Thursday January 04, 2018

Thursday January 4, 2018 Full Episode Transcript

Note: Transcripts may contain errors. If you wish to re-use all, or part of, a transcript, please contact CBC for permission. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print. Copyright © CBC 2018

The Current Transcript for January 4, 2018

Host: Anna Maria Tremonti

STORIES FROM THIS EPISODE

Listen to the full episode

Prologue

[Music: Theme]

SOUNDCLIP

I was embarrassed and ashamed. I felt like here's this man like groping me in front of my co-star and I'm letting it happen. But again that was just the way you did. That was the theatre.

ANNA MARIA TREMONTI: She was just a few years into her acting career when she appeared on stage at Soulpepper and Kristin Booth alleges that, in her first play and subsequent roles, the company's artistic director treated her in ways that left her feeling humiliated and struggling. She is not alone.

SOUNDCLIP

Violated, enraged, vulnerable but ultimately powerless. Nothing you can do about it.

AMT: Patricia Fagan who debuted Soulpepper alongside her, alleges that through years of roles and a range of plays, there were multiple instances when what happened on stage and in rehearsal left her not knowing where to turn. They are two of four women alleging incidents of sexual battery and harassment of a sexual nature in civil suits filed yesterday against the theatre company and its co-founder Albert Schultz in a moment, their stories. Also today.

SOUNDCLIP

[Sound: Crunching ice]

AMT: That us the sound no one wants to hear travelling at this time of year on ice roads in northern communities. The collapse of weak and thin sea ice under the weight of snow vehicles is often deadly, and with climate change more frequent. Now scientists and Indigenous elders and youth are working together to use scientific and indigenous knowledge for something called Smart Ice. We've got that story in an hour. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. This is The Current.

[Music: theme]

Back To Top »

'I was being groomed to think this was normal': Actors sue director Albert Schultz alleging sexual harassment

Guests: Patricia Fagan, Krisitn Booth

AMT: He's been a leading figure in this country's arts scene. But yesterday four women filed four statements of claim against Albert Schultz, casting the actor and director in a very different light. The suits allege that the four women were subjected to unwanted sexual touching and harassment by Mr. Schultz, while working at Soulpepper, the Toronto theatre for which he is the founding artistic director. They describe 30 separate incidents spanning 13 years including sexual comments and groping. None of the claims has been proven in court but late yesterday afternoon Soulpeppers board of directors announced that Mr. Schultz has agreed to step down while the board investigates the allegations. Albert Schultz has been a titan in Canada's theatre scene for more than three decades under his leadership Soulpepper has grown into one of the most important theatre companies in the country. He's learned a long list of accolades including a Gemini and the Order of Canada. He's also an executive producer of the independently produced CBC television comedy Kim's Convenience which had a successful theatrical run at Soulpepper before being adapted for television. In 2000 Kristin Booth and Patricia or Trish Fagan were recent theatre school graduates excited to land coveted spots in Soulpepper's young company and eager to start their careers under the tutelage of Albert Schultz. Both women are now suing Mr. Schultz and Soulpepper. I spoke with them yesterday afternoon. This is our conversation and I should warn you it deals with subject matter some people may find distressing and include some strong language.

PATTRICIA FAGAN: Hello.

KRISTIN BOOTH: Hi, thank you.

AMT: Trish Fagan let's begin with you. Take me back to the year 2000. You were 23 years old. You were days out of theatre school. What's it like to land a spot with Soulpepper?

PATRICIA FAGAN: I mean it's beyond my wildest dreams really to go straight from school to this company that at the time had such an exciting reputation. They had been operating for about two years and they were kicking off their inaugural young company which turned up perfectly with my graduation. So I landed the role of Viola in Twelfth Night to be directed by Albert. It was an absolute dream come true I felt like I won the lottery.

AMT: Kristin you were also cast in Twelfth Night. What did it mean to be working so closely with Albert Schultz?

KRISTIN BOOTH: I was I was dumbfounded that I was cast and I was so excited to be working so closely with Albert. I felt very very lucky.

AMT: It was while you were rehearsing that first play Twelfth Night that you both found yourselves in the parking lot outside of rehearsals one night with Albert Schulz. Kristin what happened?

KRISTIN BOOTH: We had started rehearsing and we were in the parking lot with Albert and he suggested that we participate in an acting exercise and it was just the three of us. And that acting actor exercise was sort of outlaid to us as if we could convince him that by saying that we wanted to fuck various members of the male side of the company then we would be deemed convincing in our conviction in our commitment to our craft and to Soulpepper or the show. It seemed at the time very odd to me. I was uncomfortable with the connotation but at the same time Albert was my boss, Albert was my mentor. I'm not. I am not afraid to say that at that time I somewhat worshipped him. You know he made it very clear that he could either make or break my future career so.

AMT: And he used the "F" word to ask you which of the other company members?

KRISTIN BOOTH: Yes. It became clear to me quite quickly into this exercise that he was waiting for both Trish and I to say I would fuck Albert Schultz.

AMT: Trish what he remember from that?

PATRICIA FAGAN: What stands out to me from when we played that game was the way I said one particular actor in the company because he became fixated on it. Like he - the enthusiasm with which I apparently said it made it mean that I actually did want to sleep with this particular actor and then he mocked me for it.

AMT: Did you see it as a legitimate acting exercise at the time, either one of you?

PATRICIA FAGAN: No.

KRISTIN BOOTH: No.

AMT: You weren't the only women in the cast of Twelfth Night. Why do you think he chose the two of you for this?

PATRICIA FAGAN: I mean I feel like the way Kristin and I were hired it seemed very- Looking back on it now it seems very calculated that we rode in with no experience. And we were has two female lead actors. I was coming straight from school so I had absolutely no experience and Kristen had a couple of years of experience in television but hadn't done any Shakespeare. So both of us were coming in completely green which made us.

KRISTIN BOOTH: Very vulnerable.

PATRICIA FAGAN: Very vulnerable, very impressionable, putty in his hands basically.

AMT: Kristen what else happened during Twelfth Night to you?

