Ridout Barron


Canadian Forces members claim race discrimination

A class-action lawsuit is being filed by three former members of the Canadian military who say they were subject to extreme racism in their jobs. Discrimination is highly frowned upon in the armed forces, as most Calgary residents likely know, but this does not mean it has been eradicated. The stories put forward by these three servicepeople seem to corroborate how far the military still has to go in weeding out racism in the ranks. 

The three complainants are a 43-year-old black man, a 38-year-old indigenous man and another black man of Haitian descent, all of whom work in different divisions of the military including the air force and the army. All three have alleged they faced extreme instances of racism, including slurs, physical abuse and bullying. All three have also stated that when they approached superior officers for support, the steps taken to curb this behaviour were woefully inadequate. 

Often, they said, the response from the brass was a "slap on the wrist" for the perpetrators, and in some cases even more instances of racism from command figures. The three now seek to classify their legal action as a class action suit in an effort to represent minorities throughout the Canadian Forces. They have requested that the case be tried in Halifax. 

Instances of racial discrimination like the ones described by these servicepeople should rightly outrage Calgary residents. Unfortunately, however, these instances are indicative of a larger climate that has allowed such hatred to fester in the ranks. Thankfully, with the support of experienced employment lawyers, this case has a good chance of bringing national attention to this egregious issue in the armed forces. 

Source: CBC Ottawa, "Ex-military members claim systemic racism in lawsuit", Chloe Fedio, Dec. 23, 2016

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