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News brief: Alleged Halifax Navy sailor with Islamophobic tattoo now being investigated (updated)

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KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – An incident involving an alleged member of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) observed at a local Tim Horton’s wearing a navy uniform and sporting a large Islamophobic tattoo on his forearm has been identified and is now being investigated by the RCN chain of command.  

A photo, published on Twitter yesterday, shows a tattoo of the word Infidel in the shape of an automatic weapon. Google that term and search results are full of white supremacist and Islamophobic memes.

“Sometime yesterday afternoon we were made aware of the photo and the post on Twitter. We then identified the sailor and the chain of command is now investigating,” says Major Mark Gough, Senior Public Affairs Officer, Maritime Forces Atlantic Headquarters.

CORRECTION, June 6, 2019, 1:30 PM. I was just contacted by Major Gough who told me the following. “I just realized I misspoke when I said we identified the sailor. We have not yet identified the sailor, but the chain of command is still investigating the matter.”

Update: Islamophobic tattoo guy is indeed a Canadian Navy sailor

“Any action or behaviour by a Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) or RCN member that demonstrates intolerance or shows disrespect towards the people and cultures we value in Canada is completely unacceptable. The CAF takes all allegations of inappropriate behaviour by its members seriously and, in all cases, action is taken to determine the facts, conduct applicable investigations, analyze available evidence and, if warranted, lay the appropriate charges,” writes Gough in a follow up email.

In the summer of 2017 the four racist Halifax Proud Boys who interfered in an Indigenous ceremony at the Cornwallis statue were reprimanded, but were allowed to stay with the Canadian Forces. None were demoted.  

Also in 2017 APTN through a Freedom of Information request acquired a report by the Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group that says racism and discrimination “is a systemic issue” within Canadian Armed Forces that is “rampant throughout all ranks of elements of Land, Air Force and Navy.”

In the report indigenous Forces members talk about the experience of  “repeat racism, discrimination, stereotyping and microaggressions,” writes APTN reporter Dennis Ward.

Three former members of the Canadian Forces have filed a proposed class action lawsuit claiming “systemic racial discrimination and harassment” during their service, detailing how derogatory slurs and threats of violence against them were either ignored or tolerated by their superiors, reported At the CBC in December 2016.

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