About Operation HONOUR
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Operation HONOUR is the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) mission to eliminate sexual misconduct in the Canadian military.
Operation HONOUR is based on the principles that:
- People are at the centre of everything we do. The way we support and treat them is directly related to our operational effectiveness.
- Any attitudes or behaviours which undermine the camaraderie, cohesion and confidence of serving members threatens the CAF’s long-term success.
Addressing sexual misconduct in the CAF is a complex mission that will require a significant and sustained effort over many years. To succeed, we must realign behaviours and attitudes of personnel with the military ethos of Duty with Honour. Mission success will be achieved when all members are able to perform their duties in an environment free from assault, harassment and discrimination.
Operation HONOUR commenced with four lines of effort:
- Support persons affected by sexual misconduct
Develop and establish support mechanisms for affected individuals, evaluate and revise current support programs.
- Respond to incidents of sexual misconduct
Develop and implement procedures, programs and policies for affected individuals and the Chain of Command.
- Prevent sexual misconduct from occurring
Create and implement training and education programs, and maintain leadership engagement and accountability.
- Understand the issue
Analyse existing information, connect with stakeholders, create an information management system, establish reporting mechanisms, and conduct regular research.
Victim support service
Enhancing victim support is the main effort of Operation HONOUR. As part of Operation HONOUR, the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC) was established outside the CAF chain of command to provide affected individuals with specialized information and support. CAF members can get support anonymously and confidentially without triggering formal reporting. The Centre provides support 24/7 to members worldwide.
Leadership and expertise
The CAF is responsible and accountable for the implementation of Operation HONOUR. The CAF Strategic Response Team - Sexual Misconduct (CSRT-SM) is the strategic level planning and coordination organization leading the CAF’s institutional change efforts to address sexual misconduct and promote a focus on the dignity and respect of the individual, through Operation HONOUR activities.
- The CSRT-SM is led by Commodore R.L. Patterson, OMM, MSM, CD.
- The CSRT-SM Chief Warrant Officer is CWO Leah Marche
The CAF’s efforts are informed, guided and monitored by subject matter experts in the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre, which was established under the Department of the Defence but is independent from the CAF chain of command.
Progress to date
The CAF is committed to maintaining transparency in all actions taken under Operation HONOUR. It has issued four progress reports, all of which offer detailed information on approaches, initiatives and outcomes as Operation HONOUR evolves.
- Progress Report 4 (February 2019)
- Progress Report 3 (April 2017)
- Progress Report 2 (August 2016)
- Progress Report 1 (February 2016)
Background and milestones
In 2014, several high profile national media reports put names and faces to individuals affected by sexual misconduct in the CAF. These brave individuals, mostly women, described their experiences and the impact it had on their professional and personal lives.
Canadians had seen similar reporting in 1998. At that time, the CAF instituted a training initiative to address the issue; however the it did not have a lasting effect.
Within days of the 2014 coverage, then-Chief of the Defence Staff, General Tom Lawson, announced that an external, independent review would be undertaken by former Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps. The aim of the investigation was to analyze our workplace policies, programs and leadership engagement. Recommendations were made to advise the CDS on how to develop an action plan.
Over the spring and summer of 2015, former-Justice Deschamps released the report and recommendations, which continue to guide the evolution of Operation HONOUR today. In fact, the fulfillment of the report’s 10 recommendations has been enshrined in Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy (Initiative #18).
In August 2015, the incoming Chief of the Defence Staff, General Jonathan Vance, issued the order to initiate Operation HONOUR with the mission of eliminating harmful and inappropriate sexual behavior within the CAF.
The initial focus of Operation HONOUR was on:
- improving support for CAF members affected by sexual misconduct
- rapidly modifying harmful behaviours, and
- increasing understanding and vigilance at all levels of leadership
In November 2018, the Auditor General of Canada released a report on the CAF’s efforts to address sexual misconduct to identify areas for improvement and help ensure the CAF was on track for achieving its objectives. The report confirmed that the CAF had made some important progress but that there remained much work to do. This assessment was supported by the CAF’s own internal review.
Operation HONOUR remains the CAF’s highest institutional priority. We are currently focused on further enhancing victim support and developing a long-term response to address sexual misconduct. This response must be fully-coordinated, expertly informed and well-resourced to foster a culture of respect and dignity for all.
Important Operation HONOUR milestones
April 24, 2014
L’actualité publishes Crimes sexuels : le cancer qui ronge l’armée canadienne
Article reprinted in English in Maclean’s, Our Military’s disgrace, May 5, 2014
April 25, 2014
Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) General Tom Lawson responds to the Maclean’s article in a message to CAF members
April 28, 2014
CDS announces external independent review of workplace policies and procedures and establishes the scope of the review. Former Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps would later be established as the External Review Authority.
May 27, 2014
CDS appears in front Parliamentary Committee on National Defence with Chief of Military Personnel, Judge Advocate General, Defence Champion for Women, and CF Provost Marshall
June 30, 2014
Former Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps begins work on external review and visits various bases, wings, and reserve units (Halifax, Borden, Ottawa, St-Jean, Petawawa, Trenton, Valcartier, Esquimalt, Kingston) between August and September 2014
July 9, 2014
CDS General Lawson updates CAF members on the launch of the external independent review
February 25, 2015
CDS sends Initiating Directive to create CAF Strategic Response Team on Sexual Misconduct (CSRT-SM)
March 30, 2015
CDS message about the external review of sexual misconduct in the CAF
April 30, 2015
CDS releases Mme Deschamps’ External Review Report and announces action plan to address inappropriate sexual behaviour and the Canadian Armed Forces Action Plan on inappropriate sexual behaviour
May 25, 2015
Major-General Whitecross, Commander CSRT-SM, and Mme Deschamps brief the Standing Committee on National Defence
July 23, 2015
CDS General Jonathan Vance sends message to CAF personnel about Harmful Sexual Behaviour.
