The Folk on the Rocks festival says Eugene Boulanger, who performs as Young Dene, has been removed from its roster of performers after allegations of harm were brought forward.
In a statement on Monday, festival organizers wrote: “Folk on the Rocks has been contacted by several persons who have shared alleged experiences of violence from a member of our 2021 artist lineup: Young Dene.
“In keeping with our commitments to safety and a community space free from harm, we have made the decision to remove Young Dene from our list of performers.”
Festival executive director Carly McFadden said the removal of Boulanger “was a difficult decision to make.”
By email, McFadden wrote: “Folk on the Rocks firmly believes survivors. At the end of the day, we are committed to making Folk a safe space.”
McFadden said the festival was made aware of rumoured allegations a few weeks ago but received “first-hand accounts by community members” on Sunday that “centred around experiences of sexualized violence.”
The allegations against Boulanger have not been independently reported to or verified by Cabin Radio.
This is the first time the festival has publicly removed an artist from its lineup, McFadden said, though she added Folk on the Rocks had previously “chosen not to work with performers for reasons of a similar nature.”
Boulanger said he was “beyond disappointed” in the festival’s decision, which he described as “made in the absence of any transparent complaint process and without my involvement, and which has had serious implications on my career and personal well being,” in a statement released by his lawyer Monday afternoon.
“As a survivor of sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse myself, I strongly denounce all acts of sexual violence and stand with survivors, including Dene men and Dene queer men,” Boulanger’s statement read.
“While I believe strongly that survivors must be heard and believed, I also believe there must be a transparent process of justice that allows for those accused to be afforded an opportunity to respond to false allegations.”