The last month has been a roller coaster of events.
I travelled to three military bases outside of my area, from all three elements, and all considered among the largest Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) bases (Edmonton, Trenton, and Esquimalt).
In March, 2022 I had two memorable milestones - we passed 1800 people trained, and I received the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Commendation for creating the Front-Line Workshop (the only proven, survivor-borne training solution that is MITE (Military Individual Training & Education) coded, led by survivors to help combat sexual misconduct and aid in culture change for the Canadian Armed Forces, key stakeholders and other uniformed services).
Although I am grateful for being formally recognized, the greater honour has been the positive feedback from participants and the knowledge that we have made a difference in supporting victims and fighting against sexual misconduct in the workplace.
Over the past ten months, we received enthusiastic endorsements from the highest levels of every element, regular force, reserve force, rangers, and civilians, every rank and every trade.
We want to thank them for their encouragement and advocacy. It validates our work in a way I cannot adequately express.
98% of those surveyed wrote that it should be CAF wide. That is unprecedented.
I have heard from hundreds of survivors that have reached out with “I feel seen and heard”, “finally, the CAF seems to care” and “this is the first time I feel hope.”
I have heard from allies and even some that have only recently realized that they were part of the problem: “In 30+ years, this is the most powerful course I have ever taken”, “This it the first time I have felt called upon, instead of called out”, and “finally I understand.”
Having someone in front of you, humanizing the issue, giving tools that has the impact to shift the moral compass of the human in the uniform. This effect cannot be achieved with Defence Learning Online (DLN) or video testimonials.
We use clear, direct language, victim, survivor, sexual assault, and rape. There is no room for question or assumption. We are clear we failed, we fell short. The toxic culture grew and thrived, on our watch. We all must engage this enemy.
We are scarred. No mistake these crimes left their marks on us, but we are bent, not broken.
Every time I facilitate, I see the shift in lens, the dawning comprehension, and the commitment, the resolve to do better.
1800 times I have seen it happen. Others have seen it too - the incredible weight lifted off a survivor when they realize their peers, subordinates. And superiors finally see what service to their country has really cost is palpable.
As of 30 March 2022, the training will no longer be running through the CAF as a strategic, planned effort. I received the news officially on Friday, 18 March. It was hard to read and understand, but we are survivors, and will continue. Chief Professional Conduct and Culture (CPCC) has chosen to continue focusing on the Respect in the Canadian Armed Forces program (RitCAF), and I wish them success.
If anyone needs to call upon us in the future, we will be ready to help.
Survivor Perspectives Consulting Group is open and available for contracting.