KRISTIN BOOTH: It was very I was all very innocuous at the time you know. There were hugs that lasted longer than other men's hugs in the company you know. There were comments about my body or my lips. He often would kiss me on the lips even in greeting when - even at times when I would try to avoid, it would become the sort of like you know. And at one point he said to me how much he liked kissing my lips. They were full and they were soft and - It was very.

AMT: He would try to kiss you on the lips as a greeting you mean?

KRISTIN BOOTH: Uh ha.

AMT: And what? If you tried to turn your head so he kissed you on the cheek? Or what did he do?

KRISTIN BOOTH: Often it would be a little bit of a dance like I would kind of turn and he would move and it would end up being like half of the other or whatever. But then I realised soon after I came to the conclusion after that I should just kiss him on the lips. And even if I wasn't comfortable with it because it was it was better for me to do so.

AMT: And you say he would hug you longer. What would that be like?

KRISTIN BOOTH: His hugs are - he would wrap you in his body and when I say it felt different, there were moments where I would feel his groin pressed up against my body in a way that was not typical in a greeting in a hug. There are times where he would come up behind and hug and presses his groin into the back of my body. And it was it was common like it was it was almost on a daily basis and you.

AMT: Did you feel you could say anything?

KRISTIN BOOTH: No. No. No.

KRISTIN BOOTH: How did that make you feel when you'd go back to work the next day?

KRISTIN BOOTH: I would have to prepare myself I would have to be like 'okay Kristen suck it up' because I was being groomed to think that this was all normal, that this was all what I had to do to work in the theatre to be an ingenue in the theatre meant you were sexualised continually. And it was done in plain sight for the most part. So no one else said anything. Everyone just was like 'yeah this is the way it is'. No one, no one questioned Albert.

AMT: Trisha what was your experience like in that production?

PATRICIA FAGAN: It turned pretty dark pretty fast. In that he just started to become very pretty abusive and bullying in rehearsals. A lot of mocking, ridiculing, humiliating. I remember most of that summer trying to work with a big lump in my throat willing myself not to cry.

KRISTIN BOOTH: And there were many times where Tricia and I would cry on each other’s short.

AMT: You are talking to each other about this but no one else.

PATRICIA FAGAN: We did not, it's funny because we were talking about this. We didn't really talk about it like calling it what it was because - because to be honest I didn't know that there was anything wrong with it. At the time I thought this is theatre. This is the professional world.

AMT: There is a scene at the beginning of Twelfth Night and you referred to it in your statement of claim, Trish, because it requires you to be naked from the waist up with your back to the audience. What happened?

PATRICIA FAGAN: So there was an actor standing upstage of me which means sort of toward the back of the stage and he was meant to turn around to look at me. After I had put on a jacket to cover up my nudity and this actor changed the timing, so that he turned much earlier and would watch me take off my dress and stare at my breasts. And then I would have to sort of just deal with that as I removed the dress put on the jacket as directed and then disappear into the trap.

AMT: The trap as a door in the stage floor that you disappear.

PATRICIA FAGAN: It is a hole in the middle of the stage there and then you crawl under the stage to do your exit.

AMT: Where was Albert Schultz during the rehearsals for that?

PATRICIA FAGAN: In the house watching, directing, yes. And it became kind of a joke like it was just like 'can you believe that he would do that?' So he was never directed to stop doing that. It just sort of became what happened.

AMT: But how did it make you feel?

PATRICIA FAGAN: Violated, enraged, vulnerable but ultimately powerless. Nothing you can do about it.

AMT: So you would do this every night and then you'd disappear under the stage where you like physically crawl.

PATRICIA FAGAN: Yes and swearing outloud to myself under the stage from anger at the fact that this kept happening.

AMT: And you didn't feel you could complain?

PATRICIA FAGAN: No. No.

AMT: While you were doing the same production, you were directed, or one of the actors who was playing another role with you, was directed to come up behind you by Mr. Schulz. What happened?

PATRICIA FAGAN: Yes. So he was directed - the actor was director to walk up behind me and put his arms around me in a sort of a hug. You know like a hug around the shoulders from behind and he directed him to push his penis up against my buttocks. And then he got up and demonstrated and he pushed up right against me. And I just stood there frozen like a soldier. You know like this is necessary. It's rehearsal and if my director thinks that this should happen at this point in the play it must be for a reason. The actor who is actually playing the role ultimately didn't do it.

AMT: There were other incidents. You were at one point in this role you were disguised - a woman disguised as a boy, as a man, a young man. And how did that affect your costume?

PATRICIA FAGAN: So for most of the play, disguised as a boy and Albert said that he didn't want me to wear a bra when I was dressed as a boy. So he had me try on the shirt that was to be part of my costume and had a bit - kind of a low neck and he brought me into the bathroom and had me sit down on a bench and he sat across from me and told me to lean over so that he could look down my shirt to determine how far I was able to lean over before the audience could see my bare breasts.

AMT: What did you think of that at the time?

PATRICIA FAGAN: You know at that point, at that age, even though I bought everything he as necessary part of the process, part of being an actor but even to my inexperienced brain seemed off. And I remember leaving the bathroom. I think it was at the end of the day of rehearsal. So I just sort of 'that happened and now I am going to go home and my day is done'. I remember feeling like that was creepy.

AMT: Kirsten you were back at Soulpepper in 2005. You were cast as the lead in Olympia.

KRISTIN BOOTH: Yes I was.

AMT: You were feeling uncomfortable with Twelfth Night, why did you come back?

KRISTIN BOOTH: Many reasons. One was that it was Soulpepper. And if I wanted to be in the theatre, which at that point I still did, it was the place to be. But there was also - it's a very it's a very hard thing to describe. Almost loving or caring very deeply about the person that is abusing you. [Sobbing] I would say that even today I have moments where I still almost - I can remember and still understand worshipping Albert. Um. Because his treatment of me was such that when he would break me down or humiliate me it was coupled or then followed with this unbelievable love and praise and acceptance. He was very good at breaking you down and building you back up, to the point where you almost needed him. So when I was asked to come back in 2005 there was this element of 'Oh. He wants me back. He likes me. He loves me. He thinks I am I'm good enough'.

AMT: What was his behaviour like during that play?

