Author Topic: Probe of soldier's suicide reveals hazing, harassment, fight club at Wpg armoury  (Read 9219 times)

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Offline Eye In The Sky

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Brigadier-general reprimands 5 soldiers, removes 1 as investigation continues

A Winnipeg reservist who the military said died during training last November in fact stepped away from other soldiers on that exercise and killed himself — a year after telling his superiors he was being bullied and harassed.

CBC News obtained search warrant documents that were part of the investigation into the death of Cpl. Nolan Caribou, 26, on Nov. 18, 2017  at CFB Shilo. Caribou asked to be temporarily excused to deal with something personal that day. When he didn't come back, fellow soldiers went to look for him and found him dead.

"I don't know what was going through his mind or what other things he had going on in his life at the time, but it is clear to me that he was being harassed while he was in uniform and that leaders that should have taken action didn't, and that could have contributed to his death," Brig.-Gen. Trevor Cadieu, commander of the Canadian Armed Forces 3rd Canadian Division, said in an interview.

The documents also show "there was ongoing ritual hazing, organized fighting described as a 'fight club' and harassment occurring at the Minto Armouries in Winnipeg."

"I do believe that had leaders that had known about this, if they had taken more decisive action that it is possible there would have been a different outcome," Cadieu said.

When he learned about Caribou's death, he called a board of inquiry. It started in January and interviewed 40 witnesses. That investigation was complete by early June.

No charges have been laid, but Cadieu, the commander in charge of about 10,000 soldiers, reservists and civilian members of the army in Western Canada, travelled from Edmonton to Winnipeg several times this past year, to make changes to the leadership at Minto.

"I have relieved an individual from the performance of his military duties based on anecdotal evidence that I've heard. … It's given me enough concern that I do not want that individual around any of my other soldiers," said Cadieu.

Cadieu said he has reprimanded five soldiers and is waiting for the findings of a military police investigation before deciding whether to permanently remove any members from the Armed Forces.

"They weren't properly supervising unit training activities. They weren't present and shared in hardships. They weren't in the messes where alcohol was being consumed and as they forfeited that space It allowed a small handful of more sinister individuals to have greater influence," said Cadieu.

"That's what allowed this harassment to take place. And then when leaders — empowered leaders — learned about this harassment I felt that they did not take decisive enough action to properly understand what was going on and then to actually terminate that behaviour."

A board of inquiry revealed Caribou died by suicide, a month after graduating with a bachelor of arts in sociology from the University of Winnipeg. It also found he hadn't been paid at the rank he should have been for several months, and this could have worsened his financial situation.

It also concluded that a year before taking his life, Caribou had reported being harassed by fellow soldiers at Minto Armoury but the military didn't do much to stop it.

"We expect all of our leaders to take responsibility for their soldiers and to be accountable, that when things aren't going right, that they intervene immediately to stop harmful behaviour. In this case we've received indications that that hadn't happened," Cadieu said.

Caribou was an infantryman with the Royal Winnipeg Rifles for five years, and had been serving as a reservist at Minto Armoury in Winnipeg. He was never deployed overseas.

His family has asked for privacy but at the time of his death they released a statement. It said, "Being in the military was one way for Nolan to contribute — a way for him to seek resolution to address the challenge of society's inability to be peaceful, not just for himself but for everyone."

The family also said Caribou "was very determined despite challenges that he encountered while in the military, and he did so with integrity. Nolan did not allow limited resources to discourage him from following through with his commitments. His focus enabled him to facilitate available resources when required. He was very focused on his job as an infantryman, and Nolan took great pride in being able to do so."

Caribou's social media shows he loved music, and he occasionally posted videos of himself singing.

In February, Cadieu contacted the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service to tell them what he had learned in hopes they would launch an independent investigation into Caribou's death. They did, and during that probe the CFNIS uncovered allegations the harassment at Minto Armoury went beyond Caribou and had included other soldiers in the junior ranks mess.

The military police subsequently launched a second investigation to further probe the allegations.

