Halifax supports LBGTQ+ community


Ryan Melanson, Trident Staff ~

CFB Halifax is taking another step towards inclusivity with the establishment of a working group that will focus on supporting the many LGBTQ+ Canadian Armed Forces members and civilian employees who make up part of the DND community.

The CFB Halifax Positive Space Working Group stood up in August 2016, and the group’s charter was recently signed by Base Commander Capt(N) Chris Sutherland. The founding executive consists of a military and civilian co-chair, an executive champion and a small but diverse group from across the base.

The initiative gets their root from a diversity program created by the Ontario Public Service; in 2013 it was sanctioned by the Treasury Board with a set of guidelines for use across the Federal Public Service.

“As far as we know we are the first on a DND base to actually stand up a positive space working group,” says Tracy Mitchell, a technical support employee with Base Information Services and civilian co-chair of the Halifax group.

“It’s a very good program; it’s moving through the public service, and I think we’d all like to see go across DND and the CAF.”

The group plans to fulfill its goal by establishing a wide network of champions across the formation – volunteers who will be expected to become leaders in the promotion of positive spaces and challenging negative stereotypes and attitudes. This could include encouragement of a welcoming environment, discussing different sexual orientations and gender identities in a positive way, or simply referring questions and concerns to the appropriate resources. Champions will also display positive space indicators in their personal workplaces to help visually represent the initiative.

Champions will receive training and guidelines, but will not be acting as counsellors to employees.

While the work of volunteers will be the heart of the initiative, Mitchell said the group’s executive also hopes in some cases to serve the LGBTQ+ in a similar capacity as the various Employment Equity groups do for other groups.

“We do want to position ourselves in a role where we can advise senior leadership on issues specific to our community, and we’ll be doing outreach and education as well.”

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