International Women’s Day 2019

International Women’s Day 2019

     Women have been serving in the Canadian Armed Forces since 1885. The largest number of Women served in World War II, with many performing non-traditional roles.  In the early 50’s Women were again allowed to join the CAF however they were restricted to traditional roles such as medical, logistical, administrative and communication trades. Gradually the number of Women increased as did the number of trades available to them. 

    After Canadian Parliament passed the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1986 all trades were officially open to Women in 1989, however they were excluded from submarine service.  In 1992 a Human Rights Tribunal claim was made against the CAF and this was the beginning of various implementations to combat sexual abuse and harassment within the organization. SHARP (Standard for Harassment and Racism Prevention Program) training was started and while some praised it, some saw it as a licence to continue doing what they always had.

     In 1998 after a persistent battle trying to publicly state my truth as I knew in my heart I could not be alone I connected with a friend who had the same tale as myself and we embarked on a quest which included the goals of:

1) To stop this from happening to anyone else.

2) To expose the unwritten handbook on dealing with abuse in the CAF

3) Punish perpetrators of abuse and make the CAF harassment free

My friend Ann called MacLeans magazine and told them her story as well as mine and they called me that day.  I gave them all the information I could to prove my story as the Globe and Mail had already deemed it “too controversial.” I had kept all my paperwork and I had a trail to prove my allegations despite no charges being laid.  My friend was not so fortunate, all she had was her word and that is not enough to back a claim like ours, so they decided to cut my friend loose, go with my story and continue investigating other leads.

     On May 25, 1998 MacLeans magazine released the first of what turned out to be a four-part series on abuse in the Canadian Armed Forces with the words Rape in The Military beside a headshot of my face.  In this article 12 other brave, courageous Women stepped forward and told their tales of harassment in the CAF.  One Woman’s brother stood tall and proud and told his horror over what had happened to his Sister.  There was an outcry to the government over how this could be happening as they had been dealing with other scandals such as the Somalia affair and the CAF Ombudsmen’s office was created in late June 1998.  There were many fake promises, reinvestigations that led nowhere, a follow-up article in MacLeans 6 months later and then the issue of sexual harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces went radio silent.

     For 16 years there was not any mention of sexual abuse or harassment in the CAF.  In 2014 a brave Woman from Quebec named Stephanie Raymond blew the gates wide open yet again.  She came forward in the French sister version of MacLeans called L’Actualite in May of 2014 and MacLeans ran an issue called “Our Military’s Disgrace” on May 16, 2014.  The government could no longer sweep this issue under the rug, nor could they say this was the first time they had heard of this issue as the #MeToo movement that began in the CAF in 1998 and gave many who had had this happened before validation for their abuse and that had been IGNORED. Since this was again an issue something needed to be done and an Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces was handed to Madam Justice Marie Deschamps.  In a 100-page report released in 2015 she found the culture of the Military to be very sexualized and hostile towards Women and the LGTBQ community. She released 10 recommendations which while may be visibly present are still very limited in their scope of practice.  For example, one limitation that has been imposed is that if your assault happened before 1996, you have no recourse of action at all.

A list of her 10 recommendations as taken from

http://www.forces.gc.ca/en/caf-community-support-services/external-review-sexual-mh-2015/recommendations.page

state as follows:

1. Acknowledge that inappropriate sexual conduct is a serious problem that exists in the CAF and undertake to address it.

2. Establish a strategy to effect cultural change to eliminate the sexualized environment and to better integrate women, including by conducting a gender-based analysis of CAF policies.

3. Create an independent centre for accountability for sexual assault and harassment outside of the CAF with the responsibility for receiving reports of inappropriate sexual conduct, as well as prevention, coordination and monitoring of training, victim support, monitoring of accountability, and research, and to act as a central authority for the collection of data.

4. Allow members to report incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault to the centre for accountability for sexual assault and harassment, or simply to request support services without the obligation to trigger a formal complaint process.

5. With the participation of the centre for accountability for sexual assault and harassment:

Develop a simple, broad definition of sexual harassment that effectively captures all dimensions of the member’s relationship with the CAF.                                                                                                                  

Develop a definition of adverse personal relationship that specifically addresses relationships between members of different rank, and creates a presumption of an adverse personal relationship where the individuals involved are of different rank, unless the relationship is properly disclosed.                    

