Judge dismisses Millbrook’s request to overturn human rights tribunal’s discrimination ruling

Stacey Lee Marshall-Tabor stands outside the Millbrook Fishery compound/Photo by Stephen Brake

A federal court judge has dismissed a Nova Scotia First Nation’s request for a judicial review of a 2015 Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision that found it discriminated and retaliated against one of its female band members.

In a 35-page ruling released on Friday, Justice Keith M. Boswell also ordered the Millbrook First Nation, located near Truro, N.S., to pay Stacey Lee Marshall-Tabor’s legal fees in the amount of $6,000.

Marshall-Tabor said she was “ecstatic” when her lawyer informed her about the federal court ruling.

“I feel great,” Marshall-Tabor, 45, said Friday. “That’s one less burden, one less thing I have to worry about is another cost,” she said.

“Right now, it means there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Things are starting to come to a closure,” Marshall-Tabor said.

In his decision, Justice Boswell rejected the Millbrook First Nation’s arguments that the tribunal erred in its decision that the band discriminated against Marshall-Tabor when it chose a male candidate instead of her to serve as captain on a lobster boat during the 2008 fishing season.

Justice Boswell also rejected the First Nation’s argument that the same tribunal erred when it ruled the band retaliated against Marshall-Tabor because she filed a complaint against the band with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

In that particular complaint, the tribunal found the Millbrook First Nation interfered with her employment with the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs in June 2008 and denied her travel costs to take a job exam in Halifax when it usually pays for this cost.

Millbrook sought to have tribunal rulings dismissed

The Law Courts in Halifax
The Law Courts in Halifax, N.S./Photo by Stephen Brake

During a two-day hearing held in May at the Law Courts in Halifax, lawyers for the Millbrook First Nation argued the tribunal’s decision in both matters should be set aside on several grounds. They included:

  • Parts of the audio recordings of the tribunal’s hearing were inaudible which prevented the First Nation from filing a proper judicial review.
  • Millbrook First Nation was denied procedural fairness when the tribunal issued separated the discrimination and retaliation decisions even though both complaints were heard by the same tribunal at the same time.
  • The First Nation alleged there were several errors in the discrimination decision which warranted the federal court’s intervention.
  • The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal applied an improper test in case law in deciding the retaliation complaint.

Justice Boswell rejected all of the First Nation’s arguments to have the tribunal’s decisions overturned and hold a new tribunal.

“I conclude that neither the discrimination decision nor the retaliation decision was procedurally unfair or substantively unreasonable. Accordingly, Millbrook’s applications for judicial review are dismissed,” Justice Boswell wrote.

Tabor-Marshall hopes she’ll now be able to get work as a captain with the Millbrook First Nation Fishery.

“That’s all I really ever wanted, to be employed and be recognized as a woman in the fishery as a captain,” she said.

Tabor-Marshall also hopes Millbrook doesn’t appeal Justice Boswell’s ruling.

“Enough is enough. I’m tired of having to prove myself, defend myself, uphold my status, everything,” she said.

“I’m just tired of fighting for women’s rights in my own community,” she added.

Millbrook First Nation Chief Bob Gloade did not respond to Kukukwes.com’s request on Friday for an interview regarding the federal court ruling.

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About Maureen Googoo 270 Articles
Maureen Googoo is an award-winning journalist from Indian Brook First Nation (Sipekne'katik) in Nova Scotia. She has worked in news more than 30 years for media outlets such as CBC Radio, the Chronicle-Herald and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. Maureen has an arts degree in political science from Saint Mary's University in Halifax, a journalism degree from Ryerson University in Toronto and a Masters degree in journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City.