Historically, 2SLGBTQ+ members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and the Federal Public Service were systemically discriminated against, harassed, and often fired as a matter of policy and sanctioned practice. The “LGBT Purge” took place in Canada from the 1950s to the mid-1990s and caused tremendous harm to 2SLGBTQ+ members. In the course of the Purge, they were subject to persistent discriminatory, humiliating, and injurious treatment, demeaning their dignity and infringing upon their basic human rights. CAF members who were 2SLGBTQ+ (or perceived to be) were treated shamefully as if they had betrayed their country and were unfit to serve. (CFAO 19-20). They were expelled from an organization they deeply admired and treated as outcasts.
Rainbow Veterans of Canada (RVC)
The Rainbow Veterans of Canada (RVC) is a not-for-profit organization that was incorporated in 2019 and represented:
- CAF Veteran LGBT Purge Survivors
- 2SLGBTQ+ personnel who joined the CAF during the time of the LGBT Purge but however as a result of the Government of Canada’s discriminatory policies and actions were terminated prior to obtaining sufficient service time to qualify as a veteran,
- Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) veterans who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-Spirit (2SLGBTQ+)
What We Stand For
Vision Statement: A world in which LGBT Purge Survivors and CAF veterans who identify as 2SLGBTQ+ are given the recognition, respect, and support they justly deserve for their service to Canada
Mission Statement: Provide a supportive and safe space for CAF veterans impacted by the LGBT Purge along with other CAF veterans who identify as 2SLGBTQ+, while educating and advocating for the rights, benefits, and recognition our members deserve.
Values and Guiding Principles: RVC is committed to operating in an inclusive and supportive way in which we:
- practice compassion, and honesty while acknowledging the need for both individual and collective well-being
- recognize and value equally our diverse voices
- respect each other’s lived experiences, embrace comradery and offer support in times of need, and ensure the harsh lessons learned from the LGBT Purge are never forgotten
Our Beginnings (2019)
In 2019, the RVC’s focus is on establishing the organization, creating targeted education and advocacy opportunities, and providing information on gatherings to members. The RVC Board successfully collaborated, internally and externally, to lay a solid foundation that will permit the organization to chart a future that will ultimately provide effective support, education, and advocacy for its members. Several of the 2019 highlights are provided below:
- Established ourselves as a non-profit organization both federally and provincially
- Formalized our organizational framework, policies, procedures
- Conducted a strategic visioning workshop
Board Of Directors
Diane Pitre grew up in Campbellton, a small coastal town in northern New Brunswick, known as the gateway to the Maritime Provinces. She joined the military on November 9, 1977, at 18 after graduating from high school. After completing basic training at CFB St Jean, she was posted to CFB Chatham, NB in February of 1978 for training as an Air Frame Technician. On April 1, 1978, she was posted to CFB Borden, Ontario to complete her Air Frame technician training and returned to CFB Chatham in August 1978. She was re-trained as a Supply Technician in late 1978 after losing her security clearance on the suspicion of being a homosexual. On September 24, 1980, she was purged from the Armed Forces after a lengthy 2-year investigation under the CFAO 19-20 “Sexual Deviation – Investigation, Medical Investigation, and Disposal for being a homosexual”. She was told that she was a threat to her country because of her sexuality.
Diane has spent close to 40 years lobbying the government for an apology for her wrongful dismissal, which was received on November 28, 2017, from Prime Minister Trudeau. Although that chapter is closed, Diane continues to work as an activist so that history does not repeat itself! She has launched a Facebook page for LGBT Purge survivors, supports many LGBT veterans, and is the founder and Co-chair of Rainbow Veterans of Canada.
Diane is retired from Canada Post Corporation after a 30-year career as a Library Technician, International Claims Officer, and Relocation Officer. She is a proud member of the RMMP panel and looks forward to this next chapter of her life.
Diane resides in Campbellton, N.B.
Kathryn Foss is a transgender woman who is the parent of two wonderful children, a military veteran, and an advocate for diversity and inclusion. Growing up in a small town and then serving in the military, Kathryn spent a significant portion of her life conforming to expectations and uniformity; however, she found her voice after transitioning to becoming an educator and advocating, sharing her story and perspective on bias and privilege.
While serving in the military, Kathryn held a leadership role in the Defence Women’s Advisory Organization, established the Positive Space Program, and founded the Defence Team Pride Advisory Organization. She used her experiences and position to assist in the development of updated transgender policies, as well as the updating of many other personnel policies to be more inclusive to all members.
