Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut December 01, 2017 - 3:43 pm

Quassa announces big shake-up within Nunavut’s civil service

Chris D’Arcy is gone, Kathy Okpik becomes GN’s most powerful bureaucrat

Kathy Okpik, the former deputy minister of education, talks to reporters at a briefing in Iqaluit held March 10, 2017. As of today, Okpik will serve as deputy minister of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs, the top non-elected job at the Government of Nunavut. (FILE PHOTO)
Kathy Okpik, the former deputy minister of education, talks to reporters at a briefing in Iqaluit held March 10, 2017. As of today, Okpik will serve as deputy minister of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs, the top non-elected job at the Government of Nunavut. (FILE PHOTO)
Chris D'Arcy, the former deputy minister of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs, has departed from the Government of Nunavut. He had been appointed to that position in July 2016, after serving five years as deputy minister in charge of the Department of Finance. (FILE PHOTO)
Chris D'Arcy, the former deputy minister of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs, has departed from the Government of Nunavut. He had been appointed to that position in July 2016, after serving five years as deputy minister in charge of the Department of Finance. (FILE PHOTO)

Veteran civil servant Chris D’Arcy has departed from the Government of Nunavut’s most powerful non-elected position and has been replaced by Kathy Okpik, the former deputy minister of Education, Premier Paul Quassa announced today.

D’Arcy had served as deputy minister of the Department of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs since July 2016, after serving five years as deputy minister in charge of the Department of Finance.

Okpik, the new head of EIA, had served as deputy minister of Education since July 2006.

Her appointment, and D’Arcy’s departure, are effective as of today, Dec. 1, 2017.

Also, Sherri Rowe is gone as deputy minister of Economic Development and Transportation and Rebekah Williams is gone as deputy minister of Family Services.

Effective Monday, Dec. 4, Yvonne Niego will move from assistant deputy minister of Justice to become the new deputy minister of Family Services.

Two other departments will also get new deputy ministers:

• As of Jan. 8, Pauloosie Suvega moves from deputy minister of Culture and Heritage to become deputy minister of Environment.

• Also as of Jan. 8, Louise Flaherty becomes deputy minister of Culture and Heritage.

And three GN entities now have acting bosses, effective today:

Bernie MacIsaac is now acting deputy minister of Economic Development and Transportation.

John MacDonald is now acting deputy minister of Education.

Elaine Uppahuak-Prusky is now acting president of Nunavut Arctic College.

The former president of Nunavut Arctic College, Joe Adla Kunuk, now holds the top political staff job within the premier’s office: principal secretary.

Hilary Casey will serve as Quassa’s press secretary.

“I would like to thank the outgoing senior managers for their dedication and commitment to the GN. Their efforts, abilities and successes are truly appreciated,” Quassa is quoted as saying in a news release.



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(39) Comments:

#1. Posted by IceClass on December 01, 2017

Considering the terrible state in which Kathy Okpik has left the education department, it doesn’t inspire confidence to see her promoted.

#2. Posted by Older teacher on December 01, 2017

Thank you Premier for changing the DM of Education. more than a decade of declining education standards especially in Inuktitut/English curriculum building.

I don’t agree with promoting her, I am not sure how that can happen based on her track record.

It will take some time to correct the terrible state the education department is in. Best of wishes for a better tomorrow.

#3. Posted by spaceballs on December 01, 2017

This reminds me of the movie Spaceballs, where at the very end the bad guys land on the planet of the apes and the monkey people say “There goes the neighbourhood.”

Some of these changes are good. But some of them are also scary.

#4. Posted by Mr. Chips on December 01, 2017

It’s always amusing to hear these people who want this person fired or that person fired. They think that whenever there is a problem all you have to do is find a scapegoat. Fire the scapegoat and all your problems will disappear.

