Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut March 13, 2018 - 10:30 am

Nunavut minister defends criminal record vetting system for teachers

Man with recent criminal record hired as principal in Pond Inlet last December

Nunavut Finance Minister David Akeeagok defended the criminal record vetting system that's aimed at weeding out unsuitable applicants for jobs in Nunavut schools. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)
Nunavut Finance Minister David Akeeagok defended the criminal record vetting system that's aimed at weeding out unsuitable applicants for jobs in Nunavut schools. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)

Nunavut Finance Minister David Akeeagok rose in Nunavut’s assembly on Monday to defend what he called his department’s “high standard” for hiring teachers, in response to a question from Aivilik MLA Patterk Netser about whether the government has hired school workers with criminal records.

“People who are applying for senior leadership positions in our schools should be held to a very high standard,” Netser said on Monday, March 12.

Netser cited concerns brought to him by constituents, but did not name a specific individual or school.

This past December, Nunatsiaq News reported that the Government of Nunavut had hired a school principal at Nasivvik High School in Pond Inlet who had been convicted in 2016 on two counts of criminal harassment against an ex-girlfriend.

The man had committed those offences while working as a teacher in Prince Edward Island.

Akeeagok said teachers and “any of the senior staff within the schools,” are held to an “even higher” vulnerable sector security check, which is reserved for people who apply for work with children under 18 or for positions of authority over those who are vulnerable to harm.

“I thank the member for raising this and we are committed on making sure that we do have a good standard [for hiring], and consistent so everybody knows where our potential employees can come [from],” he said.

Under current GN hiring practices, outlined in its human resources manual, a criminal record does not necessarily prevent employment.

But all applicants must undergo criminal record checks, among other requirements, when applying for jobs that involve contact with children.

If a criminal record is discovered, the territorial government reserves the right to defer an offer of employment, or impose additional conditions or sanctions for the applicant to accept, the human resources manual says.

Netser admitted that a one-size-fits-all policy shouldn’t be applied to past criminal convictions, but stressed that people applying for jobs with authority over vulnerable individuals, like children, should receive special scrutiny.

“A qualified professional with a 20-year-old [impaired driving] conviction but a clean record since the incident should not be necessarily disqualified from working in our school for the rest of his or her life,” he said.

Akeeagok told Netser it is unlikely that he would be able to provide a percentage on how many of the GN’s roughly 5,490 positions are classified as positions of trust or highly sensitive.

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(22) Comments:

#1. Posted by iWonder on March 13, 2018

How many MLA’s would not be there if we held everyone to this standard?

#2. Posted by authority over children on March 13, 2018

#1 The MLA’s are talking openly.  The Government of Nunavut are voted in by the people of Nunavut.  The MLA’s are the people elected.  Trust the people who decide for themselves, and know that good changes are happening.

#3. Posted by Northern Guy on March 13, 2018

Good point #1, it would be a pretty empty house.

#4. Posted by Jane Dobson on March 13, 2018

Don’t worry ... he does not lose his position with the GN. He has been given a job at the department of education. It will be interesting to see if he returns to Pond Inlet as principal. There is a big difference between some one who had a DUI 20 years ago and someone who was convicted of criminal harassment of a female. Many of the female students in our school already have issues with men and harassment. Why would this convicted criminal, who has clearly demonstrated a lack of respect towards women, be hired at a school or in any public position for that matter?

#5. Posted by Old timer on March 13, 2018

#1 the MLAs are not hired to work with children and vulnerable teenagers, unless you count the other MLAs, some of whom are mentally similar to children.

Us old timers remember one of the biggest, most stupid mistakes that any Nunavut premier ever made.

This was back in 1999 when Paul Okalik the premier appointed the late James Arvaluk as Education Minister, even though Mr. Arvaluk had a criminal record for sexual assault and was a known problem drinker.

Education Minister. Think about that for a minute. A loser who couldn’t even get a job as a school janitor or be elected to a DEA because of his criminal record gets to be Education Minister.

That goes to show not only how batshit bonehead stupid Mr. Okalik was but also everybody around him in our proud noble Nunavut government.

I would say the situation is getting a little better these days. Its hard to see even lightweights like Mr. Quassa and Mr. Akeeagok ever doing anything that stupid ever again.

#6. Posted by Facts on March 13, 2018

Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the majority of Nunavut Education Ministers have had past troubles with the law. Sexual assault, alcohol-related problems, child abandonment, drunk driving ...

