Welcome back, Mumilaaq

MP deserves credit for seeking help when she needed it

Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq returned to work Monday after taking a 10-week leave of absence she disclosed this week was to get help with mental health issues she was facing. (File photo)

By Corey Larocque

Nunavummiut should be glad to learn their member of Parliament, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, is back on the job. The rookie member of the NDP caucus resumed her public duties Monday, after taking a 10-week leave of absence to deal with mental health issues.

In October, when she began her leave of absence, she didn’t say much about why. But she broke her silence Tuesday, releasing a video message, one day after her office told Nunatsiaq News she would be “progressively” returning to work.

Countless former MPs have testified to, and historians have documented, the crushing toll public service can take. Too much time away from home. Never-ending pressure from constituents. The constant grind of working in an adversarial, hyper-partisan environment.

Now that we know Qaqqaq was dealing with “extreme burnout, depression and anxiety,” it’s a reminder there doesn’t need to be secrecy about getting help for mental health issues. There’s no shame. Everyone has a right to their privacy, but public figures surrender a bit of it because of their jobs.

Nunatsiaq News pushed for answers from Qaqqaq, her office and from the NDP because her constituents deserve to know what their elected representative was doing. That’s part of what a newspaper’s job is — to hold elected officials accountable for their job performance.

Every member of Parliament has important work to do. Qaqqaq had identified the need for a report on what she called “inhumane” housing conditions across the North. Nunavummiut — and all Canadians — need this important social issue to be addressed.

During Qaqqaq’s absence, some readers were critical of her role as MP or of the effectiveness of the NDP. That’s fair game in politics. They will get a formal opportunity to evaluate both in the next election, which — depending on how long Qaqqaq and her party’s leader, Jagmeet Singh, continue to support the Liberal minority government — could be just weeks away.

However, politics should not be personal. We all need to be charitable to our elected representatives. After all, they are a reflection of us. It brings to mind the touching words outgoing U.S. president George H. W. Bush wrote in a letter he left for his rival, incoming president Bill Clinton in 1993: “Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.”

Because she is Nunavut’s member of Parliament, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq’s success is the success of all Nunavummiut. To be successful at her job, she needs to enjoy good mental health.

In recent years, Canadian society has seen big changes in the way we think about mental health issues. When it comes to understanding the challenges people go through, we have become a kinder, gentler nation. There is still much more work to do in this area, however.

That’s why it is helpful for public figures to share their experiences.

We sincerely hope she is doing well. We are proud of her for recognizing that she needed help and for seeking it. In this regard, she is a role model for anyone who struggles with burnout, depression and anxiety.

There will be a time to judge Qaqqaq on her record as an MP.

But now is the time to commend her for doing what she needed to get well, and to wish her the best in resuming her role and Nunavut’s voice in the House of Commons.

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(26) Comments:

  1. Posted by Lisa P on

    She deserves a big statue on the 4 corners.

    • Posted by Mike V on

      Her and Dr. Patterson

    • Posted by Get real ok on

      No Lisa, not really

  2. Posted by Raven on

    Akuluk Trina.

  3. Posted by Still not impressed on

    The last thing we need is another housing report.
    There are currently unprecedented amounts of housing monies available from the federal government due to COVID-19.
    These monies will not last long. By the time our MP releases her report, the spending spree will likely be over.
    As our Federal MP, she has unfortunately delivered nothing to date but could be helping ensure that every municipality and relevant organization is applying for all the funding possible to build, buy or renovate housing for low income people.
    Sadly, it’s been much easier to go around crying “genocide” for the Twitter likes. In the end, it’s the people who are already suffering who suffer more when our leaders give us theatre with no product at the end.

    • Posted by Q & A Session w/ Nunatsiaq? on

      I’d be curious to know if she has read the Senate Report. If so, i’d also be curious what her thoughts on it might be?

  4. Posted by Quotation marks on

    Seems like she didn’t like this article, tweeted something about quotation marks and how media is bad.
    My advice to all public officials: DON’T READ THE MEDIA. Nothing good will come of it. Especially if you’re dealing with mental health issues. Use your well paid staff to summarize articles that you need to be aware of and ignore the rest.

    • Posted by No Moniker on

      I’ve often thought that for their own sanity politicians must avoid things like the comment section or new stories in general.

      I have followed this new source for over a decade and in all fairness they rarely, if ever, get tough on our politicians, and I can’t think of anything like the kind of unfairness that is implied by Mumilaaq on her latest twitter tirade. If anything, I’ve found Nunatsiaq to use kid gloves with our politicians (Leona may have brought out a little more ire at times), this case is certainly not one of the media lambasting our MP. The comments, on the other hand, have been tougher, but I think Mumilaaq is being naive if she believes the wording of these articles, or as you imply, the use of ‘quotation marks’ has somehow framed this issue in a way that has brought out the local ire… absurd

      All that said, I would encourage all readers of Nunatsiaq check out Mumilaaq’s twitter for themselves and to do their own assessments

  5. Posted by Ken Audit on

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if this MP reported on how much monies, per Nunavut Inuit souls, have been provided to Nunavut — for Inuit? Maybe then we would be better informed on how much assistance Canada (our tax dollar$) provides for Nunavut and Inuit. For this MP to say (previously reported) there is lack of caring, assistance and funding for Inuit is misinformation. I don’t believe lack of funds is the core issue.

    • Posted by Empty Suit on

      She has a similar approach to Aluki in this, no practical analysis or information, no obvious understanding of an issue or added nuance, just buzzsaws and angry rhetoric.

  6. Posted by truth on

    Truth is she is not qualified for the job. She has no experience, does not know the issues and can’t handle the stress.

  7. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    I’m not going to comment negatively on Ms. Qaqqaq’s time off for extreme burnout, depression, and mental health. It is a medical issue and I am not a health care professional. I do believe that it is difficult for anyone, either in the south or the north to assume the responsibilities of a MP and to deal with the pressure and workload.
    That doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t try to do the job without a great deal of previous experience, but I doubt that Ms. Qaqqaq was fully prepared for the responsibility and the workload. This is not unlike a number of GN MLAs who have quit after a short period of time in office.
    I don’t know how to fix this but to say to all of the political parties that they need to have better training and support systems in place. We do have apprenticeship programs for most trades, and internships and entry level positions for a lot of white collar jobs. I doubt that that exists for a political candidate at the national level with the NDP. Many candidates are seasoned political veterans, coming up through school boards, municipal, or provincial or territorial roles. This is less likely in Nunavut and maybe Ms. Qaqqaq should make sure that some of her assistants are from Nunavut, and that they get that experience.
    As for her other claims in her Facebook message I disagree with placing all the blame on previous Liberal and Conservative governments. Nunavut has been self governing since April 1999. I would have expected that she could come up with a more comprehensive solution than to just throw southern money at each and every problem.

    • Posted by Qanaq efforts on

      The people in or close to the Qanaq collective have made a noticeable effort to put younger progressive inuit in positions of power.
      I think on paper this made a lot of sense. There were/are too many older Inuit who talk big but don’t act and let white bureaucrats make all the decisions.
      But so far the push for younger Inuit has been moreorless a disaster. Too many bad fits. Aluki seemed like a ray of hope when she was first elected as NTI President, but that quickly turned into a mess. She hired a ton of the Qanaq folks, created a bunch of new positions. NTI has never been this irrelevant (and that’s saying something). Mumilaaq came from NTI too and propped up by these very people. Are these people who convinced her to run helping her out? Taking blame? Nah. It’s easier to just say “look at these awful comments online!” than to look at yourself in the mirror and say you failed.
      The good news is that maybe Qaqqaq will come out stronger. And if she runs for more elections, she won’t be that token young person with no experience anymore. But in order to get to that point, she’ll need to get over the victim blaming and do some solid work.

      • Posted by Jean-Pierre Proudhon on

        I agree. Mumilaaq was highly influenced the Qanak group in Iqaluit, but I doubt that any of them are lifting a finger to help her right now. Most of them are shallow arts types who may not have any knowledge or experience that could be worth sharing anyway.

        I also agree with you on Aluki. Her time at NTI has been a pure disaster and so many of her new hires raise serious questions about how the place is being run. NTI is in real trouble and nobody in government circles respects them anymore. What a disappointment.

        The retirement of John Merritt does not help teither. He kept various weak NTI presidents out of trouble for many years and he’s not around any more.

        Aluki’s big project, to promote new language policies and defeat the GN’s new Education Act was a total failure. After years of lobbying and grandstanding and wasting Inuit money opposing Bill 37 and Bill 25, she and NTI were unable to swing a single vote in the legislative assembly.

        Some of the Qanak people were involved in that Education Act campaign, putting all kinds of childish nonsense onto social media. Bill 25 passed unanimously. Aluki and her backers in the Qanak group couldn’t persuade even one single MLA to vote against Bill 25. A complete political failure.

