As an organization that believes in honouring the dignity of all people, PAL Ottawa is deeply disturbed to hear from young women in our national capital arts community who are now sharing their experiences of abuse at the hands of our fellow arts workers. The recent disclosures again challenge us to act on the fact that sexual harassment and assault are, unfortunately, as prevalent across cultural industries (and in community arts groups) as they are in society at large.
At this critical time, it is important that we as a community do not raise barriers against those who have come forward (nor against those yet to speak out). We must not pick apart their stories. We must not seek to water down or dismiss allegations against individuals or institutions simply because it is hard to square such horrors against people or organizations we thought we knew well.
If the #MeToo movement has taught us anything, it is that we must listen to and respect the voices of those who have the courage to speak about what has been – or may currently be occurring – to them. We believe we must have solid harassment policies and procedures in place. Indeed, PAL Ottawa is in a process of ensuring our own policies and procedures are thorough and complete. We also need to be proactive enough to ensure that we never have to resort to them, to ensure that damage is not done in the first place. That means education, dialogue, and zero tolerance for the broad range of unacceptable behaviours that make unsafe the spaces in which we gather.
PAL Ottawa thus adds its voice in support of the women in Ottawa who have recently spoken up, and the women who have yet to do so. We also support, encourage, and would participate in dialogue, education, training, and institutional and individual change that we need to see across our professions – and in community groups as well – to ensure that the places we love working in are safe, respectful, and dignified for all who occupy and live in them.
The Board of Directors of PAL Ottawa
Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre (Crisis Line at 613-562-2333)
Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa (Evening Text Support Line at 613-209-2272)
Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women
Canadian Actors Equity Association’s Not in Our Space Anti-Harassment and Respectful Workplace Campaign
ACTRA/Directors Guild of Canada HAVEN Hotline (855-201-7823, members only)
Canadian Creative Industries Code of Conduct