A girl who was enrolled in a prestigious scholarship program alleges that former Northwest Territories premier Stephen Kakfwi sexually harassed her whereas serving as her mentor.
Cherry Smiley makes the allegation in a lawsuit she filed towards the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Basis, which runs this system. Smiley is looking for $1.25 million in damages, plus prices. Kakfwi himself is just not being sued.
The inspiration has but to reply to the lawsuit, first reported by Radio-Canada, which was filed within the Supreme Courtroom of British Columbia on Might 19. Not one of the allegations within the declare have been confirmed in courtroom.
In her assertion of declare, Smiley mentioned that through the second yr of this system, she was knowledgeable that Kakfwi could be her mentor for 2018. Smiley mentioned the muse organized a gathering in St. John’s for early June of that yr to permit students to satisfy and spend time with their mentors.
Smiley mentioned she and Kakfwi had dinner collectively at a restaurant the primary night. On the finish of dinner, he invited her to go to him at his house in Yellowknife. Smiley mentioned in her lawsuit the supply made her really feel uncomfortable.
After dinner, the 2 shared a cab again to the lodge the place they have been staying, in line with the assertion of declare. As they have been saying good night time within the empty lodge foyer, Smiley mentioned Kakfwi got here near her and grabbed her higher arm and squeezed it. He held her arm, rubbing and massaging it, till she panicked and pulled away.
She mentioned Kakfwi grabbed her arm in the identical means on the finish of the four-day gathering and repeated his invitation to go to him in Yellowknife, saying she may keep in his spare bed room.
Neither Smiley nor Kakfwi responded to calls and messages from CBC North.
The inspiration says it approached the allegation with “deep concern.”
In a press release signed by the vice-chair of the board of administrators, Dyane Adam, the muse says it “supported” Smiley, coated her authorized charges and organized “conferences together with her, her counselor, and her supporting companions.”
Smiley “subsequently made the choice to not file a proper grievance resulting in an unbiased investigation,” the assertion mentioned.
The inspiration additionally mentioned Smiley selected to not make a grievance to an exterior ombudsperson. It mentioned it is not going to make any additional touch upon the case.
‘Shaken, distressed and upset’
In her assertion of declare, Smiley mentioned the interactions with Kakfwi in St. John’s left her “very shaken, distressed and upset.” She mentioned she felt notably frightened and intimidated as a result of she wanted a beneficial reference letter from Kakfwi to obtain scholarship funding for the next yr.
Smiley was engaged on a doctorate diploma at Concordia College in Montreal specializing in male violence towards Indigenous ladies and ladies. She mentioned she relied on the funding from the muse to pay her residing bills and “lived in fixed worry” that it might be reduce off.
Smiley mentioned 4 days after the convention, she instructed the incoming president of the muse in regards to the incidents with Kakfwi. In keeping with the declare, Smiley subsequently detailed the incidents in an e-mail and mentioned she was not comfy having Kakfwi as her mentor.
In her lawsuit, Smiley mentioned that, in an emailed response, the incoming president mentioned “these incidents ought to by no means have taken place and I’m sorry you needed to cope with them.”
However Smiley mentioned that was one of many few examples of help she bought from the muse as she tried to get it to handle her grievance.
Within the assertion of declare, Smiley mentioned that, in a cellphone name days later, the muse’s CEO accused her of “blowing issues out of proportion,” and mentioned it was clear to her the CEO didn’t imagine her. She mentioned the muse later instructed her Kakfwi would not be her mentor and pressured her to signal a non-disclosure settlement that might have prevented her from speaking in regards to the matter.
‘Extremely delicate’ data
Smiley mentioned in her courtroom submitting that basis officers instructed her it was in her greatest curiosity to not speak about it, suggesting that if she did, Kakfwi may sue her and he may accuse the muse of racism. Kakfwi is Dene.
Smiley mentioned over the subsequent yr she slipped deeper into “despair, nervousness and worry” as she skilled delays in getting scholarship funds and was accused by the muse of getting “addictions points.”
The retaliation towards her peaked final December, Smiley alleges in her assertion of declare, when the chairman of the muse’s board of administrators attacked her in an e-mail that additionally disclosed “extremely delicate and confidential data pertaining to [Smiley] and the dealing with of her sexual harassment grievance towards Mr. Kakfwi.”
Smiley is asking the courtroom to order the muse to pay her $500,000 in damages for breach of contract, $500,000 for breach of confidence and $250,000 in punitive damages.
The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Basis defines itself as an unbiased charity with out political affiliation. It was created in 2001 to pay tribute to the previous prime minister. The group is piloting a management and mentoring program.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not concerned with the muse. Nonetheless, he had participated since its creation in 2001 till 2014. His brother, Alexandre Trudeau, represents their father’s property however doesn’t take part in its day-to-day actions. The federal authorities invested $125 million to fund the muse’s core operations in 2002.
Disclosure: Stephen Kakfwi is married to Marie Wilson, who’s a member of the board of administrators of CBC/Radio-Canada.