Report on Racism in the Military

Insidious Report on Racism in Canadian Military Released

– Anna Di Carlo –

The Liberal government recently released a report which purports to deal with racism in the Canadian military. The report, dated January 2022, was only made public on April 25. It bypassed the House of Commons, to whom all government ministries are said to be responsible and accountable.

The title is enough to raise conjectures that the outlook of the report will itself be racist and sexist: Final Report of the Minister of National Defence Advisory Panel on Systemic Racism and Discrimination With a Focus on Anti-Indigenous and Anti-Black Racism, LGBTQ2+ Prejudice, Gender Bias, and White Supremacy.

Is the military racist? Yes, it is. Is it sexist? Yes, it is. Why then the focus on its victims rather than on drawing warranted conclusions to deal with the fact that all of Canada's institutions, including the military, are informed by the racist and colonial values and arrangements Canada's institutions have consistently practiced.

Drawing warranted conclusions about why the military is racist and sexist was not the aim given to the Advisory Panel. In typical hypocritical liberal fashion, the Advisory Panel, set up in December 2020, was tasked with presenting recommendations on how the military can "become a more equitable, diverse and inclusive workplace." Its report is said to be based on "more than 75 consultations with various Defence Team stakeholders, both internal and external ... since January 2021."

The term "Defence Team" refers to "the sum of Canadian Armed Forces members: Veterans, Regular Force, Reserve Force, Canadian Rangers, Cadet Organizations Administration and Training Service (COATS); and civilian employees: current and former Federal Public Servants and Staff of the Non Public Funds, and Defence Contractors."

The report follows the orientation the Canadian state has established on "systemic racism," as acted upon by various government regimes. According to this, racism in Canada is everywhere and nowhere, particularly not in the very foundations of the Canadian state and its eradication is to be found in the correction of the "behaviour" of the Canadian people and perhaps of some "bad apples."

Reeking of obsequious attempts to ingratiate themselves to the Indigenous peoples, Defence Minister Anita Anand, members of the Advisory Panel and several high-ranking military officials were present at the press conference, which opened with an Indigenous ceremony over and above the traditional acknowledgment of the occupation of Indigenous lands. The Report says the panel's work was guided by "this wondrous ritual that ... grounds us and connects our minds [and] reminds us that each of the 634 different First Nations communities, 53 Inuit communities and eight Métis settlements have a unique historical, cultural, spiritual and environmentally sustainable connection to the land that their people and ancestors have inhabited since time immemorial."

The report even publishes as an annex the opening ceremony used by the Kanien'kehá:ka People -- "The Ohenten Kariwatekwen" -- which the Advisory panel says was used to open its weekly meetings.

This attempt to implicate Canada's Indigenous Nations in the report on racism in the military, and the suggestion that they had any say in any of its deliberations is racist and offensive.

Not surprisingly, the report makes no reference to the deployment of the Canadian armed forces against the Indigenous peoples time and time again. The so-called Oka Crisis in 1990, when the armed forces were used against the Mohawk of Kanesatake, who were criminalized because they dared to affirm their right to protect a native burial ground from being used as a golf course, is one such instance. It would to any rational mind indicate that it is the mission of the Canadian military, which is by requisite racist and sexist in order to carry out said missions, that must be the subject of investigation not just the conduct of the commanders of said missions.

Military deployed in 1990 against Mohawk of Kanesatake protecting their burial grounds at Oka.

The shameless pretense of the Minister of Defence and the Advisory Panel is sickening given what the victims of the military's racism and sexism have suffered and had to endure. And lest we forget there is the role of the military abroad, whether in Somalia, Afghanistan, Haiti or today in Ukraine.

In March 1993, soldiers from the now defunct Canadian Airborne Regiment on a “peacekeeping mission” in Somalia were accused and charged with raping, torturing and killing Shidane Arone, a 16-year old Somali youth. The case shocked Canadians and a commission of inquiry was established by the Chrétien Liberal government to look into the matter. It was ended abruptly, before completing its work, because Chrétien argued that Canadians had lost interest in the case. In the end no senior officer was held to account and of the three soldiers charged, the charges against one were dismissed and the other two were imprisoned on minor charges. A Canadian judge dismissed the case brought against Canada in 1999 by Arone’s parents for compensation for the loss of their son. 

In 2009 Richard Colvin, a senior Canadian diplomat, told a parliamentary committee that while he was stationed in Afghanistan hundreds of innocent Afghans were rounded up by Canadian troops and sent for imprisonment, torture and possible death, an accusation that Canada did nothing about.  Chief of the Defence Staff Rick Hillier who was in charge of the Canadian military mission in Afghanistan at the time later stated that the accusations were “bullshit.”

In 2019, six Canadian “peacekeepers” in Haiti were accused of sexually assaulting local women and girls. At the time Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told the CBC “It is totally unacceptable for (officers) to harm the people who they are sent to protect. And it is important for us to be sure that we have a framework here in Canada that allows us to deal with any offences committed outside the country.” Nothing has been done to establish such a “framework” to date and there is no intention of stopping such crimes in the future. In the meantime, Freeland, now Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, has enflamed passions by accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine but her government is in denial that Canada helped train virulently white supremacist neo-Nazis who were integrated into the regular armed forces and are known to have committed massacres in the Donbass. 

The Trudeau government seems intent on spending a lot of money creating advisory panels that will use its reports and recommendations to enact reforms in the name of high ideals. These reforms either bypass Parliament or are used to tell the cartel parties with seats in the Parliament how they must vote on pain of being called racists, sexists and white supremacists if they don't.

It amounts to another fake and desperate attempt to perpetuate anachronistic institutions called liberal democratic. These are based on the constitutions which impose the rule of an Anglo-American, Eurocentric elite body of governors that have ensured their uninterrupted succession since the time the British colonies were established and Canada was subsequently confederated.

A racist outlook informs all the practices of colonial Canada and its institutions, including the military. The outlook and practice of racism must be discarded, along with the structures and chain of command based on preserving it. 

The report of the advisory panel is sure to be another document which seeks to disinform an organized opposition to racism, sexism and anti-Indigenous attacks. It is interesting that Anand mentioned the First Nations which refers to the bands authorized by the government of Canada, but not the unceded territories and the government's refusal to uphold hereditary rights. If it addresses only the rights the government claims are legitimate, nothing will change. 

Given the role the military is being given within NATO and in defence of the Canadian Arctic as well as within civil defence and defence of Canada's natural resources on behalf of the U.S. war economy, opposition to the right of Indigenous peoples to uphold their hereditary rights and the racist and sexist outlook and practice of the military will continue to be  a matter of great concern to Canadians. In response, Canadians must create institutions whose starting point is the affirmation of all the people, at home and abroad, to be. 

This article was published in
Volume 52 Number 5 - May 21, 2022

Article Link:


Website:   Email: