Defence Team Message - News from Defence Team’s Anti-Racism Secretariat

May 6, 2021 - Defence Stories

Message for the Defence Team

The Department of National Defence (DND) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Anti-Racism Secretariat plays an important role in fostering a Defence Team environment anchored in equity, dignity and respect for all members across DND/CAF.

This team will be working collaboratively with the newly established Level One, Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture on systemic misconduct, including sexual misconduct, hateful conduct, harassment and discrimination.

Racial prejudice and discrimination based on gender culminate and are expressed in the form of racism, sexual misconduct, misogyny and transphobia. Both are complex and interconnected. Both are core forms of inequities and oppression that the department struggles with. We need to acknowledge that systemic forms of inequities are part of the root cause in order to begin to change our organizational culture.

Racism and all other forms of discrimination within DND/CAF extend beyond hateful, racist and discriminatory behaviours of individuals. They are also embedded—to varying extents—in our everyday policies, programs, directives, and practices. This has, in turn, created barriers.

Addressing anti-Indigenous, anti-Black and all forms of racism, along with discrimination against other identity factors will be the driving force behind the work of the Secretariat.

This team—led by Ms. Seyi Okuribido-Malcolm in the role of Director—consults, advises and collaborates with Level One and Command organizations across the Defence Team.  It also coordinates with the Directorate of Gender Equality and Intersectional Analysis, the Defence Advisory Groups, internal Networks and Champions.  

Actions are already underway under the following themes: Support Minister’s Advisory Panel on anti-racism and discrimination—Identify systemic and racial barriers—Be a Centre of influence. More than 40 Defence Team stakeholder organizations have been engaged to date.

Below are examples of work that has been initiated since its inception:

We must acknowledge the many Defence Team members who have made an effort to learn more about racial equity and unlearn harmful norms; embraced the humility to self-reflect, to question the status quo and to seek tangible ways to create space for discussion, to lead, to take action, and to bring about change.

The Secretariat is poised to work on this collective culture change within the Defence Team to shift mindsets and behaviours within the organization. This will ensure our Defence Team is respectful, more equitable and effective; a team that all Canadians can aspire to join, and feel proud to be a part of.

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