Aboriginal ex-Mountie joining sexual harassment lawsuit

A former RCMP officer who says she faced racism and bullying on the job is joining a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment against the police force.

A former RCMP officer who says she faced racism and bullying on the job is joining a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment against the police force.

Marge Hudson of Winnipeg told CBC News that she was approached by lawyers in Vancouver and Thunder Bay who have put together the lawsuit against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Marge Hudson told CBC News in December that she left the RCMP in 2009, three decades after joining the police force as the first female aboriginal Mountie in Manitoba. (CBC)

Hudson said she was in the process of preparing a statement of claim.

The legal team behind the RCMP lawsuit filed its statement of claim on Tuesday morning, naming one plaintiff — Janet Merlo, a former RCMP officer from Nanaimo, B.C.

But lawyers involved in the suit say up to 150 women are ready to join with their own stories of harassment and gender-based discrimination in the police force.

"I don't want it to go unnoticed, as it has been for my 31 years in the RCMP. I think that things have to change in the RCMP," Hudson said late Tuesday.

"Women are not just going to disappear … and they must treat us women fairly, which I know they haven't. And that's obvious to see, with 150 female members coming forward."

1st aboriginal female Mountie

Hudson was the first aboriginal female Mountie in Manitoba when she joined the RCMP in 1979.

In an interview in December, Hudson said she experienced sexual harassment, racism, discrimination and bullying by fellow RCMP members.

Hudson said she never moved beyond the position of constable during her three decades in the force, while non-aboriginal officers climbed the ranks.

"Am I brown, is that the reason? Am I female, is that the reason?" she told the CBC's Sheila North-Wilson in the interview.

"I had two shots against me right there — being aboriginal, being female."

Hudson left the RCMP in 2009.

Received calls from other members

Since Hudson shared her story, she said she has received many calls from RCMP members — both female and male — with similar concerns.

"As close as last week, I got a call from a member that's still in the RCMP, complaining of harassment and discrimination," she said.

"Obviously the RCMP has not gotten the message," she added. "They continue to sweep things under the rug, thinking that it's just going to go away and disappear."

In her statement of claim, Merlo alleges that she endured 20 years of sexual harassment, sexual pranks, lewd comments and double standards from male supervisors.

A judge will need to certify the sexual harassment lawsuit as a class action — a process that can take up to two years.

But Hudson said two years will be worth the wait to start seeing justice for herself and other women who have suffered harassment within the RCMP.