A new challenge for Pat Angnakak

Patricia Angnakak sworn in as Nunavut’s first deputy commissioner.



IQALUIT — Nunavut’s first deputy commissioner has provens he’s capable of meeting a challenge.

A former nursing assistant who re-entered Grade 10 at age 24 while taking care of two children, Patricia Angnakak has had a busy week.

Now a mother of three, not only did she begin a new job with NTI, she was sworn in Monday as the first deputy commissioner of Nunavut.

The five-year appointment is not a full-time job, but she will be called upon when the Commissioner of Nunavut, Peter Irniq, is unable to attend a function. Angnakak was born in Toronto, but grew up in the North, and speaks Inuktitut fluently.

The commissioner’s customary responsibilities include recognizing individual achievements and becoming active in worthy non-political causes.

Angnakak played down her mature-student educational achievements after the ceremony, saying that if you want something badly enough, you just do it. And this latest endeavour, she says, will certainly be a challenge — one she’s ready for.

She’s only ever wanted to help people, and this new appointment is a perfect opportunity for her to do that, she says.

Once invited guests at the reception started dwindling, Angnakak spoke humbly of her accomplishment.

“I never expected this,” she said, adding most people don’t believe it, but she’s shy. Her thoughts the day Premier Paul Okalik called her to ask if he could submit her name to be considered for the position, she said, have faded.

“It was more of the feeling I remember,” she said. “Someone thought that highly of me to recommend me. I’m so in awe of these people around me and I’m in awe that they are looking at me.”

Irniq spoke highly of his new stand-in both during the swearing-in ceremony and afterwards.

“I’ve worked with Pat off and on over the course of 10 years and we’ve gotten to know each other well,” he said. “Obviously she’s a great leader and will do a lot to promote the needs of Nunavummiut.”

Angnakak added a bit of levity to the ceremony by thanking Justice Beverly Browne for “swearing at her,” then quickly corrected herself, smiling widely, thanking Browne for “swearing her in.”

“A sense of humour, yes, we need a lot of that today,” Irniq said later.

Angnakak said she likes things to be lively, but thinks she may have to learn to “de-personalize” some of her comments.

“I like to go in and be loud, that’s life you know,” she said. “It’s having fun and laughing.”

But she sees her new role as a serious one.

“To me the job means opportunities to bring together differences,” she said. “Nunavut to me is about all of us… working together to make Nunavut a better place for all of us.”

Angnakak’s first introduction to politics came after she left nursing and had her third child.

She has since been working in and with government and Inuit organizations in the political and economic development of Nunavut and will continue to sit on boards and work with organizations.

Many family members and friends were on hand for Angnakak’s big day, including her parents, Mike and Margaret Gardner, and her husband Archie, who waited until the ceremony was over to cheer loudly, “Yay Patty!”

“I guess I’m being biased,” her husband said later, “but what better choice than Pat.”

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