"We have a soldier in this division that is dead. His family is mourning. They will always be mourning, and to know that there are military related service factors that could have contributed to that soldier's death — I can't consider anything more serious," said Cadieu.

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman offered his condolences to the family. So did Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, and James Bezan, a Manitoba Conservative MP.

"Anytime there's a death of any Canadian Armed Forces member it hits very hard," Sajjan said.

Bezan said, "The loss of Cpl. Nolan Caribou is a large blow for the Royal Winnipeg Rifles. … He'll be missed at the armoury, at the parade hall and in the lives of the men and women he served with."

At the time of Caribou's death, the military said the soldier died during a training exercise. It has not publicly acknowledged the suicide until now.

Soldier told Caribou to kill himself

In October, military police got a search warrant for a soldier's phone to look for evidence of a fight. In a sworn affidavit presented to a judge, police detailed some of the revelations. 

Police said they spoke to a soldier who recalled an incident about a week before Caribou's death in which a reservist posted a message on Caribou's social media to the effect of "kill yourself." Police said that soldier later bragged about it to other reservists at the armoury, but removed the post after Caribou's suicide.

Another reservist told police there were organized fights going on like in the movie Fight Club. "Officers would ask about the outcome and status of fights between soldiers, but then 'played dumb' when the matter was brought to the attention of the military police," a soldier's affidavit said.

One soldier told police he was leaving the military largely because of "the harassment and assaults he had witnessed." He detailed one incident where "a master corporal had instructed a group of eight to 10 subordinates to harass a private with the goal of making his life at the unit so unbearable that he would leave the military."

Inquests should be mandatory, lawyer says

"It's a rare occasion where the military admits in fact there were mistakes, [and] admits a corrective step must be taken," said Michel Drapeau, a military lawyer and Ottawa law professor.

Drapeau said Cadieu's admissions are a good start, but if society wants to see an end to soldier suicides, it can't be left to the military to figure out.

"You have to have a coroner inquest, a public coroner inquest," said Drapeau.

In Manitoba, a coroner's inquest is called by the chief medical examiner and is mandatory in cases where a person died in police custody or correctional facility, if the death was a result of a violent act or negligence, or if the cause is unknown or unexplained. The purpose of the inquest is to determine the circumstances surrounding the death and what, if anything, could have been done to prevent it.

Drapeau said the military holds a board of inquiry to look into non-combat deaths, but unlike inquests, the proceedings are not public and the family of the dead soldier does not have standing.

"We want more than that. We want to make sure that this loss is in fact having consequences and is … leaving a legacy behind. They're trying to change the channel, trying to learn from it and to do this you have to have a coroner inquest," said Drapeau.

"The military are good at conducting military missions, military tasks. There's nothing under their DNA that makes them particularly efficient at investigating themselves."

Drapeau said no other organization, not doctors, lawyers or even the RCMP can investigate itself.

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen said in a statement, "While the corporal's death is a tragic reminder that everyone deserves to be treated with kindness, care and respect, it would need to be investigated federally, not through a provincial inquest, as any recommendations arising from one must relate to provincial laws, policies, and programs."

Suicide prevention plan

According to the armed forces, 14 soldiers have died by suicide this year and 89 since 2014.

Each case is looked into by the CFNIS, or local police if the death occurred outside the military's jurisdiction.

"The military has an extensive mental illness awareness and suicide prevention program consisting of clinical and non-clinical interventions by generalist and specialist clinicians, mental health education, and suicide awareness information," according to the federal government's website.

It says great efforts are made to identify people at risk for mental health problems and to provide them with the assistance that they require. But it's not always possible to identify those individuals.

"It doesn't mean anything unless empowered leaders are actually setting an example that we are destigmatizing mental health issues, and so we recognize that," said Cadieu. "And so that's why we're trying to embrace this mindset of readiness and resilience and growth in 3rd Canadian Division as well."
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May he RIP.

Bullying is a very real, very dangerous issue. Now whether it should be solely blamed for his death or not, is another factor. But bullying is a tough one to deal with.

Regardless may he RIP.

Abdullah

Offline Remius

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May he RIP.

