Chief of the Defence Staff LGBTQ2 Message

Statement / November 28, 2017

Early last summer, I issued a directive allowing all of you to wear your uniforms at Pride events. I did this because every person courageous enough to serve our country deserves to be proud of who they are.

Then in August, nearly one hundred of you and your families marched with me in Ottawa’s Pride Parade. Those steps along the parade route were more than a march of solidarity, they were footsteps in the right direction. 

Sadly, and not that long ago, our Canadian Armed Forces was on a different path. We spied on, interrogated, and criminally pursued our own people. We pitted friends against each other to protect their own careers. We stripped away their dignity before we ruined their livelihood.   

In many ways, those LGBTQ2 members were more worthy of the privilege of service than many of us. They committed to serving Canada by wearing our uniform, despite knowing they could be persecuted for just being themselves. That took courage, but as an institution, we didn’t recognize it and we didn’t defend them.

On behalf of the Canadian Armed Forces, I am deeply sorry to all of you who were ever investigated, charged or released from the military because of your sexual orientation. You showed us honour and dedication, and we showed you the door. No apology or compensation can ever change the shameful way we instilled fear into your lives and took away your career.

To honour those of you who sought justice for decades, we will apply the lessons of our past to become better in the future. Because you were brave enough to wear Canada’s flag on your shoulder you are part of the Canadian Armed Forces family, and we will always treat you with the respect and compassion your service demands.

As Canada’s defenders, we must be a military that reflects our country and thrives on the unique perspectives diversity offers us. By doing so, we will ensure this dark chapter in our history never happens again.     

Jonathan H. Vance
General
Chief of the Defence Staff

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