Define sexual assault in the policy as intentional, non-consensual touching of a sexual nature.        

Give guidance on the requirement for consent, including by addressing the impact on genuine consent of a number of factors, including intoxication, differences in rank, and the chain of command.

6. With the participation of the centre for accountability for sexual assault and harassment, develop a unified policy approach to address inappropriate sexual conduct and include as many aspects as possible of inappropriate sexual conduct in a single policy using plain language.

7. Simplify the harassment process by:

  • Directing formal complaints to COs acting as adjudicators in a grievance
  • Reducing emphasis on ADR.

8. Allow victims of sexual assault to request, with the support of the centre for accountability sexual assault and harassment, transfer of the complaint to civilian authorities; provide information explaining the reasons when transfer is not effected.

9. Assign responsibility for providing, coordinating and monitoring victim support to the centre for accountability for sexual assault and harassment, including the responsibility for advocating on behalf of victims in the complaint and investigation processes.

10. Assign to the centre for accountability for sexual assault and harassment, in coordination with other CAF subject matter experts, responsibility for the development of the training curriculum, and the primary responsibility for monitoring training on matters related to inappropriate sexual conduct.

    In 2015, in the wake of the Deschamps report and with the Military in it’s full blown #MeToo movement here in Canada an advocacy group called “It’s Just 700” was formed to attempt to support men and women who were Survivours of Military Sexual Trauma (MST). The website is very informative with many initiatives started by the Woman who runs the group, and she also attempts to advocate before parliament. With the knowledge of MST becoming more prominent and a subject more people were willing to address people wanted accountability.  Five separate class-action lawsuits were formed to address gender discrimination and systemic abuse in the Canadian Armed Forces and were eventually all conjoined and it is still before the courts. 

     While the Government and Department of National Defense will tell you that the Canadian Armed Forces is a safe harassment free environment to work in with such advances like Operation Honour they are not learning from their mistakes.  They keep repeating them by not listening to the voices of the past.  They boast of their accomplishments and defeats and greatness, but they fail to speak about or learn from their failures.  They have a duty to protect the very ones that work beneath them, yet they choose to make things worse rather than make things better on a regular basis.  Instead of deny, deny, deny and hurry up and wait the Military should step up to the times of the days and evolve so they can be the honourable institution they once were in the eyes of many so they attract the many young Women that want to Serve the Country they live in.

     On this International Women’s Day of 2019 reclaim your life and your future and be the Woman you were meant to be.  If you were abused in the Military, you are not alone. Find a group, reach out, seek assistance and support. Those of us that have been there will guide you on your way back to reclaiming who you were always meant to be.  

#RenegadeLightworker

Be a Leader

As a Veteran (although my career was shortlived) I learned some incredible skills of overcoming and adapting. I may not have had the longest career but I never lost my desire to Serve and have done so through many different avenues (volunteering, my choice of employment, my family status). My path has not been an easy one, nor has many of my friends. Many of my friends that Served have suffered some form of catastrophic trauma yet they continue on despite it. They suffer (sometimes siliently) yet they do not know how to “Not Serve.” This can cause severe isolation or sometimes a person overburdening themselves with caring often to their own detriment.
I have found that most need to Serve in some way as part of their healing journey and I feel that if broken Veterans (or their family members/caregivers) who have gone through or witnessed hell still have a desire to Serve they should begin in their Communities and show the rest of the World that no matter what we have gone through we still continue to shine and be the leaders we all knew we were going to be when we joined and before the incident (whatever that was).
Volunteer in your Community in some manner, offer the expertise you have (even if it is just about life) to someone else. Children are an excellent avenue. Get involved somewhere, it does not have to be with other Veterans, it can just be with your Community.
You have a knowledge that no one else in your Community has. It is called real-life knowledge. Instead of sitting around dwelling on the negativity, take that pain and go out and do something about it. Make sure the next generation or the people around you know that no matter what life did to you, you survived and you continue to keep going. You are a true Warrior and an example for others.
Be a Leader in your Community and be the change you always wanted to see.

