The Canadian Forces have released a series of changes to their dress code. These changes are a result of the need to adapt this code – which is about 50 years old – in favor of respect, diversity and inclusion. “The appearance of the Canadian military has not kept pace with the society they serve,” reads the official statement released on July 5. The new rules, which come into effect in September, allow uniforms to be mixed so that servicemen can choose any of the garments previously segregated by gender. They also open the door to the use of various accessories and badges that were previously prohibited.
Hair extensions and dyes are not a problem as long as you tie your hair back over your shoulders and leave your face uncovered. In any case, the cut and color should not affect operational tasks such as camouflage combat. The document indicates that in these circumstances a “simple adaptation measure” must be found. For example, a scarf to hide the hair. New recruits also don’t have to shave their heads during their basic training. “Uniformity does not equate to discipline, nor to operational efficiency, nor does hair color or length determine dedication or professional competence,” General Wayne Eyre, chief of Canada’s defense staff, said in a statement. .
Sideburns, beards and mustaches are allowed, regardless of volume, as long as they are properly trimmed and symmetrical. The same will happen with long nails and their color, but provided they do not affect operational tasks. As for facial tattoos, the new regulation specifies that they have a place in the military ranks unless they have ties to criminal groups or promote hatred or discrimination in any form, as stipulated in Canada’s Human Rights Act.
Earrings are also allowed, but must respect a maximum size. Likewise, the military will be able to carry the backpack on only one shoulder, as long as it’s the left, leaving the right arm free to salute. General Eyre had this to say about this series of changes: “Some will see it as progress, while others will see it as unwarranted. We must be wary of the false dichotomy of having to choose between changing our clothes and appearance or being strong.” In November, members of the military leadership had announced the imminent implementation of these dress code changes. In late March, Acting Chief of the Military Staff, Lise Bourgon, said: The Canadian Press that changes to the code imply gender neutrality.
The Canadian Forces have retention and recruitment issues. According to a report published in February, they have a shortage of about 7,600 members. The pandemic has been a major factor, as have allegations of the lack of diversity in its ranks, especially with regard to women, indigenous peoples and other communities. In turn, a long list of scandals related to sexual harassment and assault has led to apostasy and a weakening of confidence in the institution. Anita Anand, defense minister since October 2021, has pledged to tackle this issue vigorously.
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