Well, children, the real world does not work that way. Taking Kathy Okpik out of the education department will not improve anything. First of all, who do you replace her with? Who else in Nunavut has the experience and training to step into her shoes? Well, there are no Inuit in the department that I can think of and no Inuit anywhere else at the GN I can think of who can do a better job than she did. Who do you replace her with?

Mr. MacDonald is sort of qualified, but unfortunately, he comes from an inappropriate non-Inuit racial background, so it is not likely that Mr. Quassa will appoint him as permanent DM. Because of Nunavut’s sick racial politics, you can’t put a non-Inuit person in to run education any more.

Also, why is Kathy Okpik to blame for everything? Why is it her fault that young Inuit don’t want to become teachers? Why is it her fault that lazy NTEP grads bail out of teaching and apply for easier jobs where they don’t have to do any real work? Why is it her fault that incompetent curriculum developers produce crap curriculum that deserves to junked and put on shelves? Why is it Kathy Okpik’s fault that dysfunctional alcoholic parents refuse to send their kids to school?

It is not one person’s fault why education has failed in Nunavut. It is the whole society’s fault and demonizing one person will not change that. I know that bullying and trolling and negativity are traditional practices in Nunavut that everyone enjoys but ganging up on one person will change nothing.

Good luck to Ms. Okpik in her new position. She’s gonna need it.

#5. Posted by iThink on December 01, 2017

Great post #4. Very thoughtful. Bravo.

#6. Posted by Former teacher on December 01, 2017

“Why is it her fault that lazy NTEP grads bail out of teaching and apply for easier jobs where they don’t have to do any real work?”

Because the head of the department did a terrible job in supporting its teachers, Inuktitut teachers, we had to spend long evenings and weekends to make our own teaching materials because her department did not provide any. We do not have a curriculum to use, she has been there for more than a decade and how did her leadership improve the state of education in her department?

Yes it’s not all on her but a person in that role for more than a decade has a lot of influence and her record speaks for itself.

That is why most of us teachers have left because we could not continue spending so much of our time away from our families to try and teach with very little support. We got better paying jobs where we can go home at 5 and have weekends off. If that is lazy for you than you are a better person than us that left teaching.

#7. Posted by Mr. Chips on December 01, 2017

Quote from #6 “Inuktitut teachers, we had to spend long evenings and weekends to make our own teaching materials because her department did not provide any”

I have news for you, teaching is not a 9 to 5 job, it is a profession. Professionals are expected to work evenings and weekends if that is what it takes. Teachers all over Canada spend extra hours at home on prep time, there is nothing special about that. The other thing is extra-curricular activities like sports for the kids. Teachers are expected to put in extra time on this stuff too.

When NTEP grads start working in the schools a lot of them are shocked when they find out how hard it is. The other big problem is dealing with all the abusive parents.

This is what Ms. Aluki and the other little children at NTI cannot understand when they scream for 80 per cent Inuit teachers. They cannot understand that teaching is hard and takes commitment and self sacrifice and people who want to do that are hard to find in this territory.

#8. Posted by Tide change on December 01, 2017

What’s really happening here is a subtle but important change in terms of thinking and emphasis for this government. The previous government was very Qalunaat in its thinking and style with Chris Darcy and Keith Peterson calling the shots. It’s clear with the changes that the new government wants to go in the opposite direction and defer more to Inuit societal values in how they govern.

#9. Posted by Huh? on December 01, 2017

Louise Flaherty as DM of Culture and Heritage? OMG!!! Just one question: She co-owns Inhabit Media that regularly gets giant contracts from that department. Will she now give up her interest in that business?

#10. Posted by Fake Plastic Tree on December 02, 2017

#9 I expect you’ll be in for some disappointment if you think that “Inuit societal values” has any application or meaning in the context of a complex bureaucratic environment like the GN.

This is the dream though, that Inuit will by nature govern themselves better. You’ll probably find that the new administration will be, in most ways, much like the last one. Let’s just hope it’s competent enough.

