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Acts of racism, sexual harassment end Canadian Armed Forces training course in B.C. capital

3 individuals kicked out of course, those responsible for racist messages yet to be identified
A basic training course at CFB Esquimalt near Victoria was terminated March 11 after multiple incidents of sexual harassment and racism were brought to staff’s attention. (Black Press Media file photo)

The Canadian Armed Forces has terminated a new recruit training course at CFB Esquimalt after investigating four incidents of sexual harassment and racism reported there in just three weeks.

Between Feb. 15 and March 9, staff were made aware of a group chat sharing a sexually explicit photo of a recruit, two other recruits making sexual comments about an instructor, and two separate recruits finding racist messages on their personal equipment.

In the first instance, the individual responsible for sharing the photo of a fellow recruit was investigated and removed from the course with a recommendation to be released from the Canadian Armed Forces.

The two recruits who made sexual remarks about their instructor in public were also removed from the course. They are awaiting a formal progress review board to determine whether they’ll be allowed to stay in the military.

The military police are investigating the two incidents of racism, one of which included an implication of physical harm.

CFB Esquimalt public affairs officer Lt-Cmdr. Anthony Wright said the two recruits subjected to those incidents are being supported by staff and fellow recruits, but that no perpetrators have been identified yet.

READ ALSO: Proud Boys confrontation was wake-up call about military racism, hate: Defence chief

Investigations are also ongoing in the incidents of sexual harassment, which Wright said could result in further releases, administrative action, disciplinary measures, or criminal charges.

The basic training course was terminated on March 11 for the safety of the remaining recruits, who have been moved into individual, supervised accommodation at CFB Esquimalt to awaiting completion of the investigations.

Those deemed suitable to return to training will do so as soon as possible. Wright said if no one is identified as responsible for the racist incidents, it’s possible the perpetrators will be returned to training.

Support and resources, including access to mental health professionals, have been made available to the affected recruits and staff.

READ ALSO: Survey finds minimal progress in Canadian military’s fight against sexual misconduct

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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

Hi, I'm a provincial reporter with Black Press Media, where I've worked since 2020.
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