Class action lawsuit claiming RCMP abuse of Indigenous Northerners going ahead
A Tuktoyaktuk man’s class action lawsuit against the RCMP on behalf of all indigenous peoples in the north has been given the go-ahead by the courts.
As reported by the Canadian press, Judge Glennys McVeigh on June 23 denied a federal government argument that the lawsuit – alleging that RCMP committed systematic violence against tribal peoples in the north – was not legally classed as a class action qualify is action. Ottawa had insisted that the class action lawsuit had no prospect of success and instead said that people should sue the RCMP individually. However, McVeigh said the claims were against the RCMP as a whole, and not against individual officers, and could therefore be continued as a class action lawsuit.
“I disagree with Canada’s characterization of these claims as individual,” wrote McVeigh. “The allegations do not ask whether an RCMP officer has illegally attacked a class member, but rather whether the RCMP’s operations create a system in which illegal attacks occur.”
The 2018 lawsuit sought $ 600 million in damages from the federal government, alleging it failed to prevent frequent police attacks on indigenous people in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon.
The lawsuit alleges that the government was aware of the problem and not addressed it, alleging systematic negligence, a breach of duty of loyalty and violations of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. She alleges common incidents include beating, pepper spraying, shooting and verbally abusing indigenous peoples by officials. She also alleges that indigenous people are being unjustifiably prosecuted by the police.
“RCMP officials and other RCMP agents routinely discriminate against Aboriginal people by using excessive and unnecessary violence, arresting or detaining Aboriginal people for no reason, and using hateful expressions and expressions in police work in the Territories,” the claim said.
A January 2020 report by the Office of the Correctional Investigator found that indigenous people make up 30 percent of federal prison inmates. An NNSL investigation at the time found that 83 percent of prison inmates in the Northwest Territories – and 100 percent of women in prison – were indigenous.
The allegation is made by Joe David Nasogaluak, 19, who lives in Tuktoyaktuk. In the lawsuit, he says RCMP arrested and assaulted him in November 2017 for no reason or provocation by beating and choking him, stun gun and calling him “a stupid.” F “denoted #cking native” and “native punk kid” before handcuffing him and dragging him to the police vehicle. He also claims the police stopped the vehicle on the side of the road and questioned him without his parents or a lawyer being present.
The allegation that Nasogaluak suffered “ongoing physical and psychological harm” also includes affidavits from other persons who may be participating in the lawsuit describing similar experiences during arrest and detention.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
All indigenous peoples who were alive on December 18, 2016 and claim to have been assaulted at any time during RCMP custody or incarceration in the Territories are eligible to be members of the class that may participate in the lawsuit, the judge decided.