KRISTIN BOOTH: It escalated. He started inquiring about my sex life with my fiancée. Questioning whether or not I was satisfied and implying that if I wasn't I could always come to him and laughing because it just sounds so insane and ridiculous.

AMT: You are crying too.

KRISTIN BOOTH: Yes. I am crying. [Laughs] There is still a lot of - I still have a lot of self - I don't want to say hatred because that's very strong. I don't hate myself but those...I still have a lot of questions about my own culpability because I did go back. I went back for more. But I also felt like this was what it meant to be in the theatre. I had spent my entire childhood, since I was 12 years old pursuing an acting career. That's where I wanted to do. I had such a drive to be a professional actor and to be in the theatre, and film and television, but the theatre was special. It's what I studied in it was... It held a special place in my heart. So yeah when Albert Schulz or Soulpepper theatre invited me back to play the title role in Olympia. Yes I did it. I came back.

AMT: In that play, he directed another actor in an intimate scene with you what happened?

KRISTIN BOOTH: We were on stage we were hurting and we were coming up on our opening night, and my co-star was the lovely Stuart Hughes. Albert directed Stuart as I lay down. He directed me to lay back on a chaise lounge and once I was laying back basically enticing Stew, that Stew was to come to me and starting at my ankles, rub his hands up my legs, up my thighs, up my hips, up my abdomen then up to my breasts. And once he reached to my breasts and was at the sides of my breasts he was to stop himself because he wasn't going - in the context to play he wasn't going to give in to his desire. And Stew did as he was directed. Albert was not satisfied with Stew's interpretation of his direction. So Albert jumped onstage and said that he would demonstrate to do how or how a man should touch a woman to get the audience wet.

AMT: That's what he said?

KRISTIN BOOTH: Yes that is what he said and mocked Stew for not being manly enough or sexy enough. It was very obvious that he was emasculating Stew. And then he proceeded to rub his hands up my body from my ankles to my breast and he was like 'there that's how it's done'.

AMT: How do you react to that?

KRISTIN BOOTH: I did as I was told.

AMT: How did you react in that internally?

KRISTIN BOOTH: I was angry. I felt it was a deliberate attempt to cop a feel. I was embarrassed and ashamed. I felt like here's this man like groping me in front of my co-star and I'm letting it happen. But again that was just how you did. That was the theatre and you had to be open and you had to be available and you can be a prude.

AMT: Were going to pause this conversation for the CBC news that's coming up. We will be back right after the news with more of my conversation with Kristen Booth and Patricia Fagan. They have filed civil lawsuits against Albert Schultz and the Soulpepper theatre company, as of yesterday. None of their allegations has been proven in court. We did ask Albert Schultz for an interview we have not heard back, but in a publicly released statement he has released he writes: "These claims make serious allegations against me which I do not take lightly. Over the coming time period I intend to vehemently defend myself." I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. You are listening to The Current on CBC Radio One, Sirius XM, online on cbc.ca/thecurrent, on Podcast and on your radio app. Stay with us.

[Music: Theme]

AMT: Hello I'm Anna-Maria Tremonti and you're listening to The Current.

[Music: Theme]

AMT: Sill to come, arctic adaptation. A changing climate in Canada's north means it's not as safe as it used to be to travel on sea ice during the winter. But an approach combining indigenous knowledge with new technology is helping northern communities adapt to that new reality. We'll tell you more about smart ice in half an hour. But first back to my interview with two actors, finally voicing their own stories.

[Music: theme]

AMT: Just before the news I was speaking with Canadian Actors Kristen Booth and Patricia or Trish Fagan. They are two of the four women suing one of Canada's leading theatre companies Soulpepper and its founding artistic director Albert Schulz. The women allege they were subjected to unwanted sexual touching and harassment by Mr. Schulz over a period of time of 13 years. Yesterday afternoon Soulpepper's board of directors announced that Albert Schultz has stepped down while it investigates the allegations. Kristin Booth worked with Soulpepper in 2000 and again in 2005 when she was cast as the lead in a production of Olympia. She says the alleged incidents began during her first stint with the company and escalated in the second. We will pick up our conversation with her detailing what she alleges Mr. Schultz did in 2005. And a warning the interview deals with subject matter and strong language that some listeners may find upsetting.

KRISTIN BOOTH: Albert started suggesting that we get a hotel room together and then began leaving notes in my dressing room suggesting as much, and one time during the run of that show I remember a hug a specific hug from our where I could feel that he had an erection. Then it was pressed against my body.

AMT: How did you respond to the hotel suggestion? What did you do?

KRISTIN BOOTH: I laughed [laughs]. It started with the questioning about my sex life you know. And maybe I wasn't satisfied there and he could help me and maybe the way to do that would be to get a hotel room you know. And at the time I remember just being - that was one time where I just was like 'what is happening right now? This is crazy. My boss is suggesting that he can sexually satisfy me and we should get a hotel room'. [Laughs] And that's why I laugh because, while I was so uncomfortable I was so blindsided by the audacity of that kind of suggestion. But I was also frozen with fear that like how do I get myself out of this without saying no to Albert, without opening myself up again to more humiliation or ridicule and mocking or or the cold shoulder. God forbid you got that. And that sounds trivial but it wasn't. Like Albert would ignore you. You know to the point where you would start to be like 'what would I do? Oh my God.' And then you go back and be 'Oh right. I didn't let him kiss me on the lips that time' or 'I laughed when he suggested we go get a hotel room together'. I mean the abuse, the cycle of abuse was constant.

AMT: In that play there was an issue with your costumers well, was there not?

KRISTIN BOOTH: Uh hmm. Once we are during dress rehearsals for Olympia I wore a very low cut dress and I am a small breasted woman. So for me to create the type of cleavage that Albert wanted and that the dress required of me, the wardrobe required of me, I had to put - we call them cookies in the industry - they're like false breasts and what you do is you put them underneath your own breasts and then I would tape that to create the lift. So basically saying, my own nipples were literally at the edge of the dress where the dress ended and the tops of my breasts were revealed. So during one of the dress rehearsals I was moving in a way to protect myself from my breasts escaping from my dress and coming out of the dress and Albert mocked me for the way it was moving and questioned like 'What are you doing?' You know I can't remember his exact words but it was something to the effect of 'you look like an idiot'. Like why are you moving like that. And I said 'I am afraid my breasts are going to fall out of my dress and my nipples are right at the edge and if I move a certain way they're going to pop out. I'm not comfortable with that'. He mocked me, one, for being not comfortable with that. And then at a later time - I don't believe it was that day. I think it was a couple days later but I recall Albert saying that he was disappointed that my breasts didn't become exposed, making a joke about it like 'I wish they had'.

