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.

Just Posted

Castlegar athletes excel at 55+ Games

Castlegar residents bring home 28 individual medals and six team medals.

Castlegar Rebels split weekend opener

Rebels opened KIJHL regular season with a win over Grand Forks and a loss against Spokane.

Disability employment awareness month: open house and inclusive employer award

Events take place in Nelson and Castlegar this week

Kootenay author to launch memoir at Castlegar library

D.M. Ditson will share intimate memoir about sexual assault, PTSD and recovery.

LETTERS: On trails, environment, fall fair

Castlegar News letters to the editor for this week

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

Restructuring similar to Europe 15 years ago, executive says

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

B.C. wants to be part of global resolution in opioid company bankruptcy claim

Government says settlement must include Canadian claims for devastation created by overdose crisis

U.S. student, killed in Bamfield bus crash, remembered as ‘kind, intelligent, talented’

John Geerdes, 18, was one of two UVic students killed in the crash on Friday night

B.C. ends ‘birth alerts’ in child welfare cases

‘Social service workers will no longer share information about expectant parents without consent’

Driver of RV in Hosmer collision reported in stable condition

Collision occurred in Hosmer on September 5 and involved a semi truck, an RV and a school bus

Free Tesla 3 offered with purchase of Surrey townhome

Century Group’s offer for Viridian development runs through Oct. 31

B.C. communities urged to improve access for disabled people

One in four B.C. residents has disability, most want to work

Most Read