Black Press Files Police were on scene as soon as 7:05 p.m. to respond to a multi-vehicle crash involving a sheriff’s van.

Black Press Files Police were on scene as soon as 7:05 p.m. to respond to a multi-vehicle crash involving a sheriff’s van.

Class action filed against RCMP over alleged Indigenous mistreatment

A class-action lawsuit filed in an Edmonton court alleges RCMP in the three northern territories regularly assault and abuse Indigenous people.

A class-action lawsuit filed in an Edmonton court alleges RCMP in the three northern territories regularly assault and abuse Indigenous people.

“We know from anecdotal and media reports that this class is going to be quite significant,” said Steven Cooper, one of the lawyers involved in the lawsuit filed against the federal government on Wednesday.

The statement of claim, which contains allegations that have not been proven in court, points to the example of David Nasogaluak, a resident of Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T.

It says that in November 2017, Nasogaluak, then 15, was stopped and questioned by officers as he was riding his snowmobile outside town with five friends.

The statement says officers beat, choked, punched, Tasered and used racial insults against Nasogaluak. It says he was handcuffed and taken to the police station, where he was released without charge.

Officers continued to drive by Nasogaluak’s home until his mother called to complain. The lawsuit says Nasogaluak suffered lasting physical and emotional damage, and has since quit school.

Such treatment is far too common across Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, the statement says.

“It is well known in the territories that Aboriginal persons are improperly targeted by the RCMP on the basis of their race, ancestry and beliefs.”

Cooper, who has long legal experience in both Nunavut and the N.W.T., said the courts must first rule that there is an issue to be considered, which would define who was eligible to be a plaintiff in the class action. If the courts certify the lawsuit, appropriate plaintiffs can then sign on.

He said his office routinely receives complaints about RCMP misbehaviour.

“It is indicative of what’s happening across the country. There’s no shortage of videos.”

Read more: $500 million lawsuit proposed on coerced sterilization in Alberta

Read more: Trudeau wants new relationship with Indigenous people to be his legacy as PM

One such video documented the apparent beating of Bernard Naulilak in RCMP cells in July 2016 and led to a debate in the Nunavut legislature about whether the territory should form a civilian body to review complaints against the force.

Nor was that the first time the issue was debated by Nunavut lawmakers. In 2015, a report was commissioned into police misconduct. The report was never released.

A letter that year from Nunavut’s legal-aid service suggested it had information on 30 cases of excessive use of force. The service’s chairwoman has said there were 27 civil cases filed between 2014 and 2017.

In 2010, the Yukon government released its own report on similar concerns. That led to the formation of a council that visits the territory’s communities annually to discuss policing concerns.

RCMP in Nunavut have defended their record.

Statistics released by the territory’s V Division indicate Mounties responded to 27,000 calls and held 7,500 people in custody last year. The force received 13 complaints between 2016 and 2018.

Cooper said such numbers reveal little.

Misconduct complaints are always going to be swamped in Nunavut by the huge numbers of arrests, he said. As well, few in tiny, remote communities far from legal advice are willing to take on authority.

“The complaint system is intimidating and not very friendly. Most people won’t know about it, won’t know how to access it and have zero faith in the ability of the complaints commission to deal with these types of issues.”

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shirley Falstead is running for city council in the byelection. Photo: Submitted
Shirley Falstead enters Castlegar council race

Shirley Falstead is the first candidate to aim for the council seat in byelection

This Dec. 2, 2020, file photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. (Johnson & Johnson via AP)
Interior Health notes 80 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

108 people in the region have died from the virus

Selkirk College’s Tenth St. Campus in Nelson is among the locations where Interior Health will deliver the COVID-19 vaccine within the West Kootenay. Photo: Selkirk College
West Kootenay vaccine locations announced

Interior Health has released a list of places to receive the COVID-19 vaccine

A West Kootenay man died in an avalanche on March 4 while snowmobiling near Mount Payne, which is indicted by the red flag. Illustration: Google Maps
Father of 3 dead after avalanche in West Kootenay

The man was snowmobiling with a group when incident occurred March 4

Last week warming temperatures were a concern for Avalanche Canada forecasters, and those trends likely contributed to an avalanche that killed a West Kootenay snowmobiler on Thursday, March 4. Jen Coulter file photo.
Warming trend contributed to Kaslo fatality: Avalanche Canada

Concern for persistent layers has reduced since then

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Montreal Canadiens right wing Paul Byron (41) fights for control of the puck with Vancouver Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes (43) during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Monday, March 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Captain Clutch: Horvat nets shootout winner as Canucks edge Habs 2-1

Vancouver, Montreal tangle again on Wednesday

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Have thoughts on B.C.’s review of the provincial Police Act?

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

Most Read