The sole MP for Nunavut — who briefly withdrew from public life after a tour of housing conditions in the territory — says she will not seek re-election.
The NDP’s Mumilaaq Qaqqaq said Thursday she has decided, after consulting with family and friends, that the House of Commons “is not the place for me right now.”
Federal institutions, she said in a statement on Twitter, are not “easily changed [and] governments don’t help Indigenous peoples without an immense amount of pressure.”
Qaqqaq was elected in 2019 and has advocated for greater federal action on the territory’s housing crisis.
In the fall and winter of 2020, she travelled to several communities to learn about Inuit housing, to report on the disparities she saw first hand to Ottawa.
Qaqqaq withdrew from public life after the tour left her depressed, anxious and overwhelmed. “I couldn’t fathom … how leadership at the national level could be OK with people living in such horrendous conditions,” she told CBC’s The Sunday Edition, when she returned to public life in January.
After weeks of reflection and consultation with friends and family, I’ve decided not to seek re-election. <br><br>My full statement is here: <a href=”https://t.co/IJKEuBEt0l”>pic.twitter.com/IJKEuBEt0l</a>
Qaqqaq went on another, doctor-recommended two-week leave in late April, saying she continued to struggle with her mental health.
Last week, she stood in the House of Commons to lay out the disparities between what southerners and Northerners are told about staying safe during the pandemic.
“The fight against COVID-19 must include real investments in Northern housing,” she said on May 13.
Qaqqaq, who has called the federal government’s budget commitment of $25 million for Nunavut housing “laughable,” told MPs that “addressing the chronic housing crisis in Nunavut is a matter of public health, human rights and basic human dignity.”
In her statement, Qaqqaq said she was proud when NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh visited Nunavut to hear from residents. “The NDP is a party that wants to make the changes we need,” she said.
Until the end of her term, Qaqqaq said she plans to continue her fight for basic human rights, and to ensure that the proposed expansion of the Mary River Mine on north Baffin Island “respects all stakeholders.”
She also said she will table legislation to put Indigenous languages on federal ballots, which she said is needed in Nunavut where 65 per cent of people speak Inuktitut or Inuinnaqtun as a first language.
“I’m incredibly thankful for this opportunity to be able to bring a voice to the House of Commons that speaks truth and reality,” she said.
“Together, we have been able to show the reality we face in the North — the rates of death by suicide, the low availability of housing, and the struggles people face every day just for their own basic human rights — to the rest of Canada.”