House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was nunavut.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Independent MP for Nunavut (Nunavut)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 47% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Indigenous Languages Act May 9th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, as I pointed out, all the amendments that were brought forward when I was at committee were defeated. However, I did take the minister's word that he was looking for a solution and he would come up with an amendment that would keep everybody happy. It would be a compromise. It did not seem to be the case with my amendment.

The member has said that we are dealing with an amended bill, but none of the amendments deal with any of the issues that were raised by ITK or NTI. They stated publicly that the legislation was in no way co-developed with Inuit. As the member for Nunavut representing the largest population of Inuit in Canada, I cannot support the legislation because of the concerns they have raised, which were apparently ignored by the government.

Indigenous Languages Act May 9th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, to my recollection, that is the case. However, as the government House leader pointed out, some amendments were accepted. I would have to go back and check. When I was in attendance, all the ones that were brought forward by opposition at committee were defeated. However, I am not 100% sure if that is the exhaustive list of them.

Indigenous Languages Act May 9th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, as I said before, I agree with the principle of the legislation. The member is saying that we need to work together to continually improve things. I provided the Liberals an opportunity to do that and they chose to defeat the amendment.

I spoke with the minister. I was very cognizant to bring forward an amendment that fit within the scope and the mandate of what he had to work with. It would have given him the ability to open that door to work with Inuit. The Liberals chose to defeat that.

It was a lost opportunity. I wish the Liberals would have taken that opportunity. Bill C-91 would have been better for it.

Indigenous Languages Act May 9th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I cannot speak for the government as to the timing of the legislation, but I have heard it was trying to bring forward other pieces of legislation that were derailed. The Liberals felt they needed to bring something forward, so this was brought forward. ITK and NTI feel that this was rushed and that more time could have been taken to ensure it was done appropriately and better.

Indigenous Languages Act May 9th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the government and the Government House Leader for allowing me some time to speak to this legislation even though they know I am not speaking in support of it. I do appreciate the opportunity.

I think it is important that my voice be heard. I am the only Inuk in the House who can speak freely and vote with my conscience. I cannot in all good conscience support this legislation, because it excludes the Inuit language.

When I voted against Bill C-91 at second reading, I said I would bring forward an amendment, and I did. The minister said in the House that he was open to amendments and was hoping to find one that would work. I spoke with him personally about the intent of my amendment, and he seemed disposed to it.

It was a pretty innocuous amendment. ITK, which has spoken out and come out strongly against this legislation, would not have supported my amendment. Its members felt that the legislation did not go far enough, that it was not strong enough. They worked with my colleagues in the NDP to bring forward other amendments at committee.

In my discussions with the minister, he indicated to me that part of the problem with the amendments and what ITK was looking for with the legislation was that it did not fit the mandate and the scope of the legislation. I was very careful to draft my amendment to make sure that it fit within the scope and the mandate of the legislation.

Having sat on the other side, I understand that we are limited as to what we can and cannot do by the mandate that we have. I was very cognizant of that in bringing forward that amendment. My amendment simply left the door open for the minister to have the ability to work with Inuit for the inclusion of our language.

We have often heard the Prime Minister and ministers in the House claim that when it comes to committees, members are independent. We hear that they are not told how to vote at committee. I now know that is not the case. At this committee, we have the same old same old. All the Liberal members voted my amendment down, as they were told. In fact, they voted down every single opposition amendment.

I may be a little naive, but I am of the belief that committees of the House are supposed to be where all members, regardless of party affiliation, can work together to make improvements to legislation. Believe me, this legislation needs improving.

To vote down amendments without regard or consideration, simply because one is a Liberal and others are not, is childish politics. It has no place in our democracy.

In Nunavut, we govern by consensus. We have no political divisions. All members work together for the good of the people. We could use more of that in this place. Bill C-91 would be a better piece of legislation for it.