AMT: Did you work at Soulpepper after that.

KRISTIN BOOTH: I did not.

AMT: Why?

KRISTIN BOOTH: One, I was not offered another role at Soulpepper, but I also after Olympia had made a silent deal with myself that I was going to leave the theatre.

AMT: But you love the theatre.

KRISTIN BOOTH: Yes I still do. [Laughs]

AMT: But you do not work in it anymore.

KRISTIN BOOTH: I do not.

AMT: Is it because of what happened?

KRISTIN BOOTH: It has a part in it. Yes. There was a big part of me that did not want to have to subject myself to that kind of abuse anymore.

AMT: Trish Fagan you remained for longer. How did your experiences evolve from the first play?

PATRICIA FAGAN: So I worked there for 13 years. From play to play, the psychological abuse or the sexual harassment continued in one form or another. There were instances of it throughout all of my seasons there and I just kind of learned to manage, to work with within it. Learned how to avoid being a target. But if it wasn't me it was somebody else.

AMT: At the same time your statement of claim does go on. What happened with the Kleenex box?

PATRICIA FAGAN: Okay so I am in - this is for a play called She Stoops to Conquer. And I was in a scene with a male cast member and it was a seduction scene. So I was supposed to be flirtatious and seducing this man. And so we went through the rehearsals kind of mapping it out, what our movements were going to be. And then when it came time to do a run through of this scene Albert sat and watched with a box of Kleenex on his lap. And when I finished the scene he started ripping the Kleenex out of the box and pretended to be ejaculating. So the Kleenex was his ejaculate. So he kind of did a very over the top kind of orgasm.

AMT: What did you think of that?

PATRICIA FAGAN: I was - I mean - I can remember that moment so vividly because I kind of froze. But you've got to really think on your feet in these moments so that you don't miss a beat. As far as how stunned humiliated ashamed you feel. You've got to just laugh it off like 'oh its just Albert being Albert. Its funny.' You know so I had to kind of just show that I was unfazed and that it was no big deal.

AMT: But these incidents continued. You were in two versions of Hamlet, were you not?

PATRICIA FAGAN: Yes. two. We restaged. We remounted it.

AMT: And so the second time around as Ophelia [unintelligible] Hamlet, what happened?

PATRICIA FAGAN: There were a couple of things that happened on that one. There was the day that he flashed me. So he just kind of ran up behind me backstage and pulled down his pants and showed me his penis, as I was preparing to do an entrance.

AMT: Why?

PATRICIA FAGAN: A joke.

AMT: But it wasn't funny to you, was it?

PATRICIA FAGAN: No. No. But again I had to kind of pretend that it was, you know, like you can’t act outraged in these moments because it will make it worse. You will make it worse for yourself. You know it's easier to just say 'oh my God you know I can't believe you did that'. It's more a shame that I felt in those moments as far as how I was being perceived by other company members because you put in a position to have to play along and show that your game. You know I'd like to just be able to do my job, but I felt like I was giving the impression to people that I worked with who I looked up to in a lot of cases, that I was also that kind of that kind of gal you know that I was into that kind of sexual stuff that was going on because I had to play along like I was. And that's what really killed me in those moments because I really loved and admired the other people that I worked with. So it was compromising to my own dignity.

AMT: You talk at one point build some something happened on Three Sisters.

PATRICIA FAGAN: I was just sort of sitting. We were in a technical rehearsal which is when you set you know you're setting lights and you've sort of just moved into the theatre space where you're going to be performing and I was just sitting on a bench leaning against the back wall. Albert was going around setting down glow tape which is actually a stage manager's job but it's where you just put the tape that you know, so you can sort of see where you are in the dark, and he sort of determined that he needed to put a piece of glow tape on the bench where I was sitting. So he kneeled down in front of me and said 'spread them sweetheart'. I truly bolted out of there. Like I remember having a bit of a fight or flight sort of reaction to that, to hearing my boss say those words to me. And as I walked away he said 'you are no fun'. And I remember at that point I was you know I was a little bit older too. So these moments now were so much more ravelling to me in the sense that - just how unacceptable they really were. But again having to sort of pull myself together to show a seamless kind of unfazed reaction to it. But it was at that point that I really started to realise like you know these comments and things, it's never going to stop. So the only thing you can do is make a decision is it worth it for you to stay here or is it time to start divorcing yourself from the company.

AMT: You eventually started turning down roles, including a female lead.

PATRICIA FAGAN: Yes it was after - it was during the run of Three Sisters that he offered me the part of Rosalind in As You Like It which is I mean there's no better part if you are a classically trained actor. That's what you hope to get in your career. And I turned it down. I couldn't imagine coming back to work with him. Six weeks after that show, after closing Three Sisters to sign on for more at that point seemed masochistic to me.

AMT: Just last year, Trish, you received an invitation from Albert Schulz. What was that about?

PATRICIA FAGAN: So I hadn't worked at Soulpepper since 2013 but then out of the blue I was included in a group email that he sent about a dinner that he was hosting for Laszlo Marton who was the Hungarian director who had been fired from Soulpepper for sexual harassment. A few months later I received this email that Albert was hosting a party in his honor and he wanted at this dinner party to make a video for Laszlo of all the actors talking about what we loved about Laszlo, what our favourite thing about working with Laszlo was, so he could take it to Hungary and present it to him.

AMT: How do you react to that?

PATRICIA FAGAN: Well I remember just looking at it going 'are you kidding me?' I just couldn't believe it. The first person I thought of was the woman who had been sexually harassed by Laszlo and how much it just sort of devalued her in erased her from the equation. You know how disrespectful it gets to her. And I thought of how I would have felt if it was me. He was hosting a party and inviting everybody else but me because I was the one who tattle taled, you know what I mean. It made me think that he didn't take the allegations seriously or he didn't really take sexual harassment seriously. And it also made me think about the culture of the company. And if you're sending this message to your company members that 'I'm throwing a party for the guy that we had to fire' what does it say to somebody who would then have a problem with sexual harassment at the same company.

