By Lieutenant Véronique Sabourin, Public Affairs Officer, Sexual Misconduct Response Centre –
In February 2020, the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC), Strengthening the Forces Health Promotion Program and the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre collaborated to provide the Respect in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) workshop simultaneously to over 200 students in Kingston, Ontario. This training was provided to foster the readiness of 4th year RMC students as future CAF leaders.
Sexual misconduct is an uncomfortable subject to discuss. “If that’s a problem… there is a problem”, said one of the participant who realized mindsets and behaviours perceived as insignificant can have major impacts.
What does respect mean to you? Members of the next generation of CAF leaders responded: “Put myself in someone else’s shoes to see how they feel. Treat them like I would like to be treated. Not assume that I know what they’re going through, make time for them to listen to what they have to say.”
Since the launch of Operation HONOUR in 2015, students report a significant difference in their peers and their chain of command. They report greater understanding of sexual misconduct which leads to behaviour change. “Future leaders are the ones taking the next steps and leading the next generation. We need strong leaders in order to do that. They need to understand what is happening and apply the skills they learned here in order to prevent sexual misconduct in the CAF and support those who are affected”, said Sharon Ash, Health Promotion Specialist at Canadian Forces Base Kingston.
It is not a question of sizing your audience before saying an inappropriate comment or performing an inappropriate act, some things are just not acceptable in the workplace or with colleagues. After the workshop, one of the students said: “Now we know, we have no excuse.”
Those who know better, do better. Respect is different for all of us. “Leaders create environments that facilitate conversations and respect”, concluded a participant. This next generation is aware, knowledgeable and empowered to take a stand against sexual misconduct and to support those who are affected. Together, we are empowered to build a respectful climate and culture within the CAF.
The Respect in the CAF workshop will be provided at NDHQ (Carling) on:
- 4 (FR), 17 and 24 March 2020
- 8 April 2020
- 6, 13, 20 and 27 May 2020
- 3, 10, 23 and 25 (FR) June 2020
For 24/7 confidential supportive counselling, emotional support and information on options available in the National Capital Region, call the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre: 613-996-3900. Conversations with counsellors are private and confidential; callers are not required to give their names or any other personal information.
This post is also available in: Français (French)