Restorative Engagement program

The Sexual Misconduct Support and Resource Centre's (SMSRC) Restorative Engagement (RE) program provides flexible options for members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF)-Department of National Defence (DND) Sexual Misconduct Class Action Settlement to share their experiences, impacts, and insights related to sexual misconduct in the CAF and DND.

The SMSRC continues to contact all class members of the CAF-DND Sexual Misconduct Class Action who expressed interest in the Restorative Engagement program, by email or phone, as we were not able to reach all class members before the end of 2023. This will allow class members to confirm if they are still interested or if they need more information. For class members who are not sure that they expressed interest on their claim form or need to update their contact information, please contact the Claims Administrator. We look forward to onboarding more class members. For any questions regarding the program, please email us at RE-DR@forces.gc.ca or call the SMSRC’s 24/7 line at 1-844-750-1648.

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About the Restorative Engagement program

The RE program was mandated through the Canadian Armed Forces-Department of National Defence Sexual Misconduct Class Action Final Settlement. The program was designed and developed by the SMSRC.

The program creates opportunities and environments:

Program development and implementation

A dedicated RE program team within the SMSRC designed and developed the program in collaboration with:

We began by consulting with the community we serve, on what they needed in a restorative engagement program. We officially launched the RE program in its initial operating capability (IOC) on November 15, 2021. The program contacted a small group of class members to participate. In January 2022, the first groups of Defence representatives began working in cohorts with restorative practitioners to develop the knowledge and skills needed to engage with class members and translate what they learned into meaningful action for culture change. The program has continued to bring together Defence representatives to meet the CMs needs for engagements and to learn from them, and the activities are expected to continue into 2026.

Program team

The RE program team is composed of the following:

Each regional program coordinator has a positional mailbox:

A restorative approach to justice

The RE program applies a restorative approach to help CAF/DND to contribute to culture change.

Principles of a restorative approach

Focused on relations

Puts people and their relationships, to one another, between groups and with institutions, at the centre. A restorative approach places the emphasis on addressing harm and establishing or re-establishing justice and trust in relationships (this means characterized by mutual dignity, respect, care and concern).

Comprehensive and holistic

Works in integrated ways and looks for the connections between issues, causes, circumstances, and culture.

Inclusive and participatory

Including and empowering those with lived experience, being open and transparent with them about options and limitations, honouring choices for how they would like to participate, and removing barriers to access.

Responsive

Being flexible and adaptable in all of our work so as to be responsive to participants’ needs, objectives, and circumstances and the context within which the program exists.

Focused on individual and collective responsibility

Pays attention to the ways in which the system affects individuals and the ways in which individuals affect the system. Defence representatives take responsibility for change in their daily roles and also work with each other and the institution to address structural factors that contribute to harm.

Collaborative and non-adversarial

Looks at bringing people into the process and working towards a common goal rather than working against one another.

Safety and confidentiality

The SMSRC Restorative Engagement (RE) program does not facilitate communication between individuals affected and those who affected them. Instead, it involves representatives of the institution in which the harm occurred. The program also provides support services and resources to participants.

RE is confidential as participation in, and information shared within the program are confidential, within legal limitations. If you choose to share your experience(s), you may do so anonymously. This sharing can take many different forms and will only be submitted with your consent. All personal information is handled in accordance with the Privacy Act.

The RE program is outside the CAF chain of command and the investigation process. Participation in the program is not part of any administrative, disciplinary or criminal process.

Exception to the Duty to Report

An exception to the Duty to Report is in effect “in the context of a restorative engagement program”.

This exception ensures that CAF members who are Defence representatives are not put in a position by the Duty to Report to report an incident of wrongdoing against the wishes of the class member.

Class members who are or were DND public service employees are not bound by the CAF Duty to Report.

Read the May 25, 2022 News Release announcing this exception.

Class members

The RE program does not facilitate communication between class members and those who directly harmed them.

What to expect

There are different ways in which class members may share their experiences and insights related to sexual misconduct.

As part of RE, class members may choose to share with a Defence representative:

Class members may choose to share:

Restorative practitioners facilitate communications with class members and help them prepare through individual sessions before engagements. Class members are in control of the information they provide and what they choose to share.

Phases of the Restorative Engagement process

Phase 1

Class members meet with restorative practitioners and learn more about the:

Restorative practitioners will also facilitate class members to:

Class members will not be asked to share their sexual misconduct experience.

Phase 2

In this phase, restorative practitioners will guide class members to:

Class members may choose to participate in different ways, for different purposes and their engagement overall can include different process options.

Phase 3

In this phase, class members will be invited to:

Class member updates

Read the latest updates sent to class members who have expressed an interest to participate in the Restorative Engagement program.

Defence representatives

Defence representatives are CAF members and DND public service employees. Their work in the program is to first acknowledge and learn from the experiences and insights of those who have been harmed by sexual misconduct. Then, they plan and prepare to take meaningful action to contribute to culture change.

Defence representatives commit to:

Defence representatives participate in cohorts of 6 to 8 CAF members and DND public service employees of diverse professions, backgrounds, and identify factors. There are new flexible ways they can participate in the program.

 

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

Option 4

Defence representative Alumni Community

Who can participate?

CAF members and DND public service employees of all ranks and levels in cohorts of 6 to 8 people

CAF members and DND public service employees of all ranks and levels in cohorts of 6 to 8 people

Colonels/Captains(N), Lieutenant-Colonels /Commanders, Chief Warrant Officers/Chief Petty Officers 1st class, EX-01s, EXs minus 1 and middle managers (e.g., AS-08, EC-07, AS-07 and equivalent) in cohorts of 6 to 8 people

Generals and Flag Officers, EX-02s and up in cohorts of 6 to 8 people

All former Defence representatives

When does it start?

