‘It’s shameful’: Advocates denounce lack of criminal charges against Nygard in his hometown

 Two Indigenous women from Manitoba among Peter Nygard’s accusers

Protesters were upset Peter Nygard was not charged in Winnipeg. Photo: Kathleen Martens/APTN


A small group of protesters denounced Manitoba Justice Tuesday for failing to lay criminal charges against former Winnipeg fashion mogul Peter Nygard.

“The justice system is rigged against victims,” alleged Vivienne Ho, one of the founders of Time’s Up Nygard, which held a rally outside the downtown Law Courts building.

“Fifteen women came forward (to Winnipeg police and they sent) eight cases to prosecutors. Not one criminal charge was laid.”

Meanwhile, Nygard is facing multiple counts of sexual assault in Toronto following complaints from former employees and models involved in his international business.

He has denied all the allegations against him.

A small group of protesters gathered outside the Winnipeg Law Courts Tuesday. Photo: Kathleen Martens/APTN

Serena Hickes, an Inuk woman living in Winnipeg, said she was one of 15 women who filed a complaint with the Winnipeg Police Service.

“It hurts that Toronto’s got charges,” said the former Nygard store employee in an interview.

“It’s very frustrating that Winnipeg was never a safe place – especially for us Indigenous women – to report.”

Winnipeg is where Nygard, a Finnish immigrant, founded and headquartered his fashion empire.

But the business is under bankruptcy protection since the now-80-year-old entrepreneur has been accused of decades of sexual abuse.

A small rally in Winnipeg voiced support for alleged victims of Peter Nygard, who is in custody in Toronto.  Photo: Kathleen Martens/APTN

He also faces a civil claim in New York filed by 57 women, including Hickes and another Indigenous woman from Manitoba, seeking financial damages for alleged sexual abuse.

Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth said the investigation involved 15 files, 29 witnesses and more than 1,600 documents.

“After the investigations were completed, eight cases were submitted to Manitoba Justice for consideration,” Smyth said in a statement first released Dec. 2.

“After review, they declined to authorize criminal charges against Mr. Nygard.”

A request for comment from Manitoba Justice late Tuesday was not returned by press time.

Julie Guard, who attended the noon-hour rally Tuesday, said it looked bad no charges were laid against Nygard in his hometown.

Stand up

“This is shameful,” she said. “Winnipeggers are better than this. We need to stand up and say…there is no room for this in Canada, in Winnipeg, in 2021.”

Ho agreed.

“Winnipeg is telling the world that we just don’t care about violence against women and girls,” she told reporters at the rally.

“But we do care and we want justice. We are demanding a public inquiry that must be transparent.”

Additionally, Nygard was arrested last year under the Extradition Act and faces nine charges in the Southern District of New York.

He is presently in custody in Toronto.

Online Journalist / Winnipeg

Award-winning reporter Kathleen Martens covers western and northern Canada for aptnnews.ca. A veteran of the Brandon Sun, Sun Media and APTN Investigates, she is based in APTN’s head office, specializing in stories about property, women’s rights and community.