Last week, I asked the Prime Minister why, in the budget, he was funding ITK directly and bypassing the Government of Nunavut to deal with our housing and health care crises, even though the Government of Nunavut is the service provider. He got pretty hot under the collar. He was very agitated when he said, “I will make no apologies for a distinctions-based approach...”.

That is exactly the approach that ITK thought was being used when developing this legislation. However, it has become very clear that the government never had any intention of using it, and this is one of the major problems that ITK has with it.

In those comments, the Prime Minister seemed to be saying that for the budget he was taking a nation-to-nation approach with Inuit. Well, he cannot have it both ways, nation building with Inuit in one bill and excluding us on another.

This is very important legislation and long overdue. The preservation of languages is important to all cultures. Now, for the first time, we are recognizing indigenous languages, ensuring they are protected from extinction, just not all of them.

For that reason, because Inuit languages are not included in the legislation, I cannot support it. I look forward to any comments or questions from members.

Indigenous Affairs May 1st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

Recently, the government generously funded ITK to tackle critical issues facing the Inuit in Canada, like housing and health care. The problem is the majority of Canada's Inuit live in Nunavut. The Government of Nunavut has been cut out of the strategic planning and cut off from the funding. The Government of Nunavut is responsible for the delivery of programs and services, not ITK. Therefore, this makes no sense whatsoever.

Why has the Prime Minister failed to deal directly with the Government of Nunavut to ensure it has the resources to tackle these issues?

Governance in Nunavut May 1st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, when Nunavut was created, Inuit opted for a public government, full of hope that they would have the support of the federal government to build a place where we could live and prosper.

Fast forward 20 years, and the Government of Nunavut remains chronically underfunded, starved from the resources it needs to cope with issues and create a sustainable economy.

In many ways, life for Inuit is worse. Severely overcrowded housing has led to an alarming increase in TB, youth suicide rates are the highest in Canada and Inuit continue to live in third world conditions.

Canada is bypassing the Government of Nunavut in favour of side deals with ITK, funding it to come up with strategies to deal with these crises. ITK is a third party in all of this. It does not deliver programs and services to Inuit in Nunavut; the Government of Nunavut does.

To recap, Inuit in Nunavut are living in third world conditions, Canada is funding a third party to deal with the situation, and the Government of Nunavut, struggling to deliver programs and services, is sidelined.

What is wrong with this picture?

Indigenous Affairs March 19th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

His apology for abuse suffered 70 years ago by Inuit TB patients was appreciated.

Today the rate of TB among Inuit is 290 times that of non-indigenous Canadians, and we know why. A severe shortage of housing creates overcrowding and that is a major cause of TB in Nunavut.

Previously announced funding, although sounding good, does not even provide for two houses per community per year. Will he commit to action today and provide adequate funding to alleviate this severe housing crisis and make a real difference?

Health February 28th, 2019

[Member spoke in Inuktitut]


Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Indigenous Services will be aware that in my riding of Nunavut, there is not one mental health and addictions treatment facility. The need for such a facility has been well documented and is exemplified by the highest rates of suicide in the nation and alcohol and drug addiction. The Government of Nunavut has recognized this need and has identified it as a priority.

The previous minister stated in the House that she had heard the call for a treatment centre and looked forward to moving forward with this work. Will the minister commit to funding this much-needed centre?

Nunavut February 28th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, this week the Government of Canada announced $1.6 million in funding to support the Kivalliq hydro-fibre link. This project will significantly reduce Nunavut's dependency on fossil fuels and for the first time bring reliable Internet connectivity to communities in the Kivalliq region. This represents a big step toward building a sustainable economy for Nunavut, and I was proud to be a part of that effort.

However, a sustainable economy also requires the kind of social service supports most Canadians take for granted. In Nunavut there is not one mental health and addictions treatment facility, despite the fact that we have the highest suicide rate in Canada.

Addictions are causing untold damage to families and communities, tearing at the very fabric of our society. It took Canada decades to get on board with the hydro-fibre link project. I can only hope they will recognize this urgent need and work with the Government of Nunavut to make a mental health and addictions treatment facility a reality.