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This is an incredibly difficult thing to write and put out there publicly. But I am fucking DONE protecting violent men (TW sexual assault) so here goes:
I'm upset that Johnny Issaluk has been chosen to receive an award from the Governor General of Canada, as well as an Indspire Award. I have written to both organizations asking them to retract their awards for him.
A decade ago, I cast him in one of my short films called Inuit High Kick. It’s a beautiful short film that I was very proud of, and he was magnificent in it. It played at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and shown in many places over the world.
However, over time I have come to regret putting him into my film and contributing to the escalation of his career, because I worry it may have helped him gain a higher public profile, giving him more opportunities to be around young women.
A few years after making that film, I happened to see him at a party at a friend’s house. While there, he grabbed/fondled my ass. There was zero flirtation beforehand, I was completely shocked by what he did. It was unexpected and uninvited.
It was unwanted touching. I didn’t know what to call it back then, and now I know what to call it - it’s #sexualassault.
I immediately yelled at him in front of whoever else was in the room, telling him it’s not cool to touch women without their permission and without any warning. He apologized profusely immediately on the spot.
I loudly told him to never touch me again, and to never touch other women without their permission ever again. He said yes, and apologized again a number of times. I decided to forgive him since he apologized, and I believe in second chances.
However, what happened next was unexpected. Because some other people witnessed me yelling at him, they came to me and told me their stories.
Over the years, I’ve heard many stories. Stories similar to mine, and also much, much worse. Many of them were 3rd/4th hand rumours. But several of them I heard directly from the women who experienced them. They told me they suffered violent physical & sexual assaults from him.
I will not repeat them here in detail, because they’re not my stories to tell. But I will tell you one thing: I believe them. I believe he can be abusive and violent and I cannot stand silently while he is celebrated with the country’s highest honours.
At first I decided to write privately and quietly to the Governor General’s office, and to the office of the Indspire Awards. However, I’ve been seeing posts and comments from multiple other Inuit women online expressing frustration without naming him.
They are so frustrated about men who are abusers being held up and celebrated while women who are trying to do good get bullied and criticized.
This winter, Kelly Fraser wrote a beautiful and powerful post on behalf of the @arnaqquasaaq Collective (which I am a part of) about sexual abuse, and the need for us all to work harder to prevent it and to protect our young people.
I loved what she wrote, and have decided that if I truly believe in it, I have to follow through with what it says.
It’s scary to name him, because he is a huge and powerful man, and I have good reason to believe he can be brutally violent. From now on, I will always be even more scared of him.
My fear of him is part of the reason I’ve continued to be polite to him over recent years, even after I came to believe he’s a violent creep.
But no more. I’m done awkwardly trying make sure I’m never alone with him without giving away the reason why. I’m done with the whispered warnings to other women.
I have been thinking of the numerous other women who I believe have been assaulted by Johnny, and how hard it is for them to see him celebrated. I want to say to them:

You matter. Your safety matters.
I’ve also been thinking about his family and friends, and how hard it will be for them to see what I’ve written, whether or not they agree with it. 💔
To his loved ones - the shame of what he’s done does not belong to you. I hate that this post might cause you pain, but through therapy I have come to realize that any pain you feel right now is not my fault - it’s his.
I thought long and hard about whether to post publicly about this. I chose to go public not to shame him, but for two reasons:
1. To let other possible victims of Johnny Issaluk know that I believe them.

2. To let other abusers know that times are changing. You cannot abuse people and assume you will get away with it.
It’s time for us to stop carrying the shame and blame of the abusers for them. It’s time to let them carry it themselves. It’s time to stop enabling them, and to make them responsible for their own healing.
If you have personal experience with Johnny Issaluk that causes you to believe he should not receive an award from Indspire or the Governor General, please feel free to join me in writing to them privately.
GG’s office:
Indspire Awards:
I am seeing so many brilliant and heartbreaking and beautiful hashtags coming up in comments and shares, I’m going to share them as they come up.

#believewomen #metoo #uvangalu #imnotnext #timesup #silencenomore
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