Indspire says Inuk athlete Johnny Issaluk will not get an award at March ceremony
National Indigenous organization suspended athlete's achievement award after 'serious allegations'
A national Indigenous organization says Johnny Issaluk will not be honoured at its award ceremony next week.
President and CEO of Indspire, Roberta Jamieson, says there will be no awards handed out for sports this year.
Issaluk was supposed to be recognized for his athletic achievements at the award ceremony in Ottawa on March 6. Every year the organization awards Indigenous professionals for outstanding career achievements.
"There were serious allegations raised with me, that caused me to take the decision to suspend the award," said Jamieson.
After social media posts by Inuk filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril came to light earlier this month, Indspire suspended the award. However, Jamieson wouldn't say what the "serious allegations" are or if they had to do with the post.
"I don't think it's fair to talk about the specifics of the allegation," said Jamieson.
It also takes courage for a person to stand up and say they need help to no longer treat others badly.- Cathy Towtongie, MLA Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet
Issaluk's award will be reviewed by the Indspire jury made up of past recipients, said Jamieson.
Jamieson wouldn't speculate if Issaluk could potentially still get the award depending on the decision of the jury.
"One expects these are people who have made outstanding contributions to the Indigenous community," said Jamieson about Indspire award recipients. "It's the highest honour Indigenous people can bestow upon our own people nationally."
Jamieson said Indspire has the right to revoke an award even after it has been given. However, she says she is not aware of this ever happening.
Post sparks conversation in Legislature
Arnaquq-Baril's social media post has sparked conversation in the Nunavut Legislature.
Cathy Towtongie, member for Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet, said in a member's statement Monday that she is concerned about society's "current approaches to addressing sexual assault."
"It concerns me when national leaders immediately jump to side with one individual who makes a public accusation against another," Towtongie said.
Towtongie did not give names in her statement.
After Arnaquq-Baril made her social media post, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Natan Obed said he stood with and believed Arnaquq-Baril. He made a statement at the Arctic Inspiration Prize ceremony in Ottawa on Feb. 5, the night the social media posts were published, in support of Arnaquq-Baril.
Towtongie said that as leaders it's their job to not only support victims, but to support abusers who need healing as well.
"We need to work towards supporting all those who need to heal," said Towtongie.
In her statement Towtongie referred to the impacts colonization has had on the Inuit. She said these impacts have an effect on how people treat each other today.
"It takes courage for a person to stand up and say they will no longer be treated badly, but it also takes courage for a person to stand up and say they need help to no longer treat others badly," said Towtongie.
CBC has contacted Issaluk for comment but has not heard back.
None of the allegations in the social media posts against Issaluk have been verified by CBC.