Angnakak talks bullying in the Nunavut government workplace
“Sometimes bullies don’t even know they’re bullies … or they make excuses”
For Pink Shirt Day on Thursday, Feb. 28, Iqaluit-Niaqunngu MLA Pat Angnakak wants Nunavummiut to know that telling your story when other people are bullying you can help.
“You have to have the courage to speak out,” Angnakak said.
“It’s the secrets that make it more entrenched. You have to tell someone what’s going on.”
The former minister, now a regular MLA, had talked about workplace bullying at the highest levels of the government in October when the premier removed her ministerial portfolios.
On Thursday night, after committee of the whole, Angnakak told Nunatsiaq News that bullying happens at all levels—especially for a woman in a male-dominated field.
“You have to stand up for yourself,” Angnakak said. “But you also need to have teamwork and support.”
While territorial government offices often do have processes for conflict management for disputes between staff, Angnakak said these need to be done independently and with more eyes on the file.
“The GN does not have a proper process for that now,” Angnakak said.
“It’s still happening”
Four months have passed since Angnakak was stripped of her ministerial portfolios on Oct. 24 for what the premier called breach of confidentiality.
Angnakak had read in the legislature from what Savikataaq called “confidential cabinet documents.” She afterwards said she did this based on a misunderstanding, after a government staffer had assured her that it would be permissible for her to do so.
On Oct. 26 she told Nunatsiaq News that months earlier, when she had been minister of health before another portfolio shuffle, she started to feel her efforts to make policy changes were being resisted.
Five days after her roles as minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corp. and for Qulliq Energy Corp. were re-assigned, MLAs passed a motion to censure cabinet.
While she does not dwell on the events that led her back to her regular MLA role, Angnakak said she does want to see the government try harder to improve toxic work environments.
“I have always raised the fact in the house that we need a fair and transparent process,” Angnakak said.
“Where it is not just you and the boss behind closed doors. Even though we like to say we don’t put up with that behaviour, it’s still happening.”
Excited for new HR department
A new human resources department is in the works.
Angnakak said she is hopeful this will help to reduce the bullying and toxic workplace behaviours she has seen at the upper levels of the GN bureaucracy.
“Sometimes bullies don’t even know they are bullies,” she added, or they make excuses.
She said this is common as a way to control situations when someone is not doing exactly what is asked.
“There were issues I wanted to push, that I wanted to see implemented but the bureaucracy did not,” Angnakak said.
She looks forward to seeing improvements.
“I got reassured today things will be done differently,” Angnakak said.
“I think there are real efforts being made—but it doesn’t mean that everything is hunky-dory.”