Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, 25, is Nunavut’s new member of Parliament.
She won for the New Democrats – the first time that party has won the seat since Nunavut became a territory 20 years ago.
“It was something so exciting,” she told APTN InFocus from her parents’ home in Baker Lake.
“It hit my parents first. It has yet to come to me, it’s something I’m still absorbing.”
Qaqqaq has worked various government jobs in the territory including as an employment adviser and wellness specialist, but she’s also a well-known activist and public speaker.
She said the first thing she plans to tackle when landing in Ottawa is getting the government of Canada to recognize that Indigenous people in this First World country still don’t enjoy basic human rights – particularly in the North where housing shortages have led to people living in tents in plywood shantytowns or under tarps in old boats.
“A roof over our head, a safe place to live, food to eat and clean water to drink,” Qaaqqaq said. “We need to, unfortunately, start with the very basics.”
Southerners who move to the North for jobs get first dibs on housing while many working Inuit struggle to afford to eat, despite a massive food subsidy program that doesn’t appear to be working.
APTN Investigates found Inuit forced to scavenge for food in the dump because grocers throw it out rather than reduce it to an affordable price.
Meanwhile, Niigaan Sinclair, a native studies professor and Winnipeg newspaper columnist, said Vote 2019 was a win for Indigenous candidates.
“We’ve got 10 Indigenous MPs – its still a record amount,” Sinclair said, adding many won ridings where Indigenous people are a small minority and were supported by non-Indigenous voters and organizers.
He went on to call it “a very weird election” overall, though.
“This is the first election in Canadian history where all the leaders treated it as a victory, which is absolutely crazy because they all lost something on some level,” Sinclair said.
WATCH MORE: APTN Investigates documentary Wasting Away .