A First Nations woman who worked as an RCMP officer for three decades claims she was subjected to “demeaning and humiliating” racist discrimination when she was a Mountie, according to a proposed class-action suit filed in Federal Court on July 7.
Margorie (Marge) Hudson launched the suit on behalf of all “racialized individuals” who suffered harms after being subjected to racism or racist acts while working for the federal police. It alleges racism is not an individual but rather a systemic problem in the RCMP.
The suit describes the alleged discrimination that Hudson experienced as “reckless, arrogant, high-handed, wanton, willful, reprehensible, vindictive, malicious and abusive.”
“The discrimination was so severe, the plaintiff began to feel that her enemy was not the criminal conduct with which she dealt during her career but rather the RCMP itself,” it says.
The RCMP declined to comment on the case because it’s before the courts.
Marge Hudson explains the significance of the timing of this lawsuit:
Cpl. Caroline Duval said in an email the RCMP is committed to culturally competent policing and complying with the Employment Equity Act and the Canadian Human Rights Act.
“There is no room for racism – or any other kind of discrimination – in the RCMP,” wrote Duval.
Read the statement of claim:
Hudson worked for 19 years as a “special native constable” and her final 11 years as a “regular constable.”
In that span, she claims she was subjected to discriminatory treatment, comments, stereotypes, segregation, racism and bias.
She says she was never sent to off-reserve locations and was often sent without backup into dangerous situations that other peace officers wouldn’t be sent to alone.
Despite having a high rate of solving difficult cases, according to the claim, Hudson was never considered for a promotion. She also says she witnessed egregious acts her fellow officers perpetrated against civilians.
“The plaintiff witnessed a corporal throw a steel flashlight at an [I]ndigenous man and when he missed he said, ‘that f*in Indian enemy, I’ll get him next time.’”
Hudson says in the claim she reported a fellow officer after she witnessed this person “pick up an [I]ndigenous girl and swing her up against a cement wall.”
“The plaintiff overhead this same RCMP Member say ‘don’t you know that the Indians used to rape our women and burn our wagons,’” the claim alleges.
Hudson claims she decided to quit in 2009 because of the discrimination, threw her badge in the garbage and continues to see a psychologist because of her time on the force.
The claim says RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki’s recent unequivocal admission that systemic racism exists in her ranks made it “slightly safer” to launch the claim.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet also admitted on multiple occasions in June, amid several instances of high-profile police violence against Indigenous people, that systemic discrimination exists in policing.
None of the allegations have been tested in court. A proposed class-action has to be certified by a judge before any litigation begins. A date for a certification hearing hasn’t been set.
Hudson and the class are represented by Klein Lawyers in Vancouver.
Klein Lawyers also represented women in a gender and sexual orientation based discrimination and harassment class-action against the RCMP.
Hudson was a plaintiff in that suit too, which was certified in January 2017 and settled for $100 million three months later.
“For many of the racialized individuals who have contacted our firm, and who come from all over Canada, the consequences of the racism and racist acts they have been subjected to and have endured while working for or with the RCMP have been devastating, including post-traumatic stress syndrome, attempted suicide, depression, career limitations, broken relationships and loss of consortium for their family members,” said David Klein in a Monday release.
“This is due to the paramilitary culture of the RCMP and the ensuing abuse of authority and lack of accountability across Canada.”
The statement of claim does not say how much money the class is seeking.