#11. Posted by Too funny on December 02, 2017

Inuit or non Inuit the North is the most racial part of Canada where you are called names for not being Inuit.  What makes you better than everyone else.  It’s not the skin colour or where you are born, it is the individual and it is that qualified individual that will make the government succesful.  I’m sorry but I would always pick the right person for a job than one that is not qualified.  This is why the North will never succeed, once you can step away from your racist ways and except canada as a whole you will never move forward.

#12. Posted by 3rs on December 02, 2017

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!

#13. Posted by Lands CLaim on December 02, 2017

#11 - Learn your history….the Government is required to move in this direction. So if two candidates are equally qualified the government is suppose to move towards a representative work force. You say who is better for the job but that is a very subjective thing to say. What value are you placing on some ones cultural experiences, their ability to relate to the people the programs are designed for or their language skills. Or do you just care they have a masters degree. This entire Territory was formed from the sacrifices of a very specific group of people over several decades in order to better represent the people who have resided here for thousands of years and people wo have adopted that way of life. You call it racist out of ignorance of the context. Every government should strive to reflect the people they represent.

#14. Posted by Lands Claim on December 02, 2017

#10 - Inuit societal values DO have a meaning in the context of a complex bureaucratic environment. It is as simple as translating a document into Inuktitut or having an interpreter available at a multi-cultural meeting or community consultation. You are having respect for your co-workers.

Having an understanding when schools shut down for blizzard but the GN stays open that people cant get sitters and must go home. Your understanding of family comes first values.

The ISV are complex but they are the same concept of having a charter that governs your workplace. It is about inclusion and cooperation and respect. You are right that some concepts are far beyond what the Inuit society has dealt with in the past but by holding community consultations or sending out a questionnaire or by seeking others input before you draft a policy addressing these new issues you are incorporating ISV or at least being open to the concept. How about just adding an Inuktitut greeting to your email? wink

#15. Posted by Former Department of Finance Staff on December 02, 2017

Dear Premier Quassa,

Congratulations. Please keep making changes.

There are a lot of expensive problems on the books at Department of Finance, all other Departments and the spirit of the government are effected, the Associate Deputy Mister of Human Resources and Employee Relations should be thanked but replaced.

For a better tomorrow

#16. Posted by Go PQ GO on December 02, 2017

Way to move Mr. Premier.  It is good to see the shelfs at the ledge get a dusting. 

Education also needs a big makeover.

#17. Posted by Inuk on December 02, 2017

So many non Inuit on here running down Inuit. Many are so ignorant, not worth responding. My question always is are they be deliberately being ignorant or is that the best they can do?
Come on Inuit leaders lets begin the thought of forming our own country! Four regions can form a nation, we have a low population, with billions in resources. Let move on from Canada, that continually operates in a paternalist ways.

#18. Posted by Jobi on December 02, 2017

Glad CD is gone. Didn’t care for him. KO given another DM job is confusing. Should have let her go. As for rest of DMs looks like same ole bunch as every other time. I think Y. Niego could be a good one. Inuit and non-Inuit both say good things about her so that is good. Too bad not a MLA.

#19. Posted by CD Howe on December 02, 2017

They should have left YN in Justice, she’s been learning and all for what… on to the next department? How will anyone ever develop the expertise they need when they are being bounced around like this?

#20. Posted by Paul Murphy on December 02, 2017

Laughing at all you anonymous commenters.

Where is our lifelong resident of Iqaluit Ed Picco.

#21. Posted by Fake Plastic Tree on December 02, 2017

#14 Interesting that ISV boils down to an Inuktitut greeting in your email, or translated documents. These sound a bit superficial in terms of what counts as a “social value”. Is that really it?

#17 In my experience many Inuit have a very hard time accepting honest criticism from us “outsiders”. Some absolutely crumble.

Don’t take it so hard, maybe we can learn from each other.