Kathryn was awarded the 2018 Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation by the Canadian Armed Forces Ombudsman for her work supporting women and transgender military members, as well as for her efforts in establishing a department-wide Positive Space peer-support program. In 2020, Kathryn was also named a Gender Equality Trailblazer by Women and Gender Equality Canada and mentioned by name by the Prime Minister on International Women’s Day.
Sharp is a non-binary, Niizh-manitowag (two-Spirit) person of Meshkwahkihaki / Asakiwaki / Aniyunwiya and Irish ancestry. They live, work, and play in Ottawa, the unceded traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg people. She is an advocate and researcher who uses ALL the pronouns in every context.
They are a military veteran, LGBT purge survivor, and martial artist. He has been an educator, activist, and group facilitator who has presented on a wide variety of topics at local, national, and international venues for over 20 years.
They have supported community organizations through volunteer work and engagement on many Boards of Directors, including but not limited to Gays and Lesbians Together (GALT), St. John’s Status of Women Centre (SJSWC), Women’s Place aux Femmes, Amethyst Women’s Addiction Centre and the Navy League of Canada.
Sharp is a Carrier of Ceremony and Helper in Indigenous and other communities across Canada. She is a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) in private practice in Bells Corners.
Sharp is honoured to be a member of the board for Rainbow Veterans Canada to keep survivor stories alive and support 2SLGBTQ+ veterans. Sharp currently lives in a rural log home with their partner of 25+ and two cats.
Having served in the Naval Reserve after high school, Patti joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1979. She chose the Air Force, and after basic training, was assigned to be a supply technician at the air base in Chatham, New Brunswick.
Patti served until she was purged with honourable discharge in 1981.
Patti moved to Hamilton, ON where she returned to Bell Canada. She worked there for 28 years and held a variety of roles in different departments, including trainer, dispatcher, and technician.
Patti joined Rainbow Veterans of Canada and also became part of the class action lawsuit for recognition of the gay purge and LGBT rights.
Today, Patti enjoys her retirement and the camaraderie of being part of Rainbow Veterans of Canada. She also volunteers with an animal rescue agency in Toronto, transporting rescued cats to veterinarians and then to foster homes, and as a team leader in the choir of Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto. Patti currently lives with her partner of 20+ years in Toronto, Ontario.
Todd Ross is one of the representative plaintiffs of the LGBT Purge Class Action lawsuit. He volunteered to join the Canadian Armed Forces in December of 1987, at the age of 18 and served on the HMCS Saskatchewan as a Naval Combat Information Operator in Esquimalt British Columbia. While serving, Todd was brought under investigation by the Special Investigation Unit of the Military Police beginning in January 1989. After an extensive investigation, he admitted to the investigators that he was gay and was offered an honourable discharge. He was released in May of 1990.
Todd is a Public Affairs Consultant and has served as an Advisor to Ontario’s Deputy Premier and the President of the Métis Nation of Ontario.
He has volunteered on many boards with a focus on Indigenous, health, and human rights issues. He is a founding member of the Rainbow Railroad, a non-profit organization created to help LGBT people around the globe seek safe haven from state-enabled violence, murder, or persecution. Todd is Métis and lives in St Andrews, New Brunswick with his partner Kirk.
LCol Steven P. Deschamps CD (RETD)
Steven joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1979 as a pilot and was purged in 1982. The SIU tapped his phones, interrogated and polygraphed him systematically over five months and he was released in June 1982 under CFAO 19-20, section 5D, “no longer advantageously employable” simply because he refused to lie about his homosexuality.
He fought his way back into the Royal Canadian Air Force in November 1992 returning to wearing the uniform and is known as one of the first homosexuals to re-enroll after the famous case against the CAF led by Michelle Douglas was settled in October 1992.
Steven retired in 2013 after serving 31 years in the Regular and Reserve Forces.
Today he is honoured to serve on the Board of Directors of the Rainbow Veterans of Canada, the Minister of Veteran Affairs Advisory Group for Families, the Advisory Council for the Canadian Human Rights Museum, and is as founding president of the CIC Branch Association of B.C. Steven was appointed Honorary Colonel for 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron by the Minister of National Defence in Nov 2022. Steven lives in Victoria, British Columbia.
Kareth comes from a long line of military. Her father was an aircraft mechanic in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and her grandfather and uncles on both sides of the family were military. Kareth lived the military lifestyle all her life, moving from base to base including overseas in France for 6 years, which had everything to do with her joining the Canadian Armed Forces when she was 17 years old.
She was a victim of Canada’s purge of LGBTQ military members in 1976 and continues to suffer from PTSD as a result.
Today, Kareth is a proud veteran, an advocate for Purge Survivors, and heads the RVC Education and Speakers’ Bureau to raise awareness and encourage other Survivors to share their stories. Kareth lives in Ottawa, Ontario.