Raising the flag for transgender pride

Positive Space Ambassador S1 Danielle Dewitt says it is an honour to raise one of the first-ever transgender pride flags at the base this week.

Positive Space Ambassador S1 Danielle Dewitt says it is an honour to raise one of the first-ever transgender pride flags at the base this week.

Maritime Forces Pacific will make history Wednesday when it raises the Transgender Pride Flag in Dockyard, Work Point, and at Naden at 8 a.m.

The ceremony corresponds with International Transgender Day of Visibility that was founded by transgender activist Rachel Crandall in 2009 in reaction to the lack of recognition of transgender people. The annual event, held on March 31, is dedicated to celebrating the resilience and success of transgender people, and to raise awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide.

The flag-raising ceremonies demonstrate the West Coast formation’s commitment to an inclusive workplace and this is an important step in showing that the CAF is not just accepting of the LGBTQ2+ community, but is proud to welcome members of all gender identities, expressions, and sexual orientations.

All provincial health and safety protocols will be in place for those wanting to attend and include physical distancing and the wearing of non-medical facemasks.

The flag-raising is an important step towards inclusiveness, says S1 Danielle Dewitt and CPO2 Lyne Edmondson, who both identify as transgender.

S1 Dewitt, 38, works as a Senior Boatswain in the Patrol Craft Training Unit and identifies as a woman. She was the first person to raise the Pride flag at CFB Halifax in 2017, and will take part in the first hoisting of the transgender flag at Duntze Head.

“I am incredibly honoured to be chosen to raise the flag and can’t wait for this,” says S1 Dewitt.

The feeling is mutual for CPO2 Edmondson who will also be involved in this week’s watershed moment. A Weapons Engineering Technician by trade, she now works as the Staff Officer New Capability Integration, Detachment West.

CPO2 Edmondson has served 32 years in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and is member of the MARPAC Positive Space Working Group, formed in January 2020.

“I am grateful to be part of recognizing this important day. I drafted the briefing note that was sent to the Base Commander and Admiral. I believe that recognition, including this flag-raising ceremony, is among the important first steps that will lead to increased understanding and inclusion, which must continue to be embedded within all of our processes in the RCN.”

S1 Dewitt and CPO2 Edmondson are also involved in the newly created Defence Advisory Group (DAG): the Defence Team Pride Network. It was established in February 2021 and is quickly growing in membership. 

It is one of five designated DAGs founded within the legislation of employment equity as an effort to overcome discrimination in employment practices. DAGs are integral to a safe workplace and their work positively enhances the experiences of all employees. The four other groups on base represent the interests of Aboriginal peoples, visible minorities, women, and persons with disabilities. These groups all have the same mandate as the Defence Team Pride Network: to identify systemic barriers and provide advice and information to the Defence Team and leadership.


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