Veterans call for public inquiry to address racism in the military
Published Thursday, March 13, 2014 7:27PM ADT
Members of the Canadian military are calling for a full public inquiry to address allegations of racism among the ranks.
Veteran Wally Fowler signed up to protect his country, but he says he has had to protect himself and his family from the military instead.
“It’s not only me being affected here,” says Fowler. “It’s hard when you see kids going through this and there’s nothing you can do.”
Fowler claims he and his family have endured countless incidents of racism and discrimination on military bases in Nova Scotia, Ontario and British Columbia.
He alleges his son was called racial slurs, someone spit on his daughter and threw bananas at this wife in Esquimalt, B.C.
“Every time I tried to protect them I was written up,” he says.
Fowler is no longer in the military but he says his experience there has taken a toll.
Veteran Rubin ‘Rocky’ Coward won his own discrimination case at CFB Greenwood and claims racism is deeply ingrained in the Canadian Armed Forces.
“We’ve come too far to turn back so make no mistake about it,” says Coward.
“We’re making our stand here today and we’re demanding a public inquiry or I would encourage any minority that has an inkling of common sense to leave the military until they straighten their act up.”
Military advocate Dennis Manuge, who took on the government and won his battle over veteran disability clawbacks, is supporting Fowler in his calls for a public inquiry.
Manuge says he has heard racist comments during his service.
“It’s hard to believe, you know, after all the work that was done and sacrificed by so many for so long that we have to sit here together as the broken ones, trying to fix things,” says Manuge. “That’s where the anger comes from.”
A spokesperson for the Department of National Defence says they are aware of concerns raised by Fowler. They didn’t comment on the call for a public inquiry but did say the Canadian Armed Forces has a zero-tolerance policy with respect to any and all forms of discrimination.
The group is still exploring its legal options. Depending on the response, it may lead to a class-action lawsuit.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Marie Adsett