AMT: Kristin Booth you're nodding your head.

KRISTIN BOOTH: Yes I am. I think it's a very telling anecdote. This was the culture at Soulpepper. This was accepted at Soulpepper. Anybody who questioned or reported incidences; one, wouldn't work at all ever again and two, it wasn't taken seriously.

AMT: Did you see it as an abuse of power at the time or is it something you saw as the years wen t on? I am interested in knowing how you process this as the years move forward

KRISTIN BOOTH: When I started in 2000 I don't think I had the awareness at the time to be able to break it down and look at it like an abuse of power. I was also conditioned to believe that this was just the way it was. This was what I was to expect in being in the professional theatre world. So, no, at the time I did not see it as clearly as I do now.

AMT: Tricia what about you?

PATRICIA FAGAN: Yes. At the time I didn't realise that that's what was happening but I look back now and I absolutely see that that's what it was. And as I continued to work there over the years I definitely wised up to the fact that it was just a blatant abuse of power.

AMT: Our journalists investigating Albert Schultz spoke with a number of people who worked with him. Some say they didn't see anything untoward. Others described him as a jokester. How does that play into his behaviour?

PATRICIA FAGAN: I mean he is. He is a jokester. That's one side of his personality for sure. And then he pushes the joke too far and pushes it beyond people's comfort zones and beyond boundaries and into the sexual realm. So yes. He's definitely a jokester but there's another side to him which is not joking at all which can be quite devastating. Ye he can be quite vicious as well.

AMT: When you were there did you speak to others about that? Was it a part of a conversation ever with others? Did anyone else raise it with you?

PATRICIA FAGAN: I'd say definitely by my later years there, we were more opening handed about the truth of the culture around that around the building. But for a lot of years there is definitely a code of silence around it that I think is something that does exist in rehearsal rooms and theaters all over the place. But when I started to reach out to and to connect with women after leaving Soulpepper, once this sort of movement started that was truly a revelation to me, that I would find myself sitting having a coffee with a woman that I once shared a dressing room where we never acknowledged that we'd had very similar experiences and traumas working at that theatre.

AMT: So you both just you all have kept it to yourself.

PATRICIA FAGAN: Totally yes.

AMT: Did you ever work any actresses coming up behind you, any younger actresses?

PATRICIA FAGAN: No. And I wish I had because I often felt - I definitely felt this sense of dread for people sometimes, when I knew that they would be entering in to the academy or you know - some of them would come to me really excited about having just booked a great job at Soulpepper. And I remember having very mixed feelings for them like 'that's great but you're also may be about to be stripped of your dignity'. I remember kind of feeling that for people.

AMT: But You wouldn't tell them.

PATRICIA FAGAN: No. I did in the later years. I started to become very outspoken about my feelings and thoughts about Albert and how we treated people. But it took a long time.

AMT: Kristin some say theatre's about pushing boundaries about being vulnerable that actors need to put themselves in uncomfortable situations for their craft and that Albert Schultz's actions would have been in that are artistic contexts.

KRISTIN BOOTH: Bullshit. I call bullshit. You do not have to behave the way that Albert has behaved for many many many many years in order to bring the best out of actors or break boundaries.

AMT: This last suite names Albert Schultz and Soulpepper. What responsibility does the company bear for this behaviour, Trish?

PATRICIA FAGAN: Well I think that that's what we're looking at is how much people turned a blind eye to this kind of abuse of power. Is Albert truly answerable to anyone? You know I know they have a board of directors but from what I understand it's a volunteer position to be on the board and it's a non for profit company. So I don't know how plugged in they've been to the goings on of the day to day life of the actors inside of those walls.

AMT: Did it have a structure that you could complain to somebody for sexual harassment?

PATRICIA FAGAN: No no I wouldn't have even dreamed of doing something like that. First of all because you would be causing a problem in being a troublemaker and challenging the status quo and when that happens you just wouldn't be asked back for another season. But also you know I think the way that the company is set up. You've got Albert as the artistic director and then his wife is the managing director of the company. So yes. Who do you go to complain to?

AMT: And do you know if anyone ever complained to the company to the management side of things?

PATRICIA FAGAN: Um yeah I know that someone made a complaint on behalf of someone of an actress and that that actress was never asked to work there again.

AMT: What were you afraid could have then if you had complained?

PATRICIA FAGAN: Well I don't even know like I wouldn't have even if I was nowhere near complaining like it's not even something that I ever would have imagined doing. I mean to me the option was put up with it or leave.

AMT: You didn't think you had the right to complain.

PATRICIA FAGAN: No no.

AMT: And now you have launched this lawsuit with two other actors. You're speaking out publicly. What has changed?

PATRICIA FAGAN: Well which changed is that all of a sudden people seemed to take sexual harassment seriously. People seemed to care. It seemed like people were listening. And so you know when that entered the zeitgeist I just sat down one day and I thought 'I am just going to write down my experiences just for myself to map through the 13 years that I worked there and see what it tells me'. As soon as I did that I kind of looked at my list. I thought 'oh yes this is this is a problem and I should say something'. And as soon as I started speaking with other women and realising how much our experiences mirror each other and also how much the psychological affect, how similar it is with all of the people that I've spoken to, that you do can carry this wound with you or you carry the baggage of having had to shoulder this stuff while you're trying to do your job. That speaking out and actually doing something about it might actually help us unload the baggage.

KRISTIN BOOTH: For me I read an article in The Toronto Star after Laszlo Marton was fired from salt pepper for sexual harassment and assault that enraged me to a point where I felt I could not sit back and not say anything.

AMT: What was in the article?

