Admiral’s Statement: Racism & discrimination have no place in RCN

Navy News / June 26, 2020

The recent and ongoing outcry against racial injustice, starting in the United States but echoing around the world, has caused us to reflect on our own shortcomings as an institution.

Last week I joined a roundtable with senior CAF/DND leadership and Employment Equity Defence Advisory Groups, which clearly highlighted that racism exists within our ranks, particularly anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism. 

Immediately thereafter I brought the issue to the RCN’s Naval Board where the entire naval leadership team agreed that we all need to acknowledge this - completely hoist it aboard - and then commit ourselves to fixing it.  

Racism exists in our ranks, and in our biases, be they conscious or unconscious. These biases are an obstacle to the cohesion required for the Royal Canadian Navy to operate to its full potential, and serve Canadians at home and abroad in the way they demand of us. This cannot continue.

It was clear from the roundtable that there is widespread lack of faith in our harassment complaint system. We also heard from members that progressive direction and intent from the highest levels aimed at improving our institution often does not make its way down to the grassroots levels of our organization. We all have a role to play in remedying this.

Disrespectful attitudes and behaviours undermine the fundamental trust and cohesion that are at the heart of an effective professional team, and we will not tolerate them.

In the coming days and months, you can expect more direction and guidance to follow. In the meantime, we need to create positive climates in which all shipmates feel safe, welcome, and valued.

Change requires hearing, caring, engaging, commitment and leadership – from all of us.

Make it so!


Vice-Admiral Art McDonald
Commander Royal Canadian Navy