Heather Gray at the end of her rope - no help from Regina Police Service or Minister Goodale
Since the article came out in Ottawa Life Magazine (OLM) in the fall about bullying and harassment in the Regina Police Service things have gone from bad to worse for the article’s subject, Heather Gray.
When Gray first met with Regina Police Chief Evan Bray back in May 2018, she was encouraged that he had listened to her story and would do his best to help. Her hopes were dashed when it took almost three months and a letter from her lawyer, Bob Hrycan, for him to follow up on the meeting. In his letter of August 21, 2018 Bray said that he had passed her request for compensation on to Regina city solicitor, Katrina Swan and that “these things take a significant amount of time to review.”
Hrycan also sent a letter to Minister Ralph Goodale on August 30, 2018 reminding him about a meeting he had with Gray and another former RPS officer Marv Taylor back in 2014 where they told him about the abuses they suffered throughout their careers with the RPS. At the time Goodale told Gray and Taylor that there wasn’t much he could do as an MP. Goodale is currently Public Safety Minister in Trudeau’s liberal government but has still done nothing to help either Gray or Taylors’s case.
The fact that Goodale has largely ignored Gray’s pleas for assistance is extremely hypocritical in light of his call for building “adequate response mechanisms” for first responders with post traumatic stress injuries (PTSI) at the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Heath Research (CIMVHR) Forum in October 2018. The Regina Leader-Post reported that he said in his speech that it is “vital” that research into PTSI related to first responders (which includes municipal police officers) catches up to that done for military members. “We’ve still got a long way to go,” he said.
While Goodale was blowing hot air at the CIMVHR Forum Gray’s situation was becoming more desperate by the day. Having already attempted suicide in 2009, Gray’s situation is precarious. She has become financially destitute and is struggling with many mental illnesses including PTSD due to what she suffered both during her time at the RPS and struggling afterwards to receive compensation. “This is obscene,” Gray commented after she read about Goodale’s speech about helping first responders with PTSI. “How can this man turn his back on my potential death? What is he doing to save MY life?”
Gray’s 22-year-old son AJ is also suffering after growing up as a witness to Gray’s situation. In his final year of a business degree he is also working three part time jobs to try and make ends meet. Gray says that thanks to some good professional help AJ hasn’t always shown the burden of their situation as much as she has. However, in early November he admitted that he is having a hard time coping, unable to concentrate at school and focus on assignments. “He has asked about seeing our family doctor about meds for his ADD,” she says. “He hasn’t needed those for about three years.”
At the end of October 2018, Swan told Hrycan that the result of their review would be sent to them within two weeks. It took until January 3, 2019 for Chief Bray to send a letter to Hrycan stating that the RPS wasn’t going to do anything to help Gray. “After a full consideration of the matter surrounding Ms. Gray’s resignation from the Regina Police Service, I do not believe there is anything further I can offer her,” he wrote in the letter. “Looking at the facts from 2001 through a 2018 lens does not change them for me.”
Gray describes the past seven months waiting for this review to be complete as “horrific.” She and Taylor both believe that the so called “review” was a sham and that Bray and Swan have just been stringing them along and avoiding the issue for the better part of a year. It looks like the review ignored the first decision that was made by the Workers Compensation Board in 2005 that found “ample evidence of bullying” in Heather’s case. This decision was rescinded in 2007 when Heather says false information was put in her file to cut her off from receiving any compensation. “In the interceding years there’s been a mountain of evidence in my favour and medical diagnoses and other supporting documentations,” she says.
Bray says he conducted his review with Swan but also in conjunction with RPS executive members who may have ties to the very people who were responsible for the harassment, bullying and misogynistic practices carried out against Gray in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Taylor says that if the RPS really wanted to look into this issue they would have retained an impartial investigator like Goodale did for the RCMP complaints. “Under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms are we not entitled to similar considerations or just more cover up and runaround?” Taylor asks.
Bray and Minister Goodale seem to think this issue has been put to bed however this story is ongoing for Gray, Taylor and many others who witnessed the bullying, harassment and intimidation in the RPS. Gray says that since the first OLM article came out many of her “wounded peers” have come to her to reveal their own stories of severe bullying and abuses of power in the RPS.
Gray is at the end of her rope. She has drained her savings and has had to ask other female police officers to help bail her out temporarily. Still, she is committed to fighting for what is right.
“I was a sole warrior fighting many barriers as a woman in this career when I began in 1981,” she says. “Now, I must keep pushing for the help I need for the workplace injury they inflicted on me! It’s what I owe to my son and it’s the least they can do for me.”
Heather Gray has lost everything championing for change. Her home, her career, her life as she knew it. To help Heather, click here to donate to a Go Fund Me page set up by fellow female officer and friend, Amy Matthijsse.
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