Defence Team talks racial discrimination

An ethnically diverse group of Defence Team members pose for a photo at the national IDERD event in Ottawa.
The Defence Team commemorates the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination at a national event in Ottawa. Left to right: Swithin D’Souza, panelists Captain (Retired) Kevin Junor, Mark Paine, Captain Josephine Hendricks, and Justin Wright; and Defence Visible Minorities Advisory Group co-chairs Denise Moore and Master Warrant Officer Suzanne McAdam. Photo: Siman Wacays, Military Personnel Command

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By Siman Wacays, Military Personnel Command

On Wednesday March 21, the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) joined the international community to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a day declared by the United Nations General Assembly, was a call on the international community to increase its efforts to eliminate racial discrimination and to participate in a program of action to combat racism. This year’s Defence Team theme was “Defence Visible Minorities Advisory Group: Equity Engaged”.

The event, hosted by the DND / CAF’s Visible Minority Champion and Commander of Military Personnel Command, Lieutenant-General Chuck Lamarre, was held at the National Defence Headquarters downtown Ottawa and live streamed on the Canadian Armed Forces Facebook page. The event featured addresses by the Deputy Commander of Military Personnel Command, Major-General Wayne Eyre, Deputy Minister Jody Thomas, Chief of Defence Staff General Johnathan Vance and the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence.

“Every single one of us has a responsibility and a role to play in eliminating racial discrimination and I expect all of you to help. The first step to take in order to create a workplace that welcomes and encourages diversity is to listen to our employees. Events like these are a good first step” said Deputy Minister Jody Thomas.

DND and the CAF are committed to building a workforce that reflects Canadian ideals of diversity, respect, and inclusion because diversity is the strength of Canada’s population and is essential to military operational effectiveness and long-term success. As the Chief of Defence Staff General Johnathan Vance said, “diversity is an enormous asset and a force multiplier, but that Canadian advantage is sabotaged when there is discrimination or intolerance within our ranks”.

Remarks by senior leadership were followed by a panel discussion entitled “Defence Visible Minorities Advisory Group Equity Engaged: Talk Out Loud” and an open question and answer period that engaged a large number of attendees and subject matter experts.

“I am happy to have participated in the event and believe that we should all take an interest in assuring that the equity, fairness, and the wellbeing of our Defence Team is respected and is continuously present in our workplace,” said Lt(N) Phill Henry, who was among the Defence Team members present at the commemorative event.

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