Maritime Defence Pride Network Launches at CFB Halifax
By 2LT Nicolas Plourde-Fleury,
OJT, CFB Halifax Public Affairs
On April 25, 2019, CFB Halifax’s Base Chief, CPO1 Gregory, was in a Carling Campus boardroom in Ottawa meeting with DND and CAF colleagues from across the country. The group was holding an initial consultation to discuss the creation of a national CAF/DND lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning and 2-spirited (LGBTQ2) Network.
On May 23, less than a month later, CPO1 Gregory gathered at CFB Halifax with military and civilian members of the local Defence Team for the inaugural meeting of the Maritime Defence Pride Network (MDPN). Inspired by pride initiatives taking place across the country on military bases such as CFB Borden, members of the MDPN shared ideas and discussed the purpose of the network during this meeting. Three main objectives were identified: to create LGTBQ2 outreach opportunities on and off Base; to encourage the sharing of stories from members of our Defence family in order to create a public dialogue around LGBTQ2 challenges and successes; and to foster a strong, inclusive and supportive community for LGBTQ2 Defence Team members and allies here in Halifax and throughout the Maritimes.
“This network, like similar ones in various parts of the country, will promote, support and advocate for those that identify with this community,” explains Capt(N) David Benoit, CO of Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Scott, who has come onboard as the MDPN Champion. In his role as Champion, Capt(N) Benoit will help bring visibility at the very senior levels in the formation, RCN and CAF on the challenges and issues raised by the community.
While not the first LGBTQ2-focused organization at CFB Halifax, the MDPN aims to fill a gap in the current support offered to the local LGBTQ2 Defence Community. Until now, only one other organization, the Positive Space Working Group, offered support to the LGBTQ2 members of Defence Team.
“The Positive Space Working Group has a largely corporate mandate meaning that it acts in an advisory role for the Commanding Officers (COs) of units within Maritime Forces Atlantic and provides training and resources on LGBTQ2 issues,” said CPO1 Gregory. “Before the creation of MDPN, this created a situation where Positive Space had to take on a broader community role that wasn’t part of its core mandate.” That’s where the MDPN can support. As Tracy Mitchell, civilian co-chair of the Positive Space Working Group, explains, “The MDPN is intended to be a more open and socially connected group with a focus on outreach, advocacy, and awareness.”
As such, the newly created MDPN’s first order of business will be to establish the structure and determine the formal organization for the network. In addition to the network’s Champion, it was decided that the MDPN would be headed by co-chairs, one military and one civilian. As of now, only the military co-chair position has been filled. Formation Master Seaman MS Shane Ritchot will hold this post; an active search for a civilian co-chair is ongoing. Anyone interested in getting involved in any other capacity is welcome to do so. Simply keep an eye out on the MARLANT splash page and our CFB Halifax Facebook and Twitter sites for more details on the MDPN including announcements on upcoming meetings and outreach opportunities.