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Yellowknife MLA urges accountability for online sexual abuse

Last modified: February 28, 2022 at 6:25pm


Yellowknife MLA Katrina Nokleby on Monday described the sexual harassment she has faced online since she ran for office and became a territorial politician.

Nokleby, the MLA for Yellowknife’s Great Slave district, said she had received “disturbing messages” in a powerful statement delivered at the Legislative Assembly.

Most recently, Nokleby said, she was sent messages on Saturday night by someone who said they wanted to meet her. After she didn’t respond, Nokleby said, the messages escalated to include “a pornographic photo and vulgar language.” 

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“This isn’t the first time,” she said of the incident. “Ever since I ran for MLA I’ve received unwanted attention online, including photographs such as this one.

“Last year – on my birthday, just as I was waking up – I received a very shocking, inappropriate video from a stranger ‘as a gift.’”

Nokleby shared frustration at such harassment in a post to Facebook on Sunday. On Monday, she described the response as “overwhelming and frankly disturbing” as many women shared similar experiences. 

“The law is clear. An indecent act includes exposing someone to one’s private parts without consent, no matter how that exposure occurs, including photography,” she said.

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“Given my experience over the weekend, I don’t think the message is getting out there and I’m worried about the impact on our vulnerable youth if we don’t hold people accountable for online sexual assault.” 

Nokleby, who pointed out the NWT has a high rate of sexual assault, wants the territory to implement legislation known as Clare’s Law, which would allow police to tell someone if their new partner has a history of intimate partner violence.

Caroline Wawzonek, the minister responsible for the status of women, said the territorial government is monitoring the introduction of that legislation in southern provinces.

Wawzonek said people in the NWT can report incidents to RCMP or take civil action in the courts if they experience sexualized violence.

The minister said people can contact the Status of Women Council of the NWT for support and resources, including online support to create a safety plan.

The territorial government is still working on an action plan to address the calls for justice issued by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

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