A 25-year-old New Democrat defeated Liberal and Conservative candidates to become the member of Parliament for Nunavut.
Mumilaaq Qaqqaq will be one of the youngest MPs in Canada after garnering 41 per cent of votes in the single-riding territory. The Liberals’ Megan Pizzo-Lyall followed with 31 per cent of votes, while the Conservatives’ Leona Aglukkaq received 25 per cent.
Qaqqaq reacted to her victory on Twitter on Tuesday, praising her opponents for their well-run campaigns.
“It was an honour to run for this seat against two strong Inuit women,” she wrote.
She will take over the seat from Hunter Tootoo, who was elected as a Liberal in 2015 but later became an Independent.
Qaqqaq, who had no previous political experience, has worked for the government of Nunavut as well as Inuit organizations and Nunavut’s power utility, mostly in Inuit employment and wellness.
Two years ago, she participated in Daughters of the Vote, a program that brings young women to the House of Commons to speak about their visions for their country and community. Qaqqaq’s speech, in which she spoke about tragically high rates of Inuit suicide, drew two standing ovations.
Qaqqaq said she doesn’t consider her relative inexperience and youth to be a disadvantage.
“I’m passionate and I know what I’m talking about it,” she said.
“(Youth) doesn’t mean I have less capability to do something. It’s not something that is a factor to me.”
She said that a strong voice from the north was absent from the House of Commons, and she hopes to fix that.
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde also reacted with optimism to the election results, saying the minority government offers an opportunity for Indigenous voices to be heard.
The fact that the Liberal and NDP platforms overlapped in many of their pledges to Indigenous Peoples bodes well for seeing those issues addressed, Bellegarde said.
“I think there’s going to be more pressure on Prime Minister Trudeau to make Canada work so it works for everybody, including First Nations people,” he added.
— With files from The Canadian Press