Nunavut electors rank housing, suicide prevention as top priorities

Here’s a look at some of the ballot box issues in the country’s largest riding


When New Democrat MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq decided that she didn’t want to run for a second term, Nunavut’s single federal seat was back in play in an election now in full swing.

At the territorial level, Nunavut has no party politics under its consensus system. In the last decade, Nunavummiut have elected Conservative, Liberal and NDP members of Parliament.

Outside the Iqaluit post office, APTN News asked residents what they thought the biggest issues in the election were.

“I hear a lot of the candidates talking about housing and mental health, which is important,” said Lilly Parr. “I agree with them, and I think one of the biggest things is we should be focusing on before the election and after is housing.”

Wendy Tiglik agreed.

“Housing is most important, because everybody’s couch surfing, and they shouldn’t be doing that; they should be having housing,” said Tiglik. “My daughter even got off the list herself because she waited too long.”

Housing shouldn’t be a surprise, it was a major focus of the outgoing MP as well. It is also one of 15 priorities for Inuit this election as outlined by Inuit Tapariit Kanatami, the Inuit organization that represents Inuit all over Canada.

Under the Liberal government, ITK has had a more public role than under previous governments. When Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau appears on a Nunavut stage, he is usually surrounded by members of the Inuit organizations.

ITK President Natan Obed was in Iqaluit when Trudeau landed earlier this week. APTN read out some of ITK’s 15 items to Inuit in Iqaluit, and it seems like ITK read the room well. Housing is there. First up, ITK wants an Inuit-led suicide prevention program.

“Inuit led suicide prevention strategy is very important, because it’s led by Inuit, for Inuit, because we know ourselves the best,” said Parr.

“That should be most important, first of all,” said Tiglik. “Besides housing, suicide prevention should be number one.”

ITK calls for more food security in Inuit Nunangaat, another pressing issue. The issues facing Nunavut are easy to identify, and a whole lot harder to fix.

With election day looming, Nunavummiut now have to decide which candidate and party has the best plan.

Video Journalist / Iqaluit

Kent has been APTN’s Nunavut correspondent since 2007. In that time he has closely covered Inuit issues, including devolution and the controversial Nutrition North food subsidy. He has also worked for CKIQ-FM in Iqaluit and as a reporter for Nunavut News North.