Recently my colleague and I had the opportunity to travel to Iqaluit, Nunavut in order to provide workplace investigation training. As part of my preparation for our trip, I was introduced to the concept of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, a term for Inuit traditional knowledge and information that is passed down through oral history, customs and traditions.

The guiding principles of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit are meant to be incorporated into all policies and workplaces within the Government of Nunavut and I found them to be a succinct and persuasive set of principles that could be incorporated into the expectations of any workplace in order to improve the experience of employees.

The principles are:

  • Innuqatigiitsiarniq: Respecting others, relationships and caring for people.
  • Tunnganarniq: fostering good spirit by being open, welcoming and inclusive.
  • Pijitsirniq: concept of serving.
  • Aajiiqatigiingniq: consensus decision making.
  • Pilimmaksarniq: concept of skills and knowledge acquisition.
  • Piliriqatigiingniq: working together for a common cause.
  • Qanuqtuurniq: being innovative and resourceful in seeking solutions.
  • Avatittingnik kamatsiarniq: respect and care for the land, animals and the environment.

The Nunavut Public Service Code of Values and Ethics developed more specific guiding principles that fall under these broader concepts, including:

  • Sulittiarniq – public servants must uphold the public trust by behaving honestly and with integrity;
  • Ajjigiiktitsiniq – public servants must carry out their responsibilities in a way that is, and that the public sees to be, fair, objective and impartial;
  • Ujjiqsuttiarniq – public servants must perform their work in a courteous and conscientious manner and be respectful of the needs and values of co-workers and the public they serve;
  • Iqqanaijaqtitiavauniq – public servants must seek to achieve high standards of service and use and manage resources in a responsible, economic and efficient manner.

From a workplace investigation perspective, we often deal with employers who are uncertain of what to do when they complete an investigation and have factual findings of behaviour that they find troubling but which does not meet the definition of harassment or bullying contained within their policy. By incorporating a set of guiding principles for behaviour, such as the IQ principles, into a policy aimed more broadly at respect in the workplace, an employer provides themselves with a clear framework for setting expectations of their employees. In addition, they also have a set of standards by which they can assess and address employee behaviour that falls short of harassment but nonetheless impacts the workplace.