Woman who made allegations of domestic assault against Wab Kinew speaks out

Kathleen Martens
APTN National News
The woman at the centre of a political storm says she doesn’t want to be there.

“I’m not into politics, I’d rather keep out of it,” said Tara Hart of Winnipeg.

She’s in the middle of questions swirling around provincial NDP leadership candidate Wab Kinew, as the alleged victim of a domestic assault in 2003.

Hart spoke to APTN Thursday.

She said the two were in a common-law relationship when he threw or pushed her across the room and she suffered rug burn on her legs and hands.

She said she didn’t require medical care.

“I looked after myself,” she said.

Hart says that ended the two-year relationship with her moving out immediately.

“My grandmother came to pick me up. I left him with all the contents. I just took one laundry basket full of clothes.”

She says Kinew tried to contact her afterwards but she “didn’t go back.”

Hart says she put the incident behind her, noting “it” only happened “one time.” But seeing and hearing coverage of Kinew in the media leading up to this weekend’s NDP convention in Winnipeg has caused her stress.

She says that stress ratcheted up a few weeks ago when Kinew messaged her online to warn that reporters might be calling.

“It’s so long ago; it’s in the past. I didn’t want it to come out.”

But with the support of her family members and friends, Hart says she’s speaking out. Albeit fearfully.

“I’m scared of his people that support him to come against me,” she said. “He has a lot of friends.”

“I’m not doing this for attention,” she added. “I wanted this to go away – I wanted the court documents to go away.”

It’s been reported that someone in Kinew’s own party dug up the 14-year-old court papers and leaked them to media outlets. The documents show Kinew was charged with two counts of domestic assault by the RCMP.

The charges were stayed by the Crown – or dropped – in 2004, as the Fort Rouge MLA has said.

Kinew says no assault took place. “That never happened,” he told APTN Thursday. “The matter was investigated and the charges were dropped.”

Hart says it’s hard to hear Kinew deny anything happened.

“He knows what he did. Now he’s saying he didn’t do it.”

Hart says police investigated and laid criminal charges. Even though she blames herself.

“I went to the police because he assaulted me; physically injured (me). I changed my mind towards him when I seen him in public. I’d steer clear of him. I’d walk away.”

She says it was hard because she was friends with Kinew’s mother and sister. For a time she says the couple lived in the family’s basement.

But she says it’s important to get her side out.

“Him being a First Nations man, I feel responsible somewhat to speak up about what I went through. I don’t support violence like that.”

Hart says Kinew told her he’s turned his life around. She says she hung up on him.  “It was kind of hurtful.”

Kinew, 35, confirmed the two spoke on the phone after he gave her the heads up. He says he didn’t ask Hart for anything.

“The allegation didn’t happen,” he said in a telephone interview. “I’m sympathetic to this person. (They are) still going through some suffering and I want to take responsibility for anything I did that contributed to the end of the relationship.”

Like Hart, Kinew said it was important to talk about domestic violence as the spotlight shines on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

“This is a huge issue in the Indigenous community,” he said, referring to the national inquiry underway on the subject. “I will continue talking to young men about how to be better partners and have healthy relationships.”

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18 thoughts on “Woman who made allegations of domestic assault against Wab Kinew speaks out

  1. This is pure ignorance. The level of acceptance of hurting one’s partner that you display makes me question if your partner is safe.

  2. Wab should have admitted it and apologized. This could be a big problem for him with the voters come election time. Why after talking about so much in his past does he refuse to acknowledge this? Dirty move by whoever leaked this if it is fact another NDPer. I guess they’d rather the whole party go down than see Wab win…

  3. reading these comments from his supporters and it’s not hard to figure out the MMIW mystery – can you say enablers

  4. Domestic violence is huge in our Indigenous communities. That is quite true. That is indicative of historical trauma that goes untreated for many. Some never get healing and live with anger, jealousy and hatred all their lives. On a personal level, when I was a child there were times when I did not recognize my own mom from the beatings she got from dad. Do I like to talk about this? No I don’t, but sometime we have to share these unfortunate life situations with others in that spirit of support and sharings. When I turned 12, my dad decided to turn his life around. He left the church faith and turned to Anishnabe culture and left the alcohol. He healed from a dark past that he carried with him for 40-something years. Today I can say he is the second best man to ever walk this earth. I’ve seen his change and I’ve witnessed his healings. How he apologized for the wrong he’s done to us as a family with his drinking and anger and jealousy. Our Indigenous men (and women) can and do heal! But they cannot heal without the support, compassion, understanding and love of family, friends and community. Hearts and arms need to be opened to our people who want to heal. Miiyah!

  5. That’s what happens when you don’t know who you are as an Indian and try to be a White man….you suffer the consequences for seeking equality especially in the whitemans realm of “politics”….

  6. Your idea of domestic abuse is shameful Being punched in the face and body where the marks don’t show is abuse, just because supper wasn’t ready or good enough, Abuse is being afraid to sleep because you were threatened to have a pillow put on your face while you sleep, by the one you love! Abuse is not being allowed to have friends, & the reason is for your “well-being” Thank the Creator I finally left that 7 year abusive relationship!!’ Being pushed is not abuse, because if it was…. EVERYONE WOULD BE CHARGED! At one point in their life

  7. Domestic abuse? Getting pushed and getting rug burns??? Are you serious??? Domestic abuse is coming home & getting punched in the face for not having supper ready, abuse is being afraid to go to sleep because the one you love says he wants to kill you, Domestic abuse you is when your told it’s your fault because of their concern for you!!!!! If getting pushed is abuse, EVERYONE SHOULD GET CHARGED!!!

    1. Please stop. Domestic violence, like all violence occurs on a spectrum. Being pushed or shoved is as much domestic violence as a punch to the face. Don’t minimize the violence that other people have suffered, simply because you have completely bizarre ideas about what constitutes abuse. Your comment is entirely unhelpful, not to mention just factually wrong.

  8. Seems like she is double talking here “I’m over it but you know seeing him..” please pushed shoved which one was it you can’t have both…you can’t even remember the incident.

  9. He implied in his memoir that he did not always make the right choices in relationships and how intergerational trauma impacts a person, so the fact that a woman he had a relationship with claims he did hurt her is not really surprising. I have great sympathy for Ms. Hart for her pain and suffering (including the retraumatizing she seems to be experiencing as a result of his denial of the incident). It is sad that Mr. Kinew feels he can’t be honest about his past if that’s the case. He’s damned if he admits it (as it impacts his chances in making real societal change at the government level) and he’s damned if he doesn’t having to live a lie. Sad for everyone involved and for people as a whole trying to walk a road to reconciliation. When will we learn?

  10. Speaking about a violent incident, even years later, still has its traumatic effects, especially since the charges were stayed (not dropped). These are two very different terms. The RCMP would not have laid a charge if they thought the assault didn’t take place.There are still questions like ‘why didn’t the investigation go ahead?’ Possibly because she was too frightened or too ashamed? Only the two involved know what really happened. No matter how many years ago the violence happened, it will bubble up and force us to think about how we can put an end to unnecessary violence and hurt.

  11. I think this is very poor reporting!! I find Wab Kinew to be a very insightful First Nations reporter and this is craps in a bucket approach has to stop!!

  12. By commenting on this publicly you are acting against your own people, because this was deliberately leaked. We all have skeletons in the closet and you should be proud how far our brother has come, especially if you understand the struggle of survival in this world, never mind the ability to thrive. Don’t let people who would see him fail because of racism or hypocrisy win. Just hold him to task in creating circumstances to further support our brothers and sisters from falling into negative domestic cycles. That’s real and traditional power. Only speak good to the media of each other.

    1. No, speak your truth and ignore others who would deny your pain. Protecting a violent offender is providing them with immunity to continue to harm others. You are not acting against your own people and for the individuals who suggested this they should be ashamed.

  13. I am the daughter of an abusive biological father and I have struggled to cope with the generational trauma of my mother’s abuse as well as my own trauma, for the span of my life. And #IBelieveTara

    Why, why, why are we so enamoured with tall, handsome charming men that we are willing to overlook such terrible ugliness towards women?

    And can we focus on this especially ugly truth: women on Wab’s 2015 election campaign effectively betrayed every victim of domestic violence when they stood behind him after the offensive lyrics to his music came to light. No man who writes lyrics as repugnant as his could have even a modicum of respect for women. And considering that these charges and his treatment of women have been whispered about for a long long time one has to ask, what will these women do now?

    How the NDP, and other public figures, handle this situation is crucially important; if they do nothing, if they look the other way with Wab, as they’ve done time and time again, they will silence the voice of women, and *especially* aboriginal women. We will continue to be marginalized and suffer, alone and in silence. The ugly cycle of this generational trauma will continue because no one is willing to stand up and do the right thing.

  14. Politics is a very dirty game, even if you run in the same party, they will purposely look for ways to tarnish your reputation for their own gain! Wan should know this and should have expected it! As a First Nation member myself, you should know by now, if you’re going to be a leader, lead by example!! If we did what the non aboriginal people do in politics (look for dirt on fellow politicians) most of our so-called chiefs and councillors or provincial and federal leaders wouldn’t be where they are today! Lots of crime and bad behaviour within our own leadership, yet we seem to allow it! My question is why? Is it because we are more forgiving than the whiteman or are we just foolish and don’t care?

  15. How convenient that she wants to talk about it now. No police report! No need for medical attention required. If he wasn’t in a political campaign this story never would have surfaced! Grasping at straws in political moves.

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