Three years after # Moi-aussi, workers in Quebec’s cultural community continue to be the target of inappropriate behavior on the part of work colleagues. A worrying finding, which nevertheless testifies to the reality of this environment whose examination of conscience comes up against the capacity to crack down on certain problematic people.
“There are names that keep coming back. There are still predators whose names have never been released in the public arena, ”says lawyer Virginie Maloney, who coordinates L’Aparté, a resource born in the wake of the 2017 movement to counter harassment and violence in the cultural milieu in Quebec.
The month of July demonstrated that the silence had not been totally broken as thousands of denunciations, both anonymous and openly, invaded social networks.
In a few weeks, L’Aparté opened 114 new cases related to denunciations, equivalent to the total number of cases handled in the past two years. Half of the calls received relate to cases of psychological harassment, then the other half to sexual violence.
Many people working in the field, who confided in the Duty, argue that they must continue to work with individuals with problematic behaviors.
“It’s worrying because there are women who, even today, go to work without feeling comfortable or safe,” emphasizes Dominic Pilon, president of the Alliance québécoise des technicians de l. image and sound (AQTIS).
Are we to conclude that there are “untouchables”? No, assure the various stakeholders contacted by The duty, who stress however that they are grappling with the legal limits of possible interventions.
“Our members are in a precarious situation, they are freelancers, so go face up to the kodak to denounce someone is difficult because they are afraid for their careers, ”notes Mr. Pilon.
In 2017, AQTIS and the Union des artistes (UDA) were inundated with appeals. A scenario that repeated itself this summer.
“Phones ring a lot and our environment is no different from others. Wherever there is power, there are people who misuse it […] Right now, our goal is for people to come out of the silence and be able to exercise their profession without fear, “said Sophie Prégent, president of the UDA.
” Open secret “
Sandrine (fictitious name) is one of those who took the phone. When Eric Salvail was the target of allegations of sexual misconduct on October 16, 2017, and Gilbert Rozon the next day, disturbing memories resurfaced, said the woman who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals. She says she has been the victim of an influential man in the television industry as well as witnessing inappropriate actions towards other women in the past decade.
“He is a dangerous man and there are producers who know about it,” laments the woman, who has twice experienced touching from the individual in question. “He grabbed my breasts, once in front of people, and everyone responded by saying, ‘You know that he’s like that.’ It’s like because everyone knows this guy has the right to touch us, ”she recalls.
Sandrine also witnessed the man’s insistence on a young woman during a wrap-party few years ago. “The young woman was heading for the bathroom and we saw her follow her and accost her in a corner. There are people who intervened, it spoiled the mood, “she says.
Yet, even today, the individual works on major television sets. Virginie (fictitious name), who lived a similar situation with the same man, is outraged to see him again every day. “I can’t believe we have to keep seeing him face down, when almost everyone knows he’s a problem. I feel like we continue to put women at risk, “she says.
Stories like those of Sandrine and Virginie, AQTIS and UDA confirm having heard about it. “Unfortunately, we cannot confront someone head-on just on allegations, because if a victim does not want to be identified, we must make sure to preserve his confidentiality,” said Mr. Pilon.
However, calls for directors and producers were made when names came up repeatedly.
“My predecessor toured several producers in 2017 and I did it again in 2020,” says Mr. Pilon.
Alexandre Curzi, who chaired AQTIS in 2017 during the #MoiAussi wave, confirms having warned producers of inappropriate behavior by some of their collaborators on their film sets.
“It was a bit of a cowboy way of doing things,” he agrees. We had to find a way to intervene because we are still talking about the health and safety of many women at work, he emphasizes. I also confronted guys by telling them that they had acted, that we had been made aware, that we could not do anything against them, but that it was unacceptable and that we were going to have them. to the eye, ”he says.
“#MeToo made us understand that with women, it’s an open secret not to be alone with certain men,” he continues.
After the July wave, L’Aparté is also preparing to meet with employers. “We have several cases in progress, but it is very delicate, notes Me Maloney. When we founded L’Aparté, that was one of the first questions we asked ourselves. What do we do if we have 15 people calling us to denounce the same person? When should we lift the flag ? »She says. “It has been established that the consent of each person is required to carry out the procedure. To preserve their confidentiality, we can’t tell them how many complaints we have received, but we can at least tell them that they are not alone, “she says.
“Our goal is to educate the employer without harming the victim’s file,” she adds.
The denunciation movements have also had the desired effect, assure the speakers, who highlight the examination of conscience undertaken by the community since 2017.
“There is a serious change in mores at all levels. I was in the days when it was elbowed, when directors were gods and screamed at everyone. It’s not yet perfect, but I think the number of inappropriate gestures has dropped drastically in recent years, “said Mr. Pilon.
An opinion shared by Mme Prégent, who points out that every year, reminders of the code of conduct are issued to employees. It is that in recent months, in addition to sexual violence, another scourge of the industry has come to light: psychological harassment.
A course entitled “Once upon a time … too many” is offered by the National Institute of Image and Sound (INIS), a vocational training center in cinema, television and interactive media.
“The training at INIS tells us what harassment in all its forms is, and you know, it’s harder than you think to spot it. I’m in it all day long and I sunk it, I had to do it twice “, says Mme Present.