NDP pledge to put youth first with 25-year-old candidate in Nunavut

The New Democratic Party has announced Mumilaaq Qaqqaq will be its candidate in Nunavut in the upcoming federal election. 

In an event held at the pavilion in Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park, Qaqqaq zeroed in on three campaign priorities: youth, housing and implementing the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples.  

Qaqqaq, 25, says the NDP offered her the ability to be herself in the campaign, though being a candidate wasn't part of her plan before this. 

"It wasn't in the plan to be in this position, and I think that can be really powerful, because it is a fresh perspective," she said. "It's an opportunity that came my way and I took it." 

She says she wants to be a leader to youth, which she called the largest demographic in the territory. 

Qaqqaq has spoken for youth before when she sat in the seat for Nunavut's member of Parliament in the House of Commons during a mock parliament on International Women's Day in 2017. 

Sara Frizzell/CBC

The Daughters of the Vote program was organized by Equal Voice to encourage women to participate in politics. 

Qaqqaq was one of 30 young women chosen to give a speech that day. She spoke about how hard it is for Inuit to face suicide alone. 

Recognizing diversity in Nunavut

Qaqqaq is originally from Baker Lake, but now lives in Iqaluit. 

Before she began campaigning, she was working as an Inuit employment officer with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. 

She has also worked as a wellness program specialist with the government of Nunavut and with Northern Youth Abroad. 

"Through my previous jobs, I feel that I have a really good grasp on understanding that there is big diversity, although we do often face the same issues," she said.

"Some [solutions] are going to make more sense in one side of the territory than the other." 

The NDP platform promises to put the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into Canadian law. 

NDP MP Romeo Saganash introduced a private member's bill that would have ensured federal laws are in harmony with UNDRIP. It passed in the House of Commons, but did not become law before the election. 

For Qaqqaq, making UNDRIP law in Canada would recognize the unique culture and distinct challenges Nunavummiut face.  

"That's the right to self-determination, that right to have schools and culture centres that makes sense for us," she said. 

The Green Party candidate for Nunavut is Douglas Roy. The election is on Oct. 21.