Bullying is a very real, very dangerous issue. Now whether it should be solely blamed for his death or not, is another factor. But bullying is a tough one to deal with.

Regardless may he RIP.

Abdullah

The next level of danger is when leaders let it become institutionalised.  I hope the system hammers them for it. 
Optio

Offline Jarnhamar

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I hope the system hammers them for it.

Including jail time.


Quote
"Officers would ask about the outcome and status of fights between soldiers, but then 'played dumb' when the matter was brought to the attention of the military police," a soldier's affidavit said.
Is lying to the police grounds for losing their commission?
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Offline whiskey601

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Wtf, over?  Never mind the officers, the Snr. NCO’s should have been poppin’ purple smoke and taking names. 
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Offline RomeoJuliet

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Including jail time.

Is lying to the police grounds for losing their commission?
Totally unsat. Officers should be punished for sure. Difficult to lose your commission though. Last one I’ve heard of was the former Col R Williams who had his commission  revoked by the Governor General.


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Offline exCAFguy

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Devils advocate.......none of us here know what information has been gleaned from this investigation.

It’s easy to say the officers should be in jail etc.....but we don’t know what, if any, their involvement was.

I can only assume it was the CO who was relieved of command....but as for other officers, we don’t know who or who didn’t really know what was up. 

It wouldn’t be overly difficult for a member who doesn’t like Capt Bloggins to say “oh ya he knew about it and did nothing.”

I’m not saying the officers are innocent......I’m just saying it’s a bit early for the internet lynching that already seems to be getting started in this thread.

Online mariomike

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Difficult to lose your commission though.

See also,

revocation of commission 

Unless things have changed since my service, there is no authority to compulsorily strip an officer of his commission and retain him in the service (remove the commission and he gets booted out).  This also begs the question.  If he is incompetent as an officer (and doesn't want to be an OR), why would anyone want to retain him in the CF?

Offline devil39

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Had a situation when I was RSS.  MCpl instructor on a recruit course was harassing  recruits having them walk around with a toilet bowl ring around their neck if they ****ed up.   

I had him charged after an investigation.   I believe it was the first charge they'd had in a very long time (a decade?).   

Problem solved.  No time for that bullshit.

Offline Hamish Seggie

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Wtf, over?  Never mind the officers, the Snr. NCO’s should have been poppin’ purple smoke and taking names.

Ok I was the RSM of this unit until Sep 2016.  Once a month at dismissal I’d inform the soldiers at all rank levels my door was open to listen to problems, personal or professional. Nothing was brought up about hazing or fight clubs. It’s easy to sit from afar and judge.
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Offline Jarnhamar

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Totally unsat. Officers should be punished for sure. Difficult to lose your commission though. Last one I’ve heard of was the former Col R Williams who had his commission  revoked by the Governor General.


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Fair enough, knee jerk reaction by me. If officers (better yet let's say any leadership) are guilty of serious accusations  ie knew about the harassment and didn't address it/turned a blind eye maybe lean on the more serious side of punishments.  But I'd also thrown in any peers that didn't step in as well. Corporals are NCOs.
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Offline dapaterson

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Global has further information posted, including a copy of the press release from the Army:
https://globalnews.ca/news/4771106/armed-forces-confirms-shilo-reservist-who-died-by-suicide-was-bullied/

Quote
Actions taken

 Leadership failures were addressed through remedial action against five members, which includes the removal of one individual from a senior command position and the relief of another leader from the performance of military duties pending the results of the CFNIS investigation. Strong leadership has been established in the individual units, with the appointment of a full time command team and hand-selected Regular Force Cadre;

 We have disaggregated the Winnipeg Infantry Tactical Group in order for units to parade on separate nights and thus develop their own positive identities and esprit-de-corps;

 We have met personally with all Minto-based command teams and soldiers to reinforce the mutual respect that is expected of all 3 Cdn Div soldiers;

 Under the leadership of Comd 38 CBG, all unit command teams have completed harassment training so that they understand CAF Harassment policies and their roles as leaders;