#RenegadeLightworker

Noah~DV Boss Style

Most people have heard the Bible story of Noah and the flood and how he and his wife, and their three sons gathered the animals 2 by 2 and saved them on the Ark he had been instructed to build.  Noah saved mankind by keeping the animals safe and then his family repopulated the Earth after the waters subsided.  Every culture has a flood story and because I know this I thought it would be pertinent to share my own Noah story.  Its not quite the same as the flood story in the Bible and there is no real flood other than emotions and tears but there is a puppy involved so an animal is accounted for.

I moved to a new city because I was fleeing a domestic violence situation and was in fear.  I knew very few people in this new city and felt like a kid in grade one at a new school and was extremely socially awkward.  My PTSD and anxiety were on super high alert and I was in constant panic mode. I was jumpy, I was on edge, I was angry, I was aggressive, and I was sad because I knew I wasn’t myself.  I was in a pain I had never been in physically and my brain was scrambled.  I didn’t know if I was coming or going half of the time.  My childhood friend who I trusted implicitly because of our pasts was very busy and knew someone that lived near the new building I lived in and asked him to befriend me.  This kind Soul bore the name Noah.  I had never met anyone named Noah and this young man lived up to his namesake.  He was not the kind of person you would want to mess with, he looked kind of rough around the edges which I guess on the exterior makes him look unapproachable, but this kid had a heart of gold.  He will tell you that he did nothing for me, but you know what he did, he listened.  He let me vent and he acknowledged my feelings. He let me feel them.  He didn’t tell me they were wrong.  He often said, “I am sorry you feel that way Dawn, that must be hard.”  I had never had anyone say anything other than feeling was wrong or that I wasn’t feeling what I was feeling. I questioned my own feelings thinking they were wrong because other people had not wanted to deal with them as they made them uncomfortable or they didn’t feel the same way.  Just because you don’t feel the same way doesn’t mean you dismiss the way someone else feels.  Noah made me feel like it was alright to feel, and I finally felt like I had a real friend.  I had made a couple, but this was someone who took time to listen to me when I was sad and sometimes stopped everything to talk to me for a few minutes to calm me down and then would check on me as soon as he wasn’t busy.

I was not adjusting to my new life so well and it was taking a turn for the worse.  I wanted all my pain to end and I wanted everything to be over.  I had been abused, taken advantage of, lost almost everything and I did not want to live anymore.  It was late at night and I had no where to go and I had my puppy, a beautiful female German Shepard named Dutchess Von Dee. I wanted to end it all and I called Noah.  He had just gone to bed and had only been asleep for about 40 minutes.  This guy lived a busy life and hardly did anything for himself including sleep.  He tried to talk me down and into going back to my apartment, but I could not go back to my 11th floor apartment, I wanted to jump out the windows and there were 5 floor to ceiling door/windows just calling my name.  I had already put several cuts in my wrist, but they were not deep, they just reminded me I was still alive, and this was all real.  Noah brought me into where he was staying and listened to me ramble about not wanting to be here anymore.  He knew I had an appointment with my therapist the next morning and if he could just get me through to that I would be okay.  He called my childhood friend who could not do anything as he was busy with his family so Noah stayed with me until I had to go to my appointment.  He made me go to sleep as he knew I had not had much and needed to drive an hour to my appointment.  He made me feel safe. He made me feel important and he taught me a very important lesson that night.  I didn’t want to do it anymore because I did not believe in myself.  I did not think I was important.  The lesson he drilled into my head that morning was that other people believed in me like him.  Other people thought I was important.  He instilled into me by making me repeat over and over

“Noah thinks I can.” 

He said if I don’t think I can I must repeat “Noah thinks I can.”  This was a bad ass dude and he believed in me.  He knew I could accomplish it, even when I doubted myself. I had no faith in me, but Noah did.  He could see me.  Noah helped me with my puppy and helped me even when he didn’t have to.  I drove all the way to my appointment with my therapist that day saying, “Noah thinks I can, Noah thinks I can,” He became my little train that could.  I got there, and my therapist took over.  I had never been so grateful that I had a friend who cared enough to forgo sleep and listen to me vent and cry to keep me alive.  He let me start to get it out and it is still a work in progress. 

