RCMP Indigenous Racism and Assault Case
Meguinis-Martin and Joseph v His Majesty the King
What is this claim about?
On July 20, 2020, Murphy Battista LLP and Cooper Regel, a member of Masuch Law LLP, filed a proposed class action against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (the “RCMP”) dealing with systemic racism by the RCMP. The action is brought on behalf of Indigenous persons who were physically or sexually assaulted by members of the RCMP during arrest, detainment, or while being held in custody.
The named defendant in this proposed class action, the Government of Canada, operates and has control over the RCMP, and as a result of this relationship it is alleged that the Government of Canada is vicariously liable for the acts and omissions of the RCMP and its members.
The claims assert systemic negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and breaches of sections 7 and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Part I of the Constitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (UK), 1982, c 11 (the “Charter”).
Systemic Racism in the RCMP
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as the Commissioner of the RCMP, Brenda Lucki, have both acknowledged the presence of systemic racism within the RCMP. During a June 11, 2020 press conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated:
Systemic racism is an issue right across the country, in all our institutions, including in all our police forces, including in the RCMP. That’s what systemic racism is.
In many cases it’s not deliberate, it’s not intentional, it’s not aggressive, individual acts of racism, although those obviously exist. It is recognizing that the systems we have built over the past generations have not always treated people of racialized backgrounds, of Indigenous backgrounds, fairly through the very construction of the systems that exist. …
In a June 12, 2020 statement, Brenda Lucki stated:
As the Commissioner of the RCMP and as [its] leader, I have the responsibility to ensure that our organization is free of racism, discrimination and bias, both inside and out.
I take this responsibility very seriously, and as professionals, I believe you do too.
During some recent interviews, I shared that I struggled with the definition of systemic racism, while trying to highlight the great work done by the overwhelming majority of our employees.
I did acknowledge that we, like others, have racism in our organization, but I did not say definitively that systemic racism exists in the RCMP. I should have.
As many have said, I do know that systemic racism is part of every institution, the RCMP included. Throughout our history and today, we have not always treated racialized and Indigenous people fairly.
Systemic racism isn’t about the behaviour of a single individual or the actions of one person. It’s in the institutional structures that reflect the inequities that persist in our society. And it shows up in policies, processes or practices that may appear neutral on the surface, but disadvantage racialized people or groups. …
Who does this class action affect?
The proposed class action is brought on behalf of all First Nations, Inuit and Métis persons who allege that, at any time between May 14, 1953 and present, they were physically or sexually assaulted by members of the RCMP during arrest, detainment, or while being held in custody, and who were alive as of July 20, 2018 (“Class” or “Class Members”).
The Class excludes individuals who are class members in Diane Nasogaluak as Litigation Guardian of Joe David Nasogaluak v Attorney General of Canada (certified as a class action by the Federal Court on June 23, 2021).
A certification hearing in this matter will take place in Vancouver, British Columbia from September 19-22, 2022. Please check back here for updates.
Who are the lawyers?
This class action is being pursued by a team of lawyers from both Murphy Battista LLP and Cooper Regel LLP, a member of Masuch Law LLP.
What should I do if I have been affected?
Please contact Jenna Broomfield, a lawyer at Cooper Regel LLP, at [email protected]. You will be added to our database and kept apprised of developments.
If you have questions or would like more information, please call (780) 570-8448 (or 1-800-884-7477 toll free) and ask to speak to Jenna Broomfield.