RCMP officers sue force, allege racism
Two B.C. members of the RCMP with First Nations backgrounds have filed lawsuits against their superior officers and high-ranking members of the provincial and federal governments alleging discrimination and harassment.
The two officers — Cpl. Greg Blain and Sgt. Derrick Ross — say the offences against them occurred while they were part of a 2007 training detail sent to Afghanistan to teach policing techniques to local recruits.
The pair claim in their lawsuits they were treated as "inferior" by fellow white officers, were targeted for "ill-treatment," criticized for "not being military enough," and assigned the "most menial tasks."
They also claim the racial tension that existed was not dealt with by their superiors.
The allegations are in two separate civil cases brought against the RCMP, including the head of the force in B.C., the province's solicitor general, the federal attorney general and the federal minister of public safety, among others.
Blain is currently on sick leave from the Kamloops detachment of the RCMP and is also the elected chief of the Ashcroft Indian band.
Ross is a member of the Surrey RCMP detachment, a 21-year veteran of the force, and a Metis.
Team A and Team B
Both men were part of a group of RCMP officers who arrived in Afghanistan as a multi-ethnic group that became known as "Team B," the lawsuits allege.
They were to work with "Team A," a group composed mostly of Caucasian members, according to the legal claims filed with the B.C. Supreme Court.
Ross alleged he should have been the unit's deputy commander, but a corporal from "Team A" became second in command instead.
"It's been very hard for them to see the rules may not have been followed here and the wrong that was done," the men's lawyer, Marjorie Brown, told CBC News.
The two officers also allege their troubles overseas were not limited to racial discrimination. When they raised their concerns about the unit with their superiors, one was accused of misconduct and both eventually developed stress-related medical conditions, the lawsuits say.
Both claim in the lawsuits that they were harassed and challenged by the RCMP when they returned to Canada and lost promotions as a result of their complaints.