KRISTIN BOOTH: The article was Soulpepper statement and policy on sexual harassment. And to me reading that was probably the most hypocritical thing that I had read in a decade. I just thought 'you've got to be kidding me right now. This is such a joke' and it made me angry and I just - I have a daughter who is five and I started to think about her future growing up and entering the workplace no matter what industry she chooses to pursue or work in. And I thought 'if I don't stand up right now and say something about this this is going to continue' and not just me but all women'. All women who have experienced this type of behaviour, this harassment, this assault in the workplace. And I mean there are so many other women out there less privileged than I am, less privileged than Trish is, that are all trapped in positions where they cannot leave. They don't have a choice. If telling my story, if bringing this claim against Soulpepper and Albert can help one other woman, then I am doing my duty.

AMT: Kristen Booth, Trish Fagan thank you for speaking with me tonight.

KRISTIN BOOTH: Thank you.

PATRICIA FAGAN: Thank you.

AMT: Patricia, Trish, Fagan and Kristin Booth are Canadian actors who both worked under the direction of Albert Schultz at Soulpepper theatre. They are among four women suing the theatre company and Mr. Schultz for unwanted sexual touching and harassment. The allegations have not been proven in court. One note you heard Patricia Fagan allege that Mr. Schultz exposed himself to her backstage during a performance. She said she was immediately questioned about it by someone else who was there. CBC journalist spoke with that potential witness who said he did not remember the incident but he believes Mrs. Fagan's account adding that Mr. Schultz was a joker who sometimes crossed the line. Soulpepper's board of directors announced yesterday Mr. Schultz has stepped down while it investigates the allegations. In a publicly released statement, Albert Schultz says he does not take the allegations lightly and that he intends to vehemently defend himself. Today four members of the sole purpose theatre company resigned in support of the women in the civil suits. Stay with us in our next half hour. We'll hear about a new approach that's one part indigenous knowledge and one part high tech. I am Anna Maria Tremonti. You're listening to The Current.

[Music: theme]

Back To Top »

As ice thins underfoot, technology is combining with traditional Inuit knowledge to save lives

Guests: Trevor Bell, Shirley Tagalik, Glen Ainkenhead

AMT: Hello I'm Anna Maria Tremonti and this is The Current.

[Music : Adaptation theme]

AMT: Much of the country maybe in a deep freeze right now but there is no denying that winters have been getting warmer in Canada. Is as clear as the thinning sea ice in the north. Frozen sea ice has traditionally been a hub of activity in winter - I guess that should be frozen water which turns into sea ice - has traditionally been a hub of activity in the winter, a hunting ground, a highway but a changing climate is making the ice dangerous in ways that it has never been before. There is a promising adaptation being rolled out in the north right now. It blends traditional indigenous knowledge of the ice with advanced technology. It's called SmartICE and it measures ice thickness with a series of sensors. We're looking into this today as part of our season long project Adaptation. SmartICE was developed by Trevor Bell who is a university research professor at the Department of Geography at Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador and he joins us from St. John's today. Hello.

TREVOR BELL: Good morning Anna Maria.

AMT: Why did you develop SmartICE?

TREVOR BELL: Well I'd like to hear that first of all we developed it in partnership with indigenous governments, in particular the Nunatukavut government in northern Labrador. And it was in response to one of their priorities after a really warm winter in 2009-2010 where the surface of the sea ice turned to slush, basically. It rained for most of February instead of being minus 20. They found, through survey off after people living there of the Inuit, is that one in 12 of them had fallen into the ice and that people were not getting their usual Caribou and seals, so those increased food insecurity. And people were afraid to use their traditional trails. So they asked me how can we bring technology to bear on this issue without replacing the traditional Inuit knowledge but augmenting it so that basically travel on the ice would be safer.

AMT: Okay. And I just want to clarify, when we think of northern sea ice we often think of the polar ice cap but this is ice that's off shore from communities. Am I correct?

TREVOR BELL: That's right. We call it land fast ice and it's essentially frozen to the coast and is and should be much more stable travel platform. So it's not the mobile ice that you see moving down from the Arctic along the southern coast. So it's land fast and the edge of that ice sometimes called the flow edge is a very productive area where Inuit travel to hunt for whales and seals and it's a place that they have travelled for millennia. What they're finding is is it's changing very rapidly.

AMT: And but like the edge can be like 50 kilometres away from the actual shore like it does stretch up far does it not?

TREVOR BELL: Oh yes and especially in the sort of inter-island channels that you sometimes see in the Central Arctic where many of the communities in the north are coastal and so access on that sea ice is easier to travel on along the coast and under land. So travelling out to the flow edge or traveling between communities tends to be done on the sea ice itself.

AMT: Okay so what does SmartICE do? What is it?

TREVOR BELL: Well what we try to do is to provide real time information for people who are about to travel on the ice. So we have two different types of sensors one that stationary that's inserted into the ice sort of frozen to the ice at the beginning of the season and it's able to measure the ice thickness and the snow depth on the ice and relay that back via satellite to the community. The second one is a mobile sea ice thickness sensor. So it's pulled on a common tick by our SmartICE community operators and it's able to read the ice in real time they need to take ice sled. And it also records to track. So when our operators go out on the ice maybe they cover a 50 or 100 kilometres in a day along community trails. When they come back in that information - how the thickness of the ice is - is communicated back to the community true to our portal.

AMT: And so you’re using sort of sensors to give scientific information and then what you have use Inuit knowledge to analyze that information, or indigenous knowledge?

TREVOR BELL: Well our operators are Inuit who were living in the community and who are traveling on the ice and did so before they were hired by SmartICE and they're actually oh dear monitoring. So they're the ones who either print off these maps for the elders or for the hunters and trappers and are able to talk about the ice to travel along with that map and front of them showing where the ice is thick or thin how it's changing over time. We also produce a CS travel hazard map which is produced from a satellite image after sea ice every week to two weeks. On that map we produce a simple legend showing where it's 'go'. 'slow go' or 'no go' areas where people shouldn't be travelling and because of the ice. And they think wonder things we're looking to do is to have the operators who are out on the ice actually trained to produce those maps. Right now we do it in the south with southern experts. We want Inuit up north to essentially use their traditional knowledge and scientific training to produce maps and that way incorporate traditional, their traditional knowledge of ice conditions directly into the maps to produce photographs of the community.

AMT: Tell me a little bit more about traditional Inuit knowledge of faith.

