Employment equity and diversity: Projects in place and to come

By combining employment equity and diversity, 2nd Canadian Division and Joint Task Force East have focused on maximizing career potential and operational readiness for both military and civilian personnel. This is the last in our series of three articles highlighting 2 Cdn Div/JTF (E) efforts and achievements on employment equity, diversity and inclusion.

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The main responsibilities of the employment equity champions and Diversité+ team are very clear: continually provide the chain of command with innovative solutions to address issues around employment equity and diversity. Furthermore, the group must assist the chain of command in the implementation of new guidelines.

For example, in January 2018, 2 Cdn Div/JTF (E) marked the Bell Let’s Talk mental health initiative by organizing a conference on stress by Dr. Sonia Lupien, neuropsychology researcher and founder of the Centre for Studies on Human Stress.

In Valcartier, Luc Vigneault, a career speaker diagnosed with schizophrenia, and former NHL hockey player Éric Bélanger, shared their personal stories about mental health. Similarly, musician Florence K came to discuss her personal experience with mental illness, and addressed a military and civilian audience, sharing ways to maintain mental wellbeing.

March 8, 2018 saw the second annual Yoga Day. Established by the Diversité+ group in 2017, Yoga Day is aimed at raising awareness on the occasion of International Women’s Day and promoting dialogue and better understanding between women and men.

In this sense, the creation of Sentinelle+, a support network for victims of sexual misconduct and abusive behaviour, is a good example of the motivation of 2 Cdn Div/JTF (E) to ensure everyone’s well-being.

Finally, 2 Cdn Div/JTF (E) place great importance in their own diversity. The invaluable contributions of their different communities are reflected in conferences organized on the history of First Nations, and articles published on the exceptional journeys of the different personalities within these diverse communities.

By rapidly integrating Canada’s new defence policy objectives regarding the diversity and well-being of military and civilian personnel, 2 Cdn Div/JTF (E) have proven their responsiveness and involvement in these areas. 2 Cdn Div/JTF (E) have developed innovative structures to raise awareness and provide immediate help and support to their personnel.

The final outcome of these efforts will only be clear when all concerns have been adequately addressed.

Responding to Stress

Mental health and physical fitness are essential for the operational capability of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). But what happens when a link breaks in this chain? What happens when a stressful situation arises and derails the process, affecting both the mental health of the individual and the balance of the group?

Stress should not be considered trivial. Stress is not just the worry over a minor delay or the effect of an upcoming appointment. While “good stress” can play a driving role in motivation, stress must also be understood as an individual’s physiological or psychological reaction to a destabilizing external element. It is a reaction that can generate fear, anxiety, isolation, or intense emotional distress.

This is why it is important for the CAF to prevent or detect any situation that can result in a deterioration of mental health or cause operational stress injuries. Today, thanks to the contributions of neuroscience, the CAF is better able to understand stress-related physiological and psychological reactions.

To provide adequate support, the CAF is taking decisive action to combat stigma and to promote prevention and education programs. This involves open communication about mental illness, in addition to resources established in collaboration with the medical community. After all, stress management in an operational environment is essential for the success of any mission.

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