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Representation of Elected Officials in Government: A Shared Federal Perspective

Tansi Nîtôtemtik

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq was the Nunavut NDP MP in the House of Commons, and during her two years as an elected official, she has been a transparent and outspoken voice for Indigenous rights and issues, such as the Nunavut housing crisis and the clean drinking water issues on First Nations territories.[1]

Over time in the House of Commons, Mumilaaq has had time to reflect on what the experience has been like to be an Inuk in this governmental system, and has honestly expressed a lack of faith about how Canada’s federal system has treated Indigenous peoples, and that she finds no pride in being Canadian.[2]

After announcing that she would not seek re-election, Mumilaaq was asked why she would leave when she has been an essential voice, especially for the Inuit, and she replied that even at 27 years of age, she has so much life to live. Her experiences have been lonely and isolating.[3] I think these all show how politics and the government can be filled with barriers and discouragement towards those who want to be involved in our government from an Indigenous perspective because these systems were not made for us, and arguably are still not modified to welcome us, which is expected but disappointing.

During Mumilaaq’s final House of Commons speech, she stated that “Nice words uttered by those with power who make no action hurts.”[4] She also stated, “For as long as these halls echo with empty promises instead of real action, I will not belong here.”[5] These thoughts are likely shared in other contexts in this country, and while we look forward to the impact of this federal election, let’s reflect on Mumilaaq’s experiences during her time at the House of Commons, and how we can work towards political and government Indigenous inclusion.

I suspect that this latest campaign and election will have little impact on the skepticism many Indigenous people have towards the Canadian government on account of how it has failed us Indigenous citizens, Indigenous MPs and allied officials who have tried to work from the inside. If we cannot be heard inside these governmental institutions as we work towards change and humanity, then how are we going to be heard from outside of them as voters, citizens, and fellow people of this land? But there is hope, and Mumilaaq Qaqqaq has given us a personal story into the reality of politics and has shown the future generations of Indigenous leaders and hopeful politicians what we are to face if down this path.

As voters, we all have an influence on who gets a seat, which parties become the majority and minority, and who is Prime Minister of Canada. Our government and political story are influenced by yours through your vote. So as always, with hopes for the future of our government, what is in a story? And how will you affect our new political one?

Until next time,

Team ReconciliAction YEG

[1] Sheena Goodyear, “Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq on leaving politics, and why she feels no pride in Canada”, CBC Radio (Jun 16, 2021) online: <>

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[5] Ibid at 00h:7m:06s.

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