vapid non-sense?

  14. Posted by Crystal Clarity on

    A very short time as MP has seen Mumilaaq unravelling at warp speed. Obviously the sounds of her odd posts and requests on social media are proof enough that she is not ready to be a MP. Everyone should feel empathy for someone who is obviously dealing with serious mental health issues but given that, it’s time for her to step aside as she is unable to fulfill her obligations. Not to be unkind but I find this whole scenario very unprofessional for an MP.Go and get yourself well but don’t leave your constituents empty handed.

  15. Posted by Unrepresented Again (Natually) on

    I said this aloud on the day she was elected: “She won’t finish her term.”

    Here we are in the middle of an unprecedented crisis, without a voice in Parliament. Anyone who followed her progressively irrational and rambling tweets saw this coming a mile down the road. Electing a youth with zero experience from a rump party, it turns out, was a colossal mistake. Now Nunavummiut truly are paying for that mistake. She should do the honourable thing and resign.

    • Posted by Unhappy Constituent on

      Interesting that you could see that. When she was elected I started following her on social media, but as you said her posts became progressively rambling and antagonistic toward non-indigenous peopled and the current government; think what you want about either but this is unbecoming of an MP. Chalk it up to a lack of maturity, indeed. In the end we need represented by someone capable of building bridges and relationships. She should be reminded who her real constituents are, hint; it’s not the angry mob of ‘progressive’ activists on twitter.

  16. Posted by Resident on

    In all fairness though, we will never have a real representative that can deliver because we only hold one seat in the parliament. We’ve had couple Ministerial MP but they still did really nothing for the regular folk unless you were a bigger business like folk.

    Previous Conservative MP never did make a difference for me or my grandparents state of affairs or many folk that I know for that matter. Previous Liberal MP to independent also did not do a lot either.

    Despite being young, this NDP MP voiced the opinions of many local, I mean real local people that did not migrate to get highly paid employment and say they call this place home.

    So please keep the banter to a smudge lower unless you plan on retiring and help raise your grand kids here in Nunavut.

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