#22. Posted by Need More Shake-ups on December 02, 2017

#s 8 & 15 agreed

Pat Angnakak and Keith Peterson could only do so much shake-up about Human Resources/Finance in last 8 yrs.

HR is left overs from Chris D’Arcy’s days when he was there. HR was opposite for anything close to Inuit Societal Values until I quit.

The GN will do great things with staff if the appointed ADM, her consultants and excluded staff are in a shake-up out.

Inuit and other employment and retention would improve if HR changes for better people, HR gives GN its real face, change it over to a good face smile

#23. Posted by Ottawa Person on December 02, 2017

I totally agree with Inuk # 17.
Let the Inuit have their own nation, and all the responsibility and
aggravation that goes with it.
Of course you will have to establish your own currency, housing, medical
services, and all the other things that make up the government of a
nation.  Law and order to name a few.
I am originally from Igloolik, and I choose to stay in Ottawa, my choice.
You go for it Inuk, I look forward to seeing your progress.

#24. Posted by Lands Claim on December 03, 2017

#21 - No it definitely does not boil down to a simple greeting in an email. But it is a start and it is a concrete way to demonstrate inclusion and consideration for others. I do not believe that is a superficial step, I believe that is a very real thing each and every person can do. Show respect for the culture and history that lead to the formation of Nunavut and the dominate language of the territory even if you do not use it to communicate in your office on the regular. It keeps you mindful of the people your decisions may impact that are outside your immediate circle of influence.

#25. Posted by Saving 5 Hard Decisions to Last? on December 03, 2017

More big changes are coming, but how much is more?

Education, ok, this one is coming

C&GS;, serves Municipalities, it’s complex and central to everything as that is where the people are based and live, doing relatively well in my estimation but lack of money, cost controls and accountability remain ongoing issues with housing and infrastructure in the mix. Interesting the GN is now advertising for a Director of Community Infrasture

Finance, it has 2 very different DMs with HR a well known problem section after yrs of audits, plans for a Public Service Commission and detailed discussion about HR issues in the Assembly.

Health, faced several audits and inquests, training and proper care rank this high

Justice, very complex, very important, challenges seem linked to lack of money and training

Out of the 5 Departments left, next to Education, Finance (HR) and Health look like the best candidates set for from the top priority changes

#26. Posted by Fake Plastic Tree on December 03, 2017

#24 I don’t disagree with anything in your post.

My issue is with the notion that we are on the verge of a sea change in the way the GN bureaucracy runs and ISV (a nebulous concept to begin with) is to be credited for that.

We have IQ principles posted all over the walls of our workplace. Are they being applied in a meaningful way? Would our workplace be any different without them there? Are IQ principles uniquely Inuit? Personally: I don’t think so. Though, they are nice reminders of how people should treat each other and work with each other.

Conversely, and often, I think the idea of ISV is one that is invoked not for its applicability, but because it is a indicator of identity, and it is a way to reinforce the distinction between ‘us’ and ‘them’.

#27. Posted by Morpheus on December 04, 2017

Take the blue pill, Neo.

#28. Posted by Too Easily Again! on December 04, 2017

Poster #11 (Too Funny) - we have not forgotten how non Inuit treated us when you first started coming here up until most recently - how degrading and downright racist you were non Inuit towards us.  Dog slaughters, relocated Inuit families for sovereignty reasons, Inuit children separated from their families to be assimilated…to name a few.  You think we can trust too easily again?

#29. Posted by Happy congrats on December 04, 2017

Hats off to Premier for making changes for the betterment of Nunavumiut hopefully he will clean up in directorial positions in some departments 🙏🏽

#30. Posted by Crystal Clarity on December 04, 2017

It’s not hard to see why more people don’t throw their hat into the ring to run for public office or work in the public sector. Doesn’t matter how hard you work or how good you are at your job you will never be good enough, never do good enough job. And what’s worse they can’t even defend themselves from the anonymous trolls who can basically write any garbage true or not. Are we such a hateful, jealous society?

