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

Environment Canada has issued a snow warning for the Kootenays on Friday. File photo
Environment Canada issues snow warning for Friday

Two-to-10 centimetres is expected to fall

File photo
EDITORIAL: The power of a single vote

In the Oct. 24 British Columbia election, every vote is important

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Kelowna RCMP investigating unexplained death of cattle

Cattle found dead near gravel road, east of the Kelowna Airport

The Freeride World Tour will be back in Golden for the fourth year in a row, with athletes coming from across the world to ski at Kicking Horse. (Jeremy Bernard Photography/Kicking Horse Mountain Resort/Instagram photo)
Freeride World Tour to return to Golden

The tour will have a modified championship format in it’s fourth annual stop at Kicking Horse

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

(Kelowna Capital News)
B.C. Labour Board orders Peachland cannabis company to reinstate laid-off employees

The B.C. Labour Relations Board determined the employees were laid off due to their plan to unionize

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Curtis Sagmoen
Public warning issued to North Okanagan sex trade workers

RCMP warns workers to stay away from Salmon River Road area

Two pigs roam the Salmon Arm Walmart parking lot during a prior visit photographed by Danielle Burgi. (Danielle Burgi photo)
Pigs trot over for a visit at Salmon Arm shopping centre

Employees say this was the second drop-in from the temporarily free-range porkers

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Penticton law courts. (Black Press file)
Osoyoos man in court for alleged shooting

The Oct. 11 shooting left a man with non-life threatening injuries

Most Read