Article written by G1628 Dr. Tanya Grodzinski, Associate Professor Emerita and Chair RMC Cultural Change Evolution Committee
Since last May, members of the RMC Alumni Association have discussed, debated, and speculated on the recommendations of the Report of the Independent External Comprehensive Review of the Department of National Defence, or more popularly The Arbour Report, after its author, the Honourable Louise Arbour. Of special interest to former cadets, are two of the recommendations, numbered 28 and 29, in the report that address the Cadet Wing responsibility structure, and a review of the military college system.
Speculation has also followed the announcement by the Commandant of a program of cultural change or renewal at RMC. This article outlines what culture and cultural ‘evolution’ are and what is underway at the College. Only recently has the name of this process, been revised from ‘cultural change’ to ‘cultural evolution,’ as the latter term best encapsulates its goals.
In 2022, RMC initiated a program to introduce cultural evolution. To guide this initiative the formation of a cultural evolution organization including an Executive Committee, a Cultural Evolution Steering Committee, and an Advisory Group. The first group includes the Commandant, the Deputy Commandant, the College Chief Warrant Officer, the Principal and the Chair of the Cultural Evolution Steering Committee.
The steering committee includes members drawn from across the College, with the chair being the only member devoted to its activities on a full-time basis. It meets every two weeks and presents its recommendations to the Executive Committee for implementation. The Advisory Body is a group of individuals interested in participating in the cultural evolution process and meets monthly.
The committee also has several sub-committees, many of them led by N/OCdts and examining sexual misconduct, 2SLGBTQI+ (Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and others) concerns, neurodiversity and accessibility, and the perspectives of the N/OCdts.
Reaching out to N/OCdts, staff, and faculty for consultation and advice, is key to the work of the committee, and we also enjoy close liaison with the RMC Alumni Association, CMR Saint Jean, the Canadian Defence Academy, and the Chief of Professional Conduct and Culture.
The Goal of Cultural Evolution
Definitions of culture are legion. The RMC Cultural Evolution Committee has adopted the definition used in the ‘External Review into Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces,’ by Marie Deschamps, also known as the ‘Deschamps Report’:
Culture is the pattern of basic assumptions that a given group has invented, discovered, or developed in learning to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, and that have worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel, in relation to those problems.
Systemic and institutional problems, including racist, misogynistic, hateful, and oppressive conduct that affect the training and education of junior officers at RMC and undermine recruitment and retention, have been identified in reports published since the fallout of the Somalia Crisis. Among these are the Special Staff Assistance Visit, the Deschamps Report, and the ‘Final Report of the Minister of National Defence Advisory Panel on Systemic Racism and Discrimination’ (January 2022).
Using the premise that culture is not left to chance; we must define, design, and nurture it, the goal of cultural evolution at RMC is:
To evolve the values, attitudes, behaviours, policies, and processes at RMC to align with the ethos and values of the CAF (especially as outlined in Trusted to Serve) and the Canadian Public Service wherein all personnel can thrive in a dignified, respectful, and inclusive institution, while continuously delivering and supporting operational excellence (ie the RMC mission)
Achieving this goal will only be possible if:
- There is individual and collective awareness, acceptance, and willingness to accept ownership of these problems and acceptance that change is necessary
- Providing education to all College personnel and example, especially its leaders in the language to outline the goals of cultural evolution
- A process of self-monitoring, to ensure renewal and continuance of this process
- The recognition there is no end-state, and that cultural evolution will continue
The mandate of the Cultural Evolution Steering Committee extends to all activities, policies, iconography and imagery, historical narratives, and procedures on Campus. The committee Chair has enjoyed a close working relationship with the Museum Curator to update the imagery in public spaces no campus to reflect the diversity of the College.
While it is not yet possible to report on the specifics of the cultural evolution program at RMC, the wider RMC community will receive updates as they are implemented. As explained earlier, the mandate of the Cultural Evolution Steering Committee is broad and has the potential of influencing all training, academic, athletic, and other activities.
Contact. Anyone wanting to establish a dialogue, explore cultural evolution, or discuss general questions, please contact the chair, Dr. Tanya Grodzinski at:
- firstname.lastname@example.org; or
- 613-541-5010, ext 6731
 The RMC mission as found on the RMC Website on 5 December 2022 is: As a military university, the Royal Military College of Canada educates, develops, and inspires bilingual, fit, and ethical leaders who serve the Canadian Armed Forces and Canada.