As more women who received bizarre and inappropriate responses to their job applications to wilderness company Amaruk come forward, efforts to reach the company’s CEO have left CBC News questioning whether the business and its jobs even exist.
Amaruk Wilderness Corp. hit headlines this week after CBC News reported on a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal complaint, in which a Trinity Western University graduate — Bethany Paquette — claims her application to work for the company was rejected because she’s Christian.
Since Paquette’s complaint was reported, CBC News has heard from other applicants, including Lucie Clermont, who applied to Amaruk last year for a job listed as the executive assistant to the CEO, which promised a $120,000 salary and world travel.
Clermont’s application was met with a number of emails asking awkward questions — some of them sexual — followed by more that became insulting.
“We are very un-Canadian in the sense that we do not embrace mediocrity,” one of the emails reads, apparently from Eric Teheiura, vice president South Pacific. “We are not about to hire just anybody to assist a CEO, consular official, and member of one of Europe’s wealthiest families.”
Sophie Waterman applied for the same job, but soon believed it sounded too good to be true. She withdrew her application after a friend in the tourism industry warned her Amaruk might not be all that it seems.
“When I cancelled the interview, I received about 15 emails in quick succession,” she says. “All pretending to be from different people involved with the company, and all very litigious, accusing me and my friend of slander. My feeling is that it’s all one person.”
But if that’s the case, who that person is remains something of a mystery.
Christopher Fragassi-Bjørnsen and Dwayne Kenwood -Bjørnsenare are listed as co-CEOs of Amaruk along with several other businesses, including Norealis, Spartic and Militis.
But the men do not live in Europe and they are not diplomats. And if Olaf Amundsen — the man who allegedly sent Paquette the offensive emails — is real, the picture of him on the company website is not. In fact, it’s an image grabbed from social media site Pinterest.
One of the companies, Norealis, is listed as owning a male erotic website called MaleCorps.com. Many of the models found on that site can also be found in images on the other companies’ websites.
The domain names of the websites for all the companies were registered in B.C. by a Christopher Fragassi, who lists a Whistler P.O. Box as his address.
Only Christopher Fragassi is named on Amaruk’s B.C. corporate registry entry, though Industry Canada’s website lists 217 employees and 20 company directors. Calls to several listed numbers reached no one, just a hold signal that played the song of loons down the phone line.
Experienced Yukon guide Nicolas Tilgner saw CBC News’s original story about Amaruk and was reminded of the red flags raised when the company tried to join a tourism association in the north three years ago.
At the time, Amaruk’s website claimed to operate its own airline called Amaruk Air.
“We were quite perplexed with the claims of air transport they were saying they provide. They were saying they provide a C-130 heavy aircraft.
“We did find [that] the picture on their website they were using belongs to a military agency.”
The photo and the plane pictured, it turns out, actually belongs to the New York National Guard.
Tilgner said flags were also raised over a picture purportedly of an outpost in the Yukon that does not exist, and the fact Amaruk was offering trips to Baffin Island in December, despite such trips only being allowed from the spring
“We didn’t really see any of their staff guides in the field or operating in the Whitehorse area,” he notes. “They seem to be a company that existed on the web only.”
CBC News sent questions to several Amaruk email addresses about these new allegations. Their lawyer says these are simply allegations. The company has not made any comment.
Curiouser and curiouser…