Manitoba

'This is a way for everybody to heal': ex-Mountie on RCMP compensation for harassment

A former Manitoba RCMP officer says it’s time to heal, but no amount of money will ever pay for what she and others in the force had to endure.

Settlement for 500 past and present female RCMP employees expected to be announced

Sherry Benson-Podolchuk is a former RCMP officer who experienced harassment in the force. (Sherry Benson-Podolchuk )

A former Manitoba RCMP officer says it's time to heal, but no amount of money will ever pay for what she and others in the force had to endure. 

Sherry Benson-Podolchuk was following closely Wednesday after CBC reported that 500 past and present female RCMP officers were expected to be compensated at a Thursday news conference for allegations of sexual harassment, unwanted touching and rape.  

"This is a way for everybody to heal," she said.

Benson-Podolchuk, 53, isn't one of the 500 women being compensated but did reach out to the group to offer her support when she heard of their allegations a few years ago.

She was a single mom living on welfare in 1990 when she first joined the RCMP at a detachment in Tisdale, Sask. and was excited to start a career in policing but said she was chronically harassed for being a woman at the detachment.

"They always said tell the truth and obey the law and that you'd be protected by the RCMP, but they didn't tell you what would happen when you come to work and they'd start calling you beaver and raisin tits," she said.

'Booby trapped'

Benson-Podolchuk said the harassment continued and recalled one day when the female washroom was "booby trapped."

The bathroom wall had its screws loosened and fell on her resulting in a split head and a concussion.

"They thought it was funny," Benson-Podolchuk said adding three days later a dead chicken dripping with blood was put in her gun locker.

"They said I didn't have a sense of humour," she said.

Benson-Podolchuk ended up leaving Saskatchewan to work for the RCMP in Selkirk, Man., but she said the harassment didn't  get better  — it only followed her.

She documents the harassment she endured and her fight against the RCMP in her book Women Not Wanted: One Female Officer and Her Journey for Justice.

Officials in Ottawa are expected to announce compensation for some 500 past and present female RCMP employees over sexual harassment and discrimination in the police force.

The 500 women have made allegations of rape, unwanted sexual touching, bullying, gender discrimination, and physical assault.

Details about a possible settlement are expected to be released at a news conference in Ottawa scheduled for 11 a.m. ET on Thursday.

'Whisper became a roar'

Benson-Podolchuk said while she's glad to see the women are getting financial compensation, money can never pay for what she went through.

"Of course there's no amount of money you ask a rape victim how much money it would take to make her feel better…, but it will give them some sort of peace."

The RCMP has revamped its complaint process, and says bad behaviour is now dealt with swiftly under its action plan to curb harassment.

RCMP head Paulson has said he is committed to changing what he has called a "culture of harassment."

Benson-Podolchuk said she's happy to see women standing up for themselves and banding together.

"This whisper became a roar."

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