#7. Posted by Northern Guy on March 13, 2018

#5 no ... MLAs don’t work with kids or vulnerable individuals but the people of Nunavut do entrust them to administer over a Billion dollars of tax payers’ money on annual basis. Would you normally entrust someone with a criminal record with that level of financial responsibility?

#8. Posted by Wondering on March 13, 2018

Maybe during the next election, the MLA’s can have their list of charges under their names on the ballot box. I guarantee that people will different choices.
Pedophile VS clean record.

#9. Posted by What Did I Miss? on March 13, 2018

The former principal from Pond Inlet is still employed by the Department of Education.  His position involves going to any school within Nunavut and possibly supervising women. If someone was let go by a school in another part of Canada why wasn’t this caught before the hiring became finalized.  I am not sure this can be justified .  If only #Me Too would move northward.

#10. Posted by iWonder on March 14, 2018

#5 Thanks for the interesting story.

There are definitely some terrible flaws with the democratic systems we have today. We don’t have to look far to see that, as you surely know.

Some of us grew up under the fantasy that the people in such positions were always and somehow necessarily the right and best, and brightest.

I’m not sure how we will ever get there.

#11. Posted by Good question Netser on March 14, 2018

We must be the only government who would hire a principal with such a record.  The senior minions who allowed this practice are still there, so I guess there are no consequences for such poor judgement.

#12. Posted by Reality Bites on March 14, 2018

Sadly, there are no consequences for the senior managers who approved the decision to re-hire the individual from Pond Inlet.  It seems that the rules don’t apply the higher you move up in a department. It seems that the Department of Education doesn’t believe in libraries or VSCs.

#13. Posted by iThink on March 14, 2018

#11 I’m not so sure, this guy would probably make Secretary of Education in the Trump Administration.

#14. Posted by Really on March 14, 2018

Human Research Manual, a criminal record does not necessarily prevent employment.

In my time with GN I have witness every criminal record used against hiring an Inuk even to the positions that don’t directly involve being with people. Even if there no criminal record but if there is a thought person is likely not been stable or likely will is except. Or RCMP may have contact the person for information possibility for employment is lost.

Treatment have to be same for everyone,Human Resource Manual does not prevent an employment let it apply for all.

#15. Posted by Nunavummiut on March 14, 2018

My opinion on selection of cabinet is the same idea of voting a MLA. Popular vote. With the new caucaus each MLA gets to vote who the next MLA will be. Popular vote. The voted Premier since Nunavut was created has always been a resident of Baffin. Baffin has the most MLA representatives within the Government. Kitikmeot and Kivalliq never have stood a chance at becoming Premier. I had high hopes for Joe Savikataaq as he was such a professional person as an Inuk who recognizes the importance of working professionally with non Inuit. Sure we have issues with racism but that didn’t stop him from stating how important it is to have good working relations in and out of the office. But he had no chance as majority of MLA’s are from Baffin. Hence the title of Premier being a Baffinmiut. But they don’t seem to care what background the potential Ministers have. Again, popular vote. It doesn’t matter if the candidates standards are high. I presume the next Premier will be a Baffin Islander.

#16. Posted by Huh #15 on March 14, 2018

The last Premier was Taptuna from the Kitikmeot and I guess he didn’t leave much of an impression as you do not remember him.  There has to be a better way to select the government.  As it is just behind the doors selection system.  Why not look at a party system so we the people choose the government who will govern us.

#17. Posted by iRoll on March 14, 2018

#15 Where was our last Premier from? Baffin you say?

*mic drop*

#18. Posted by Might as well be the White House on March 14, 2018

People do deserve second chances, but in this case placing an individual in a position of authority with young women was not the best option to take.  Why do we still continue to place such a low value on women?  I guess “boys will be boys” matters more.

#19. Posted by Really? on March 14, 2018

People who want to substitute teach at the schools cannot have a criminal record.  But principals can? Why was this person promoted?

#20. Posted by Between Two Worlds on March 15, 2018

What most of you miss, is that his conviction was harassment of an EX-GIRLFRIEND.  This had nothing to do with the school system; no children were involved; no school district was involved.  This was a private matter.  Another knee jerk reaction from a panicked parent/teacher/staff/SSA’s point of view.

#21. Posted by Wake up No. 20 on March 16, 2018

He is a convict!  We try to tell children good behaviour and anti bullying preached by this and other governments.  Now we have a convicted bully leading a school.  Wake up Nunavut we deserve much better then this shit.

#22. Posted by Mr C's former student on March 16, 2018

I was his student before and you will not find a better,commited and hard worker than him. He went above and beyond.Cant even compare him to the teachers that leave the school the same time as the students. He is not a phodiphile leave him alone

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