Canada offered a historic and long-awaited apology on Dec. 13 to survivors of sexual misconduct in the military after nearly 19,000 claims were submitted in a class action settlement.
Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand, Chief of the Defense Staff General Wayne Eyre, and National Defense Deputy Minister Jody Thomas each apologized to current and former members of the military who experienced sexual harassment and violence while in service.
“Countless lives have been harmed because of inaction and systemic failure. This is a failure that our Canadian Armed Forces, our department, and the Government of Canada, will always carry with us. These institutions failed you, and for that, we are sorry. I am sorry,” Anand said.
“I acknowledge that successive governments have not done nearly enough to stamp out this scourge,” Anand further said.
Eyre acknowledged they have not done “deep, transformational” work to address the underlying issues that cause sexual misconduct in the military.
The officials restated their commitment to “meaningful progress” to bring about “transformational cultural change” within the military to prevent what experts have called a “sexual misconduct crisis” from happening again in the future.
“We commit that we will be more consultative, collaborative, and transparent in terms of our approach, more conscious of our actions and the outcomes we are seeking,” Thomas said.
The apology came two years after it was promised as part of a 2019 C$900 million (US$702 million) class action settlement approved by the federal court.
A 2015 landmark government report revealed a “toxic” culture in the Canadian military that was “hostile to women and LGBTQ members and conducive to more serious incidents of sexual harassment.”
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