Minister’s Advisory Panel on Systemic Racism and Discrimination Final Report
April 25, 2022 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces
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 to provide advice on how to eliminate them from our institution.
Its work has focused on Anti-Indigenous and Anti-Black Racism, LGBTQ2+ Prejudice, Gender Bias, White Supremacy, Antisemitism, Islamophobia and discrimination towards people with disabilities. In addition, an Anti-Racism Secretariat was established to support the work of the Minister’s Advisory Panel.
About the Panel
The Minister of National Defence appointed four members who represent diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise and perspectives related to anti-racism, equity, diversity and inclusion. The panel members are proud retired former CAF members. They each bring their identity lens to inform their work and analysis. They are actively engaged as community builders involved in volunteer Boards, members of not-for-profit organizations, national and regional Advisory Committees and helping individuals in need. They are passionate and have a strong desire to advance these efforts.
This panel is composed of:
- Major-General E.S. (Ed) Fitch, OMM, MSM, CD (Ret’d)
- Sergeant Aronhia:nens Derek Montour (Ret’d)
- Major Sandra Perron, CD (Ret’d), HLCol of the Régiment de Hull
- Captain D.L. (Door) Gibson, MMM, CD (Ret’d)
Advisory Panel Review
Since January 2021, 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 report is divided into three parts.
First, the report summarizes the history that led to the current state of racism and discrimination in the Defence Team, and acknowledges that “improving the future often requires understanding the past.”
Second, the Report sets forth a series of vision principles for the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces. These principles describe what a truly diverse and equitable Defence Team should look like. One core principle is an institution that looks like Canada – in culture, gender and ethnicity. Other principles include safe places for nursing mothers, sacred spaces for people of all faiths, and mutual respect at all times.
Third, the report makes recommendations for change across the organization—from improving education and awareness of truth and reconciliation, to promoting the history of Black service personnel, to selecting chaplains that represent a wider variety of faiths, to building better recruitment efforts in multicultural communities, to using data to measure our progress, and more.
The report specifically identified 13 areas of opportunity in which 43 recommendations are proposed. The 13 areas of opportunity are:
- Establish a Process for Reviewing Recommendations
- Elevate the Defence Advisory Groups (DAGs) and Network(s)
- Re-Define the Relationship Between the Defence Team and Indigenous Peoples
- Address the Experiences of Black People – “Resilience” and “Tenacity” in the Absence of Progress
- Fight White Supremacy and Other Forms of Ideologically Motivated Violent Extremism (IMVE)
- Re-Define Chaplaincy
- Ensure Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities
- Re-Design Military Policing
- Embrace Transgender Members of the Defence Team
- Employ the Diversity within the Defence Team
- Foster Parental Allowance (PATA) Usage in the CAF
- Measure Initiatives and Progress – Scorecards
- Improve the Total Health and Wellness Framework
The recommendations build on previous external and internal reports and recommendations focused on racism and discrimination. The report highlights the need to measure and monitor regularly the implementation of previous recommendations with the aim to provide evidence that the culture is in fact shifting.
The report calls for the entire Defence Team to act. The Advisory Panel conveys that “leaders within the Defence Team have the necessary expertise” and knowledge to advise on changes that need to occur. The Advisory Panel “urges these leaders to listen to their Defence Advisory Groups and Network(s) and marginalized members” and to consider their “suggestions to build a better future together”.
The recommendations look to elevate the voices of those with lived experiences, such as members of the Defence Advisory Groups and Networks, to help identify barriers and solutions, and develop measurements related to equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives. They instruct DND/CAF to ensure leaders are held accountable with more effective performance measurements.
Existing Actions and Next Steps
The Defence Team acknowledges that history of systemic racism and discrimination has led to the harm of many of its members, both for CAF and civilian personnel, and welcomes the observations and recommendations made in this report as a guide to direct courses of action towards becoming a more diverse, equitable and inclusive organization.
Since receiving the report, the Defence Team has been working to identify opportunities for action, as it continues its work on a number of initiatives that are aligned with the observations made by the Advisory Panel.
Existing initiatives include:
- Establishing a Secretariat to support the Defence Advisory Groups with permanent resources to elevate the voices of the Defence Team members with lived experiences;
- Developing an Indigenous Learning Curriculum;
- Launching the Total Health and Wellness Strategy with an investment of over $950 million in new and existing health and wellness programs;
- Establishing the External Comprehensive Review Implementation Committee in January 2022 to coordinate and oversee the work required to implement varied and complex recommendations from independent reviews, including the report of the Advisory Panel on Systemic Racism and Discrimination, the Third Independent Review of the National Defence Act by former Justice Morris J. Fish, and the forthcoming final report from the Independent External Comprehensive Review from the former Justice Louise Arbour;
- Using detailed data and analysis reporting on incidents of hateful conduct to help focus our efforts on culture change;
- Launching an Executive Development Program for Diverse Talent, which aims to increase Black, Indigenous and minority communities represented at the Executive level;
- Developing the Inclusive Leadership Program, led by Lieutenant-General Carignan, which equips leaders with the skills and inclusive leadership traits to support a work environment in which people feel valued, respected, connected, psychologically safe, involved in decision-making, and empowered to bring their authentic selves; and
- Re-committing to offering a formal apology to the members and descendants of the No. 2 Construction Battalion this July, which will highlight the service history and experiences of racism and discrimination of Black members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
The Defence Team is exploring ways for the DAGs and Networks to contribute as an advisory body to the Defence Team governance and decision making tables, and is seeking to create a permanent Anti-Racism Secretariat as a Centre of Excellence on anti-racism and discrimination.
Moving forward, the Defence Team will synchronize its implementation efforts with the broader Culture Change Strategy currently in development by the Chief, Professional Conduct and Culture.
The Defence Team will also continue to provide regular updates on its culture change efforts to Canadians, which will now include specific updates on the work that is underway to address racism and discrimination in DND and CAF.
- News Release: Defence Minister released results from its Advisory Panel on Systemic Racism and Discrimination underscoring areas of opportunity
- 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
Office of the Minister of National Defence
Department of National Defence
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