Corporal Connie Valin raising of the pride flag just outside building 1 on August 22, 2022 at 4 Wing Cold Lake – All photos by 4 Wing Imaging
The Cold Lake Defence Team Pride Advisory Organization (DTPAO) is joining in with many other Bases, Wings and Formations across Canada to celebrate Public Service Pride Week. Over this past weekend, members from 4 Wing, family, and even a four legged friend, renewed the Progressive Pride Flag paint at the crosswalk of the Kingsway and Queensway. On Monday August 22, the Progressive Pride Flag was raised across from Building 1 and will fly over 4 Wing for the week. On Thursday August 25, the Public Service Pride Awards Ceremony will be able to be viewed online.
As a member of the DTPAO since its inception in late 2020, I have been blown away by the level of support from leadership around 4 Wing. Whether it has been discussions about flag protocol, or gaining support for the Positive Space Ambassador (PSA) program, 4 Wing leadership teams have embraced a compassionate and understanding approach to sensitive topics. As the 4 Wing deputy lead for the PSA program, I have also had the privilege of working with teams of PSAs not only across 4 Wing, but from every corner of Canada and many locations around the world. Together, the DTPAO and the PSA network have worked to help create a safe and inclusive environment within the Defense Team.
In consultation with Wing Leadership, 4 Wing members of the various LGBTQ2+ communities, and friends and family from around Cold Lake, the DTPAO made the conscious decision to renew the paint at the crosswalk between 4 Wing Health Care Centre and Holy Name of Jesus Chapel. This location was chosen deliberately and has been called our “Pathway to Healing”. Our hope this year was to be able to ensure that permanent road paint would be used. Due to circumstances out of our control, we have once again had to paint using a temporary solution. The paint will once again be allowed to naturally dissolve with the hope that the permanent solution will come later in the year.
On a personal level, I can attest to having experienced many highs and lows in my career thus far with regards to being a member of the transgender community. My experiences certainly were brought up during the decision making process on the location of our crosswalk. While my experiences do not reflect everyone else’s, there were many similar stories that assisted in the choice of location. I will share some of my own personal experiences with the two organizations at that corner.
Having joined the Canadian Armed Forces after I completed my physical transition, I have not had to navigate the transition process through the CAF Health System. My transition was guided by the World Professional Association of Transgender Health’s (WPATH) Standards of Care. This working document, which has gone through many revisions over the years, is backed by doctors from around the world with experience in treating transgender individuals. The current document covering transgender health in the CAF is CF Mil Pers Instr 01/19. The difference between the Instruction and the WPATH Standards of Care are quite apparent to anyone familiar with them. While I have had members of the CAF Health Services use the WPATH Standards of Care, it is my hope that a new instruction can direct care of transgender individuals to the organization that has been world renowned for their approach.
I believe it would not come as a surprise to any member of the LGBTQ2+ communities that the Roman Catholic Church has historically not been overly kind to them. I was raised in a Roman Catholic household. I was baptised, completed my first communion, regularly attended Sunday services, and attended Catholic schools. The Catholic school system let my family down on a very personal level and I stopped attending Catholic school starting in Grade 5. I still attended church for a number of years after this, however as I grew older and began to learn more about myself and the world in general, I made the decision that I would not go through with Confirmation. The Roman Catholic Church has had a troubled past in its handling of many issues, and the LGBTQ2+ communities have not been immune to this. In the spirit of reconciliation that the Roman Catholic Church has currently been engaged in, and after careful consultation with members of the community, the DTPAO decided once again to ensure that the placement of this “Pathway to Healing” was in the best location that it could be in.
As part of this year’s Public Service Pride Week, the DTPAO would encourage all members of 4 Wing to reflect on the historical struggles of LGBTQ2+ members, and reach out to a Positive Space Ambassador should you have any questions or concerns. Positive Space Ambassadors can be found on the 4 Wing Intranet at Positive Space Ambassador (mil.ca). Information about the DTPAO in Cold Lake can be found at Defence Team Pride Advisory Organization (DTPAO) (mil.ca).
As an openly serving transgender CAF member, I believe that education is the basis of acceptance. As such, I welcome and encourage professional discussions on this topic at any time. I can be reached at email@example.com. On behalf of the DTPAO, show your pride this year and don’t forget to check out our crosswalk and the flag flying across from Building 1!