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What You Need To Know About Quebec’s Sexual Assault Allegation Surge

CW/TW: Sexual Violence

A wave of Instagram posts documenting sexual violence has surfaced in Quebec. The trend began in early July as anonymously created Instagram accounts began publishing first-hand accounts of sexual assault and harassment within the tattoo and piercing industries.

  • The details of these posts were often graphic and the accused are being called out by their full name.
  • The industry in Quebec is said to employ multiple individuals who have abused their power and exhibited predatory behaviour that has often led to sexual misconduct.

The posts have since branched out to other domains such as bars, universities, and the Quebec arts scene. As allegations began naming French-Canadian celebrities and politicians, a discussion about whether cancel culture would cause the exposed to lose jobs or endorsements began. As the story unfolds, here is what you need to know.

In Short: Allegations of sexual impropriety are shaking Quebecois society as public figures who – due to Quebec’s often insulated culture sphere – may not be as widely known outside of Quebec, are being called out for predatory behaviour.

  • These allegations originated from anonymous, online sources, which have in many cases since been deleted. The timing of these allegations may be a result of an evolving culture where more and more people can feel comfortable coming forward.

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Anonymous Accounts: The accounts sharing these stories originated in multiple cities across Quebec. The usernames of the accounts were mostly variations of the name “victims’ voices.”

  • They shared a similar aesthetic of “note posts” detailing the alleged transgressions.
  • The profiles multiplied and gained traction quickly; accounts began springing up across Canada from Alberta to British Columbia and Nova Scotia.
  • These accounts had collectively reached approximately 75k followers.
  • Montreal’s victims’ voices (which went through more than one name change) generated an estimated 25k followers in just seven days.
Screenshots, Publicly Accessible

“Seeing all these Instagram pages can help [survivors of sexual assault] feel less alone,” said Jennifer Drummond, manager of the sexual assault resource centre at Concordia University. “I see that can make a big difference for people.”

On July 11, however, those who ran the Montreal page said they would delete the account to preserve the team’s anonymity.

In a final Instagram story, they stated, “None of the stories we posted here were from anonymous sources. Every story was from a brave human who trusted us to share their story with all of you.”

Screenshot, Publicly Accessible

Quebec Celebrities Named: The famous and politically influential have not gone unblemished – notable figures from Simple Plan’s David Desrosiers to Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet have been named.

Prominent queer singer-songwriter Safia Nolin named reality T.V. celebrity Maripier Morin concerning an incident of assault that transpired in May 2018.

  • The post that was shared on Nolin’s personal Instagram has reached more than eight thousand comments.
  • It describes Morin’s advancements of unwanted touching, racist comments and that Nolin had been bitten on the thigh so hard it left a bruise for two weeks.
  • Morin has numerous influential partnerships, including Buick, Bonlook and Goodfood.
  • Some of these brands have since announced that they will be severing ties either immediately, or when her contract ends.
  • Bell Media followed suit a few days after the accusation, withdrawing Morin’s multiple programs from the air, in a similar manner to Jessica Mulroney’s show “I Do, Redo” which was pulled following her controversy in June.

So far, Morin’s Quebec following has not entirely cancelled her, a petition to reinstate her programs and endorsements has gained more than 100,000 signatures.

The Libel Issue: As the posts spread, so did defamation concerns.

Survivors explicitly shared the accused’s full names, city of residence and professions, exposing themselves to civil libel suits. According to CBC Montreal, multiple individuals received cease and desist letters as a result of their Instagram posts.

“I encourage people to consult with a legal clinic or a lawyer. And that’s specific to when you’re naming people publicly,” said Drummond.

Since the higher volume accounts no longer exist, the comments sections of the many other victims/survivors’ voices accounts are monitored with a code of conduct. For instance, survivors’ voices of Nova Scotia forbids users from threats and tagging family members or friends of the alleged aggressors.

Why Now? Canadians digital media consumption has increased as we continue to spend more time online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In conjunction with the #BlackLivesMatter Movement, the overarching sentiment is in line with a distrust of the criminal justice system.

“What we’re seeing is a more public dialogue and criticism around the police,” said Drummond. “It also contributes to a context in which people are looking for other avenues or spaces in which to put out their stories.”

Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault case sparked the social media #MeToo movement in October 2017. This hashtag brought about an overwhelming degree of survivors to post publicly across social media platforms about past trauma with sexual violence.

  • Quebec is presently encountering a similar moment, as people are becoming cognizant of what constitutes sexual violence.
  • “They can feel empowered to name their experience,” said Drummond.

The Bottom Line:

Quebec’s culture industry is often insulated from the rest of Canada which allows stories like this to remain relatively geographically isolated. Whether or not this story conforms to that narrative remains to be seen, what appears to be true is that waves are rippling throughout Quebecois society.


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