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

Sleeping Beauty~DV Boss Style

I manifested what I desired most when I was a child.  I fell in love with the tale of Sleeping Beauty and the little Princess Aurora.  I wanted to fall asleep and get awoken with the kiss of a handsome Prince and live happily ever after.  You see Aurora was also the Roman name of the Goddess of the Dawn and this intrigued me like never before.  I wanted to be her so badly.  I can remember listening to the record on my tiny record player and turning the pages in the book when the little bell went off. I dreamed of this, I escaped to it. 

Books became my go-to.  I loved reading and I loved to write. I can remember the librarian telling me that I should never judge a book by its cover and she would read the stories I wrote to the class during library time. When things got bad I could escape into a book, become the main character and use my imagination.  I loved myths and fairy tales and saw them as real, I never thought someone would spend the time writing down something that wasn’t true in the past.  I could tell the difference between fiction and non-fiction.  I knew from a very young age that even those fiction romance novels had some basis and came from somewhere.

I suffered several splits in my personality due to trauma at various stages of my life and when I was 19 I suffered a catastrophic split that essentially put me to sleep developmentally.  A fracture in my psyche basically kept me at the age of 19 and I was going through life, learning, living, surviving but never mentally growing.  I was attaining knowledge but storing it for future reference.  I was functioning but not at the level I always wanted to.  I wasn’t excelling, I was not growing, I was stuck, and I knew it.  I was in a prison in my mind just waiting to break out. If that prison wasn’t bad enough I put my mind into a state of solitary confinement to protect what was left of my innocence and my inner child that always seemed to get hurt. I allowed people to hurt me but constantly broke free of them, just not myself.  I could not open the door to that cell because I was not ready.  I had to raise my children. They had become my purpose, but I didn’t have very many tools in my toolbox and I did the best that I could with what I had.  When they were young it was easy because I loved to do things that kids liked to do.  I took them to baseball, I had them in Beavers and Cubs.  They both played Lacrosse. We often went fishing and I took them to family gatherings with my parents.  I carried a huge guilt because I was in school full-time learning to be a Registered Nurse and I was working full time to support them because my pension from Veteran’s Affairs was not enough and at this time they did not pay for education. After I finished my education because I was a Nurse I often had to work nights, weekends, holidays and my boys paid the price. Because I was busy trying to keep the roof over my son’s head and provide for them they became more dependant on their social circle and I then became a street mom, which I did not mind because I loved the company and it was like I had my own little wolf pack and I was the Den Leader.  I got denied my chance to be a leader in the Military but here maybe I could mould some young minds. What I didn’t realize is when my children were teenagers I was developmentally still a teenager, sort of frozen in time.   I became a friend to my children instead of their mother and there were major respect issues.  I look back and I had been taught to not respect myself so how could I have ever taught my Son’s to respect me. I had no self-worth, no self-esteem and didn’t think I was competent or capable due to my conditioning from my family, my teachers, and society in general.

When my youngest Son turned 18 there was an actual physical separation between my Sons’ and I which I needed. A break from the teenage world I had been submersed in and was stuck.  I moved to the Reserve to be with what I thought was my Prince Charming, the man who was going to ride out of the sunset and save me and essentially, he did, but not in true story book fashion.  You see I had failed to read Blackbeard or maybe I did and just never thought it would happen to me (although it already had twice). I started to finally settle and feel safe and reconnect with my environment.  I started to feel at peace and come out of my cocoon or self-imposed prison just a little bit.  I started in a controlled environment of going back to University again.  I enrolled in Indigenous Studies and I started to see my children again but began to establish boundaries which they are still learning to adjust to and I began by aggressively setting them. 

My moment of waking up did not come from a kiss by my Prince, it was a blow to the head via cell phone.  It was a culmination of all my abuse and it was like a white light surrounded me and woke me completely up.  I could see again and feel again, and I knew what I wanted, what I needed and what I would accept.   I just needed to learn how to communicate it as I still had the social skills of a child.  I had been asleep, and the world had really changed. It was different, I saw it in a different way. I could see what was real and what was fake and there was validation in it. My good friend said she had heard what I was talking about referenced as “sleepwalking” through life.  I had essentially learned the skills to survive and cope during crisis, but I had stored the knowledge necessary to allow me to grow deep in my subconscious.  I was awake but sleeping, what a concept. 

