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Bullying not limited to youth

Government of Nunavut committed to routing out harassment
Arijana Haramincic is the assistant deputy minister of human resources for the Government of Nunavut. Photo courtesy of Arijana Haramincic

Pink Shirt Day is an annual school event to combat bullying, but as any adults know, that kind of bad behaviour doesn’t end when high school is over.

In the workplace, bullying can take many forms, and the Government of Nunavut’s human resources department strives to prevent and resolve conflicts as they arise.

“The Government of Nunavut is committed to a workplace founded in Inuit societal values, which means providing a safe and respectful workplace free from all forms of harassment for all its employees,” said Arijana Haramincic, assistant deputy minister of human resources for the territory.

She explained that the term ‘bullying’ falls under the wider definition of harassment, which itself can take several forms.

Abuse of authority is one, and it’s when an employee uses power or authority in a management position improperly. Harassment can also include general harassment, which involves unwanted conduct, including email and social media, that violates a person’s dignity and can create an intimidating, humiliating or offensive environment. Situations that fall under this must relate to prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Human Rights Act, such as race or sexual orientation, whereas personal harassment involves the same factors at play but doesn’t have to be based on Human Rights Code.

Finally, sexual harassment involves unwanted sexual conduct, including email and social media, or an individual reasonably believing sexual circumstances have an impact on their job.

“All those forms can be both direct or indirect, and we would investigate regardless of the form,” explained Haramincic.

Asked about circumstances where an employee feels they have been harassed by a manager, but the manager feels the employee simply isn’t doing their job, Haramincic said “that is often an issue” and outlined the steps her department takes to narrow down where the truth is.

“Any individual that feels they’re being treated in an unfair way or harassing way, we’re encouraging them to provide information in regards to the situation,” said Haramincic about Government of Nunavut employees.

Once that complaint and information is provided, the government will evaluate the file, examining the information and considering all the submissions to see whether they meet the minimum threshold for a harassment investigation.

If it does, the government will then collect evidence and interview witnesses from all sides of the dispute and, based on that, determine if there was harassment or not.

Haramincic added that sometimes these circumstances arise from toxic environments, where her department will consider working with the team or division to come up with alternative dispute resolution options and provide mediation.

More information for how the GN handles human resources can be found at