When the women members and employees of the RCMP launched their harassment lawsuit, the similarities between their complaints and those we had heard from our private informal peer support group members was astounding.
So after much group discussion it was decided that It's Just 700 members would support a similar, but different class action (CA). Similar in that it was regarding harassment and sexual assault within the workplace; but different because ALL genders would be included, and specific funds would be earmarked to address survivor support systems that did not exist. Support systems like a professional medically certified Peer Support Program, and a special unit within Veteran's Affairs Canada (VAC) that was trauma informed and trained in the needs and medical conditions that survivors of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) experience. To date, many MST survivors had developed PTSD as a result of their MST, but VAC was usually only approving PTSD claims related to Operational Service (deployments). The monetary awards were not meant as total compensation for pain & suffering, but geared more towards ways MST survivors could recoup loses incurred from lost careers and/or expenses for therapeutic and psychological care. A clause was also included that would allow MST survivors that opted in to the CA to participate in Restorative Engagement sessions where they could "speak truth to power" about the impact of MST on their lives and families by having their voices heard and validated by senior leadership of the CAF.
So in 2016 and 2017 seven former members of the Canadian Armed Forces (the “Representative Plaintiffs”) initiated class action lawsuits against the Government of Canada (“Canada”) which became the “Heyder and Beattie Class Actions”. This Class Action alleged sexual harassment, sexual assault or discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation (“Sexual Misconduct”) in connection with their military service and/or employment with the Department of National Defence (“DND”) and/or Staff of the Non-Public Funds, Canadian Forces (“SNPF”).
On consent of the parties, on November 25, 2019, the Federal Court certified the lawsuits as class proceedings and approved a settlement agreement that provided compensation to current and former members the Canadian Armed Forces (“CAF”), and current and former employees of the DND/SNPF who experienced Sexual Misconduct.
It was thanks to the success of this Class Action that the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) began to take the sexualized toxic culture described in the Madame Deschamps Report seriously and started reviewing policies and procedures with a view to provide MST survivor centric solutions for resources and support within the CAF.
All current and future members of It's Not Just 700 owe a debt of gratitude to these brave people that joined together to attend many emotional hearings to give testimony on their lived experiences and the impact they had on their lives and families.
Amy Graham is 34 years old and served in the Canadian Armed Forces as a Communications Researcher for six years between 2004 and 2010. She was deployed to Afghanistan for seven months from October 2009 until May 2010. A sexual assault by one of her superiors on her way home from Afghanistan solidified her decision to release from the military, which she did before the full onset of PTSD symptoms. In 2014, Amy was diagnosed with severe PTSD and chronic major depression. Veterans Affairs recommended she join the rehabilitation program which gives veterans access to treatment and vocational services after treatment.
Today in Gatineau, the Court Martial related to her sexual assault is concluding. The setbacks she has faced as a result of the assault combined with the frustration of the legal process and the awareness of the prevalence of assaults and poor justice in the military has fuelled Amy to fight for more. Not just for herself, but for others facing similar problems. She hopes that this lawsuit will raise awareness to these issues and hasten the course of putting an end to them.
Larry JG Beattie, CD (born 1961) in Windsor, Quebec, joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1978 at the age of 17 years old. In February 1979, he was posted to his first ship HMCS SKEENA based out of Halifax, and was sexually assaulted and raped by another sailor who was higher ranked than he was. His life was also threatened if he spoke to anyone about it.“I started drinking heavily shortly after the assault and thereafter as a coping mechanism, I cried myself to sleep many times.” He is now receiving a monthly pension from VAC for his left hand and a PTSD unrelated to his sexual assault. He has received a lump sum for erectile dysfunction which VAC blames on his medications. “My sexual dysfunction has been part of my entire life. It cost me 3 marriages and made me an alcoholic, I have been to detox and a 28 day in-house program for addiction, I have been to AA but I keep falling off the wagon as this has always been my coping mechanism.”