May 2024

June 2024

June 2024

June 2024

Launched in February 2024

How long is it for and what is the frequency?

8 weeks full-time

2 weeks full-time at beginning, 5 to 6 months of intermittent participation and concluding with 2 weeks full-time

6 to 8 months of intermittent participation

12 months of intermittent participation

As needed for class member engagements individually or in cohorts

How will my time be managed?

Phase 1:
Learning and preparing to engage

Phase 2:
Class member engagements and debriefs

Phase 3:
Planning and action for culture change

Phase 1:
2 weeks full-time of learning and preparing to engage

Phase 2:
Up to 6 days of class member engagements over 5 to 6 months with 3-hour debrief sessions per month and 3-hour reflecting learning circles bi-monthly

Phase 3:
2 weeks full-time of planning and action for culture change

Phase 1:
6, 2-to-3-hour sessions of learning and preparing to engage

Phase 2:
Up to 2 days of class member engagements over 6 to 8 months with 3 hour debrief sessions per month for 3 to 4 months

Phase 3:
4.5 hours in the last month for a DR dialogue, final debrief, planning and action for culture change

Phase 1:
3, 2-to-3-hour sessions of learning and preparing to engage

Phase 2:
Up to 3 days of reflective learning circles with class members and processing sessions within cohort, and/or participation in a 2-hour dialogue with DR alumni

Phase 3:
2 hours for debriefs

Phase 1:
Refreshers and discussion on suitability

Phase 2:
1.5 to 2 days of intermittent class member engagements and debriefs

Phase 3:
Planning and action for culture change

Where is it?

Virtual with possibility of traveling for class member engagements

Virtual with possibility of traveling for class member engagements

Virtual with possibility of traveling for class member engagements

Virtual with possibility of traveling for class member engagements

Virtual with possibility of traveling for class member engagements

Cohort work is facilitated by restorative practitioners. Defence representatives are essential agents of culture change that class members expect will occur through RE. To this end, Defence representative participation in the program has been carefully designed, using a restorative approach, to maximize Defence representative learning, planning and action, in real time.

Defence representatives may engage with class members. Engagement sessions are one of several ways of learning in this program about sexual misconduct; they will have many opportunities to learn from class members’ experiences throughout the program (readings, videos, CM submissions, etc.).

Engagement sessions with class members are facilitated by restorative practitioners and may be in-person, virtual or indirect, as an individual or in a group.

For more information and to send in a nomination to become a Defence representative, visit the Defence Team Intranet page.

The Defence leadership’s role

Members of the CAF chain of command and DND executives and management support implementation of the program by:

Restorative practitioners

Restorative practitioners are DND public service employees. They do not have a Duty to Report and are independent from the CAF chain of command.

It is important to note that the role of restorative practitioners is not to provide counseling and support but to serve as facilitators. They assist CMs and DRs in participating in the program and connect them to support services and resources.

Working with Defence representatives

Restorative practitioners are assigned to facilitate each cohort of Defence representatives. They facilitate reflection, dialogue, learning, understanding, skills building, preparation, and planning for action. These cohort activities enable Defence representatives to identify lessons learned about sexual misconduct, develop restorative leadership skills, and build capacity for change.

Working with class members

One restorative practitioner is assigned to each class member to facilitate their participation in the program, including introducing the program (purpose, approach, and options); coordinating, preparing, and facilitating class member engagements with Defence representatives; bringing closure to their participation and referring to other programs and services as needed.

Support services and resources

Participating in the program can be very rewarding, and it can bring up difficult emotions. The restorative practitioner(s) assigned to you will facilitate you through the process and can connect you to other support services and resources, depending on your needs.

At any time, you can contact the Sexual Misconduct Support and Resource Centre’s 24/7 confidential support line (1-844-750-1648) to reach a counsellor who has been briefed on the RE program. They can provide support and connect class members, Defence Team members and restorative practitioners to support services.

Support can also come from a designated person that can be present during all stages of participation. Defence representatives can also reach out to other members of their cohort or to their management for support.

Information sessions

Attend an information session to learn more about what to expect as a class member or as a future Defence representative.

Send us feedback

As a participant in the RE program, you may raise your concerns, complaints, or feedback regarding your participation, such as:

When we receive complaints, we will attempt to resolve them at the lowest level possible, to support timeliness in resolution. If your concerns have not been resolved to your satisfaction, you have a right of review which means that your complaint can be escalated to the next level of authority for a review of the circumstances and a resolution.

A written submission is preferred, and can be submitted to:

We will acknowledge receipt of a complaint sent electronically within two business days. If your complaint is sent by mail, it may take longer than two business days depending on when we receive it. We will ensure that the complaint is sent to the appropriate person. Your complaint will be responded to within 30 business days.

Our response will include the name, role and contact information of who the complaint can be further elevated to if the complaint is not resolved to your satisfaction.

For more information

Call us or send us an email if you still have questions about the Restorative Engagement program:

Toll-free: 1-833-998-2048
Email: RE-DR@forces.gc.ca

Note: All calls to the Restorative Engagement program toll-free number are automatically transferred to the Sexual Misconduct Support and Resource Centre’s 24/7 line, where a counsellor can speak with you about Restorative Engagement and other support services and resources available.

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