On Thursday April 21st, I had a sit down with Captain Chelsea St-Amand and Sergeant David Winship, both of the CFNIS Western Region detachment.
The meeting took place in a boardroom at VPD Headquarters and ran from 13:00 until 16:00.
On the complaint form that I had submitted to the MPCC I had selected the option box indicating that I would be open to an informal resolution so I got an informal resolution meeting.
So, first off I’ll apologize to Sgt. Winship for the complaint I brought against him, not because my complaint was without merit, but because as I discovered during the meeting that Sgt. Winship was not the lead investigator in my matter against the man from the sauna.
The lead investigator in my matter is actually Sgt. Justin Brady.
Sgt. Winship is actually the case manager.
Some of the highlights that came out of the meeting.
Sgt. Winship agreed that unlike a member of the Canadian Forces who can go through their chain of command to voice concerns and complaints against the CFNIS, as a civilian I do not have access to that avenue. I only have the MPCC and at that the MPCC doesn’t take complaints about “investigations”, the MPCC only accepts “conduct” complaints against investigators. This oversight in the National Defence Act seems to come from the mistaken understanding that only military members who can make complaints via their chain of command are the only persons making criminal complaints to the CFNIS. Civilian victims of crime such as myself are outliers that weren’t planned for.
(As a side note, as a civilian the prospect of redress is also unavailable to me. Redress is where a complaint is made directly to the Chief of Defence Staff and the CDS can review any matter brought to their attention. This is how Stephanie Raymonde was able to have her matter looked at again in 2014)
We talked for a bit about my distrust of the military justice system related to the news from the ’90s and pretty well up to the current day. The horrific flaws with the National Defence Act that had to be fixed due to the inability of the military justice system to deal with the illegal actions in Bosnia and Somalia. Then there were the findings of Madame Marie Deschamps in 2015 that found that the military justice system could not properly conduct sexual assault investigations, and the 2021 recommendations of former Supreme Court of Canada justice Louise Arbour that only civilian police be allowed to investigate military sexual assaults which resulted in Minister of National Defence Anita Anand ordering all current sexual assault investigations be moved to the civilian police.
I also discussed how I could never bring myself to trust the CFNIS after they took my father’s statement at full face value and never attempted to re-interview my father when my foster care records were made available to the CFNIS in 2011 and indicated that there were very serious concerns with my father’s statement. My father’s statement had a significant impact on the Crown’s decision to not lay charges against P.S. as my father claimed there was never a babysitter in the house.
Which brings up my matter and which was the cause of the MPCC complaint and the informal resolution meeting. Sgt. Winship assures me that there is nothing political with the decision for the CFNIS to retain my investigation. Sgt. Winship says that my investigation was sent for review and it was decided to keep it within the CFNIS because they were at the stage of interviewing both P.S. and R.B..
I don’t know how receptive P.S. will be to being interviewed by the CFNIS. The more I think about it the more I believe that P.S. attempted suicide in the year 2000 as too many brats from CFB Namao kept making complaints against him. So I’m pretty sure that P.S. will no doubt have a good attorney who will tell him to tell the CFNIS to go away.
R.B. is a different matter. The CFNIS are still waiting for Library and Archives Canada to give the CFNIS a copy of R.B.’s service file. I find it sad that law enforcement doesn’t have priority access to service files at the LAC.
We talked for a bit about counselling and if I’ve tried to access it. I explained that one of the most significant issues that I have with receiving counselling is that almost every counsellor that I’ve dealt with to date is unfamiliar with the military aspect of what I went through. Having a military social worker who was blaming me for basically allowing myself to be sexually abused really fucks with one’s brain. Being labelled by this military social worker as being a homosexual is just as bad as being blamed for the abuse. Having a father at home, who due to his rank of Master Corporal, was probably placing very special emphasis on what the Captain was saying was just as fucking devastating as what the Captain was saying. And even Sgt. Winship agreed that there is no way that I will be able to deal with the sexual assault components on their own without dealing with all of the other aspects. Sgt. Winship mentioned that male on male sexual assaults were just handled a lot differently back then. I added that I think what really bad was when Captain David Pilling requested that Warrant Officer Fred Cunningham investigate Captain Father Angus McRae for committing “Acts of Homosexuality” with boys on CFB Namao that this tarred all of McRae’s and P.S.’s victims as also being “homosexuals”. And back in the day, the official policy of the Canadian Armed Forces was that homosexuality was a mental defect. To this end, Sgt. Winship said that when he got back to Edmonton that he would talk to some counsellors that he knew of that specialized in treating survivors of military sexual assault trauma who also work with civilians to see if the would be able to somehow bring their military services into the civilian realm. We also discussed a bit about how military dependents such as myself are ineligible for assistance through the Canadian Armed Forces and how most provinces balk at picking up the costs for counselling or therapy, especially if the former dependent is living in a province where the assaults did not occur. Members and former members of the Canadian Forces can receive help no matter where they live. This is not true for former military dependents.
Communication is one of the things that we discussed. Just a periodic heads up along with an explanation of the current status of the investigation would be great.
We did briefly discuss the fallout of the Lamer Report, the findings of the Somalia Commission, the findings of Madame Marie Deschamps, recommendations of former Supreme Court of Canada justice Louise Arbour. I also brought up some of the concerns that the Military Police Complaints Commission has voiced about the Vice Chief of Defence Staff, a position that is not law enforcement and is not a sworn peace officer, making recommendations and issuing instructions for any CFNIS investigation and that how even though in theory the Provost Marshal is supposed to make those recommendations or instructions available to the “public” that all the Provost Marshal has to do is post a copy of those instructions in the 10th floor coffee room at National Defence Head Quarters and the Provost Marshal has met their obligation.
Sgt. Winship is adamant that he would not allow the chain of command to interfere with his investigations.
I brought up the matter of Corporal Stuart Langridge and how CFNIS investigator Sgt. Matthew Ritco had told the MPCC Inquiry that CFNIS brass had rewritten his report and instructed him to sign the new report.
Again Sgt. Winship insisted that he would have refused to sign the report.
All in all it was a productive meeting.
I’m still very wary of the CFNIS and the Canadian Forces, but at least I feel more comfortable with Sgt. Winship and the current investigation into the man in the sauna.