Nunavut MP apologizes for comments about fellow politician's Inuk identity

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IQALUIT, Nunavut — The member of Parliament for Nunavut has apologized for comments she made demanding a fellow politician prove her Inuk identity.

In a 33-minute live Twitter video posted Thursday, NDP member Mumilaaq Qaqqaq asks Labrador Liberal MP Yvonne Jones to prove her Inuk ancestry and claims Jones is not an Inuk.

In the now-deleted video, Qaqqaq says that southern Labrador, where Jones has said her family comes from, is not an Inuit region.

Qaqqaq apologized for the comments in a post on her social media accounts Friday.

"I want to fully apologize to everyone for my recent comments on Twitter that personally challenged the identity of Yvonne Jones," the post reads.

"The way that I commented was aggressive and disrespectful. I apologize for how I handled the situation."

Qaqqaq grew up in Baker Lake and worked for the Nunavut government before she elected in 2019.

Jones was first elected as MP for Labrador in 2013 and was mayor of her hometown of Mary's Harbour from 1991 to 1996.

In the Thursday video, Qaqqaq outlines her family tree, names her parents and asks Jones to do the same publicly.

"So Yvonne Jones, who is your family?" Qaqqaq repeats in the video

"I'm not going to apologize," Qaqqaq also says. "I know, until I am proven otherwise, Yvonne Jones is not Inuk.

"Until you can tell me who your family is, and where you come from, and how you're Inuk, and validate your Inukness, you have no space to say you're Inuk. Stop saying you're Inuk."

Last week, Qaqqaq also replied to a 2019 tweet from a blog called Indigenous Politics that referred to Jones as an Inuk.

"Jones is not an Inuk," Qaqqaq replied.

Jones demanded earlier this week in the House of Commons that Qaqqaq apologize for that comment.

"Her domination attitude is the most prevailing one I've heard in some time," Jones told the House of Commons.

She also said Qaqqaq's comments were "laterally viscous" and "threatening" to herself "as an Inuk woman."

Jones also said she is a "descendant of Inuk and white parents."

"I have never seen such disrespect from another parliamentarian in my 25 years of political office," Jones said.

Jones demanded Qaqqaq apologize and "stop committing racial erosion against her own culture."

The Canadian Press reached out to Jones for an interview, but her office said she was unavailable. Qaqqaq did not reply to an interview request.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 23, 2021.

Emma Tranter, The Canadian Press