Nicola Peffers has filed a class action lawsuit against the Canadian Armed Forces.

Ex sailor files sexual assault lawsuit against Canadian Armed Forces

Ever since a Victoria-based law firm set up a hot line for members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the phones have been ringing off the hook.

Ever since a Victoria-based law firm set up a hot line for current and former members of the Canadian Armed Forces to report incidents of sexual assault or harassment, the phones have been ringing off the hook.

The hotline has received numerous calls day and night since it was set up by Acheson Sweeney Foley Sahota law firm a week ago. The calls range from members who were subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace to sexual assault while serving in the Forces.

The hotline has become a way for the firm to mount a growing class action lawsuit against the Forces. Earlier this week, former sailor Nicola Peffers launched the lawsuit against the Forces, alleging sexual assault and harassment of female and LGBTQ members.

In the lawsuit, Peffers, who was based in CFB Esquimalt, alleges she was subjected to “systemic” discrimination, bullying, harassment and sexual assault. It also alleges Forces personnel and officers were aware of and condoned an “atmosphere of misogyny and objectification of women,” and were negligent for failing to take steps to prevent the occurrences from happening.

Peffers joined the navy in 2007 at the age of 23 because she wanted to “serve her country” and be “a part of something bigger than herself,” according to documents. She alleges officers treated her as though she was inferior at her job because of her gender.

One encounter occurred two weeks into a deployment on HMCS Winnipeg, when Peffers’ said her boss made advances on her when they were alone in an isolated place. During the six-month deployment, she recorded two incidents of sexual assault and unwanted sexual touching.

Peffers was medically discharged from the navy in 2012.

Other members also allege they were subject to unwanted and non-consensual sexual contact including sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and sexual assault causing bodily harm.

Natalie Foley, Peffers’ lawyer, said her story isn’t surprising.

“There’s a systemic problem that has to be addressed. All of the individuals who have been touched by discrimination and by conduct that’s really not acceptable in our society,” said Foley, noting the number of calls they’ve received through the hot line indicates a need for the lawsuit.

“There’s clearly a need for this class action based on the recent studies that have come out that this problem has not been adequately dealt with.”

Sexual assault in the military has been pushed into the spotlight in the last few weeks.

Last year, an independent review by former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps found sexual misconduct was “endemic” in the military and tolerated by the highest levels of leadership. Shortly after, Canada’s top general Jonathan Vance launched Operation Honour, aimed at ending the problem.

Most recently, a Statistics Canada study commissioned by Vance found women in the Armed Forces are four times more likely than their male counterparts to say they have been sexually assaulted over the past year, and more than 27 per cent of military women said they had been assaulted at least once since starting their careers.

It’s a culture lawyer Raj Sahota hopes to change.

“The purpose behind this lawsuit is to try to institute positive change within the Canadian Armed Forces so as to encourage a decrease or elimination of sexual harassment and assault . . . and to provide an open space for survivors of sexual assault to speak honest and tell their stories,” he said.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. A statement of defence has not been filed.

To call the hotline and join the class action lawsuit, call 1-877-275-8766.

 

Just Posted

Shaving minutes off commutes among the goals for Victoria bus lanes

Work on southbound Douglas Street lane between Tolmie and Hillside getting underway

VicPD nab distracted driver with expired licence

On the phone while in motion, man had overdue fines from driving while impaired

Cooking with ‘Killer’

Reporter Dawn Gibson shares some of her favourite meals to make

Vic-Alert faces tidal wave of registration after tsunami warnings

City of Victoria system is free and provides early warnings of disaster

Sirens don’t sing in tsunami warning for Esquimalt

Officials pleased with process, say sirens would have been activated had threat escalated.

WATCH: Greater Victoria residents gather at higher ground during tsunami warning

Ocean Boulevard and the Esquimalt Lagoon reopened shortly before 5 a.m. Tuesday

Saanich signals support for in-fill developments in Gorge-Tillicum

The Gorge-Tillicum neighbourhood continues to experience infill. Council’s committee-of-the-whole signaled Saanich’s support… Continue reading

Castlegar homicide victim identified

The victim was 38-year-old Jordan Workman of Castlegar, B.C.

B.C. Liberal leadership candidates get one last prime-time pitch

Leadership campaign to be decided in Feb. 3 vote

How high is safe from a tsunami? Four metres above sea level

Be disaster ready with food, water and clothing for seven days

Victoria Film Festival set for triumphant return to the big screen

Two decades on, diverse film lineups keep movie-goers coming to the box office

Andrew Scheer on trade, Trump and Trudeau

Canada’s Conservative leader begins three-day visit to B.C.

Victoria’s most wanted for the week of Jan. 23

Crime Stoppers will pay a reward of up to $2,000 for information that leads to arrests or the seizure of property or drug

Victims restrained, sex toys and cash stolen from B.C. adult store

Armed suspects sought in adult store robbery

Most Read