By ANDREA WOO
Saturday, July 21, 2018
VANCOUVER -- She was best known publicly as one of several female Mounties to come forward about sexual misconduct within the force, a brave voice that helped bring about an unprecedented $100-million settlement and a promise of change.
But behind the scenes, Krista Carle, who died on July 6, worked just as hard to support colleagues affected by a toxic environment rampant with sexual harassment and abuse. She was equal parts friend, confidante and counsellor, helping keep others afloat even as she struggled to keep her own head above water.
"The things she had to think about and endure - it's very, very tiring," said Marge Hudson, Manitoba's first female Indigenous RCMP officer. "People should remember her for being a strong woman who pulled us all through it. I idolized her. I was fighting for her, because of what she started. She gave me courage."
Ms. Carle, who spoke candidly of her struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder, died by suicide at her home in Sooke, B.C. She was 53.
Ralph Goodale, Canada's Minister of Public Safety, issued a statement commending Ms. Carle for speaking out against "insidious harassment" and serving as a source of strength and support for other victims.
"Her courage and compassion will not be forgotten," the minister said.
"Her efforts to spur reform will succeed."
Krista Grace Carle was born in Calgary on Jan. 2, 1965, the youngest of four children, to Michael James Carle, a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot, and June Evelyn Carle, a stay-at-home mother.
Her father's job required the family to move often; she grew up on military bases in Alberta, Ontario, Washington State and British Columbia.
Ms. Carle studied at the University of Victoria, receiving a degree in fine arts. She then worked in retail before beginning her career with the RCMP in 1991, first in Alberta and later B.C. She said she loved the interpersonal nature of her job.
"I love dealing with people," she told The Globe and Mail in a 2016 interview. "I prided myself on being compassionate. When I was working, I got to know my people in my community. If something happened to them, I was there to make sure somebody was held accountable."
Her brother, Kevin Carle, a retired Royal Canadian Navy captain, said she was excited to serve her country with the RCMP and continue a long history of military-related service within their family.
"Service for the country is something that spans several generations in our family," Mr. Carle said.
"There is a lot of military experience and interest amongst us. She worked hard, got through her basic training and was excited about her career. The sad part was that she endured unprofessional conduct that no one should have to endure in any profession."
Years later, Ms. Carle would reveal that she was subject to sexual harassment that began within her first few months on the job.
She would find graphic pornography in her files.
An officer showed up at her apartment and forcibly kissed her. She was asked lewd questions about her personal life. There would be dozens of incidents during her time in red serge, which took a toll on her mental health.
Her condition affected her personal life. Ms. Carle and her husband divorced, they sold the large farmhouse they had recently purchased and their two children went to live with their father.
"My PTSD got so bad ... that I lost it all," Ms. Carle told The Globe and Mail.
Ms. Carle left the RCMP on a medical discharge in 2009 and went public about the harassment soon after.
She was a plaintiff in two lawsuits against the RCMP, the most recent being a class action involving more than 3,700 claimants and a $100-million settlement.
The settlement was accompanied by a remarkable apology to the women of the force by thenRCMP commissioner Bob Paulson, who acknowledged sexual and gender-based discrimination in the workplace and vowed to bring change. Ms. Carle described the apology as heartfelt and sincere.
In recent years, she and her partner, Mike Roth, resided at their hobby farm in Sooke, on Vancouver Island, where they raised goats, turkeys and chickens.
She owned a Mini Cooper in British Racing Green and served as an events coordinator for a car club that brought together Mini owners for Sunday drives and other events.
Karissa Furneaux, a friend who also suffered from PTSD, said the two bonded over their shared disorder, talking about their struggles over long dog walks.
"Her and I talked, really, about everything," said Ms. Furneaux, who would exchange text messages with Ms. Carle daily.
"I told her all about my past, and she told me about hers. ... She was there for me and I was there for her."
Mr. Roth described his partner as dynamic and caring: "She affected everyone." Ms. Carle kept in frequent contact with her Mountie colleagues, discussing their experiences, the legal proceedings and their health. Her friends described her as a good listener who doled out advice and shared stories of her own struggles in equal measure.
Catherine Galliford, a former RCMP spokeswoman who graduated from the training academy with Ms. Carle in 1991 and was also a plaintiff in the classaction lawsuit, described her former troop mate as caring and an active listener.
"The thing about Krista is she was one of those people who you could tell anything," Ms. Galliford said.
Ms. Hudson said Ms. Carle was always there to support others.
"Any questions I had with regards to the RCMP, she helped me out with all that and pointed me in the right direction," she said. Her voice cracking, she added: "She was very helpful and she listened to what I had to say. She was very sympathetic. She was quite the gal."
Ms. Carle leaves her teenaged son and daughter; siblings, Kevin, Kathryn and Karen; and nieces and nephews.
It is Mr. Carle's hope that his sister's advocacy work will continue through others and that the culture change promised at the RCMP in fact takes place.
"My view is that Krista did her bit," he said. "It's now time for someone else to step up to the plate and carry on with that legacy. Hopefully that can be senior RCMP members serving today, and Canadian government officials."
Former RCMP member Krista Carle was described by friends as a good listener who doled out advice and shared stories of her own struggles in equal measure. Ms. Carle was a plaintiff in two lawsuits against the RCMP, the most recent being a class action involving more than 3,700 claimants and a $100-million settlement.
CHAD HIPOLITO/THE CANADIAN PRESS