TREVOR BELL: Well I think people understand the sound of the ice. They listen for the ice and they can tell how it is changing by the sound for instance. In fact some communities have asked us to put microphones on our stationary sensors so that they can listen to the ice from their community, in that way they can tell what the is doing. They also use the sound of the ice by knocking something off the ice, like an aura or something like that, where they are able to tell the thickness by the sound it makes. They will also understand - as air travel on the ice - the different surface texture of the ice. They can tell whether the ice is strong or perhaps whether it's simply snow sitting on a water surface, and a very dangerous situation as you can imagine because in one case it's very stable and safe to travel and the other case you go through that very thin snow layer right through the water.

AMT: Can I also clarify, I keep reading about that the actual water temperatures have changed so that there is a melting from beneath that's not so obvious anymore. They can read it but it's what's going on underneath because it is layers.

TREVOR BELL: That's right. So changing currents, changing water temperatures are thinning and eroding the ice from underneath. So in many cases people talk about maybe the Inuit the knowledge of ice conditions been on unreliable. But in a sense it's it's not so much unreliable as it changes are happening so quickly and not obvious to them in the sense that the ice is thinning from underneath. None of the surface indications will let them know that that is dangerous ice ahead. So what were trying to do is to position these sensors when the community tells us where to put them. Were operators should travel so that we can have early indications are for this ice is thinning and to be able to report that back to the community.

AMT: Trevor Bell I want to bring someone else into the conversation. Shirley Tagalik is with us. She's listening in. She is the co-author of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit: What the Inuit have always known to be true. She's a community researcher with the Aqquimavvik a community health and wellness centre in Arviat in Nunavut, that's where we've reached her. Hello Shirley Tagalik.

SHIRLEY TAGALIK: Good morning.

AMT: Good morning. Now I just said the name of your book, but I know I didn't say it well so can you say it for me please?

SHIRLEY TAGALIK: Yes. Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, which is the term used for Inuit knowledge.

AMT: So actually you can say IQ.

SHIRLEY TAGALIK: That is right you can say IQ.

AMT: What do you make of the blending of indigenous knowledge and science over the changing issue of ice?

SHIRLEY TAGALIK: Well I think it's very important. You know to have strong outcomes you have to have the best knowledge that you can and by combining Western scientific knowledge and the things that Inuit have always known to be true, IQ, Will give us the best outcome.

AMT: The Inuit knowledge goes back centuries. But it is also I guess evolving. So when we think of it we think of it as ancient knowledge but it's also a marker in any evolving is it not.

SHIRLEY TAGALIK: Yes. Inuit elders have described Qaujimajatuqangit as taking everything they know aabout their cultural and social issues and systems. Those are created within the context of the environment that they live in. And so understanding their environment, interacting respectfully with their environment, monitoring their environment and reacting, adapting to changing conditions has always been critical. And so because there is this dependence on environment all of their resources came from the environment. Then they talk about a third area which is technology and how we used innovation and years to develop technology taking the resources from their environment to enhance their social and cultural systems. So if you think of the development of igloo or the kayak that was using resources at hand in their environment to improve - using technology to improve their system of living so that they could harvest better, lives better. That kind of thing. So this is always been essential to Inuit successful survival in the Arctic.

AMT: And so with smart marries that science and their traditional knowledge, what other areas would you like to see the two combined when it comes to attacking environment tackling environmental issues then?

SHIRLEY TAGALIK: Well I think you know for indeed the essential thing is bringing in that third element which is the deep impact from the improvement on the social and cultural aspect of life. So SmartICE is doing this by engaging Inuit in the monitoring, in the assessment and in the responses the communities can have which enables them to be more successful and reduce the dangers of harvesting and travelling and continuing to live - the important lifestyle that Inuit want to maintain in order to have food security and practice their culture and live well.

AMT: Shirley what misconceptions do you find southern researchers have about tradition and knowledge?

SHIRLEY TAGALIK: Well exactly as you've indicated that it's something from the past. The other thing that many researchers come north with is this idea that they can these are limited to practices. So you know it's the building of an igloo or the technologies that Inuit have developed that day look at and want to draw from. And in doing that many of them myth the real essential beliefs that underpin all of these practices. So the culture is not just a series of practices but it's practices that are based on very strong belief in the importance of relationships, the importance of monitoring a stewardship of sustainability. And if they miss out on those that whole belief system then they really miss the essence of the culture. They're just kind of skimming the surface mining for the nuggets that they see on the surface instead of going deeper.

AMT: Trevor Bell I know that you're working hand in hand in order to avoid those kinds of misconceptions. Given all of the work you're doing what are your hopes for SmartICE in the future, Trevor Bell?

TREVOR BELL: I hope that SmartICE will be in every community that needs it, that wants it to be operating. I think SmartICE really opens the door to something else which is trying to inspire young Inuit, and we know that they make up a huge percentage of our Northern communities, that can see the value of knowledge, in research and technology as well for socio-economic development communities and also the well-being of communities. And I think that's what I see in different communities across the north including Arviat which is Shirley's community. Good morning Shirley.

SHIRLEY TAGALIK: Good morning Trevor.

TREVOR BELL: You know I think it's great to see young Inuit who can trace a route to the school system and using their knowledge to perhaps find those jobs that incorporate both the traditional knowledge and new technology.

AMT: Well Im going to pick up on that with our next guest so thank you both for speaking about this today.

TREVOR BELL: Thank you.

SHIRLEY TAGALIK: Thank you.

AMT: That is Trevor Bell university research professor in the Department of Geography at Memorial University and the founder and director of SmartICE. He's in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. Shirley Tagalik is the co-author of IQ: What Inuit have Always Known to be True. She is in Arviat, Nunavut. So that combination of indigenous knowledge and the latest science may be the source of SmartICE's strength. It's a combination that's already in school textbooks across Saskatchewan and Glen Aikenhead is a professor emeritus with the aboriginal education research centre at the University of Saskatchewan. He's helped lead the way in bringing indigenous knowledge into that province's classrooms. School boards in other provinces have noticed they're expressing an interest in following Saskatchewan's example. Glen Aikenhead also edited a book called Enhancing School Science with Indigenous Knowledge: What we Know from Teachers and Research. And he joins us from Saskatoon. Hello.

