Inuk actor and athlete Johnny Issaluk responds to allegations of inappropriate behaviour
Johnny Issaluk says he never meant to hurt anyone, but 'by not healing from my own trauma, I have hurt others'
Johnny Issaluk says he is "truly sorry" for the pain he has caused after allegations of inappropriate advances were made on social media Wednesday.
In a statement emailed to CBC, Issaluk said "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."
Wednesday night, celebrated Inuk filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril posted lengthy social media posts on Twitter and Facebook alleging Issaluk had "fondled" her bum without permission at a party. She also posted that she had heard from other women who shared similar stories.
Arnaquq-Baril is best known for her 2016 documentary Angry Inuk. She also made a short film Inuit High Kick starring Issaluk, which played at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
I know it starts with me taking responsibility for my actions.- Johnny Issaluk, Inuk actor and athlete
In light of the allegations, Indspire suspended an award to the athlete and actor on Thursday. The organization was honouring Issaluk for his sports achievements, but the nomination is now under review by the Indspire jury.
Issaluk may be best known for recent acting roles in AMC's The Terror and Indian Horse, but before getting into acting he was a successful Inuit games athlete, winning over 200 medals in regional and international events over the course of two decades.
In his statement Friday, Issaluk said he never meant to hurt anyone, but he did hurt people because he had never healed from his own trauma. In his statement, Issaluk did not elaborate on his trauma.
He also says he is seeking treatment for alcoholism, but doesn't want to use this as an excuse for his behaviour.
"We must stop this cycle in our community," he wrote. "And I know it starts with me taking responsibility for my actions."
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed spoke at the Arctic Inspiration Prize ceremony in Ottawa saying he believes Arnaquq-Baril.
In an interview later with CBC, Obed said, "more leaders, not just politicians, but more Inuit leaders will come out in real time as well and support those who bring forward concerns."
Read the full text of Issaluk's email:
February 7, 2020
To whom it may concern
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.
It was never my intention to hurt anybody, but I know I did. By not healing from my own trauma, I have hurt others. We must stop this cycle in our community. And I know it starts with me taking responsibility for my actions.
I am also seeking treatment for my alcoholism, which is no excuse, but has made this behaviour worse and caused more pain to those I love.
I want to thank my friends and family for their support and I deeply regret the shame that is now shared
I hope I can one day earn your forgiveness.
Where to get help
If you or someone you know needs to talk, help is available.
With files from Olivia Stefanovich