True North
May 28, 2021

A former scholarship student with the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation is suing the organization after claiming that she was sexually harassed by former premier of the Northwest Territories Stephen Kakfwi while he was her mentor there.

According to Nlaxa’pamux Nation member Cherry Smiley, the Trudeau Foundation attempted to cover up the matter by having her sign a non-disclosure agreement and told her that the alleged sexual harassment was a matter of “cultural misunderstanding.”

“They told her that it would be ‘bad for her’ if ‘this got out’ and that ‘Kakfwi could sue her’ and that the Foundation ‘could be accused of racism by Mr. Kakfwi,’” the lawsuit says.

“They attempted to minimize the sexual harassment, telling her that it was just a ‘cultural misunderstanding.’

Simley first joined the foundation’s “Summer Institute” in 2016 as a second year PhD student from Montreal. Only the foundation is named in the lawsuit and not Smiley himself or any other senior employees.

The Trudeau Foundation has yet to file a statement of defence to the allegations which have not been proven in court.

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