Intervenor status granted. A First Nations woman must still prove the facts of her human rights complaint against the Vancouver Police Board at the hearing.
Deborah Campbell, a First Nations woman, filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal [“Tribunal”] under s 8 of the Human Rights Code [“Code”]. Ms. Campbell felt that the Vancouver police mistreated her when arresting her son because of her visible Indigenous heritage. The Vancouver Police Board [“VPB”] denied the allegation of mistreatment and discrimination. The Union of BC Indian Chiefs [“UBCIC”] applied to intervene in the complaint under s 22.1 of the Code. The UBCIC wanted to provide the Tribunal with context surrounding the relationship between the BC police and Indigenous people as that would allow the Tribunal to gain a better understanding of the complaint. Campbell supported the intervention, and the VPB opposed it in concern that it would expand the scope of the complaint and remove the litigation away from the parties.
The Tribunal has broad discretion to allow a person or group to intervene in a complaint, and to specify the terms of that intervention (Hall v BC (Minister of Environment (No 4)), 2008 BCHRT 437). That discretion is conferred by s 22.1 of the Code. When considering an application to intervene, the Tribunal will balance the likelihood of the intervenor in making a “useful contribution” to the resolution of the complaint against the risk of prejudice to the parties, and the risk that the intervenor will “take the litigation away” from the parties (Hughson v Town of Oliver, 2000 BCHRT 11).
The Tribunal recognized that Indigenous people are disproportionately underrepresented in complaints that are brought before it. There are deep-rooted prejudicial implications of colonialism that continually impact Indigenous people based on their race and ancestry. Evidence of social context, however, was deemed to be inconclusive on its own when determining if discrimination has occurred (Québec (Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse) v Bombardier Inc (Bombardier Aerospace Training Center), 2015 SCC 39). At the hearing, the burden of proof remained on Ms. Campbell to prove the facts of her complaint. Merely establishing a context of “difficult” or “harmful” relationships between the VPD and Indigenous people would be insufficient on its own to determine that VPD violated Ms. Campbell’s rights under s 8 of the Code. The Tribunal considered these factors and granted UBCIC the opportunity to make oral and written submissions at the opening and closing of the hearing. If UBCIC wanted to introduce its own expert advice at the hearing, it was responsible for applying to do so.