first_imgMONTREAL – Uniformed Canadian military personnel who march in Montreal’s Pride parade for the first time later this month will do so with the blessing of Canada’s top soldier, according to a recent directive from the Department of National Defence.“In an effort to promote diversity and inclusion, the (Chief of the Defence Staff) encourages all members of the CAF to attend and participate in Pride events in uniform,” said the directive, which was written in June by Gen. Jonathan Vance.Lt.-Col. Sarah Heer, the Canadian Forces director for diversity and human rights, says the directive means soldiers no longer have to ask for permission to wear their uniforms at Pride events.“This (directive) authorizes all members of the Canadian Armed Forces, both regular and reserve force, who want to attend and participate in Pride events to be authorized to do so in uniform,” she said in a phone interview Wednesday.The order specifies the uniform can’t be altered in any way.The vice-president of Montreal Pride welcomed the news and said a group of army members from Quebec will march in the city’s parade for the first time this year.“As LGBTQ, no matter where we work or what we do, we want to be accepted,” Jean-Sebastien Boudreault said in a phone interview.“So when a government body as strict as the army makes a step forward, it’s always a positive news for the LGBTQ community.”He says that while military personnel have been present at some Pride functions before, he believes it’s the first time they’ll march in the parade as a group.Recently, some groups have taken issue with the inclusion of uniformed police officers in Pride events, saying their presence makes some members of the LGBTQ community feel unsafe.As a result, police in both Toronto and Ottawa were asked not to wear their uniforms to their cities’ Pride parades this year.Boudreault says he doesn’t anticipate a similar controversy when it comes to military troops.“The army doesn’t have regular contact in the city streets with Canadian citizens, so there’s not the same fear as there is with police corps,” he said, adding the soldiers will not be armed and won’t be travelling in military vehicles.He said about 10 members of the army have so far signed up to participate in the Aug. 20 event.Vance’s directive came on the heels of a similar order issued earlier in the summer by Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd, head of the Canadian Navy.The order is part of a wider strategy to increase diversity and inclusion in the Canadian Forces and address a long-standing reputation for intolerance and misogyny.Heer said part of the diversity strategy involves rethinking the military’s policies regarding sexual orientation.“The viewpoint has always been that it doesn’t affect our operational effectiveness, so it’s not something we discuss,” she said.“But with the diversity strategy we’re realizing that maybe we need to change that narrative.”The strategy is aiming to provide a more inclusive workplace for all groups, including women, visible minorities, Indigenous groups and people with disabilities.To continue those efforts, the Forces plans to name a senior leader as a diversity and inclusion “champion,” create a peer support initiative to encourage people to express their concerns, and provide local base commanders with a tool kit containing resources and options to foster inclusion.last_img

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