Three former military members launch suit alleging systemic racism in Forces

Alleges racism, harassment tolerated by superior officers

HALIFAX (CP) — Three former members of the Canadian Forces have filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against the military, alleging they suffered systemic racism and harassment that were tolerated by their superior officers.

The case was filed in Federal Court in Halifax by Marc Frenette, Wallace Fowler and Jean-Pierre Robillard on Dec. 14.

Frenette, a 39-year-old from Ontario, claims his career in aircraft maintenance was going well until colleagues discovered he is Aboriginal, which provoked a series of racial slurs, rejected requests for leave and training, physical abuse and insults about his heritage.

Frenette, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, alleges in the 31-page claim that he was told by superiors to laugh off the racist behaviour and not take his complaints up the chain of command.

Fowler, a 43-year-old black man from Nova Scotia, alleges abuse he and his family suffered included being called racial epithets, having his stepchildren spat on and his spouse having bananas thrown at her at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt.

Robillard, a black man from Haiti who was raised in New Brunswick, says during his service in the regular force, he was routinely called racial slurs from his unit members and that when he complained to his commanding officer, he was assigned to latrine and cleaning duty.

None of the allegations in the claim have been tested in court.

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