August 14, 2015
CDS issues orders for Operation HONOUR
September 16, 2015
Interim Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC) opens (CDS statement; Backgrounder/QA)
September 28, 2015
Rear-Admiral J. Bennett appointed Director General, CAF Strategic Response Team-Sexual Misconduct
February 1, 2016
CAF publishes first progress report addressing inappropriate sexual behaviour (News release)
August 15, 2016
Training Needs Assessment of all CAF education and training programs published
August 30, 2016
CAF publishes second progress report addressing inappropriate sexual behaviour (News release)
September 27, 2016
Canadian Forces National Investigation Service launches the Sexual Offence Response Team (SORT) Eleven Military Police receive specialized sexual assault investigation training.
November 28, 2016
Statistics Canada Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces, 2016 report and summary infographics for the Regular Force and the Primary Reserve released. CDS addresses findings.
CDS issues direction on administrative actions for CAF members found guilty of sexual misconduct (Accessible on the Defence network: CANFORGEN 002/17 CMP 002/17 301853Z DEC 16.) Note: CANFORGEN 002/17 was later superseded by CANFORGEN - 049/19
CDS Guidance to Commanding Officers and Leadership Teams, updated to include section on eliminating sexual misconduct in the CAF
Operation HONOUR content added to common leadership programs at the Canadian Military Colleges to CA Ethics Course, and to RCAF training programs at Training Establishments.
April 28, 2017
Third progress report addressing inappropriate sexual behaviour released
June 7, 2017
Release of Canada’s Defence Policy – Strong, Secure, Engaged. Operation HONOUR is anchored in the policy (Initiative 18), clearly demonstrating the Canadian Armed Forces’ commitment to eliminating sexual misconduct from its ranks.
June 27, 2017
Dr. Denise Preston becomes the Executive Director of the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre
July 19, 2017
Respect in the CAF mobile application becomes available for free in app stores
July 24, 2017
SMRC launches 24/7 services
July 31, 2017
SMRC publishes first Annual Report
Review of the Establishment of the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre conducted by National Defence Review Services
November 30, 2017
The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre Announces Implementation of New Charter
January 26, 2018
Director of Military Prosecutions announces New Sexual Misconduct Action Response Team and amendments to prosecution policies announced
February 23, 2018
Statement from Minister announces suspension of class action lawsuits relating to sexual assault, racism, harassment, and discrimination.
May 10, 2018
Minister Sajjan tables legislation to enhance support for victims in the Military Justice System - Bill C-77 - Enhancing Victims’ Rights in the Military Justice System – (includes Declaration of Victims’ Rights, Victim Liaison Officer)
November 10, 2018
Commodore Rebecca Patterson becomes Director General of CAF Strategic Response Team–Sexual Misconduct
June 6, 2018
First meeting of the External Advisory Council
June 15, 2018
CDS Directive – Retention of CAF Members Affected by Harmful and Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour
July 20, 2018
Integrated Complaint and Conflict Management (ICCM) established to transform, streamline and improve the CAF’s complaint resolution system and 16 Conflict and Complaint Management Services (CCMS) centres are implemented CAF-wide.
National rollout of the Respect in the CAF Workshop (CANFORGEN 122/18 CMP 060/18 181251Z JUL 18)
September 17, 2018
Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has launches a new and improved Operation HONOUR website
September 20, 2018
Unfounded Sexual Assault Internal Review results published
October 1, 2018
Operation HONOUR Tracking and Analysis System (OPHTAS) initial operating capability (IOC) reached
October 3, 2018
Sexual Misconduct Response Centre Releases Its Second Annual Report
November 19, 2018
The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM) launches the Sexual Assault Review Program (SARP), which establishes an open and transparent case review mechanism of unfounded sexual assault files investigated by the Military Police.
November 20, 2018
The 2018 Fall Reports of the Auditor General of Canada contains a report on Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour in the Canadian Armed Forces. Minister of National Defence responds.
December 4, 2018
CAF Chief Warrant Officer, CWO Alain Guimond shares his vision of what’s next for Operation HONOUR
December 6, 2018
National Defence hosts International Forum with Allies from the Five Eyes network.
December 7, 2018
RCN Leadership Respect and Honour Professional Development Program announced Leadership, respect and honour: Training sailors for the future
Data collection begins for Statistics Canada Survey on Individual Safety in the Postsecondary Student Population (SISPSP), originally for Status of Women Canada, adapted for RMC/CMR. Report, which will be published in 2020, will compare RMC/CMR to other Canadian post-secondary institutions.
February 26, 2019
Fourth progress report on addressing sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces
April 11, 2019
Suite of Operation HONOUR products released, together serving as interim guidelines until finalized policy: Operation HONOUR Manual, Sexual Misconduct Incident Management Decision Tree and CANFORGEN 049/19 VCDS 007/19 111754Z APR 19 - Clarification on the definition of sexual misconduct and appropriate administrative actions
May 22, 2019
Results of second Statistics Canada Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the CAF published (news release)
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