With advance polls open as of Sept. 10 and only one week to go before e-day, it’s important that we look at our priorities as individuals and as a territory in the lens of the swiftly-arriving federal election.
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) sent their Christmas list to the candidates, Aug. 24. Topping that is the completion of the Inuit Nunangat Policy and implementation of it within the first three months of a new government taking office.
The organization lists many recommendations, including building on existing COVID-19 relief measures and introducing new poverty reduction measures, addressing violence amid and against Indigenous communities and in the healthcare system, as well as for the government to “pledge major new and sustained investment in Inuit Nunangat to uphold Canada’s human rights obligations and support economic development.”
The most pressing part of all these issues is that all potential solutions must be Inuit-led and respectful of Inuit self-determination and governance.
The interconnected effects of the housing crisis affect food security, mental health, suicide risk, healthcare related to tuberculosis and COVID-19 and more, so it is no surprise to see that as a major plank in each party’s campaign platform.
Liberal candidate Pat Angnakak said during the prime minister’s Aug. 30 visit to the capital that “We all know very, very well what our housing needs are,” and believes partnerships with other Nunavut-based groups are the way forward to deal with the deficit of more than 3,000 housing units.
NDP candidate Lori Idlout wants to bring better resources and services in priority areas, “like more housing, renovating and retrofitting existing housing. Making more housing available for seniors and addressing the mold crisis.”
Rankin Inlet’s Laura MacKenzie, who is running as the Conservative Party’s rep, said tackling the housing crisis will require a multi-faceted approach.
She said she would like to see more communal retirement homes built in the territory to better support Elders before their care becomes critical and relieve some of the public housing need.
It’s also worth considering just how people will be able to get out their vote, especially when ballots still aren’t written in the territory’s language of majority, despite NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq’s recently tabled bill to that effect. Parliament was dissolved before the legislation could be passed.
Qaqqaq stated in June, “Reducing barriers must include respecting our languages.”
“I know that the federal government would say they’ve made advances in terms of the Indigenous Languages Act and I recognize how it talks about within Nunavut the federal government needs to provide services where there is capacity,” said Aluki Kotierk, president of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated. She added, though, it shouldn’t be reliant on capacity, it should be reliant on need.
“There certainly is a need within Nunavut when the public majority language is Inuktut.”
Elections Canada strives to hire workers from within their own communities who speak Inuktitut or Innuinaqtun, and interpretation services can also be arranged up to Sept. 14. Voters can bring their own interpreter to the polls if they choose, but Kotierk is right in saying it shouldn’t be the responsibility of voters to find interpreters to help them.
No matter whose views you align with, the only way to ensure they’ll be heard is to use your right to vote, however you’re most comfortable. And then do it all again in a little more than a month when we return to the polls for the territorial election Oct. 25.