 Several infrastructure upgrades at Minto Armoury have been completed or are ongoing in order to enhance morale and pride of possession of our facilities;

 Minto Armoury messes where alcohol is served were ordered closed. I have since reopened them after ensuring proper management and supervision are in place;

 38 CBG is working with 17 Wing to mobilize more responsive mental health, Military Family Resource Centre and Personal Support Program services. Amongst other healthy reactional activities, a sanctioned and properly supervised unarmed combat training program will be implemented;

 We have mobilized staff assist visits to address long-standing administrative deficiencies;

 Training, operational, and ceremonial events will serve as opportunities to further motivate and galvanize the soldiers of affected units. Unprecedented levels of Army Reserve and Regular Force collaboration and integration are occurring, culminating in the spring of 2019 when Minto-based soldiers will have the opportunity to deploy abroad in service to Canada. Events like the Juno 75th Anniversary and Arctic Response Company Group are also motivating soldiers to higher levels of participation;

 The 3 Cdn Div Readiness, Resilience, Growth program will be integrated into all unit training. All members and leaders will be afforded opportunities to conduct customized Resilience Training (Road to Mental Readiness-based with focus on experiential learning).
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Offline daftandbarmy

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Ok I was the RSM of this unit until Sep 2016.  Once a month at dismissal I’d inform the soldiers at all rank levels my door was open to listen to problems, personal or professional. Nothing was brought up about hazing or fight clubs. It’s easy to sit from afar and judge.

I agree.

The whole issue of self-harming in the CAF, which was completely absent from leadership considerations even as recently as 10 years ago, is a daily concern now and is a complete mystery from a variety of angles, especially when there seems to be little you can do to prevent or stop it. For example, before, Regimental functions used to be a chance to get together and share some good fellowship. Now, units need to seriously consider what surveillance program needs to be in place to quickly identify, assess and intervene with respect to potential self-harming activity.

I have been a member of units that have experienced several attempted and/or 'completed' suicides, the majority young guys (mostly with no tours) and under 3 years in, and in each case it was something that no one saw coming. Before about the mid-2000s, the only funerals we had were for the 'old and bold', or the rare and sad case of someone KIA. Since then, it seems that there have been constant funerals for young people who, mostly, have only been soldiers for a short time, and who have taken their own lives for some - usually unknown - reason.

It's easy to tear yourself apart about it as a senior leader and is a heavy burden, mostly, for the NCOs who are our youngest leaders with the greatest responsibilities for direct soldier care. It's even easier to look in from afar - especially before the results of any formal inquiry are made known -  and assume that there are deep leadership issues when, in fact, the leaders themselves sometimes are powerless too.

Of course, this is also part of the tragedy surrounding such phenomena.
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Offline Humphrey Bogart

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I agree.

The whole issue of self-harming in the CAF, which was completely absent from leadership considerations even as recently as 10 years ago, is a daily concern now and is a complete mystery from a variety of angles, especially when there seems to be little you can do to prevent or stop it. For example, before, Regimental functions used to be a chance to get together and share some good fellowship. Now, units need to seriously consider what surveillance program needs to be in place to quickly identify, assess and intervene with respect to potential self-harming activity.

I have been a member of units that have experienced several attempted and/or 'completed' suicides, the majority young guys (mostly with no tours) and under 3 years in, and in each case it was something that no one saw coming. Before about the mid-2000s, the only funerals we had were for the 'old and bold', or the rare and sad case of someone KIA. Since then, it seems that there have been constant funerals for young people who, mostly, have only been soldiers for a short time, and who have taken their own lives for some - usually unknown - reason.

It's easy to tear yourself apart about it as a senior leader and is a heavy burden, mostly, for the NCOs who are our youngest leaders with the greatest responsibilities for direct soldier care. It's even easier to look in from afar - especially before the results of any formal inquiry are made known -  and assume that there are deep leadership issues when, in fact, the leaders themselves sometimes are powerless too.

Of course, this is also part of the tragedy surrounding such phenomena.

