A concerned Nunavummiuq is calling for a reprimand of MLA Cathy Towtongie after Towtongie again questioned whether people of all sexual orientations are accepted in Inuit society.

“As Inuit, we pride ourselves on being a tolerant, accepting people,” writes Anna Lambe, who expresses “extreme indignation” over MLA Cathy Towtongie questioning the status of two-spirited people in Inuit culture.
Benson Kua/Wikimedia Commons photo

Anna Lambe, a longtime resident of Iqaluit, wrote an open letter to the legislative assembly on Friday stating that to “invalidate the existence of two-spirited Inuit and LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) folk is absolutely unacceptable and intolerable.”

Lambe was responding to comments Towtongie made in the House on Thursday. The Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet MLA was speaking to a motion that denounced all forms of violence in Nunavut when she said, “I have read that two-spirited people is not the Inuit way of life. I believe in procreation and I believe that animals have babies and Inuit too, but I also believe if we don’t want violence in our community then we cannot just give it lip service, not just words.”

The motion, introduced by Family Services Minister Elisapee Sheutiapik, included LGBTQ2S+ people as needing protection from violence, Lambe pointed out in her letter. Towtongie, like the other MLAs who spoke against violence, was given a round of applause at the end of her speech. Lambe said any other politician who endorses Towtongie’s views is also deserving of censure.

“How this was not reprimanded the moment she concluded her statement shocks me,” Lambe wrote. “As Inuit, we pride ourselves on being a tolerant, accepting people… Cathy Towtongie does not speak for me as an Inuk in claiming two-spirit lives are not the Inuit way. Sexual fluidity and gender fluidity are parts of Inuit history that have been shamed, lost and only now are we again hearing stories of our ancestors that did not stigmatize gender and sexual identities… I strongly urge the legislative assembly of Nunavut to re-evaluate its values and beliefs in representing Nunavummiut in a fair and just manner.”

Towtongie was embroiled in a firestorm over the same issue in 2014 while president of land claims organization Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI). At that time, she questioned the role of same sex individuals within traditional Inuit culture. However, she later stated in an NTI news release that the organization promotes “an atmosphere of inclusivity, acceptance and tolerance.”



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  1. When i first read this i thought it was about inuit people that act more white LIKE the 90 percent qablunaaks that go south and try act more inuj than they ever did back home. In no way did i see it as something to do with sexuality till they mentioned it.

  2. In response to the person who wrote the letter….

    Clearly you did not understand what she meant. Before you jump into conclusions like this you may want to approach the individual as a human being and get a proper interpretation of what Cathy might have meant. People like you who go to media to accuse individuals who are trying to help (actually speaking on behalf of the people of Nunavut including you) or to reprimand them — to me tells me how your insecurities gets the best of you. I think you should have get a confirmation first to your mis-interpretations as she is one of the very few MLAs who speaks from heart and actually wants to help and is actually helping. If you don’t like how she talked then speak to your friends and make an argument between yourselves rather then going straight to media to get her reprimanded. Obviously your Inuktitut skills are limited that’s why you took it the wrong way.

  3. I have a right to say things… Which planet or which of people are LBGT anyway, when I see one, they look like regular sinner like me but they seem to display themselves as aggressive group of people just because someone said “no” … Come on! Be real n learn to take no as answer by other people… Pilusmajaangilusi come on! If you can’t then I am right … Group from another planet!…

  4. As a mother of children who are bi sexual and transgender. I find it disgusting that they are discriminated against. I’ve done my research and asked elders that I know about this and what I understand it was acceptable. There were instances of 2 women being too one man or 2 men married to one woman. No one questioned or cared about who was sleeping with who, it was all about survival. It was accepted!!!
    I see cathy as the Lynn Beyak of the north, she has no business being in politics with her single minded attitude. Im glad she isn’t my MLA, she embarrasses her riding with her statements, first telling her people to stop having babies now this, she is such a joke. Cathy does not speak for me!!!

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