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

Irish folk supergroup Kíla set to perform on Saturday

Online concert will be available through Harrison Festival Society

Man wanted by Abbotsford Police for domestic assault

Morgan Knull, 27, has multiple prior convictions

Abbotsford youth launches mental health awareness page

Abby Senior student Mia Skoone aims to provide information with @mentalhealth4youth account

Fundraiser golf tournament raises $74,000 for Fraser Valley hospitals

Chilliwack General Hospital will benefit from a tourney at held at the Sandpiper Golf Resort

Canada West Golf Championships cancelled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions

UBC, UBC-O, UFV and UVic athletes will not hit the links this year, Kelowna was set to host

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Dozens of Canadian venues to light up red in support of entertainment workers

Local facilities among dozens across Canada to participate in Light Up Live

Most Read