HUMAN RIGHTS TRIBUNAL AWARDS $30,000 IN DAMAGES FOR VICIOUS RACIST ACTS FROM NEIGHBOR
Montreal, July 16, 2014 --- CRARR welcomes the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal's decision, rendered last month, on racial harassment and discrimination directed at a Black couple in a North-end district of Montreal, in which the court awarded $30,000 in moral damages to the couple, Stephane Ferrier and Marie-Paule Colin.
The case, which involves repeated acts of explicit, violent and hateful race-based discrimination, harassment, slurs, damages to property and threats committed by a white female neighbor, Nancy Rioux, dates back to 2010, when the Black couple, their daughter and a young niece begun to experience violent forms of racism for three months when the neighbor moved in next to their home. The N-word was often shouted by the neighbor, who also made vulgar sexual comments about Ms. Colin; their couple's car was damaged and threats of violence were uttered towards the couple (“I'm going to kill the N- with a gun”).
The police was called on several occasions and criminal charges were eventually laid. Rioux was found guilty of criminal harassment and uttering threats. The element of race-based hate motivation was raised during the trial and Rioux received a six-month suspended sentence (and mandatory community service). She was also placed under twelve months of probation.
CRARR helped the couple file the civil rights complaint with the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission for race discrimination and harassment, and deal with the criminal justice system in relation to the criminal acts to ensure that these were considered hate-motivated crimes.
The Human Rights Tribunal found Rioux liable for violating the couple's civil rights and ordered her to pay $30,000 in moral damages to the couple. It also ordered her to pay to the couple $1 each in punitive damages since she has already been found guilty and sentenced in criminal court.
However, Rioux did not appear during the Human Rights Tribunal and cannot be located, which makes the decision a symbolic moral victory for the couple who now has ten years to claim these damages from Rioux if she is ever found.
“We seldom see such an act of vile, vicious and violent racism in this city”, noted Fo Niemi, CRARR's Executive Director. “Although it cannot be executed since the Respondent cannot be found, the Tribunal's decision still represents an important legal milestone for racial equality in Quebec because it re-affirms the high price to pay for racist and hateful acts.”