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Canadian News May 27, 2021 12:54 PM EST

Trudeau Foundation sued over claims they silenced sexual harassment allegation

Cherry Smiley has filed a $1.25M lawsuit, naming the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation as the defendant, in connection with sexual harassment allegations, and pressure from the foundation to sign an NDA.

Trudeau Foundation sued over claims they silenced sexual harassment allegation
James Anthony Montreal QC

Cherry Smiley has filed a $1.25M lawsuit, naming the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation as the defendant, in connection with sexual harassment allegations, and pressure from the foundation to sign an NDA.

Smiley received a scholarship from the foundation in the year 2016, which later had her working under Stephen Kakfwi, who was assigned to be her mentor in St. John's for the "Summer Institute" program, which is run by the foundation.

According to the National Post, that was the beginning of the sexual harassment alleged by the lawsuit.

"The dinner was unusual in that Mr. Kakfwi spent the entire evening talking about himself and did not ask the Plaintiff about her research or her areas of academic interest," reads the complaint.

Then, in the hotel lobby after dinner, "Kakfwi suddenly moved his body extremely close to the Plaintiff and grabbed her upper arm, close to her breast, and squeezed it. He proceeded to hold onto her upper arm for an extended period, rubbing and massaging it."

When Smiley wanted to make her allegations public at the time, a person from the Foundation wrongly advised against it, alleges the complaint:

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

In public, the Foundation has stated that "The Foundation has a different interpretation of several facts alleged in the article published by Radio-Canada." Radio Canada was the outlet that broke the story about the lawsuit.

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