Two hopefuls vie for NDP nomination in Nunavut

New Democrats in Nunavut can vote for Aliqa Illauq or Lori Idlout in early August

Lori Idlout (left) and Aliqa Illauq (right) have announced they are seeking the NDP’s nomination in Nunavut. (Photos provided by Lori Idlout and Aliqa Ilauq)

By Mélanie Ritchot

So far, the NDP is ahead of the election preparation game in Nunavut, with two potential candidates competing for the party’s nomination in the territory, while other parties haven’t publicly announced anyone in the running yet.

Aliqa Illauq announced she was vying for the job last week on social media, while Lori Idlout made her own announcement on Thursday in a news release. New Democrats need to pick a candidate for the next federal election after MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq announced in May she would not run for re-election to the position she won in 2019.

“I’ve been sincerely amazed with all the support I’ve been getting,” Idlout said in an interview Thursday.

As a 47-year-old Inuk lawyer, who was called to the bar in 2019, and an activist, she said she was waiting for the right time to put her name forward.

“I wanted to get more various life experience and make sure I have the skills and the support I need to run a successful campaign,” she said.

Idlout grew up in Nunavut, moving between Igloolik, Pond Inlet, Rankin Inlet and Chesterfield Inlet with her three siblings — most often returning to Igloolik, she said.

“When I speak Inuktitut, it’s with an Igloolik dialect.”

Now, she lives in Iqaluit where she practises law.

Idlout listed three main tenets of her platform.

She would build on the strength of Nunavummiut and make sure she is representing their concerns.

“If it’s housing, if it’s mental health, we’ll get them to be a priority.”

Secondly, Idlout said she wants to push for the NDP’s priorities that her own ideals align with, such as reforming the health-care system or providing universal childcare.

Third on her list is holding other parties accountable for broken promises to Nunavummiut and Inuit.

“A lot of promises have been broken for us,” she said, listing improved internet speeds or costs as an example.

Idlout said, as a lawyer, her skills would serve her well in Parliament.

Going to law school “gave me the analytical skills I need to respond to whatever comes my way and to deal with the pressures I might be faced with,” she said.

Knowing how to read legislation and regulations would also be put to good use, as would her negotiation experience, Idlout said.

“Whatever bills that might come to Parliament, I’ll have the ability to make sure laws we are passing will benefit Nunavummiut.”

Earlier this year, Idlout represented the Nuluujaat Land Guardians, who protested the expansion of Baffinland’s Mary River mine.

“They care so much about the environment and about the wildlife,” she said. “When it’s not protected, people have to be held to account.”

With Nunavut’s current MP recently speaking up about her experience with racism and not feeling safe in the House of Commons, Idlout said she’ll be able to handle it if she has a similar experience.

“I experienced that when I went to undergrad, I experienced that in law school,” she said. “It’s something that, unfortunately, has been a part of my life for many years and I feel prepared.”

Aliqa Illauq, 32, the second Inuk woman in the running to represent the NDP for Nunavut, said she had similar experiences dealing with racism.

“That is something I face very regularly,” Illauq said in an interview Thursday. “I’m not going in blindly.”

Illauq said she is “very excited” about the potential to be nominated, despite the competition.

“I really want to stress how important it is that Inuit, especially women, are getting into politics.”

“It just shows how fast and how far we have come,” she said. “Two Inuit women who both speak Inuktitut, it’s just a beautiful thing.”

Illauq was born in Clyde River, where her family lives, then moved to Saskatchewan and Ontario, before moving to Quebec where she now lives.

While she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in human rights and social justice at Carleton University, Illauq is also working as a consultant and researcher for the Indigenous-owned company Archipel Research.

Illauq said she has two types of education.

“I have my Inuit education, which is very much life education, and I have the western education and the experience living in the south.”

Her western education has given her an understanding of the system Inuit have been forced into and the issues she needs to bring forward, but her Inuit education is “so much” more important, she said.

“When you put those two together,” she said, “I think you can create a bridge that hasn’t really been implemented today.”

As the chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students, Illauq said she is involved in university politics at the national level and advocates for issues such as Indigenous language education in universities.

Illauq also works part-time for the current MP, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq.

“I’m always busy … It’s important to me that I try to create a better tomorrow for not only my children, but everybody’s children,” the mother of three said.

The main theme of Illauq’s platform is self-determination for Inuit, which encompasses things like job creation, the housing crisis and suicide prevention programming, she said.

