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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Felix Townsin, shown here with his sister, Lexi, who died on Oct. 19, 2019. Felix is a big part of a family initiative aimed at finding a cure for Blau Syndrome. (Photo contributed by the Townsin family)
Quest to cure Blau syndrome a family affair

John Stubbs student produces film for late little sister Lexi

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Newly public Emily Carr painting depicts well-known Victoria view

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

An incident on Sooke Road is slowing traffic Wednesday evening. (Courtesy of Mona Hazeldine)
Sooke Road incident snarls evening traffic

Witnesses report two-vehicle collision

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Soccer player Ethan Finnigan juggles the ball at Oak Bay High. The Grade 12 student was injured much of last year and was relying on his senior year to score a scholarship and play at university. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
High school athletes remain on sidelines across B.C.

Recruiting for university on hiatus, future unknown

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Oct. 27

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

MMFN First Nation has said that it will restrict access to portion of Highway 28 that passes through the Nation’s land until a road use agreement is reached. (Black Press file photo)
Vancouver Island First Nation blocks highway access to logging trucks in Gold River

Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation restricting access for Western Forest Products pending road deal

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

Cowichan Search and Rescue set up near the Silver Bridge in Duncan on Wednesday morning, Oct. 28, 2020 to rescue a dog from the Cowichan River. (Citizen file)
Cowichan Search and Rescue save dog from icy Cowichan River

Search and Rescue’s swiftwater team was called in

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Most Read