Operation HONOUR: National vision, local actions

Chief Warrant Officer Alain Guimond, Chief Warrant Officer of the Canadian Armed Forces
Chief Warrant Officer Alain Guimond, Chief Warrant Officer of the Canadian Armed Forces. (Photo: DND/CAF)

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By Catherine Villeneuve, The Guard

During a recent visit to the offices of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Strategic Response Team on Sexual Misconduct, the CAF Chief Warrant Officer, CWO Alain Guimond shared his vision of what’s next for Operation HONOUR with a special 2019 campaign planning committee.

“Operation HONOUR is all about the respect we have towards the people we work with,” he indicated.

This visit came a few days after the publication of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada’s fall reports, which included an assessment of how the CAF is addressing sexual misconduct. Based on the recommendations, the message from both national and local leadership is very clear: the emphasis must be put on victims and the help that is offered to them. And that involves continued education and effective communication.

The onus is being put on Senior Non-Commissioned Members (NCOs) to enforce the common vision, as they are “the ones leading and managing our people every day”. “It [sexual misconduct] will never be fixed if our Senior NCOs do not get more involved,” CWO Guimond added.

To that effect, his vision for the right approach to adopt is threefold:

  • Act as leaders;
  • Communicate and explain what is right and what is wrong; and
  • Correct and put a stop to wrongful acts.

A straightforward message for what he hopes will have a clear and positive impact on CAF personnel. “It’s not good yet, but it’s a little better than it used to be,” CWO Guimond said.

This is where local actions have the power of truly making a difference. In the National Capital Region, the Canadian Forces Support Unit (Ottawa) Commandant, Colonel Angela Banville, has been hosting several mandatory professional development sessions for the CFSU(O) team that address Operation HONOUR first and foremost.

“It is our duty as Commanding Officers, as leaders, to ensure the success of the mission. Operation HONOUR affects all members of the Defence Team and it is imperative that our vision is communicated effectively and to all ranks,” explained Col Banville.

“Having the courage of taking a coworker aside and expressing that this type of humour is not acceptable in the workplace, of reporting an incident of sexual misconduct or harassment to your chain of command, of picking up the phone and calling the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre, that’s demonstrating leadership,” she added.

The professional development sessions provide military members and civilian employees with the opportunity to review the objectives and founding principles of Op HONOUR, ask questions and create discussion on the matter. And of course, they are reminded of the various resources that are available to them to learn about bystander intervention and help colleagues in cases of misconduct.

For more information on Operation HONOUR guiding principles, the Sexual Misconduct Response Centres (SMRC), a comprehensive list of resources available and more please visit the Operation HONOUR website.

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