Maritime Defence Pride Network launched at CFB Halifax

Navy News / June 21, 2019

By Second-Lieutenant Nicolas Plourde-Fleury

CFB Halifax’s Base Chief, Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Tom Gregory, attended a meeting with Department of National Defence (DND) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) colleagues from across the country in Ottawa on April 25. The group was holding an initial consultation to discuss the creation of a national CAF/DND lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning and two-spirited (LGBTQ2) network.

Less than a month later, CPO1 Gregory gathered with military and civilian members of the local Defence Team at CFB Halifax 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, Ont., members of the MDPN shared ideas and discussed the purpose of the network during the meeting. Three main objectives were identified: create LGTBQ2 outreach opportunities on and off base; encourage the sharing of stories from members of the Defence family in order to create a public dialogue around LGBTQ2 challenges and successes; and 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 Captain (Navy) David Benoit, Commanding Officer 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 to senior levels in the formation, Royal Canadian Navy 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 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.”

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 formal organization of 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 Shane Ritchot will hold this post, while 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 Maritime Forces Atlantic splash page and our CFB Halifax Facebook and Twitter sites for more details on the MDPN, including announcements on upcoming meetings and outreach opportunities.