Pride in the Defence Public Service
September 15, 2020 – Defence Stories
This year’s Pride Season concluded with the most colourful and involved Public Service Pride Week yet: more than 50 Government of Canada (GoC) departments participated in the event via social media, collectively raising virtual Pride flags, sharing stories, and voicing their support for LGBTQ2+ communities. In addition to raising the virtual flag, physical Pride flags flew proudly at various Department of National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces locations on Bases and Wings across Canada.
Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Canada led an interdepartmental Pride Week Panel (with more than 300 virtual audience members), featuring panelists from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, ISED, DND, Natural Resources Canada, Transport Canada and Treasury Board, who spoke of their respective Pride Networks. The theme of the panel was mental health and wellbeing, with the objective being to foster a culture of collaboration and to contribute to a more inclusive public service. Panelists discussed how their organizations are supporting LGBTQ2+ employees and shared best practices. These have helped foster a diverse and inclusive work environment and have supported their employees’ mental health and wellbeing, such as the Positive Space Initiative and weekly Zoom/Teams casual meetings.
Kirk/Kaiya Hamilton, a panelist and Civilian National Co-Chair for the Defence Team Pride Network (DTPN), said that the DTPN has come a long way from their initial launch in late 2018; they will officially be recognized as a Defence Advisory Group in the fall. Kirk/Kaiya has also been invited to meet with the Minister of National Defence to have an open discussion on LGBTQ2+ issues, and how LGBTQ2+ members can bring their full value to the Defence Team through their unique history and additional cultural knowledge.
Kirk/Kaiya spoke of DND leadership’s commitment to creating an inclusive and diverse workforce for LGBTQ2+ members: “When I hear our leadership speaking, I have hope. They are taking time out of their day to say: ‘Tell me what [inclusion] means to you as a human being. When we use terms like ‘men and women,’ how does it feel when you can’t see yourself reflected in the Defence Team?’”
When asked how GoC departments can work together to provide support and create a sense of community, Kirk/Kaiya said that departments should lean on each other throughout the year, not only during Pride Season.
“Connecting with each other is about more than sharing best practices, it’s about learning together what is not working and connecting as people first, not only as departments or public servants. We are all colleagues,” he/she said.
Panelists discussed the value of making DND/CAF more diverse and inclusive for all. Kirk/Kaiya then raised the importance of challenging the notion of “That’s how we’ve always done it.”
“Ask if we can do it better. Let’s do better.”
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