        I am not optimistic about Mumilaaq’s chances for political survival, but the first thing she needs to do is find better advisors and distance herself from those people in the Qanak group who were propping her up. For the sake of her mental health she needs to find some grownup adult advisors to help her.

        • Posted by Pork Pie on

          Really enjoying the history lesson here on the Qanak Group, fascinating stuff. Thank you both for sharing.

        • Posted by No Moniker on

          “she needs to find some grownup adult advisors to help her.”

          I agree with you, but am not optimistic either.

          On the outside it appears the serious work is being ignored in favour of sloganeering and amplifying grievance. A dark magical thinking seems to animate a belief that if you loudly repeat ‘genocide,’ ‘colonialism,’ or sneer ‘racism’ and pout that people ‘don’t care!’ rivers of housing money will begin to flow.

          It might seem bizarre, but this is the NDP. I doubt anyone in the party expects their tactics to work, yet they continue to act on them like a serious strategy.

  8. Posted by Time is up on

    Reality check time. Its time to stop fetishizing people with zero political experience and know-how. MP isn’t a job you can just walk in to and get away with doing nothing.

  9. Posted by CB on

    This is good reporting, thank you Nunatsiaq News. At every opportunity we must individually and collectively take a stand against all forms of discrimination – no matter how skillfully disguised or denied. Thank you for this article which adds to the momentum of breaking down the stigma of mental illness, in this case in a young Inuk woman who is also an elected MP. Keep up this good work, please. To our MP, I wish a full recovery, hopefully supported by compassion and timely, effective services. “There is a crack in everything – it’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen

  10. Posted by Paul Murphy on

    This article was not reporting. This article is a one sided opinion of a member of the editorial team. Let’s be clear bout that.

  11. Posted by Agree on

    We have had hardly a schedule for vaccinations. We in Nunavut cannot travel anywhere outside NU, We in Nunavut are not in any position to be travelling anywhere. I have great difficulty with this whole approach to things. I agree with the comments that Mumilaaq is in a position/job for which she is woefully unqualified and unable to do.

  12. Posted by Family planning on

    The main culprit is the lack of family planing for Nunavut. Too much having fun without thinking of the consequences and this leads to first of all, lack of housing. Secondly, not enough motivation for 75% of kids to pursue a career. Most are content with welfare, and no one is talking about this. Our leaders need to talk about family planning.

    • Posted by Kiv Voter on

      This is definitely an important point — yes, slow down the birth rate — and so leaders (including the MP) need to talk about this often. RESULT: less pressure on housing and other strained resources in the territory, which will help a lot.
      Also, let’s hear all Inuit leaders speak often to get increased graduation rates for POST-secondary training — more people doing the training and, especially, more completing the training. RESULT: way more Inuit who will be qualified for well-paying jobs that come with staff housing or ability to be home-owners. Therefore, less pressure on public housing, etc.
      Please, leaders, speak loudly and often on these points!

  13. Posted by Eskimos Fan on

    Happy New Year Ms. Qaqqaq
    Hope you can tough out the rest of your session.
    Batter up!!?

  14. Posted by Once an Eskimo on

    Welcome back.
    I hope you can “tough out” the rest of your election agenda.
    Go Eskimos.❤

  15. Posted by Crystal Clarity on

    Poor me, crying, whining, complaining, and throw in the terms colonialism, residential schools (but you forgot to include the churches who carried out the day to day operations of those schools), federal day schools, systemic racism, suicide, food costs, sub-standard housing and poor housing maintenance (including the poor way a lot of people contribute to the decline in maintenance of their own house), don’t forget lateral violence which has become very popular etc… If you want to really do something useful for Nunavut work on employment and economic development and working towards self sufficiency and independence. Nunavut is almost entirely funded by federal dollars either directly or through 3rd parties like the RIO’s and others. All that money originates from the federal coffers. Nunavut is pretty much a welfare state. So if you want to do something really useful quit the whining ,crying and useless grandstanding and work on making Nunavut more self-sufficient instead of a hand it to me territory always waiting for a handout and “someone” else to improve the quality of life. If you are going to do this job, grow up and stop acting like a big baby whining and complaining about everything and actually do something. Bitching and complaining is easy to do from the other side of the isle, God knows Nunavummiut are good at complaining but it is a lot harder to make change. Work on that, then you’ll be doing something useful.

  16. Posted by AOC wanna B on

    She’s really after Nunatsiaq for their reporting. I don’t see anything bad said in the last few stories they did. Maybe spend more time trying to get funding for our communities than making up problems or Larping AOC on social media.

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