The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the Department of National Defence would like to thank Statistics Canada for releasing their report entitled Canadian military college students’ experiences of unwanted sexualized and discriminatory behaviours and sexual assault 2019.

We thank all officer cadets at the Canadian military colleges who participated in this important survey and are especially grateful to those who chose to share such painful and personal events. Our message to those who have experienced sexual misconduct is this: sexual misconduct is not tolerated in the CAF. We must and will do better to ensure that all instructors, staff and officer cadets are aware of their responsibility to create a safe and accepting space for all those at Canadian military colleges. Sexual misconduct runs counter to our military ethos and to the national values the CAF upholds and defends.

We are deeply concerned about the wellbeing of our officer cadets; particularly those who experienced sexual misconduct. We will continue to offer support to those who have experienced sexual misconduct.

We requested this survey to better understand any sexual misconduct affecting our student population and to establish a baseline. This will allow us to measure progress and highlight areas that require further improvement. These results indicate we need to do more as an institution to foster an environment of mutual respect, trust, and dignity.

When we accept students into our military college, we also accept the responsibility for contributing positively to their development and ensuring their safety and wellbeing. We also accept responsibility for shaping them into military members who will one day become the leaders of the CAF. As a result, in addition to their studies, they live and train within a military lifestyle environment, which includes respect for others, working as part of a team, and exercising leadership responsibilities.

Since the spring of 2019, both military colleges have taken further steps to educate officer-cadets about their expected conduct and their duty to report when witnessing any form of sexual misconduct. RMC Kingston has worked in partnership with the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC) since the spring of 2019 to pilot a comprehensive prevention program. It includes specialized training for all academic and military staff to better prevent, recognize, and respond to sexual misconduct; a new curriculum for the officer-cadets that builds knowledge and skills in a progressive way over their four-year program; and enhanced response and support services to those who experienced sexual misconduct.

While this program started before the survey results were known, RMC will work with the SMRC to ensure that we continue to analyse the survey results and adjust our program appropriately.

In addition to Operation HONOUR, in 2018 the Royal Military College Saint-Jean (RMCSJ) developed the Women’s Achievement Committee with the objective of solving systemic issues, and in 2019 the RMC Saint-Jean Women’s Network to develop mentoring and sisterhood support. These two programs ensure victims have a safe space to report issues, get support when needed, and can share their experience.

The CAF is committed to providing a work, living, and study environment free from sexual harassment, discrimination, and assault for all its members and we will continue to use existing disciplinary and administrative punishments when incidents of sexual misconduct occur. The success of the CAF depends on the unwavering trust and teamwork amongst all our people. Canadian military colleges will use the report’s finding to better prepare its students for their future responsibilities in the CAF.

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Author: Editor
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