Parliamentary Relatives: Representing the Place of Spirits

Article 7 / 7 , Vol 45 No. 2 (Summer)

Parliamentary Relatives: Representing the Place of Spirits

The Newfoundland and Labrador electoral district of Torngat Mountains encompasses the whole northern portion of Labrador. It is the largest district geographically; covering approximately 28 per cent of the province’s total land area. Containing six Indigenous communities, none of which are accessible by road, the district is named for the awe-inspiring Torngat Mountain range. The name Torngat is derived from an Inuktitut word meaning ‘place of spirits’, and the entire region is an Inuit homeland.

Representation in the House of Assembly from this district has seen some impressive family connections. The current Member, Lela Evans has held the Torngat Mountains seat since the 2019 general election, when she defeated her cousin, Randy Edmunds by 145 votes. Randy represented the district from 2011 to 2019, and was the first Member to wear a traditional Inuit silapak in the House of Assembly. Lela’s uncle Wally Andersen represented the area from the general election on February 22, 1996 until his resignation in September of 2007.

These three Members share an inspiring maternal lineage. Muriel Andersen is Wally’s mother, and Lela’s and Randy’s grandmother. Muriel is an Inuit elder and a residential school survivor from Makkovik. Her children – including Wally, and Randy and Lela’s mothers – also attended residential schools in Labrador. Muriel is currently alive and well at 104 years of age, and still speaks her Inuktitut language.

These historical family linkages in the House of Assembly showcase the importance of connection to community, especially in the place of spirits.

Andrea Hyde
Information Specialist – Client Services
Newfoundland and Labrador Legislative Library