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Government of Canada, CAF & DND Offer Apology to Current and Former Defence Team Members

Current and former members of the Defence Team and Veterans who have experienced or been affected by sexual assault, sexual harassment and discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation received an apology from the institutions that failed to provide them with a safe and inclusive workplace.

The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence, apologized on behalf of the Government of Canada. General Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff, apologized on behalf of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), and Jody Thomas, Deputy Minister of National Defence, apologized on behalf of the Department of National Defence (DND).

This apology acknowledged the suffering of members of our Defence Team and Veterans, the lived experience of those who have been impacted, and those who have come forward to share their experiences in the hopes of driving positive change. The Government of Canada, the Canadian Armed Forces, and the Department of National Defence acknowledged responsibility for their failure to effectively prevent sexual misconduct and discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. These institutions re-stated today their commitment to positive culture change, strengthening accountability mechanisms, and providing a safe and inclusive workplace. The Defence Team will continue to undertake critical work to restore trust and repair harm for those who have been impacted.

Everyone will process the apology in their own way and in their own time. The apology may evoke strong emotional responses either in the moment or later on. Should you or someone you know have experienced an incident of sexual misconduct, there are resources available to support current and former members of the Defence Team. The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC) provides 24/7 confidential support by telephone at 1-844-750-1648 and by email at DND.SMRC-CIIS.MDN@forces.gc.ca. A trained counsellor will take the call, listen, discuss the kind of resources best suited to the individual’s needs, and help with any next steps. The SMRC is independent from the CAF chain of command and counsellors do not have a duty to report.

On behalf of the Government of Canada, the Canadian Armed Forces, and the Department of National Defence, we are deeply sorry for the harm that our institutions caused.

“I acknowledge that successive governments have failed to stamp out sexual harassment, sexual assault, or discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation in the military. To all Canadians who signed up to serve our country and answered the call of service only to find that you were disrespected and justice eluded you: we are sorry. I am sorry.” The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence, on behalf of the Government of Canada

“I acknowledge – we acknowledge – the pain that far too many of you have endured because of years of insufficient action by our institutional leadership and we recognize the terrible toll this has had on you, your loved ones and families. I extend my most sincere and heartfelt apologies to all members of the Defence Team, past and present, whose service to our country has subjected them to the harm of sexual misconduct or discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identify or sexual orientation. We recognize this apology will mean different things to each and every one of you. It is my most profound hope that it will come to represent an important step in our journey towards healing.” General Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff, on behalf of the Canadian Armed Forces.

“I offer this apology with humility, with remorse for the enormity of the distress caused, and without any expectation that my words alone will be sufficient to atone for harm done. I offer it as just one action of many now underway, and soon to come, to address past and current wrongs, and to support — as much as possible — every person’s path to healing.” Jody Thomas, Deputy Minister of National Defence, on behalf of the Department of National Defence

 

ADDITIONAL INFO

• There were close to 19,000 claims filed in the DND/CAF Sexual Misconduct Class Action Settlement.

• As part of the settlement, the Restorative Engagement program recently launched on November 15 and is currently at initial operational capability, is national in scope. The initial group of claimants contacted to participate is small to ensure that all of the necessary resources, supports, and systems are in place to proceed with contacting a larger group of class members, beginning in 2022.

• A claimant may modify their claim to express interest in the Restorative Engagement program, provided their claim was submitted on or before November 24, 2021.

• The Independent External Comprehensive Review, led by Madame Arbour, continues. Interim recommendations were provided on October 20 and accepted by Minister Anand on November 3, and the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal and the Director of Military Prosecutions are working quickly to implement them.

• This neutral, third-party review is independent of the DND/CAF, and is considering all relevant independent reviews conducted to date concerning the DND/CAF, along with their findings and recommendations. Recommendations on establishing external oversight and/or review mechanisms related to misconduct will also be included.

• Budget 2021 provides $236.2 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, and $33.5 million per year ongoing to the DND and Veterans Affairs Canada (including $158.5 million over five years and $29.9 million per year ongoing funded from existing resources) to support work to eliminate sexual misconduct and gender-based violence in the military and support survivors.

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