Consent First

Consent in Canada and the CAF

A shared understanding that consent is present when engaging in any sexual interaction is essential both morally and legally. Consent is often the central issue within a complaint of sexual assault, yet research indicates that only one in three Canadians truly understands what it means to give and have consentFootnote 1. Incidents of sexual misconduct where consent is at issue are prevalent, not only in Canadian society but in the CAF as well, as evidenced by the 2016 Statistics Canada Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the CAF.

Consent First video project

Given the importance of consent - particularly in a military context where power and rank differentials may place consent in question – the Operation HONOUR Consent First video was developed to increase awareness and understanding of sexual consent. Available in both English and French, the videos are tailored to CAF personnel, featuring members from all environments describing what does, and does not, constitute sexual consent.

Consent First - Transcript

Consent to sexual activity is legally and morally required:

  • Consent is respect… for yourself and for others!
  • Consent is a dynamic process best expressed actively
  • Consent must start before the first touch or kiss
  • Consent can end at any time

Consent must be voluntary and freely given; there isn’t any consent if there has been abuse of power or abuse of authority; threats; or fraud! Your consent is never “owed” to anyone

Having consent means checking in and paying attention to the response to an advance

  • Consent may be vocal, enthusiastic or something more evolving
  • Consent is a clear, un-coerced “Yes!”
  • May I hug you? … Yeah!!
  • May I kiss you? ... Please do!

Use ongoing questioning like: Do you like this? Does this feel good? Listen and look at the responses

  • …Yes… definitely!
  • …Oh, yeah!
  • …I like that
  • …Keep going!

When someone seems unsure don’t assume consent!

  • No!   
  • This isn’t right…
  • I am uncomfortable with this.

Once consent has been given, can someone change their mind?

  • YES, it can change anytime for any reason!
  • You've heard it before but “No” really does mean No!
  • I don’t want to...
  • Stop that…
  • …you have to stop even if you started.
  • Don’t…
  • No!

Is consent there when someone is…?

  • Asleep? … That’s a clear no
  • Passed out? … Absolutely not
  • And YES, someone can be too drunk to give consent.

Where is the line?

  • Keep your hands off people until you have consent.
  • No, you can’t just walk up and kiss them…
  • Or grab, grope or swat any part of them…
  • … Unless you have their consent.

Sexual contact without consent is a sexual offence.

  • So touching someone’s behind without their consent can be sexual assault.
  • Kissing someone without their consent can also be sexual assault.
  • Sexual offences, like sexual assault, are crimes. 

The Canadian Armed Forces are committed to ensuring that conversations about consent are founded in the respect for the dignity of others at all times.

Join us to make sure that consent is never in question.

The Consent First idea originated from work being done at Ryerson University, who graciously granted the CAF permission to adapt their concept for use in the CAF.

Download Consent First (24.6 MB, .MP4)

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: