Rankin Inlet’s Laura MacKenzie says she plans to fight for all Nunavummiut if she is voted in as the next MP for Nunavut in the Sept. 20 federal election.
MacKenzie was announced as the candidate for the Conservative Party on Aug. 16.
In her campaign launch speech, MacKenzie said she decided to run for the Conservatives because the party’s values align with Inuit ones.
“The similarity between Inuit Qaujimajataqangit and Conservative principles is why I chose to run as a Conservative,” she said. “Inuit believed in pijitsirniq, which means ‘to serve others in order to improve the common good.’ This aligns with the Conservative Party’s belief in representing all northern Canadians.”
Among the issues she hopes to address, if elected, are Nunavut’s housing crisis, mental health, Elders care and sharing of resource royalties.
In an interview with Kivalliq News, MacKenzie said tackling the housing crisis will require a multi-faceted approach.
One of her suggestions is to hire more workers in the North in order to lower the construction costs for new home builds. She also said she would like to see more communal retirement homes built in the territory. Offering care earlier for Elders would allow them to transition into a space where they are comfortable before they develop critical health issues, she said. It would also have the added benefit of freeing up more homes for younger generations.
“Before they get into a high level of care, they should be able to live together. It would be similar to retirement homes down south,” she said.
One of her biggest plans is to keep more resource royalties in Nunavut. She said this would give Nunavummiut more control over funding and would make more money available for infrastructure and housing.
“If it’s our money and it’s in our territory, we’re going to be careful,” she said. “It’s all about devolution and bringing that back to Nunavut.”
In order to address Nunavut’s mental health gaps, MacKenzie said culturally sensitive resident counsellors need to be available to provide around-the-clock support to those in need.
“I really believe if we can do trauma-informed therapy delivered by Inuit in a culturally sensitive way, I think it would really work,” she said.
When it comes mandatory vaccinations, MacKenzie said while she is vaccinated and recommends others do so, she’s in favour of allowing people to make their own choice.
“You can’t force people,” she said. “Remember there was a whole residential school system where people were forced. I don’t believe in that.”
With the growing number of graves being uncovered at former residential school sites, MacKenzie said she would like to look into the possibility of offering funding to Nunavummiut who want to visit the graves of people buried outside the territory.
“There might be families that might want to visit their remains. There might be patients that had TB, who left and never saw their family. We have to look at that moving forward and say what will we do collectively to make sure that a person can visit that grave,” she said, adding that such visits would go hand in hand with trauma-informed therapy.
MacKenzie has more than 15 years experience working for the territorial government, most of which has been in her role as director of economic development and transportation.
She has also run several small businesses in addition to being involved with several non-profits, including Rankin Inlet daycare and shelter.
MacKenzie said her experience with government and running a business make her well-suited to get things done in Ottawa.
“It’s all about being able to sell what you want to do,” she said. “It’s being able to pitch as a politician but also as an insider from within.”