A few months ago I had the pleasure of coming into contact with a beautiful Soul named Skully. An epic beauty on Facebook had seen some of my posts and reached out to me saying that she thought that Skully could use someone like me to be a writer for her. We connected and had way more in common than we could have ever thought and I checked out the amazing website she had created. It can be found at:
Skully knew that I was a writer and that I had isolated myself badly due to the abuse in my life (the agoraphobia did not help) and I think in some ways she wanted to help bring me out of my shell a bit because she saw potential. A potential I was only beginning to see. I had been writing for years but it was all on paper. The only writing I had on my laptop that I could send her was poetry or my 660 page book but I did not want to overwhelm the Woman, jesus I had just met her. Poetry wasn’t really what she was all about so I read some of the other blogs on her site and I set about writing my first piece for something other than school for her. She had inspired me and I would like to share the link.
I found out that Skully had created an event for this summer and it is The World’s Largest All Female Burnout World Record Attempt on July 6, 2019 in Smith Falls, Ontario. She has been working hard promoting this event at various functions and gathering others to participate in this event while putting it all together. This is extremely comendable. The All Female Burnout is being sponsored by Pace Law Firm and Mary McGee AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Inductee will be present at this event. I personally have had my M2 but let it expire and Skully inspired me to get it again so I can participate in this event and be a part of something bigger. If you are interested in this event I am putting a link to the Facebook Page that she has created. Check it out.
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.
1. Acknowledge that inappropriate
sexual conduct is a serious problem that exists in the CAF and undertake to
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:
a simple, broad definition of sexual harassment that effectively captures all
dimensions of the member’s relationship with the CAF.
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.
sexual assault in the policy as intentional, non-consensual touching of a
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
7. Simplify the harassment process
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
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.