The Atlantic Defence Team Pride Network: A new changemaker at CFB Halifax
By Ariane Guay-Jadah,
Base Public Affairs Officer
They say that times of chaos and uncertainty can bring about new ways of disrupting the status quo and sparking innovative change. While 2020 was a challenging year on many levels, it also saw its fair share of positive change. One such example came in December 2020 with the formal launch of the Defence Team Pride Network (DTPN), an advisory group created to foster greater diversity, inclusion and awareness of LGBTQ2+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirit and additional identities) communities among our Defence team across the country.
The DTPN is now officially one of our nationally recognized Defence Advisory Groups (DAGs) along with the Defence Advisory Group for Persons with Disabilities (DAGPWD), the Defence Visible Minority Advisory Group (DVMAG), the Defence Women’s Advisory Organization (DWAO) and the Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group (DAAG). These groups provide insight to Defence leadership on issues relevant to their respective communities, while identifying systemic challenges and proposing concrete solutions to combat them. Each of these groups has an Atlantic region chapter based at CFB Halifax; this mighty team of military and civilian volunteers who make up our regional DAGs are responsible for outreach activities, training opportunities, policy development and awareness strategies to help contribute to a safer, more inclusive public service.
Locally, the DTPN operates under the banner of the Atlantic Defence Team Pride Network (ADTPN), which is an amalgamation of the CFB Halifax Positive Space Initiative Working Group and the Maritime Defence Pride Network, two initiatives that were supporting Halifax-based Defence LGBTQ2+ members since 2016 and 2019, respectively. Moving forward, the newly formed ADTPN will collaborate directly with the Maritime Forces Atlantic (MARLANT) Employment Equity team and serve MARLANT, CFB Halifax, 12 Wing Shearwater, and lodger units, acting in an advisory role to senior CAF and DND leadership, administering Positive Space Initiative programs and promoting LGBTQ2+ resources and outreach events to our local workforce. Ultimately, the group aims to elevate the many voices of LGBTQ2+ Defence members while cultivating a more diverse and welcoming organizational culture.
Who are the ADTPN leaders? The ATPDN is supported by Col James Hawthorne, Wing Commander at 12 Wing Shearwater, who is the group’s Champion. The newly elected military co-chair is Capt Tom Munro (from 12 Wing Headquarters) and the civilian co-chair is Ms. Tracy Mitchell (from CFB Halifax Base Information Services). At the moment, the ADTPN team is working diligently to provide guidance, education and mentorship to Defence Team members, while also advising on local issues to the national DTPN.
According to Col Hawthorne, “the standing up of the ADTPN represents one of many progressive steps towards a more inclusive Defence Team environment. Through the network’s ongoing efforts in education, awareness and dialogue, we hope to enable an enduring cultural shift to acceptance and understanding of all Defence Team members.”
While much progress has been made, LGBTQ2+ communities still face challenges with heterosexism, genderism, transphobia and homophobia, which can cause many LGBTQ2+ people to feel unsafe in the workplace. For Tracy Mitchell, being part of the ADTPN means “educating and helping people understand the LGBTQ2+ community in order to dispel common misconceptions and promote greater awareness and acceptance in our workplace.” For Captain Munro, joining the group was “a way to feel more connected to the LGBTQ2+ community and better understand the challenges faced by my peers in the CAF.” Moving forward, the co-chairs hope to grow ADPTN membership in such a way as to represent the full and fluid spectrum of experiences and identities within the LGBTQ2+ community.
So what does the ADTPN have planned for 2021, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? This year will be focused on establishing an organizational model; growing membership and recruiting volunteers; delivering Positive Space Training and peer support; and reporting issues facing the LGBTQ2+ community to senior leadership. The group will also provide information sessions at professional development days as well as event support, when larger, in-person gatherings will become the norm again. The ADTPN is also looking into offering virtual training opportunities, but has not made any firm commitments as the pandemic environment is continuously evolving. The group does, however, want to leverage technology and various communication channels to reach and engage their (existing and future) members in new ways.
How can Defence Team members get involved in the ADTPN? Individual involvement is variable and depends on a member’s interests, availability and skills. People generally join with a specific interest in mind and are welcome to focus on whatever they prefer. The group benefits greatly from our diverse workforce as all military members and civilian employees may participate in the ADTPN regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. If you are interested in a meaningful volunteer opportunity or would like more information about the ADTPN, feel free to send an email to the “+HFX Positive Space Support Contact” positional email account. All members of the CAF and DND are encouraged to familiarize themselves and collaborate with the ADTPN to contribute to building an inclusive, modern and empowered Defence community.
For more information on the national Positive Space program, click here (Defence Intranet only).
To know more about Employment Equity, click here (Defence Intranet only).
The Canada School of Public Service is offering Positive Space Initiative: LGBTQ2+ Awareness virtual training throughout February and March 2021. Click here for more details and to register.