RCMP pays out undisclosed amount for "horrifying" treatment of First Nations woman in Saskatchewan - APTN National NewsAPTN National News

RCMP pays out undisclosed amount for “horrifying” treatment of First Nations woman in Saskatchewan

(Ethel Pelly sitting at her lawyer’s office after settlement was reached. Photo: Larissa Burnouf/APTN)

Larissa Burnouf
APTN National News
YORKTON, SASK — A First Nations woman has won an out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed amount of money against the Yorkton RCMP for mistreatment following her arrest more than three years ago.

Ethel Pelly, 42, was arrested and charged with a drug offence in February 2012 and taken to the Yorkton holding cells.

In an interview with APTN National News, Pelly said that’s where her “horrifying” treatment at the hands of the RCMP began that started with being stripped of her underwear.

“Is this the way you guys operate?” Pelly remembers asking the officers. “You let the women come take your underwear while the men come and look at you?”

Pelly said she explained to the police that she was having her period and bleeding profusely at the time.  She told APTN that a female officer stripped her of her underwear anyway, leaving her locked in her cell in pants and a see-through tank top, bleeding through her clothes.

“The man wasn’t even looking at my eyes when he was talking to me,” said said. “He was just looking at my chest” said Pelly fighting back tears.

Sask RCMP cars

Pelly was arrested in February 2012 and held by Yorkton RCMP

According to RCMP records, Pelly was locked in her cell for nearly 15 hours and “miscommunication” resulted in her not having access to water for her entire stay.

“My pants were soaked in blood, the sink was full of blood, the toilet was full of blood.  The stench in there was terrible.  I couldn’t flush the toilet and I told them and they wouldn’t help me.  Nobody would help me.”

Pelly’s lawyer Tom Campbell said he received the police video taken the next morning.

“The investigating officer attempted to take a statement from her later the next day and she’s soaked in blood. She’s clearly distraught,” said Campbell. “And the officer clearly ignores her distress.”

Yorkton RCMP letter of apology

Download (PDF, 1.04MB)

When Campbell contacted the RCMP, Pelly was sent a letter of apology explaining that detainees are stripped of underwear to prevent them from self-harm and from damaging cells.  The letter went on to explain that the water was turned off so she couldn’t destroy any evidence that may have been on or in her body.

The RCMP acknowledged miscommunication on their behalf, which left Pelly without water for a total of 14 hours, agreeing that was unacceptable.

“That apology letter is not good enough, not in the least.  It is not good enough at all,” said Pelly. “I would like actually like to see his resignation because he knew… he gave the orders to lock me in there. And he left me in there for that long”

Pelly and lawyer Tom Campbell

Pelly (right) with her lawyer Tom Campbell. Larissa Burnouf/APTN

Pelly did not receive the officers resignation but she did receive an out-of-court, undisclosed settlement from the RCMP for her treatment within the Yorkton RCMP holding cells.

“I’m Glad it is over with but not too pleased they still have their jobs” said Pelly.  “They were disciplined and I requested they go back to school and educate themselves in Native Studies and learn the importance of the women and their Moon Time.  I also requested they go to First Nation schools and talk to them about their procedures and what their policies are.”

Pelly said it’s a small victory as her trust and faith in policing has completely changed.

“My feeling towards the so called ‘serve and protect’ is lost.  I have no trust in the RCMP and look at them in a negative way now.  I will never look at them the same.”  \

Pelly is glad to put the whole ordeal behind her and pleased that the police acknowledged her terrible treatment and hopes her fight will help others who faced similar experiences to come forward and bring change to the RCMP.



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  • BusOn

    SICK & disgraceful, wishing they had thrown their officers in there too, have no communication for 14 hours… With that kind of condition. High 5 to Pelly for not being ashamed of this ordeal n actually taking it to court. Goodness, hope they nvr treat any women like that.

