Meet the candidates: Pat Angnakak hopes to bring territorial experience to federal stage

·5 min read
Pat Angnakak, a two-term MLA for Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu, is competing to represent Nunavut as the next Liberal MP. (Nunavut Legislative Assembly - image credit)
Pat Angnakak, a two-term MLA for Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu, is competing to represent Nunavut as the next Liberal MP. (Nunavut Legislative Assembly - image credit)

This is part of a series of profiles of Nunavut's federal election candidates.

All candidates were asked the same questions. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Pat Angnakak, a two-term MLA for Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu, was born in Kinngait, Nunavut, formerly known as Cape Dorset, and moved to Iqaluit in 1980. She is fluent in both English and Inuktitut.

Angnakak was elected to Nunavut's legislature in 2013 and re-elected again in 2017 where she was named minister of health, and later housing, before being stripped of the housing portfolio after what Premier Joe Savikataaq characterized as a "serious breach of cabinet confidentiality," (though Angnakak disputed that characterization).

Why are you running?

I'm running for the Liberal Party MP, because I feel that the party brings the best hope for meaningful change. I've lived in Nunavut all my life. I speak Inuktitut, I know what the issues are, and I think in my previous role as MLA, many of the issues that we're hearing about today, are ones that I have raised in the House. So I'm very aware of them. And I feel that I can be a real voice at the table.

What main issue will you focus on the most?

There are lots of issues to focus on, but my main ones are going to be on housing, mental health, elder care and nutrition north. Those are the four big ones, and then I know there's a lot of other things, too, that we also need to address.

Why are you running for a spot with the Liberal Party?

I really felt that the Liberal Party has the best hope of bringing meaningful change to Nunavut. They know about Nunavut issues, they provided funding, I know there's a lot more that's needed, but we're not going to have to start off like at square one again with a different party. So that's why I chose a Liberal government. And I align with their priorities and feel that they're our best hope in the future.

How will you represent your party's platform?

I hope to be a good representative. I want to be the voice, I want to bring my experience to the table. I think it's important that we bring meaningful change in a stable way to Nunavut. I think that using all of these resources that I have used in the past, I can bring forward meaningful conversations. I could be the voice for Nunavummiut and feel that this is a great transition for me, to represent Nunavummiut from being MLA to being MP.

How will you represent the needs of Nunavut and Nunavummuit to Ottawa?

I will be there for one thing. I will attend all meetings and be there. I know the issues so I can talk about them and I can advocate and I can push for them. I live in the Nunavut, I've lived here all my life, so I personally know what a lot of these needs are, not only as a resident of Nunavut, but also in my last role as MLA, so I can bring that experience. And that's how I can best advocate for Nunavummiut.

What do you think the challenges will be if you get elected to represent Nunavut and how do you plan to overcome them?

I expect to be lots of challenges. It's always been hard, I think, for Nunavummuit to be heard, compared to the rest of Canada. I think there's a lot of work that needs to be done there, but it needs to be done in partnership as well, with Nunavummuit, with the Nunavut government, with the Inuit associations. We all need to work together to make sure that Nunavut is at the table. We need to make sure that these issues that are important to Nunavummiut are brought forward and that the government is hearing us. I promise to do my best in all of this to try and bring forward these issues in a way that everyone will hear what we need. Hopefully we'll see some action, more action on some of these issues.

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq last spoke out about how difficult it is to have a voice in parliament, racial profiling systems of up for opposition against women and being indigenous and her age. How are you planning to do your job in that environment?

I'm a woman and I've had many roles in my life and jobs and I have seen that before. I think it's very good that she brought that up publicly because we need to talk about things like that in order to stop them. I would not accept that kind of behaviour. I think I would speak out about it. It's something that I think all Canadians are getting more and more aware of Nunavummiut and so I feel that that's also beneficial so that people are less likely to do that, hopefully, because, then they get in the public eye. It's not a thing that should be accepted or tolerated.

What are you going to be doing to campaign?

We are working on some media platforms, sites, some radio announcements will probably come through soon. I plan on traveling to some of the communities, and I'm just contacting people through the phone and getting support that way as well.

What do you think the challenges will be to representing such a big riding?

The challenges will definitely be there. It is a big riding, people have different ideas and different regions, different challenges and different ideas and issues. So I'm going to have to be able to look at all of that and go from there. It will be a challenge, but I think it's doable and it's something that I can meet.

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