This organization has been in a perpetual state of self-deprecation for the past five years or so.  Basically since the War in Afghanistan ended and Operation HONOUR became the soupe du jour. 

Some self-deprecation is healthy, ours is not though.  Suicide Contagion is a real thing and our organization has a problem.  We have large groups of people that sit around self-loathing all day.  It's sad. 

Offline Target Up

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Fair enough, knee jerk reaction by me. If officers (better yet let's say any leadership) are guilty of serious accusations  ie knew about the harassment and didn't address it/turned a blind eye maybe lean on the more serious side of punishments.  But I'd also thrown in any peers that didn't step in as well. Corporals are NCOs.

This always boiled my piss. Even when I was still in back in the dark ages, a Cpl had no authority in the unit. Nobody above you backed any decisions because you were "just a corporal", but when something went sideways it was "but you're a corporal". Pte/Sprs had no respect because they were told they didn't have to, and saw a Cpl as an overpaid Pte.  If you want Cpls to step up, give them the authority to step up. This in no way negates the tragedy of absolutely nobody stepping in to put a stop to this fratboy bullshit. RIP to the young troop.
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Apparently, a "USUAL SUSPECT"

“In peace there's nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility; but when the blast of war blows in our ears, then imitate the action of the tiger; stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, disguise fair nature with hard-favor'd rage.”

 Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and start slitting throats

Offline Remius

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This always boiled my piss. Even when I was still in back in the dark ages, a Cpl had no authority in the unit. Nobody above you backed any decisions because you were "just a corporal", but when something went sideways it was "but you're a corporal". Pte/Sprs had no respect because they were told they didn't have to, and saw a Cpl as an overpaid Pte.  If you want Cpls to step up, give them the authority to step up. This in no way negates the tragedy of absolutely nobody stepping in to put a stop to this fratboy bullshit. RIP to the young troop.

Depends on the unit.  At mine plenty of Cpls are in leadership positions or have some of their leadership quals.  They are placed in an appropriate position (sect 2ic for example) and are treated as such.  If ptes and cpls in non appointed positions give them grief then it gets sorted.  No they are not treated the same as a fully qualified Sgt but they are not held to the same standard expected either.  However I have seen at times in my career what you mean. 

in the end though, you don't have to be in a position of authority either to step up and do the right thing and tell someone when things are going sideways or if someone is in distress.

   
Optio

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Depends on the unit.  At mine plenty of Cpls are in leadership positions or have some of their leadership quals.  They are placed in an appropriate position (sect 2ic for example) and are treated as such.  If ptes and cpls in non appointed positions give them grief then it gets sorted.  No they are not treated the same as a fully qualified Sgt but they are not held to the same standard expected either.  However I have seen at times in my career what you mean. 

in the end though, you don't have to be in a position of authority either to step up and do the right thing and tell someone when things are going sideways or if someone is in distress.

 

Just to be clear, I was a section commander at least three times as a Cpl.  The problem was when it came to higher backing my decisions.  I was not permitted to give a downright insubordinate, bordering on mutinous, Spr extra duties, let alone ask for a charge.  I had to sit with this toxic little tick turd and the WO to "resolve our problems" because, at the end of the day, I was "Just a Corporal".  If I had a dollar for every time I heard those words, retired life would be quite a bit rosier than it currently is.

This is however diverting from the original topic, and I apologize for that.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2018, 13:19:57 by Kat Stevens »
Apparently, a "USUAL SUSPECT"

“In peace there's nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility; but when the blast of war blows in our ears, then imitate the action of the tiger; stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, disguise fair nature with hard-favor'd rage.”

 Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and start slitting throats

Offline BeyondTheNow

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Despite avenues/policies/people/whathaveyou put in place to help, there's still significant fear of reprisal from fellow colleagues (either directly or passive-aggressively) for reporting an individual and it worsens depending on the rank (especially if the complainant is of lower rank), trade and popularity of said person/persons being reported. This greatly affects whether someone decides to say anything. This may not be how it should be, but the reality is that it is. There are still instances of pers 'circling the wagon' when one comes under fire (even if for legitimate reasons), there's still instances of gang-mentality when one person is being singled out. I have personally been aware and/or have witnessed this more than once. And as loosely touched on in a past post, I've also been the victim.

