DM/CDS Message on Black History Month

February 1, 2023 - Defence Stories


Today marks the beginning of Black History Month. We would like to start the month by thanking our Black Department of National Defence (DND) employees and Black Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members working to serve Canadians and Canada. Your professionalism, resolve, and perseverance, whether here at home in Canada or around the world, has strengthened our quest for excellence.

Black History Month is both a celebration of Black culture in Canada and an opportunity for those of us who consider ourselves allies—or would like to understand how to be a better one—to learn more about the unique perspectives and lived experiences of the Black community. With that in mind, this year, DND/CAF will hold our first official Black History Month event on February 6, 2023. We encourage all staff to participate via MS Teams or join us in person at Carling Campus.

Recognizing and celebrating the varied talents, viewpoints and cultures of our soldiers, sailors, aviators, operators and public service employees strengthens our overall institutional effectiveness. In our service of Canada, we must reflect the rich diversity of the people we serve. Our operational success is enhanced when we have Black Canadians more fully represented in our ongoing work to defend Canada, defend North America, and engage with our international allies.

This means that DND/CAF diversity measures need to be supported and amplified by all within the department. We must let people know, and also witness, that we are an inclusive organization where people feel they belong because they are seen and valued for who they are.

To inform and guide our efforts, we have established the Director of Anti-Racism Implementation under Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture to inform and focus our institutional efforts to address racism and discrimination. At the same time, we would like to recognize the efforts of our new Defence Team Champion for Visible Minorities, the Defence Visible Minority Advisory Group, and the Defence Team Black Employee Network in giving voice to our Black colleagues and giving all Defence Team members the tools needed to create a more equitable and positive work environment.

We invite Black Defence Team members, if you are comfortable doing so, to share your voices, celebrate your accomplishments, and relay your experiences as Black Defence Team members and what they have meant for you. Even as we work to create space to highlight and elevate the voices of Black Defence Team members this month, we also need to recognize that it is not the responsibility of our Black colleagues to educate those of us who are not Black about their lived experiences or the impacts of racism and discrimination in our workplace. Everyone in this Defence Team has work to do to make this an inclusive, safe and equitable environment.

We also encourage every leader and manager in this Defence Team to find ways to open and maintain a psychologically safe space for healthy dialogue that can lead to solutions for anti-Black racism. Not just for Black History Month, but every day of the year.

Bill Matthews

General Wayne Eyre

Deputy Minister

Chief of the Defence Staff

Page details

Date modified: