Workplace harassment a factor in suicide death of Winnipeg reservist: Canadian Armed Forces

A Canadian Armed Forces internal inquiry has found a Winnipeg-based reservist who died by suicide last year was bullied at work and the harassment he faced played a role in his death.

Cpl. Nolan Caribou, 26, was found dead during a training exercise at CFB Shilo Nov. 18 2017.

Caribou was an infantryman with Royal Winnipeg Rifles and had served for five years.

Brig.-Gen. Trevor Cadieu, a commander with 3rd Canadian Division in Edmonton, said he asked the Canadian Forces National Investigative Service to investigate and ordered a Board of Inquiry which looked into the circumstances.

The inquiry was completed in May 2018. The investigation is ongoing.

“Sadly, the BOI found that Cpl. Caribou took his own life while on duty. Although we do not know everything going on in Cpl. Caribou’s life, I believe that the harassment he faced and the failure of unit leaders to intervene contributed to his death,” said Cadieu in a statement, adding the inquiry also found, “deep administrative deficiencies and troubling recurring activities in the Minto Armoury to include bullying, unsanctioned fighting and inappropriate use of alcohol resulting in violence and initiation activities.”

READ MORE: ‘Loved a challenge’: Family mourns loss of soldier found dead during training exercise

‘Halting inappropriate behavior’

Cadieu said since the report was submitted all levels of command have worked tirelessly to implement a number of changes.

“Aimed at immediately halting inappropriate behaviour and to start the long-term journey towards mindset change,” he said.

Cadieu added he has met with Caribou’s family, that his death will not be in vain and Canadian Armed Forces must work to be better. He said to move forward it’s essential to accept responsibility.

“Words and policies are not enough,” he said.

“Collectively, our leaders must model the behavior we expect of our soldiers.”

Five members reprimanded

On Monday a Canada Armed Forces spokesperson told CTV News five members have been reprimanded as a result of the inquiry, and all are still currently with the organization.

One member was removed from a senior leadership position, another has been relieved from military duties and is not coming to work, pending the results of the investigation.

The spokesperson said the other three reprimanded members face actions like being counselled and having closer supervision, and will not be in positions of leadership nor selected for opportunities.

The Canadian Forces National Investigative Service investigation is still ongoing and could result in additional disciplinary and administrative action, the statement said.

The spokesperson told CTV News Caribou’s family has requested privacy throughout the inquiry and investigation.

Other changes following harassment

The Canadian Armed Forces said following the inquiry numerous other actions have been taken, including:

  • Separating the Winnipeg Infantry Tactical Group in order for units to parade on different nights and develop their own positive identities.
  • Meeting with Minto-based command teams and soldiers to reinforce mutual respect.
  • Having command teams complete harassment training.
  • Ordering areas where alcohol is served closed for a time. They have since been reopened after “ensuring proper management and supervision are in place.
  • Mobilizing more responsive mental health services.
  • Providing access to customized resilience training for members and leaders.