I told Noah I would repay his kindness in someway and that I was forever in his debt.  He was extremely chivalrous and said it was not necessary, but I never forget a good deed and my Soul was saved that day because he cared enough to save it.  Life did not go so good for Noah because of a series of unfortunate circumstances but when I went to try to help (no one would listen to me as a Woman) I got to meet his family.  I met his father and expressed my gratitude at what his Son had done to keep a Veteran alive. I also met his friend Joe who is also a caring and compassionate Soul.  I keep doing what I can for Noah who just had a beautiful Son himself because I am a loyal and dedicated friend.  I got to meet his wife and Son and even hold the beautiful little boy. Although I was rather disappointed he didn’t come out with a full beard. I don’t care what anyone says about Noah, the World is a better place with him because he cared enough to save a girl he barely knew because he knew of her.  That deserves the utmost respect, which society does not see anymore.  They see people’s wrong-doing, their mistakes and they play on those.  They judge them on their pasts and assume they are the same people they were yesterday.  I am never the same person I was the day before because I learn from everyone I meet in person or online, and I have met many people who woke up one morning and said, “Enough of the bullshit, I want to change.” It is called an epiphany and being real.  Some refer to it as a Spiritual Awakening. It is also called dealing with your emotions. 

So, my Noah didn’t save the whole world and all its animals from a flood, but he saved me from drowning in my own negativity and self-doubt by believing in me enough for both of us.

#RenegadeLightworker

Choices

     Life is a series of lessons, based on the conditioning received by those closest to us in our environment.  Growing up we are not just influenced by our parents and closest relatives. As children we are conditioned by our teachers, our government, authority figures and any adult we find amusing really. We learn from a very young age to absorb the environment around us because we are constantly immersed in it and often not shown anything outside of this. If you grow up in a strict conservative family of lawyers, politicians or doctors it is probably expected you will also be one and adhere to your family values you had been taught throughout childhood and never deviate.  As humans we are creatures of habit. We do what we are taught and return to what is comfortable. So, most people of influence grow up with an idea of what they want to be, and this starts very young.  Born, bred and raised, encouraged at every second and praised for every accomplishment they achieve. These people are born to be leaders or taught they should be leaders, but are they all? Really, they are following the “social norms,” doing as they are told and following in footsteps of their parents or grandparents. What if this youth were to deviate? Step outside the comfort zone of their family and do something different. Say what is on their mind, not conform, be the rebel. Well then, they are a societal outcast, a black sheep. Sometimes these people are disowned, and their ideals shunned because they don’t jive with the “normal views of every day citizens.”  These are the people that think outside of the box. They are not conventional thinkers, they want to know more, they want to know why, they want to be shown or experience it for themselves.  Why chastise someone for having a mind of their own? Why make youth feel wrong for having opinions that are not the same as the people around them. Why teach children outdated systems and knowledge because leaders don’t want to spend the money to rewrite history.

     So, we end up in a world with conformists, non-conformists and people who really don’t have a clue because they have never had any guidance, or proper knowledge of the Universe and feel completely lost until something big wakes them up. There are children born into families that feel alone and like they don’t belong because they have a bigger purpose. A lot of time it takes great pain, grief, devastation and sorrow for this purpose to come into play because these youths were not granted the affluence of good parenting or a higher education.

     Broken homes, alcoholism, drug addiction, abuse, denial and violence have become common place in a Society that seems to be teetering on devolving. Discrediting people whose ideals we do not like has been going on for centuries. Some great minds were actually murdered for telling the truth, yet leaders who continually lied are honoured and relished in history. Columbus is honoured and credited with discovering a Country and things in it that was already inhabited. He is responsible for the deaths of Indigenous populations in the America’s. He imported South African’s as slaves for his own selfish purposes.  The conquistadors killed thousands in a quest for gold and it’s all celebrated.

