Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu candidate Pat Angnakak builds on years of experience
“I’m someone who decides I really want to do something, and then I do it”
When Pat Angnakak was 24, she had a decision to make.
Angnakak had dropped out of school at Grade 9. But at 24, she “was just so hungry for an education” that she went back to high school.
“I knew that was the only way I would have control over what I was going to do later on in my future,” Angnakak said.
From there, Angnakak hasn’t looked back. After graduating from Inuksuk High School and the nursing assistant program at Nunavut Arctic College, she went on to work for the territorial government and the federal government.
Now she’s running to become MLA for the riding of Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu.
Angnakak, 50, has served on the Surface Rights Tribunal, the Iqaluit District Education Authority, the Toonik Tyme Committee, and the Anglican church committee.
At the territorial level, she has worked as director of corporate priorities and served as an executive assistant to cabinet ministers over the past six years.
Angnakak also served as the first deputy commissioner for Nunavut and chief executive officer of the Kakivak Association, and worked with the federal government as an intergovernmental affairs director.
“I think my experience is through working with Inuit organizations and my work through [the] federal and Nunavut government provides me with an excellent foundation to do the job I’m seeking there,” Angnakak said.
Now, running as an MLA, she wants to bring her experience with education to the forefront.
“Obviously, like everyone else, I want to see a lot more people graduating. And I think that we can build upon what we already have in government,” Angnakak said.
That means supporting children by using tutors in subjects that they struggle with.
“Let’s work hard to get you up to that point where you can graduate at the academic level,” she said.
“We have students that go down south for post secondary education. Let’s get a better understanding of what they go through. Because I think there’s some real challenges there,” she said.
Education is just one of the many issues she said people in her riding have brought to her attention — along with housing and childcare.
“We need more support for people to own their own houses. We need more public housing units.”
Angnakak knows she’s running in a riding packed with candidates: Duncan Cunningham, Anne Crawford, Jack Anawak, Methusalah Kunuk and Sytukie Joamie.
But she says her chances of winning are “excellent.”
“I have a good connection here. I’ve lived here for a long time. A lot of people in my riding are long-termers. I can connect with them and I’m bilingual,” she said.
Connecting with constituents is big priority for Angnakak — she wants to create more dialogue between people and the government when policies are changed or created.
“I think we need to get a little closer to the people we represent,” she said. “And I really think this is why I’m running. I have some ideas on how to do that. And I really think, we need to connect with people.”
One way to establish this is by holding different kinds of consultations, like public policy forums “where we can debate and go over what it is we’re proposing as a government and [get] feedback,” Angnakak said.
Angnakak, an Inuktitut speaker, is the daughter of Rev. Mike Gardener, one of the first recipients of the Order of Nunavut.
She has never run as an MLA before and says, “it’s a little bit scary and exciting and it’s already teaching me a lot.” However, she’s up for the challenge. “I’m someone who decides I really want to do something, and then I do it.”