He obviously felt like he had no one to turn to at work (if the workplace was the direct cause, and even if it wasn't there's no way that it wasn't a contributing factor—at least according to the information available to the public), and I can sympathize.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2018, 14:47:43 by BeyondTheNow »
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Offline Jarnhamar

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This always boiled my piss.

Gross lol
But ya you're 100% right. We're really good (bad) at making cpls responsible when it's convenient but treat them like privates otherwise.

Anytime a pte at my unit is promoted to cpl I take them aside, inform them they're NCOs now and they need to act and carry themselves like an NCO even if the unit doesn't.


BTN I understand what you're saying about fear of reprisal. Maybe I'm arm chair quarterbacking it but I think troops or jncos witnessing it, if they didn't want to confront it themselves and didn't trust the chain of command, could have spoken with military police, jag maybe, all those 1-800 numbers on the posters plastered everywhere, army.ca, lots of options.
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Gross lol
But ya you're 100% right. We're really good (bad) at making cpls responsible when it's convenient but treat them like privates otherwise.

Anytime a pte at my unit is promoted to cpl I take them aside, inform them they're NCOs now and they need to act and carry themselves like an NCO even if the unit doesn't.


BTN I understand what you're saying about fear of reprisal. Maybe I'm arm chair quarterbacking it but I think troops or jncos witnessing it, if they didn't want to confront it themselves and didn't trust the chain of command, could have spoken with military police, jag maybe, all those 1-800 numbers on the posters plastered everywhere, army.ca, lots of options.

Sometimes an issue is being seen as a coward, so a lot do not report for that reason. Maybe the "man up" or "confront him" attitude is or was prevalent enough that people were afraid of looking like a coward after they reported it. Even if it is or was just in their own mind, it could have been part of the issue.

Our egos, pride what have you is our own worst enemy at times.

Abdullah


Offline FormerHorseGuard

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sitting back and out of service for over 20 years but reading the news story and only knowing what I read. so this is just my opinion, not that it matters but, I am entitled to it.

I feel bad a soldier lost his life,  I know what is like to be bullied by fellow soldiers.

I feel that the biggest failure here was the command staff and the chain of command

if an officer knew about "fight club" and did nothing but ask about the out come, that officer should be removed from any sort of position and sent for retraining or pushed out the door and told he or she is fired.

former RSM saying office door always open, sounds great but hard to knock on door and walk in and spill it. the bullies always find out.

I was corporal, and know what it is like to be one, have a position but no authority  to do anything. still no excuse not to step up in a case like this.

I think the CO and the RSM  failed, if a Jr officer knows something , they should know , after all they are training the Jr officers to be leaders.
same goes for SNR NCOs they shoukd of done something to stop it.
I think more will come out in the wash of this tragedy and I hope some lessons learned, and applied in the future.

Offline dapaterson

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The family of the late MCpl Caribou have launched a suit against the federal government, alleging negligence and discrimination.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/nolan-caribou-family-lawsuit-1.5368027
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Offline Hamish Seggie

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It would be nice to know who the CWO and Sergeant were.
Freedom Isn't Free   "Never Shall I Fail My Brothers"

“Do everything that is necessary and nothing that is not".

Online Baden Guy

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I know of a situation similar to this one. I later found out that the Snr. NCO's in the chain of command said that the parties involved should have just "worked it out."
The victim of the bullying was pushed to the point of phycological illness due to the stress.
How could similar situations be better handled?

Offline daftandbarmy

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I know of a situation similar to this one. I later found out that the Snr. NCO's in the chain of command said that the parties involved should have just "worked it out."
The victim of the bullying was pushed to the point of phycological illness due to the stress.
How could similar situations be better handled?

For want of a better term, some good old 'Managing by Walking Around'.

When senior leaders spend all their time making PowerPoint slides, versus engaging with the soldiers, things tend to go sideways in one way or another....
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon