December 13, 2021
“Countless lives have been harmed because of inaction and systemic failure. This is a failure that our Canadian Armed Forces, our department, and the Government of Canada will always carry with us.”
“These institutions failed you, and for that we are sorry. I am sorry,” she said.
Survivors and victims of military sexual misconduct received a historic and long-awaited apology on Monday from Anand, as well as from Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre and Jody Thomas, deputy minister of the Department of National Defence.
More than 7,600 people watched the apology livestream on Facebook, which comes after a year in which the Canadian military has been forced to confront what experts have called a “crisis” of sexual misconduct within its ranks, particularly senior leaders.
“You were let down. You were hurt. And when you tried to get help, we did not react,” said Eyre.
“I am sorry. We sincerely apologize for the trauma that you have experienced. To those who suffered in silence, we are sorry. To those who shouted until you could shout no more at great personal risk only to have no one listen to you, we are sorry.”
Eyre said the military has not done the “deep” work needed to address the underlying issues that cause sexual misconduct, and that “the harm you suffered happened on our collective watch — on my watch.”
“Trust can mean the difference between life and death, and we have betrayed that trust,” he said, adding the onus has been unfairly placed on those who have suffered to come forward and push for change.
“We let down your many colleagues who served, and continue to serve with honour. We let down Canadians who want to be proud of their armed forces, but find that increasingly difficult with each new revelation of harms.”
The lack of action on sexual misconduct has “robbed” the military of potential future leaders who have chosen not to sign up, said Eyre, emphasizing that “tangible actions” are needed to create change.
“This time, we will not fail,” he said. “This is my commitment to you.”