Three years after being elected, Bérubé set for first trip to Nunavik

MP to visit one Nunavik community next week on single-day trip

MP Sylvie Bérubé with a map of her riding, Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, in her Parliament Hill office. (Photo by Jeff Pelletier)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Updated Oct. 4 2022, at 5 p.m. ET.

Sylvie Bérubé will visit one Nunavik community next week during her first visit to the region since she was elected in 2019.

Three years after first being elected as the Bloc Québécois MP for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, Bérubé will visit Nunavik not only for her first time as an MP, but for the first time in her life.

“Since I was elected for a second time [in 2021], I said I would go to Nunavik as long as there were no pandemic-related issues or other,” Bérubé said in a French interview from her office in Ottawa on Thursday.

On Oct. 12, she and a member of her staff are set to fly from Gatineau, Que. to Aupaluk and back the same day, Eric St-Amant, Bérubé’s parliamentary assistant told Nunatsiaq News in an email Friday.

On Thursday, Bérubé had told Nunatsiaq News she was planning to visit Salluit, Aupaluk and Kuujjuaq.

But Bérubé was not able to find flights available to visit two other Nunavik communities on what was supposed to be a three-day visit to the region.

Both Bérubé and St. Amand said they would like to stay in the region longer if there were more options for accommodation in the communities.

Bérubé was first elected in Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou in 2019 after Roméo Saganash, the NDP incumbent, chose not to seek re-election.

Shortly after claiming victory, Bérubé told Nunatsiaq News she wanted to visit Nunavik in March 2020 to participate in Makivik Corp.’s annual general meeting.

But in March 2020, everyone’s plans changed as the COVID-19 pandemic sent the world into lockdown.

During the pandemic, the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services established strict rules to prevent COVID from entering.

Throughout 2020 and 2021, Bérubé said she didn’t want to risk bringing COVID-19 into Nunavik and so didn’t plan any new trips to the region.

“We started planning in February 2020 to go to Nunavik, but because of the pandemic we had to cancel the trip,” she said.

“It’s been many months and years that I’ve tried to go since I was elected, but there’s always been reasons that I couldn’t.”

In the meantime, she said she has had to rely on phone calls and email to stay in touch with constituents.

While she is in the region next week, Bérubé hopes to meet with mayors, local councils, students and any other community member who wants to speak with her.

Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou is one of the most expansive federal ridings in Canada, dwarfed in size only by Nunavut and Northwest Territories.

Ivujivik, the northernmost community in Nunavik, is nearly 1,600 kilometres away from Val-d’Or, which is Bérubé’s home base and one of the largest population centres.

The furthest north Bérubé said she has travelled is Radisson, which is one of the last places in the Jamésie region accessible by a road from the south.

She understands why people in Nunavik might feel like she hasn’t represented them as an MP, but said she wants to change that. After her trip next week, she said, she hopes to visit other communities in the spring.

“I want to learn about the issues and see how we can support them here,” Bérubé said, citing housing, food security and health care as some of the topics of concern to her.

“There are things the federal government can do, but there’s also the provincial government …. I will always work with the province on behalf of the riding.”

Back in 2019, former Makivik Corp. president Charlie Watt floated the idea of Nunavik having its own federal riding. Bérubé said she doesn’t see that as a realistic option.

Once Elections Canada completes its ridings redistribution in 2024 — a process it carries out every 10 years — it’s expected Quebec will have 78 seats.

Currently, most ridings in Quebec have a population ranging from 80,000 to 90,000, so giving Nunavik — a region with just over 14,000 residents — its own seat would be unlikely, Bérubé said.

“I’m very aware of the distinctiveness of Nunavik, but here in Ottawa we debate the weight of Quebec,” she said.

Bérubé said she’s headed to Nunavik with an open mind to listen to people and bring what they say back to Ottawa.

“It’s not that I never wanted to go, just circumstances came up and I wasn’t able to,” she said.

“When I got elected I said I’d work for everyone … I’m here for everyone.”

This story has been updated to note a change in Bérubé’s travel plan means she will only visit Aupaluk in her trip to Nunavik on Oct. 12. 

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(7) Comments:

  1. Posted by Umingmak on

    The way that this riding is set up is absurd. It’s intentionally drawn to disenfranchise Indigenous voters.

  2. Posted by George on

    3 years and Now just visiting?? What a con. Her own priorities are clear.

  3. Posted by Brian on

    Wow! She has had 3 years to plan this trip and all she can stay for is a day?

  4. Posted by Who cares about what? on

    It’s irreverent for her visit or not. People are discussing this, as thou there’s an otherwise chance that people like her can do something for Nunavik. What Nunavik receives from political processes are the left overs, status quo, same old , same year after year. I’m saying she’s not worth a wish from Nunavik for a visit, and if she comes , it’s her problem that she feels she has too. We in Nunavik wake up the next day, and life continues. Next?

  5. Posted by Cheskey on

    The swirl of instant ubiquitous media coverage (social media) means there is much greater pressure not only on each of us but that it is much more so for our elected. Less strife and more understanding is needed in this day and age.

  6. Posted by Stephen on

    Meanwhile in the real world, A more accurate and truer name is The United Corporations of America. The Neo Class are in charge, that which concentrates its wealth and power is what will be. Canada/Ottawa willingly acts on and at the directive of the USA, the Neo Class.

  7. Posted by JOHN ELL on

    This MP must be riding a pony to get to Nunavik.

Comments are closed.