GLEN AIKENHEAD: Good morning Anna Maria.

AMT: How should we understand the differences between indigenous knowledge and western science?

GLEN AIKENHEAD: Well I think it was really clearly articulated by Shirley that the way she explained it I would summarise by it place based knowledge and that is it is extremely high integrity and predictability for the particular place and Trevor explained how those change dramatically within a region. And it also has to do with the purpose of doing these two things. Science is all about producing generalisation knowledge that can be very powerful, but being generalisable, it misses out on details of a specific place. Whereas the indigenous knowledge certainly has the advantage in connecting with the knowledge system, the system of living. And even the expression the expression knowledge, that English word obviously is known and when we make indigenous people talk about their knowledge that doesn't give them a chance to express what that means to them and surely was filling us in on some of the details. The knowledge is about survival. The knowledge is about developing relationships, respecting those relationships. And so there's a whole area of understanding in the Indigenous knowledge that isn't part of scientific knowledge. So I think that that would be one way of categorising the two.

AMT: Or could I go so far as to suggest that it is scientific. It's just that the scientific we've recognised, that it actually dovetails with the scientific knowledge in a way. What are you talking about right?

GLEN AIKENHEAD: Well no.

AMT: I am misunderstanding. Okay. Well I mean let me just ask you though, how did Saskatchewan use in scientific textbooks now and incorporated that that knowledge into the textbooks?

GLEN AIKENHEAD: First of all there are to coexist Gene ways of understanding the world. So there is no dovetailing it's like what an older call two-eyed-scene. You learn the best from their science with which you can see the world from one eye and you learn the best of the indigenous knowledge through which you can see the world home with the other eye. So that's a good metaphor too I'd seen and that's the way the textbooks were produced. The science units were in place. Elders were asked to decide on what Indigenous knowledge which should fit in to each of the four units in a textbook. And so they got to decide what that is and so the two are put into the textbook as to coexisting ways of understanding the universe. There's much less indigenous knowledge probably only five percent. But this five percent of this coexisting knowledge system is enough to make a big difference to the outcome of the achievement of indigenous students and it's very interesting for most non indigenous students as well.

AMT: It sounds like it would enhance their knowledge then.

GLEN AIKENHEAD: Exactly it advances Indigenous students’ knowledge of science because they feel that they don’t have to set aside their traditional knowledge in order to learn science knowledge.

AMT: And for their non-indigenous students it would enhance their scientific knowledge would it not?

GLEN AIKENHEAD: Oh of course as usual but it would also enhance your understanding of their colleagues' indigenous knowledge and I think we call that one feature of reconciliation.

AMT: And so now this is being looked out in many provinces. What do you think the future will be for indigenous knowledge in Canadian academia science and business?

GLEN AIKENHEAD: Within the school system, there is certainly a very growing awareness and with the grandchildren - my grandchildren I see you are really making a big difference in the elementary school and as it develops and the older grades it will be more sophisticated an understanding of these two coexisting ways of understanding the world. To extrapolate that to business and to the universities where are now trying to indigenise the campuses, it's really too early in my mind to to make an accurate prediction but that's certainly what's individual people who are attempting to accomplish.

AMT: It's fascinating. It's good to talk to you given that you're at the forefront of a lot of this. Glen Aikenhead, thank you.

GLEN AIKENHEAD: Thank you very much.

AMT: Glen Aikenhead Professor Emeritus with the aboriginal education research center at the University of Saskatchewan. He joined us from Saskatoon. I will now give a word about the team that made the program this week.

[Music]

LARA O'Brien: Hi. I'm Lara O'Brien one of the producers here at The Current. This week the show was produced by: Idella Sturino, Howard Goldenthal, Pacinthe Mattar, Yamri Taddesse, Willow Smith, Samira Mohyeddin, Liz Hoath, Julian Uzielli, Kristin Nelson, Karin Marley, and John Chipman. The Current's writer is Peter Mitton. Our web producer is Lisa Ayuso with help from Sarah Claydon this week. Our digital producer is Padraig Moran. Transcriptions are provided by Rasha Shehata and Nikhil Sharma. Our technical producer is Gary Francis. Our presentation producer is Josh Bloch. And our documentary editor is Joan Webber. And thanks to our network producers across the country. Our senior producers are Richard Goddard in Toronto and Cathy Simon in Vancouver. The executive producer of The Current is Kathleen Goldhar.

AMT: That's our program for today. Stay with Radio 1 for Q. Catherine Rieman joins guest host Ali Hassan to talk about season two of her hit CBC show Working Moms. Remember you can always take The Current with you to go on the CBC Radio app, browse through past episodes of our shows, start listening in seconds, search for stories you missed or want to hear again, listen live to your local CBC station from your smartphone or tablet or from the App Store or Google Play. And remember if you want to weigh in on what you're hearing today, tweet us @TheCurrentCBC. Go to our Web site cbc.ca/thecurrent or find us on Facebook. After our discussion about thinning sea ice and the North, combining traditional knowledge with cutting edge technology to adapt, we are ending things after today with part of a documentary from Baffin Island that we brought you more than a decade ago. In September of 2006 we dedicated an entire program to the effects of climate change on Canada's North. We spoke only to indigenous people in the north about this. One of the voices we heard then was Enosilik Nashalik an elder in Pangnirtung on Baffin Island in Nunavut. We will leave you with some of he had to say through a translator about traditional knowledge and the changing climate. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti thank you for listening to The Current.

SOUNDCLIP

SNOSILIK NASHALIK: [Via translator] The way they know which way to go was if there is a way down there is a wind and then the way rages for that's how they were able to tell where the wind had been coming from, whether it was coming from north, south, east, west. That's the way they were formed.

AMT: But today he says the ice is not as solid and cold as it used to be. The shifts in weather have left him feeling uncertain.

SNOSILIK NASHALIK: [Via translator] It is quite different nowadays. If you were to try and say how the weather might be in few days or that next day it would be like telling a lie because everything seems to be so unpredictable now with the weather. Everything changes like the wind will change from one direction to another in such a short time that it's very hard to predict how the weather's going to be.

[Music: Theme]

Back To Top »

CBC would like to acknowledge the support of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund.