At 19, I was thrilled to land a summer job working the snack bar on a tourist whale-watching boat in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to make some money before going back to school in the fall, and I was excited about the idea of spending my days on the water.

It didn’t work out as well as I would have hoped. I was the only woman working on the boat and from day one, I was subjected to ongoing sexual harassment by the captain and other male crew members. Nobody ever touched me, but there were constant jokes and leering and comments, and I never felt safe. 

I felt like there was nothing I could do to stop it. I didn’t even feel safe to seem annoyed or sad. I was young, inexperienced, and out on the water with a bunch of men who did not care about me. I didn’t know who I could possibly report to that would take me seriously. So, I kept quiet and served snacks and drinks. Lots of days when I left work, I would cry in my car all the way home. It just felt really shitty.

When I think now about that summer, my heart goes out to my younger self. I learned some tough lessons that summer, for sure.