British Columbia

'Almost everybody has a story': B.C. actors union to host sexual harassment forum

The union representing B.C. performers is encouraging its members to share their stories of sexual harassment at a town hall meeting Monday night.

Union says town hall will be a 'safe place' for women to share concerns

The Union of British Columbia Performers/ACTRA is hosting a women in television and movies town hall to share grievances on sexual harassment in Vancouver on Oct. 30. (Shutterstock)

The union representing B.C. performers (UBCP) is encouraging its members to share their stories of sexual harassment at a town hall meeting Monday night.

Female members organized the forum in light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and thousands of women identifying themselves as victims of sexual harassment or assault using the hashtag #metoo on social media.

The union is hosting the town hall to provide women in the industry with "a safe place to express their fear, anger, and sorrow," according to a release.

Sue Brouse, director of human resources for the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television, and Radio Artists (ACTRA), says this is the first opportunity of its kind for B.C. performers to discuss unwanted interactions, rather than privately among themselves.

"Apparently certain performers may warn other performers about safe people to work with, or maybe people who aren't safe to work with," said Brouse.

"There may be sort of a community telephone going on. But as far as it being officially brought to the union, we haven't been made as aware."

Brouse says in her six years working with the union, only three formal sexual harassment cases have been brought forward.

"People worry about reporting all kinds of issues because of the repercussions of their work situation, that they are hired by the day and that they are worried about [how] coming forward might affect their careers or their jobs."

Since 2015, the B.C. branch of ACTRA has had a health and safety performer advocate who can provide direction and resources for reporting harassment, but Brouse says the severity of the issue is more evident. 

"We're now knowing from the #metoo campaign that almost everybody has a story," said Brouse. 

In addition to the town hall on Oct. 30, the union is considering a forum for male members and changes to union legislation to better protect performers.