When all of this came into clarity for me I was sitting with my psychiatrist Dr. Thirlwell and her friend Celyne and we were talking about how positive thinking really does change things and if we think our lives are shit, they will be and that every single person has the ability to manifest what they desire most but most people are veiled to this.  Asleep.  I had the good fortune of being able to wake up and see clearly.  I then realized that I had truly manifested what I most desired as a child, I became my own version of Sleeping Beauty.  I had gone to sleep and raised my children while doing this and woke up at the same age as them mentally, emotionally and developmentally.  I am physically older than them, their mother but my brain stayed stuck.  My youngest son says he describes me to his friends as “An adult with a child-like mind.”  I see this as a good thing, not a bad.  He sees me and accepts me even with all the mistakes I made.  He understands so that cannot mean that I did a horrible job raising him.  I never wanted my children to end up like me, just like I never wanted to be my Mom but honestly if they have a little bit of me in them, I will be very proud. I do have values and I cannot change the past, all I can do now is lead by example and manifest beautiful things with words of gratitude and thankfulness.  I can live my dreams, I can imagine things into existence.  I can make something (me) out of nothing (what I thought I was) which I have been doing since I woke up.

#RenegadeLightworker

Make your dreams a reality

Discovering Energy

I spent a long time withdrawn from the World in a self-imposed prison of the mind due to my PTSD. I convinced myself that I was forsaken and that bad things happened because of me. I constantly picked up on the bad vibrations in the World and the negative energy people carried with them without even knowing. I had known for a very long time that I felt other peoples pain, sorrow, anger, fear and grief as well as their joy, happiness, elation and love. Because of my own negative mindset induced by various trauma and muliple episodes of re-victimization I failed to see the good right before my eyes and was caught in a cycle of blame, guilt, and self-pity.

I did not know about energy and how it flows all around us. This was not in my traditional upbringing or covered in any of my tradtional education, including my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. I always knew there was an outside force I did not comprehend and it affected me but without being able to put a name to it I could not understand it and I am the type of person that totally needs to know what I am dealing with so I can combat it or work with it.

I had a deep connection with nature when I was young and I loved it. I felt like Snow White and I could communicate with the forest and all of the animals. I saw things in the water that were not fish and because of my conditioning I was scared. No one understood what I was feeling or even believed me. When I was in Grade 3 I began to write stories. Every week I wrote a chapter about my friend Spooky the Ghost and our adventures. There was someone in my family home that I could feel but could not see. I knew he walked with me and did things with me and no one else could see him but I had no other words that Spooky the Ghost. Looking back now I find it ironic I called my friend Spooky but was not one bit afraid of him. There were certain places in my home that I could feel Spooky more than others. The basement was one of them. I should add that my Grandfather Dutch passed away in the driveway of my family home on 16 December 1970. I was born on 23 October 1972. My grandmother and parents would call me silly and shut me down quickly if i started to speak of him. I stopped feeling him but knew he was there, he didn`t make a real reappearance until I was 19 and got wrongfully punished in the Canadian Armed Forces. I knew he was in my room with me on my confinement to barracks but I could not put words to it until I was much older. I believe that is when I wrote my first letter to him, and when I began to put my thoughts to paper and process my feelings through a form of poetry. I was not educated in the art of poetry, only being taught things like Haiku in elementary school, and I do not recall having to write much of it in high school. I could put thoughts to paper like nothing else. My passion for writing that began in Grade 3 was reignited but sometimes I lost my passion because of my depression and anxiety and lack of belief in myself.

I wrote on and off over the years trying to process what was going on around me. I started a book that reached 660 pages before I quit writing in 2013 complete with documentation and pictures so it would be believed. For some reason I felt that I had to prove my life. When I moved out to Curve Lake First Nation Reserve #35 my connection with nature was re-established and I began to awaken again. My feelings began to flow on paper again. Good and bad and it all started to come out. Repressed pain and fear and love and all of the things I had bottled up for so long. Because I was living on a Reserve among Indigenous People I felt that I should take a course at school in Indigenous Studies and it was very eye opening for me. I actually went back to University after a 10 year abscence and sat in a class with a large group of individuals. A whole new perspective and take on life, through the eyes of a different Culture. I started to have a paradigm shift and see the World with different eyes. In my 2nd year I decided to take An Introduction to Indigenous Environmental Sciences and was introduced to Professor Dan Longboat, Director of the Indigenous Environmental Sciences program at Trent University and my life changed forever.

