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Report on Racism in the Canadian Armed Forces

Flag of Canada on the military uniform. Canadian soldiers. Army of Canada. Remembrance Day. Poppy day. Canada Day.

The Minister’s Advisory Panel was created in December 2020 with a clear mandate to seek out the policies, processes and practices that enable systemic racism and discrimination in the Department of National Defence (DND) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and provide advice on how to eliminate them from our institution. Their work has focused on Anti-Indigenous and Anti-Black Racism, LGBTQ2+ Prejudice, Gender Bias, White Supremacy, Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and discrimination against people with disabilities.

Minister of National Defence Anita Anand released the final report and discussed next steps. The Minister was joined by the four members of the Advisory Panel, MGen Ed Fitch, OMM, MSM, CD (Retired); Sgt Aronhia:nens Derek Montour (Retired); Maj Sandra Perron, CD, HLCol of the Régiment de Hull (Retired); and Capt Door L. Gibson, MMM, CD (Retired), as well as General Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff of the Canadian Armed Forces, and Bill Matthews, the Deputy Minister of the Department of National Defence.

The report provides recommendations for change in thirteen areas that cross the organization—from improving education and awareness of reconciliation, to promoting the history of Black service personnel, to improving recruitment efforts in multicultural communities, and using data to measure progress.

The Panel urges Defence Team leaders to consider these recommendations with resolve and urgency, and to use it as a guide for current and future work to eliminate racism and discrimination in all forms.

As part of this effort, the Defence Team will be establishing a cross-sectional working group that will include Branches from across the organization and the Defence Advisory Groups (DAGs) and Networks to address the report’s recommendations, including by developing an implementation Framework and Action Plan. This work will be synchronized with the broader Culture Change Strategy currently in development by the Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture.

Officials from the DND and CAF will update on progress during their regular updates to Canadians on the steps that the Defence Team is taking on culture change.

“Throughout our history, the Canadian Armed Forces and Defence Team have never faltered – always answering the call of service during climate-related disasters, throughout the pandemic, and on military deployments far from home. It is our most basic responsibility and top priority to ensure they can serve and work with pride in an environment that is free from racism and discrimination. I sincerely thank the Panel for their extensive work and recommendations for change to eliminate systemic racism and discrimination on the Defence Team. The Panel has urged us to consider their recommendations with resolve and urgency, and that is exactly what we will do as we continue our mission to bring the culture change needed in the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence.” The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence

 

“Meeting the challenges of an increasingly dangerous and unstable future requires an even more diverse and inclusive Canadian Armed Forces. Every Canadian needs to see themselves reflected within our ranks, and every member of our team must feel welcome, valued, and safe to bring their talents to bear in service to our country. We thank the panel and all members of the Defence Team who are helping us identify and address exclusionary aspects of our institutional culture to bring about lasting and meaningful change.” General Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff

“Your Advisory Panel believes that the necessary expertise to effectively address challenges described in this final report exists within the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces. The key to lasting positive change within the Defence Team is to listen to its members at all levels, as it is with their input that a more inclusive culture, appreciative of diversity, can flourish.” Members of the Advisory Panel

“I thank the Panel for their thoughtful and insightful work. In order for us to become an institution that is truly equitable, healthy and inclusive we need to identify barriers and root causes, address systemic racism and misconduct, and then experience transformational evolution of our culture across the organization. We need to be one Defence Team that works and serves together, not just in words, but in heart, mind and actions.” Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan, Chief – Professional Conduct and Culture

ADDITIONAL INFO

• The Advisory Panel is comprised of four members who represent diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise and perspectives related to anti-racism, equity, diversity and inclusion. They are proud retired former CAF members and each bring their own lens to inform their work and analysis: MGen Ed Fitch, OMM, MSM, CD (Retired); Sgt Aronhia:nens Derek Montour (Retired); Maj Sandra Perron, CD, HLCol of the Régiment de Hull (Retired); and Capt Door L. Gibson, MMM, CD (Retired).

• The Advisory Panel conducted close to 50 engagement sessions with external organizations and internal Defence stakeholders. During their review process the Advisory Panel received dozens of unsolicited submissions and engaged in subsequent conversations, where lived experiences contributed to the Panel’s analysis of systemic racism and discrimination to inform this report.

• The Prime Minister has mandated the Minister of National Defence to eliminate all sources of anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism, LGBTQ2 prejudice, gender bias and white supremacy in the Canadian Armed Forces.

• Budget 2022 also proposes to provide $100.5 million over six years to strengthen leadership in the Canadian Armed Forces; modernize the military justice system; bring into force the Declaration of Victims Rights as set out in the National Defence Act; undertake engagement and consultation on culture change; and enhance restorative services, including dispute resolution and coaching services.

• In August 2021, the Deputy Minister responded to the Clerk’s Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity, and Inclusion in the Federal Public Service providing an update on the Department of National Defence continued progress on achieving systemic change.

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