     Have we not learned from history that all great civilizations eventually fall?  Rome was not built in a day, but it survives forever through the writings of the people that were there and still honour it today and are interested in the history of it.  We have had so many great empires and civilizations. The Aztecs, the Mayans, the Egyptians, The Greeks, The Mongols, The Romans, The Celts, The Vikings. Where are all these people now.  Absorbed into blended societies under the guise of different religions, ethnicities, but where is their greatness now.  They all fell. They are obscure, yet we honour and worship their principles.  The Haudenosaunee people also known as the “Iroquois Confederacy” shared their knowledge with the fore founders of the United States of America and some of their ideals are included in the Declaration of Independence but what happened to them.  Their ideas were taken, absorbed into the knowledge of Freemasonry and twisted into a Christian ideal for the American people so that they could live a free life.  So now we have Countries or great Nations rather that are multi-cultural and very diverse with multitudes of religions and ethnicities living together and are trying to conform them all to one ideal.  One paradigm of thinking.  The pen has remained mightier than the sword, yet we continue to have war.  We honour history as if it is still happening and what we should be learning from it we are just repeating.  Ideas that the whole world should be hearing are being supressed for fear of reprisals from outside agencies. Money has become the central object in the Universe and the idea of “how much can I get paid for this” has started to become the norm. The government is supressing knowledge that could help heal us all since they would not get anything from it.  Drug companies don’t want to cure you, because then how would they get paid.  So Big Brother “the government” makes sure that if something doesn’t fit with the societal norm it gets squashed.  They also squash things that they don’t agree with or do not want to be public knowledge.  The elected governments of the World like to keep their dirty little secrets and dirty laundry hidden so that they still maintain a level of Authority and Superiority for the general public. 

     In Canada, a perfect example would be the removing and shaming of public figures from the past that were involved in the beginning of the founding of this Country.  While I agree whole-heartedly that what happened to the Indigenous people that lived here when people like Samuel De Champlain and General Cornwallis arrived to colonize this Country I disagree with what is happening today.  Sir John A. MacDonald was the first Prime Minister of this great Country we call Canada when it was formed as a Dominion in 1867 (it did not officially become a Nation until 1982, but really it is just an “Economy”). In Victoria recently one of his statues was removed because of his part in the Residential School fiasco.  While this was horrible and tragic and has robbed a people of their Culture, he was being advised by others and was just doing his best with the knowledge he had and how he had been conditioned.  He grew up in a way that conditioned him because of the “Bible” that these Indigenous people were Savages and they needed to “kill the Indian in the Child” because that is what he was told and taught.  Had he had the knowledge we have today of what would become of his decision, do you think he would have made the same one? So, we dishonour him and erase him because he made a choice based on the knowledge he had at the time. Cornwallis was the same.  His statues removed and his great deeds now trying to be erased because of a decision he made at the time.  In depths studies show that there was a war going on and there were various miscommunications from various sides that resulted in some wrong decisions being made. But they were made.  Let’s learn from these mistakes and get to the bottom of things before we just erase people.  I’m pretty sure they did that in ancient Egypt, but we still know the people they tried to erase existed. 

     So, choices, good and bad, we all make them.  We suffer the consequences and sometimes these consequences are not even known for years.  Sometimes we are so blinded by conditioning that someone needs to point out that we are making the same choices over and over and we need to break free from the cycle we are in.  If another person’s choices are creating bad situations for you then you need to look at the choice you have yet again.  Ultimately it is up to you. To seek the information to make the choice.  You can learn to tolerate the choice or educate yourself and break free knowing that everything that happens is a learning experience.  We have learned from Sir John A. MacDonald. What to do and what not to do.  We have learned from the Ancient peoples, yet we have forgotten their ways.  We have become dependant on an outdated book called the Bible which we choose to believe is the be all and end all all things.  I never comprehended how we could go from having many Gods and Goddesses to just one.  We have faith in what we cannot see or believe a book that we have been told is true, but we will not believe the person next to us that is telling us the truth because its just too far fetched. 

     We have dismantled families by making things so expensive that both parents (if a child is so lucky) need to work (sometimes long hours) and electronic devices have become babysitters which sometimes cannot be controlled.  Television, video games, social media, radio, podcasts, and the Internet are now conditioning our children. How can we control all these things?  On top of this they are still banning books and saying things that were perfectly acceptable for our generation are no longer appropriate for children today.  We are medicating our gifted children because they are different under the guise of ADD, ADHD, and autism, along with various other “labels.”  It’s entirely possible that our systems just need to be rewritten because they are now outdated.  We have created divisions in Society through vulnerable sectors and marginalized people. We have women trying to get equal rights still throughout the world when really, it’s more just equal recognition they want.  They are half the population after all.  We have people being denied who they are because of who they love. They are having to speak up and demand equal rights because they do not fit the “norm.”  Indigenous studies taught me that They say everything is a choice. A choice we made, or a choice someone else made that affected us. Sometimes it feels like there wasn’t much choice in that situation, and sometimes something that feels like it was a bad choice at the time can actually turn into the best thing that ever happened to you.