https://www.trentu.ca/indigenous/faculty-research/full-time/dan-longboat

I had never had a teacher thank me for attending class and make me feel what he was teaching. At the beginning of the course Professor Longboat made a point of talking about energy and how we all have it. He spoke of rhythm of energy in nature and how it is always constant and flows evenly in a gentle balance of up and down curves when it is actually measured as generally people cannot see this. Some have been known to feel it but if you were not taught of this concept it can be rather frightening. He spoke of how monks in meditation produce this same energy rhythm but the majority of the populations energy was extremely chaotic and illustrated it with a very jagged up and down line with no ebb and flow. There were no curvy flows, no rhyme or reason. This concerned me greatly as Professor Longboat said this was the reason behind much sickness and stress and heart disease. However suddenly my mind blew wind open because i could put a name to what i felt from people. Energy. We all had it, everything that was living possessed it and it could be felt on personal objects. I now knew why I picked up on things that others did not because I could feel the energy that surrounded everything and I have to be honest it was scary. It was frightening yet exhilirating to finally after all of these years have a validation that it was real. I was not crazy, I now had answers to the questions I had had for so long.

When I began to be able to put to words what I could feel all around me because I finally understood it my writing changed as well and I could tune into emotions in others. It was the start of my awakening. I knew I was an Empath and I could claim it but I needed to learn how to harness it so I was not a conduit for others emotions. I needed to find a balance between when to subject myself to this and when not to because i was starting to also realize that isolating was wrong. I was not really living and I had to create a new mindset. I needed to create boundaries, wear my invisible shield and prepare for battle when leaving my home and face the World head on. I finally began to be me. I finally started to use to tools in my toolbox that had been there for so long and grow. I also realized that if i could feel the energy I could project it and if your happy, even if your faking it a little everyone else is happy and then all of a sudden you really are happy. Happiness is contagious and no one really likes a person who is down all of the time. An amazing thing started to happen to me thought because the more positive I was about things, when I started to see that all my mistakes were not really mistakes but lessons I needed to learn and I tried to find the light in situations that should be very dark my whole mind, body and spirit shifted. The black hole inside of me that fed off of the negative emotions and mindset of others started to question the realness of the situation. If i could feed off of negative emotions and stay negative because the energy was bad I would stay that way but when I shifted into positive I started to see the good in even horrible situations and I became grateful for every experience I have had no matter how it played out. I was now able to integrate what was positive energy and what was negative and as I am a slow processor it took me a while. I met many along the way that are teaching me new tools to use when I am getting into my negative mindset because I truly want to believe my dreams are possible, just like anybody else. My favourite tool lately came from a friend Chris Power from Power Transition Services

https://www.powertransitions.ca

and https://www.facebook.com/powertransitions/

It was a meme that said to add the phrase -and it is okay- after everything so if I have a list of things to do and I only get one done, it is okay. This led me to start working on the fact that being so immersed in my negativity and trauma I had failed to see my successes and had not acknowledged them as I had become so hard on myself and used to what I thought was failure.

My discovery of energy and the way it changes everything as it is all around us was one of the most amazing realizations I have ever had. So if you do not like the negative vibes around you then change them up. Raise the vibrations in the room, put on a happy song, do a little dance, colour a picture, be happy. It ultimately is up to you, your choice. Stay stuck in the negative energy or evolve and raise your vibrations and live a little….

Pathfinder Strategies

FYI…

An excellent mental health course provided by a true leader. Warrior Suicide Prevention Training. It fills me with great joy to see others taking the initiative to help others heal so they don’t go through what they have gone through. Check it out. Any tool in your toolbox can help, and sometimes its good to have the tools to lend out to a friend in need. Knowledge is the true power and it is meant to be shared. Check out this Veteran’s program if you so choose. You won’t be disappointed, I can assure you. Any learning is good learning. It is also a go at your own pace course so I suggest you check it out.

https://pathfinder-strategies.teachable.com/p/warrior-suicide-prevention-training?fbclid=IwAR2O6deLXEQt6mGisu5KPyMcDilhAMHW-yRVb-oMKgkINeAO-v98dAf7rI0

You can also check out Mr. Todd Holmes Pathfinder Strategies facebook page at:

I strongly believe that the only way for us all to heal is to support one another in a truly magnificent stand to take back our lives. To live a life of agony and suffering is to be in your own created hell. Why not takes the steps to take your life back. Living really isn’t that bad. Feeling is real. Make a decision today. Do you want to be what everyone expects of you or do you want to be who you always wanted to do before life knocked you down a little. If anything, you may be able to offer someone assistance like I am sure someone has shown you at some point in your life.

There is nothing wrong with knowing you need help. There is not one thing to be ashamed of. If you do not want to be in the darkness anymore, find a light, plant a seed and watch it grow. Stop being like a flower that has been picked and be the beautiful flower that sprouts from a long winter and is more beautiful than it ever was before.