    • 631 799 137

      i was coerced to plead guilty to some parolee s granary fire ..in 1979 ..i was a kid ..rcmp threatened harm to my family if i didn t ..after 5 counts of obstructing justice were laid against my accusers the crown still couldn t clear my name …my dad returned his gavel because of it. ..still today ..Interpol is telling the whole wide world big fat lies about me ..sask justice are child molesters with law degrees ..what kid has a chance ???

  • http://facebook gallby

    what they did is called inhumane…those officers should have lost their credentials but they did’nt and that is why native people continue to get abused even killed because they just get a slap on the wrist and that is the message all people get in canada….that it’s ok to abuse a native person….my daughter is an upholding person and she once told me she is scared of society, afraid to get her post secondary education out in the city because she is a native girl and afraid she will become a victim of these horrible people. it’s all over canada that native people are getting abused

  • Zoomtre

    I have had this happen to me, they suspected i was under the influence of alcohol, which i was not, i was sleeping, and they arrested me, assuming i was drinking, cause of my cousins table was full of empties and what not, so right away they suspected me to be the one causing trouble, cause cops were called on my cousins for partyin, so all in all, i was kept in a cell for atleast 18hrs, without food, and it was freezing and what not, and the more i became agitated, about the whole situation, they took it as me being drunk, for raising my voice, so they kept me in their longer, i wrote a complaint and regina detachment, told me they would do an investigation, and never heard from them..just felt it was because i was native, that they assumed i was intoxicated..cause i was sleeping on my cousins couch inside, where everyone that was drinking was outside..so yeah they did some tests, to see if i was intoxicated, mind you i was sleeping, and they put me on my feet right away, and i almost fainted..so yeah they automatically assumed i was intoxicated. Once i arrived at the station, i asked for the sargeant, and he didnt even listen, to what i had to say, right away he said he’s drunk, to his other colleagues,” throw him in the tank” and i was the first and last one out..i feel cause i spoke my mind and stayed within my rights and what not, and at first i was respectable and polite, but once i figured they werent going to let me go, i kind of raised my voice, and got edgy, but was i in the wrong? I dont think so, and im a very active member of the community, i always volunteer my time during times of crisis, and also, im educated, and the fact that happened, felt somewhat like they slandered my name..in a sense.. Dont get me wrong when i was young, i made some bad decisions, but i helped change myself , and started giving back to my community..i feel it couldve been handled way differently.. Considering the circumstances, i suppose they had suspicion of me being under influence, but they couldve done a breathalyzer test to get some real answers..so dont get me wrong on what RCMP do for most of these northern communities, that have to enforce dry communities, its great for my people, but heck im a good guy, and i have never really had any problems with cops..except that time..i think rcmp, being the royal canadian police, they should be noble and concerned with how they approach certain situations, i sometimes feel they are above the law, and that theyre untouchable, look at most of these incidents regarding the police vs civilians, most of them are first nations peoples..we need to stop stereotyping! And forget color, every race has bad people, and truthfully, most Caucasians of this country, are pretty judgemental to our people, and are really hypocritical when it comes to the racial profiling card..but yeah thats enough of this..i dont feel money would help with what she couldve went through physically and mentally..i believe a resignation of his badge, or to go through some reevaluations on how he conducts himself, and if he’s fit for duty..power hungry people..with the government who will protect theyre own no matter what..but yeah my point being is that you have rights! And fight for them! Speak up and record it for your personal safety.

  • Rebel66

    Treatment of women in custody of all types needs to be more dignified. I understand there are procedures and reduction in self-harm protocols but there also needs to be thinking, compassionate people who are following procedures. Following procedure does not remove the ability to use common sense. Women must stand up for their rights and particularly First Nation women. Oppressors count on us women to be afraid to fight back. No more!

  • Chase

    More RCMP dirt to sweep under the carpet. This poor soul is right; this idiot giving the orders should be fired on the spot, never mind a resignation.
    Further, it’s interesting how a public funded agency, in this case the RCMP, can pay out our tax money and be able to hide this from the public.
    It’s time that the citizens of Canada took back our country!!!