A complaint filed to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal by a former TRU law student makes claim of “numerous instances of racial discrimination.” On September 14, 2017, law student Dustin Gagnon filed a complaint against TRU alleging discrimination in the area of services based on race and physical disability contrary to section eight of the Human Rights Code.
Between 2014 and 2017, the former student compiled a list of what he viewed as discrimination against him or the wider Aboriginal community.
When Gagnon first started at TRU in 2014, he was allegedly told by the Dean of Law not to challenge his professors or other law faculty. Gagnon felt he was being told not to voice his concerns or views on aboriginal issues and that he could face retaliation.
Gagnon reported numerous instances of racial discrimination by guest speakers and members of the university as well.
In one particular instance, Gagnon alleged that a professor ridiculed “natives” from Merritt, casting them as alcoholics. The same professor is also alleged to have referred to one Aboriginal woman as a “sherry whore.”
Gagnon said that he raised issues with racial discrimination many times with the Faculty of Law, who told Gagnon that the matters would be addressed. However, Gagnon believes that the university put him off hoping the issue would disappear after he graduated.
In addition to racial discrimination, Gagnon, who has an amputated finger, alleges that TRU took “an inordinate amount of time to provide accommodations for his finger disability.”
While the complaint alleges many instances of discrimination within TRU’s faculty of law, it would end up being rejected due to issues with timeliness.
While Gagnon filed the complaint last September, he alleges the discrimination took place between between 2014 and January 4, 2017. In order to comply with the six-month time limit, a complaint must be filed within six months of the alleged contravention.
Though Gagnon admitted that he filed the complaint late as a matter of good faith, hoping that TRU would work with him in resolving the matter, the Tribunal found the late-filed complaint to not be in the public interest.
Furthermore, while the Tribunal admits that Gagnon’s complaint raises serious allegations about discrimination against vulnerable groups, they also said that Gagnon did not provide any submissions on whether his complaint could fill in gaps in the Tribunal’s jurisprudence or provide a good precedent for future cases.