“My main priority is self-determination and to give Inuit back their voices.”

Hearing conversations within communities, her family and colleagues, Illauq said “it’s scaring me because we should be in a better place.”

Illauq said she’s tired of losing friends and family members to suicide, of Inuit not having enough food to eat, or of babies getting rashes because of mold in homes.

“All this hurt, we can do something about it.”

Charlotte MacLeod, the NDP’s press secretary, confirmed nobody else has been approved to seek the nomination with the NDP in Nunavut, meaning Idlout and Illauq are the only ones in the running.

A nomination meeting where party members will pick their candidate will be scheduled for early August.

Generally, there needs to be 14 days’ notice to hold a contested nomination meeting, but with a minority government and the possibility Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could call a snap election, NDP executive officers voted to enact a policy that lets them close nominations and hold a vote with only seven days’ notice.

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(12) Comments:

  1. Posted by History Lesson? on

    “I really want to stress how important it is that Inuit, especially women, are getting into politics.”

    Is this a new development? For 18 years straight, from 1997 to 2015 Nunavut was represented by women in the House, as we have been again since 2019.

    • Posted by Pork Pie on

      It is a foundational belief in the social justice space that women are an oppressed group, and oppressed groups are and—critically—will always be victims. The result is that narratives around oppression, regardless of their contact with reality, are axiomatic truth.

      Consider the bad incentives at play here. Identifying injustice is the raison d’etre of the social justice movement, there can’t be a social justice movement without social injustice, so these must be found and identified. Equally important, to occupy a space where one can be called a victim confers a status that becomes a locus of power. This is not to deny that victims or injustices don’t exist, they clearly do exist in some spaces, but they do not exist in all spaces.

      If this sounds like an abstraction consider whether this resonates or not; it can never be said that women have achieved any of the goals of their feminist forebearers, especially those centered on political power. So, these are always at a distance, whether close or far. In this case they are close, which is a positive, until you consider that this is as close as they will ever be… equality (or the increasingly popular ‘equity’) is always in a state of becoming, never can it be said that it is in a state of being.

      There is mirroring of religion in all this, the state of enlightenment or salvation are always in process, there is no arrival point (except, perhaps, after one dies). So, much like the church, maintenance of the institution replaces the original goals of the movement, in this case equality and emancipation, which in turn become rhetorical props in the service of the institution.

    • Posted by Pain In The Groen on

      While what you say is true, I think the original statement speaks to politics and leadership in a broader sense. You’re nitpicking here.

      • Posted by Help us understand? on

        I don’t know, it seems fairly straightforward. Maybe you could clarify what you mean by ‘broader sense’?

        • Posted by More classic on

          This is so much fun so let’s fully explore how distant from reality the comment actually is: The thrust of the comment is to stress how important it is that Inuit are getting into politics. Well, as far as I know, Nunavut has only had Inuit MPs!!! Peter Itinuar, Nancy Karetak, Jack Anawak, Leona Agluqqaq, Hunter Tootoo and Mumillaaq Qaqqaq.
          Even territorially, the majority of MLAs have been Inuit.
          This is a classical example of a Nunavut candidate just taking a southern Indigenous talking point and using it without thinking whether it applies here which it doesn’t.

          A great Friday laugh. Hahahaha

          • Posted by That’s a Bingo on

            Absolutely, its mimicry and speech code, patterns that are taken for granted and tend to thrive in the absence of self awareness.

    • Posted by Classic on

      I love this comment! A classic example of a political candidate just saying something nice and politically correct without giving any thought whatsoever as to whether it’s relevant or applies to the situation. Love it!!
      People are so sick of the tired old platitudes which is what turns so many off with these candidates. These political wanabees will make the same old boilerplate promises: Vote for me and I’ll pressure Trudeau to build thousands of homes in every community. Vote for me and I’ll pressure Trudeau to have doctors in every community and a guaranteed income for everyone of 70k a year!! I suppose we shouldn’t expect anything different but it all gets pretty tired nonetheless.

  2. Posted by Name withheld on

    I would really like to see Nancy Karetak-Lindell run again but not for Conservative.. But Liberal !!

    • Posted by What do you mean? on

      Nancy was always a Liberal.

  3. Posted by Aputi on


    • Posted by Uvanga on

      But we need him in nunavut politics. He speak very well in the Inuit language.

  4. Posted by Change on

    Will they pick someone who is using social media, is young, and is fighting for the same things as Mumilaq. Or will they pick a lawyer with some experience and older


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