Vancouver Police Department. (Black Press Media files)

Indigenous mother wins $20,000 racial discrimination case against Vancouver police

Vancouver Police Board ordered to pay $20,000 and create Indigenous-sensitivity training

The Vancouver Police Board has been ordered to pay an Indigenous mother $20,000 for discriminating against her when she witnessed officer’s arresting her son, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has ruled.

The 52-page decision by the tribunal, released Thursday, stems from an incident in the late evening of July 15, 2016, when Deborah Campbell saw police arresting her 19-year-old son while she was walking her two dogs near her Vancouver home.

The officers accused her son, as well as a female friend with him, that they had been involved in an assault earlier that night.

But when Campbell tried to find out why the officers were arresting her son she was ignored, tribunal member Devyn Cousineau ruled, and treated as “an annoyance and an ‘erratic, uncooperative’ woman rather than a mother with legitimate concerns about her son.”

A neighbour who spoke as a witness during the four-day tribunal hearing described the scene as chaotic and loud. At one point, officers threatened to arrest Campbell for obstruction and told her to go home. She was also physically separated from her son and blocked from witnessing his arrest.

READ MORE: Report about violence against Downtown Eastside women calls for change

Police released Campbell’s son a few hours later because they had no basis to hold him, the tribunal heard.

In her claim, Campbell called the treatment by police traumatic and accused the officers of discriminating against her on the basis of her race, colour and ancestry.

The Vancouver Police Board, which handles claims made against the police detachment, denied that the actions of the three officers involved in the arrest were discriminatory and instead measured and appropriate.

But Cousineau disagreed and instead ruled that the officers held a subconscious bias based on stereotypes associated with Campbell being Indigenous, including that she was “suspicious [and] possibly criminal.”

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, which acted as an intervenor in the case, presented evidence which provided context on the historic mistreatment of Indigenous people by authorities, according to the tribunal decision.

In the ruling, Cousineau said that many Indigenous parents have cause to fear any authority, including police, when it involves their children.

“In short, the Canadian state has historically, and persistently, interfered with the ability of Indigenous parents to ensure their children’s safety,” Cousineau said. “Indigenous parents have good reason to be fearful when they perceive their children at risk of harm at the hands of the state.”

The tribunal heard that the three officers had little knowledge of issues faced by Indigenous people, including that they did not know what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was and had very little knowledge about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Woman and Girls report.

The officers also told the tribunal that the only Indigenous-related training they had was a half-day workshop on cultural awareness in 2015.

READ MORE: Billboard posted along B.C.’s Highway of Tears to remember missing and murdered Indigenous women

Cousineau called this “insufficient,” adding that the lack of preparedness and training laid the groundwork for the discrimination Campbell faced.

In addition to paying damages, the tribunal also ordered for the Vancouver Police Department to design new training within the next year that has a focus on minimizing the impacts of Indigenous stereotypes through policing. The training must recur annually for five years.

Campbell v. Vancouver Police Board (No. 4), 2019 BCHRT 275 by Ashley Wadhwani on Scribd


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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

Mill Bay students petition for formal graduation

“We have a few realistic ideas in mind that could provide a safe and healthy grad celebration”

800 meals donated for Cowichan frontline workers

They were at Cowichan District Hospital on May 25 handing out prepared meals to grateful workers

Cowichan CMHA officials respond to report, probation order

“there are important improvements needed to ensure greater fairness within our housing program.”

Cowichan RCMP remind public to leave dogs chilling at home on hot days

Dogsafe has designed a Dog in a Hot Car Responder Checklist

Editorial: Minimal risk in sending kids back to school

Time to poke our heads out of our comfortable nests and venture out into the world again.

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

B.C. woman launches First Nations search, rescue and patrol program

Linda Peters envisions trained searchers ready to go at moment’s notice in each B.C. First Nation

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Stolen gargoyle returns to its perch on central Vancouver Island yard

Petey, a concrete gargoyle statue, was returned by Nanaimo RCMP after being found by city crew

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Most Read