Former MLA for Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu and territorial health minister Pat Angnakak is running under the Liberal banner for the upcoming federal election on Sept. 20. She is seeking to turn the seat back to red following Mumilaaq Qaqqaq’s win for the NDP in 2019.
Among her priorities if elected are housing, mental health, senior care and food security.
“I thought this was a great transition for me, to become an MP. I want to continue to be a voice for Nunavummiut and I know I can do it at the MP level,” she said, explaining why she decided to run.
As to why she chose the Liberals, she cites continued federal investments toward Nunavut despite not having a seat at the table, such as Iqaluit’s deep-sea port.
“Over the last few years, Nunavut has not had a voice at that table and still the Liberal government’s eye was on Nunavut.”
The biggest matter on Angnakak’s plate, she says, is largely housing. A matter which has received quite a bit of attention from Liberal leadership.
On Aug. 30, during a very brief visit to Iqaluit, Liberal leader and prime minister Justin Trudeau announced a $360 million housing investment for Nunavut as part of a national $2-billion commitment towards Indigenous housing in Canada.
When it comes to her overall approach to housing, working with other Nunavut groups is one path forward.
“I have some ideas on how we can approach this, I really do believe that partnerships are the way to go. We have more than 3,000 units that are needed,” Angnakak said.
She also hopes to develop a strategy alongside the government of Nunavut and regional Inuit Organizations. Angnakak sees it as a problem for all Nunavummiut which should be addressed by Nunavummiut.
“I think everybody’s priority in Nunavut is housing, it affects everybody very personally. It’s something that needs to be addressed.”
Mental health, Nutrition North and senior care
Another matter she hopes to address if elected is mental health supports in Nunavut.
“Everyone knows in Nunavut that we have a lot of people that require help and they have no place to go.”
She’d like to see a more local approach outside of Iqaluit alongside the new Nunavut Recovery Centre, Angnakak says, with wellness hubs at the community level.
Better access to healthcare is also going to be one of Angnakak’s priorities, particularly when it comes to expanded home care service for seniors and even more so for those who have dementia, “where our Elders with dementia can be cared for in Nunavut and not be sent away.”
Angnakak’s plan for food security includes expanded school food programs with more community involvement.
“This needs to be done in conjunction with the community. It would be great to get parents involved with feeding their own children at the school,” said Angnakak.
She also wants to see Nutrition North overhauled, to find out how it can work better for Nunavummiut.
This summer, starting in Kamloops on May 20, ongoing searches continue to locate bodies of children at former residential school grounds all over the country.
“I really feel deeply for people who are going through that, for people who lost loved ones and didn’t know where they were,” Angnakak said.
Angnakak says she believes further investigation is needed, but also discussion on where to go from here and what the path to healing looks like.