Nadine Schultz-Nielsen, CD (born 1978) grew up on Cape Breton Island and was naturally drawn to the Navy. She joined HMCS IROQUOIS as a Sonar Operator in 2002 and deployed on OP APOLLO in 2003. She also served out of trade as a Flight Attendant at 437(T) Squadron, and as a Component Transfer Clerk at National Defence Headquarters.
Nadine's first sexual assault was by a standards instructor at Canadian Forces Fleet School Esquimalt, BC, and she continued to experience assaults and harassment for the duration of her career. Nadine started drinking heavily shortly after arriving in Halifax as a coping mechanism; although the Navy felt like home, the daily harassment and groping were too much. Once she was able to distance herself from the ship environment she started seeking help and planned her escape to a safer more inclusive environment through out-of-trade postings and a blocked occupational transfer. When Nadine pursued a medical release for MST related trauma, she was subject to significant retaliation.
After her release in 2013, Nadine discovered that not only were there no MST-related services available through Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS), but Veterans Affairs also had nothing to offer as far as MST specific support. Nadine feels that it is important to be a part of the change she wants to see. By telling her story, she hopes to create awareness and open a dialog so others can feel safe supporting and advocating for victims of abuse within the CAF. By addressing the culture that continues to be accepted within the chain of command, Nadine hopes to encourage positive change in the CAF.
What is the Deadline to submit a claim?
Does it only apply to current and former members of the Canadian forces who were sexually assaulted?
Is this for women only?
What is included in this settlement?
What if I never reported what happened to me?
Will this trigger a official report?
What if VAC already denied my claim?
Where should I start?
Read our guide to help you find out what evidence can support a disability claim for a mental or a physical injury as a result of a Military Sexual Trauma.
Where can I get support?
To learn more about the settlement,
visit the class action website by clicking the link below,
or call 1-888-626-2611
Further to our recent conversation, please see the attached document, in which we have done our best to respond to the concerns
you’ve raised about how Applicants have been experiencing the claims process. We are grateful to you for bringing these issues to our attention.
We have tried to keep our responses as clear and user-friendly as possible, but we recognize many Applicants will have additional questions and may need more one-on-one attention. We want to make it as clear as possible to Applicants that we are part of a team of lawyers (class counsel) who represent all Applicants, and we are available to speak directly with Applicants on any question regarding their claim or the claims process. For example, if an Applicant calls our office (RavenLaw) and requests to speak with a lawyer regarding the class action, they should receive a call back within 24 hours during the week(or even sooner if the matter is urgent). There is no charge to speak with a lawyer.
Class members can best reach us at 613-567-3721 or at email@example.com.
I have also copied my colleague, Julia Williams, who is assisting with class member inquires.
We have also raised some of these issues with the Administrator and the Government and understand that some additional information
will be sent in the near future and posted on the class action website.
Please let me know if you need anything further or if any other issues arise.
ANDREW ASTRITIS (he/him)
RAVEN, CAMERON, BALLANTYNE & YAZBECK LLP/s.r.l.
Completing the claim forms can be a very emotional experience, especially if you have not had an opportunity to face or obtain therapeutic help regarding your military sexual trauma.
Raven Law reminds claimants that anyone considering coming forward now should know three things: the process is confidential from the military chain of command, all claims are being independently evaluated, and the process is set up with the assumption that claimants are being honest.
“So class members don’t need to worry about people questioning them about what happened or doubting what they’re putting forward,” lawyer Andrew Astritis has said. He has also reminded everyone that assistance can also be provide by the firm by calling:
613-567-3721 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are having difficulty obtaining any supporting documentation, as long as you complete the application and note "documents to follow", and submit by 24 November 2021, your claim can be considered.
Some tips our survivor Community has shared to help with completing your claim:
1. Start with an outline; exact dates are not required.
2. Plan chunks of time to complete your narrative and ensure you have a self-care plan
3. Ask for help from a trusted friend or confidant.
4. If your are not a member of our INJ700 informal peer support Facebook group
where you can find lots of people willing to help, you can also e-mail us and
we will do our best to assist: email@example.com
~ Support-Restore-Empower ~