#31. Posted by Sami on December 04, 2017

This is to #7, your comments really show ignorance and no awareness of what Inuit teachers have had to contend with because of lack of resources. What has KO, John McDonald and her staff done? They dismantled what started to work. It is true that it is part of what teachers do but not when they can’t order from Scholastics publishing company, order books from Amazon or anywhere else. Dialect issues still hasn’t been properly addressed, after almost 20 years. Much of the recent Inuktitut books from Inhabit media are apparently translated from English, even from Inuktitut to English and back to Inuktitut! Half of it is probably done too hastily because it is very literally translated from English. Poor quality. Highschool Inuit teachers or assistants make up things as they go along. So when will programs and resources be developed and training be provided for teaching in Inuktitut past grade 6? Kids are bored with Inuktitut because of all these reasons. Help!!!!

#32. Posted by Family Services on December 04, 2017

This Dept. needed a huge shake-up, starting at the top. It never, ever practised the IQ Principles.
It was “ruled” and everyone moved in lock step, as required.
Good for Paul!
Now Family Services, change your way of thinking or more will be gone.

#33. Posted by Putuguk on December 04, 2017

Thank you all former GN bosses for your hard work for us and best wishes for the future.

New GN bosses, best of luck in your new role and may there be plenty of people willing to assist you in being successful for all our sakes.

Let us not make such a big deal of who is charge over in Iqaluit. Everyone has rules to follow and work to be done, citizens that need help, whether your boss is white, brown or purple.

It is up to every GN worker be they ever so humble or mighty to do the best they can.

There are thousands of GN workers out there, not just a few DMs. Many are excellent, some could be doing better. 

See, one of those workers is picking their nose right now.

Please, whoever you are, whichever Department you work for, just stop picking your nose!

#34. Posted by HO...HO...HO on December 04, 2017

Christmas came early!  For your information, Department of Finance IS NOT the Government, it is one of the Departments OF the Government!

Come on baby, SHAKE, RATTLE and ROLL departments and positions!  Well, you’ll never do nothing to save your…


#35. Posted by Anonymous payback on December 04, 2017

I am always astounded at how easily people in Nunavut are so eager to criticize and be destructive towards others without having all the information. This was one of the reasons that prompted me to leave Nunavut after over a decade of giving my heart and soul to what I believed I was giving to.

There is absolutely now more than ever racial tensions between non-Inuit and Inuit. Mostly by Inuit who feel that they should have a more representative workforce. While I completely support this and especially in the field of education. Inuit should be making that career choice and making the commitment to their language and culture.

I have seen many Inuit not at all living the ISV and many non-Inuit living the ISV. But because they were non-Inuit no one cared or appreciated what they were doing. This commentary is more destructive than constructive and it often reflects what people with a very limited understanding of how governments work and the reach that it has in bringing about change.

#36. Posted by Easy does it on December 04, 2017

# 28,
    Very true what you say, but I have seen Eskimo or Inuit be just as
cruel and bad as Whites or Euros.
It is just in all our natures as people of planet Earth.
  I am so glad I left Africa for Canada.

#37. Posted by isv money on December 05, 2017

Inuit Societal Values are an industry now for funding and profit. And a very lucrative one at that. Sad to see.

#38. Posted by Former teacher on December 05, 2017

#31 I totally agree with you! Like #7 these guys have no clue what is going on with our education, the years of trying to work with this department and not getting any support or our concerns looked at.

This has gone on for a very long time and the head of this department has known for a very long time.

I am hoping with changes to the leadership we will see changes and improvements with our education.

#39. Posted by Toonik's Uncle on December 07, 2017

After education regional boards folded, everything went down hill, Inuit vision of control went with it.  Look back in education dept 20 yrs. people in charge don’t have confidence in their own dept so they sent their own children elsewhere to get education.  Still, they think they know what best for our kids.  Good teachers don’t just ship, lazy teachers do.

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