Minister of National Defence announce Advisory Panel on Systemic Racism, Discrimination with a focus on anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism, LGBTQ2 Prejudice, Gender Bias and White Supremacy
December 17, 2020 – Ottawa, ON – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces
The uncomfortable truth is that racism and discrimination exist in this country. The Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) fully recognize that they are not exempt. Racist, discriminatory and harmful behaviour in the organization will not be tolerated. In spite of past efforts, racist and discriminatory acts have continued to occur. These acts negatively impact our efforts to grow as an organization and ensure an environment free of discrimination and prejudice to create a true sense of belonging for women, Black, Indigenous and Peoples of Colour (BIPOC) and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirit (LGBTQ2) community within the military and civilian structures.
Today, the Minister of National Defence, the Hon. Harjit Sajjan, announced the creation of an Advisory Panel on systemic racism, discrimination with a focus on anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism, LGBTQ2 prejudice, gender bias and white supremacy. This panel will made up of:
- Captain (Ret’d) D.L. (Door) Gibson, M.M.M., CD
- Sergeant (Ret’d) Derek Montour
- Major (Ret’d) Sandra Perron, CD
- Major-General (Ret’d) E.S. (Ed) Fitch, O.M.M., M.S.M., CD
As part of its mandate, the Advisory Panel will provide advice on how we can ensure, as an institution that individuals who hold racist or white supremacist beliefs are not allowed to enter into or remain in our organization. The Advisory Panel will be asked to identify the policies, process and practices that enable discriminatory behaviours and provide recommendations on how as an institution the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces can eliminate them. This Advisory Panel will create a report and recommendations for the Minister of National Defence, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces no later than December 31, 2021.
The previous work the National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces Ombudsman has done has contributed to a deeper understanding of the scope of issues that must be reviewed. The Ombudsman will now review employment equity within the CAF and DND to ensure that we are living up to our current obligations and provide recommendations on how we can make our institution more equitable.
The Defence Team has a responsibility to ensure all members are welcome, safe and treated with the same dignity and respect that they work to defend and protect every day in service to Canada. Understanding racism and discrimination have become systemic within its structures and our need to make the necessary changes; the Defence Team is committed to rooting it out and creating a more equitable and inclusive environment for its members.
“Systemic racism and prejudice still exist – in this country and in our organization. The creation of this Advisory Panel sends a very clear message that we will not tolerate this type of behaviour in our organization. Perpetrators will be held accountable and dealt with swiftly. There will be no question about where the organization stands on this matter. Simply put, there is no room for hateful conduct in the Department of National Defence nor Canadian Armed Forces now or in our future.”
The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence
“Whether discriminatory actions are rooted in ignorance or hate; whether someone misguidedly thinks they’re being funny, or somehow assumes that the values and ethics of this institution don’t apply to them—they’re wrong. Our work environment must be one in which all persons are treated equitably and with respect, which is why I established the Anti-Racism Secretariat to ensure support for ongoing Diversity and Inclusion initiatives within our Department, and to support the important work of the Minister’s Advisory Panel.”
Jody Thomas, Deputy Minister, National Defence
“We must work to build a force that better reflects Canada and Canadians, a diverse force that is open to all, to meet our high standards, without biased barriers or prejudice. This requires cooperating with stakeholders, experts in their field, and our own CAF membership, dedicated to their mission, to advance the CAF in order to prevail in future conflicts. We can only succeed with a diverse force that rids itself of hateful conduct.”
General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff
The Advisory Panel will be supported through the Anti-Racism Secretariat which will assist their work and provide them with the necessary research and information so that the Panel can make concrete recommendations to improve the DND and CAF.
The Advisory Panel will be given access to any and all individuals within the CAF and DND who want to speak with the Panel in a confidential setting in order to inform the Panel what the current situation is and provide insight as to how DND and the CAF can make improvements.
The Department of National Defence will conduct a survey of the CAF and DND to provide a baseline of any issues related to racism and discrimination that currently exist to measure our progress.
In July 2020, the CAF addressed what constitutes hateful conduct in its personnel policies with an amendment to Defence Administrative Orders Directive – 5019-0 Conduct and Performance Deficiencies.
A new Military Personnel Instruction (01/20) for the CAF, providing direction regarding procedures and members’ responsibilities during investigations, was also issued to provide supplemental advice and guidance to the chain of command.
And in the fall of 2020, the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy, and the Royal Canadian Air Force all issued hateful conduct orders with the aim of eliminating racism, discrimination and hateful conduct overall in their ranks.
Office of the Minister of National Defence
Department of National Defence
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