Allegations of sexual impropriety are mounting against The Terror and Murdoch Mysteries star Johnny Issaluk.
Inuk filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril described an incident of “unwanted touching” by the Inuk actor in Facebook and Twitter posts on Feb. 5.
On Feb. 7, Arctic adventure company Sedna Epic Expedition, which had hired Issaluk as an Inuit cultural adviser, wrote on its Facebook page: “Subsequent to our return from Norway, Sedna’s leadership team became aware that Johnny had acted inappropriately in Tromso, making unwanted advances towards several of the women (ages 21 to 78 years) which made them feel uncomfortable.”
The organization states it requested and received his resignation in December.
“The pattern of abuse will continue until we all unapologetically speak up and continue to do so until these men understand that it is our human right as equals to be safe and free from abuse. Empty apologies are no longer enough. Continued abuse is not acceptable! Alethea I stand with you!” stated Pamela Martin, one of the women on the Sedna Epic Expedition to Trosmo.
Arnaquq-Baril, who was upset Issaluk had been chosen to receive an Indspire Award last December, encouraged others to join her in writing to retract his award. The organization has since suspended the award after allegations of Issaluk’s inappropriate behaviour became public.
Arnaquq-Baril declined an interview with Nunavut News but stated on social media that the alleged touching incident took place a few years after the filmmaker had cast Issaluk in her short film a decade ago.
While at a party, the actor had “grabbed/fondled” her bum, she wrote.
Arnaquq-Baril stated that she publicly confronted him about his behaviour.
“I loudly told him to never touch me again and to never touch other women without their permission ever again,” she stated in a social media post.
He apologized several times and Arnaquq-Baril decided to forgive him.
“I didn’t know what to call it back then and now I know what to call it – it’s #sexualassault,” she wrote.
“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.”
None of the allegations against Issaluk have been tested in court.
Arnaquq-Baril also stated for years she had heard “many” stories of women who “suffered violent physical and sexual assaults from him.”
“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.” she wrote on social media.
According to Indspire’s website, the award “represents the highest honour the Indigenous community bestows upon its own people.”
Attempts to reach Issaluk for comment were unsuccessful but he did issue a statement to CBC and Nunatsiaq News on Feb. 14 apologizing for his actions.
“There are no words to express my grief and regret for the pain I have caused. To those I have harmed by my actions: I am truly, truly sorry,” the message states.
“It was never my intention to hurt anybody, but I know I did. By not healing from my own trauma, I have hurt others.”
According to APTN News, Issaluk is no longer an “Explorer-In-Residence” for the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. He has resigned from his position.
The Royal Canadian Geographical Society has yet to respond to an interview request.