No more excuses: Money would fix Nunavut’s housing crisis but Ottawa doesn’t want to pay

‘If the federal government was seriously invested … we wouldn’t be having this conversation’

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq

Qaqqaq has a traditional Inuit face tattoo. Photo: APTN


NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq doesn’t want to hear anymore excuses about Nunavut’s housing crisis.

Constantly saying it will just take time has turned the housing situation into a humanitarian disaster.

“Ultimately, though, what it is, is money. If the federal government was seriously invested in the lives of northerners and the lives of Inuit we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” said Qaqqaq, on Nation to Nation, Thursday.

“What we do need to see is the federal government put their money where their mouth is.”

Qaqqaq isn’t just speaking from lived experience. She did a three-week trip two years ago visiting communities across Nunavut to get a better understanding of the housing disaster.

She found that the disaster is leading to deaths.

“What I saw was that the result of such severe neglect from the federal institution that people were now taking their own lives. That people were now in situations where they were maybe stuck in years of abuse and years of trauma and that these cycles were in full force and still being carried out due to the federal government,” said Qaqqaq.

Qaqqaq’s trip played a role in her stepping away for eight weeks to address burnout, depression and, ultimately, find balance among her work and personal life.

A report on that trip is expected to be released in the coming days.

Qaqqaq said everyone already knows the numbers, like how estimates put the price tag well over $1 billion needed to address the chronic shortages. Government statistics also show that 27.9 per cent of Nunavut homes have more than one person per room. In the rest of Canada, it’s just 3.4 per cent.

Nunatsiaq News reporter Jim Bell laid out more facts and statistics in a recent story saying Nunavut needs to ask for money in the next federal election.

But what many may not see is how it all trickles down to the community; how severe underfunding has impacted everyday life.

“When I look at all my comments, messages, emails, phone calls, meetings [and] interviews a lot of it ties right back to housing,” said Qaqqaq.

It’s a disaster across the country for First Nations, as well, said Kevin Hart, the Manitoba regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations.

“Historical failures by successive governments has resulted in a humanitarian crisis on our First Nations,” said Hart, on N2N.

Hart has long held the housing portfolio for the AFN and said he thinks Prime Minister Justin Trudeau understands the severity of the problem.

It comes down to whether Trudeau will address it.

Qaqqaq doesn’t believe he will.

“We always need to have hope and that is something that is very strong in our communities,” she said.

“Do I expect the federal government to do the right thing? I don’t.”

Catch Qaqqaq’s and Hart’s full interviews below.