VILLE-SAINT-LAURENT – Walking past her old high school in Ville-Saint-Laurent brings back unpleasant memories for 16-year-old Michaella Bassey.
After finishing an exam almost four years ago, she walked to the bus stop and checked the schedule.
Due to her dyslexia and other disabilities, she said she wanted to confirm the schedule with the bus driver.
“He didn’t really want to answer me because he was on his break,” she said.
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“So, I asked him a second time and he closed the door on my face.”
After the driver’s break ended, Michaella said she was let onto the bus.
She then asked for assistance once more and again, she said, she was refused.
“His supervisor did come on the bus and he told me to get off the bus,” she said.
When she refused, the supervisor apparently called the police.
“I tried to explain to the cops what was happening, so I can get my point of view across and they wouldn’t listen and they grabbed me very roughly,” she said.
“I ended up screaming.”
After the incident, Michaella and her mother asked human rights group CRARR to file two complaints on their behalf against the STM and Montreal police for discrimination, based on disability, race and age.
After mediation failed in 2013, the Quebec Human Rights Commission stepped in.
During the investigation, the bus driver said Michaella was asked to stand behind a yellow line and sit down.
He said she continued to insist that he speak to her mother.
Two weeks ago, the commission decided both the STM and Montreal police followed protocols and dismissed both complaints.
“The commission, as a human rights commission that has a legal mandate to protect victims of discrimination, has to show, not only a greater degree of fairness in an investigation but a greater degree of competency when it involves a child,” said CRARR executive director Fo Niemi.
Meanwhile, both CRARR and Michaella’s mother, Sophia Bassey, said the investigation was bias and flawed.
“If you’re not even going to interview witnesses who have volunteered to come forward and all these years have been waiting to come forward and testify. If you only listen to the side of the STM and SPVM…” said Bassey.
Michaella and her mother said the fight isn’t over yet.
They are considering filing for a judicial review of the Commission’s decision.
They have two weeks to file the motion.