Canadian News

Royal Canadian Navy plans to replace 'seaman' with gender-neutral term

"What this will do is ensure a safe environment so there is no double entendre," Gates said. "We want to make sure our most junior members understand and feel safe when they are being called their rank."

Sam Edwards High Level, Alberta
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The Royal Canadian Navy is planning to replace the term "seaman" for its junior sailors as they are searching for a term that is more gender neutral. Sailors in the Canadian military will be able to weigh in on the topic and so will the public, according to Chek News.

The woman responsible for the personnel policy in Canada’s navy is Cmdr. Deborah-Lynn Gates. She said that the navy is now taking new steps to become more inclusive and diverse.

"We appreciate tradition," Gates said when speaking with The Canadian Press. "And we’re not downplaying tradition absolutely at all. But it’s truly a matter for us to show that we are progressive and that we are listening and we are really, truly representative of Canadian society."

The term "seaman" has been used by Navies across the world for many many years and the Canadian Navy uses terms like "master seaman," "leading seaman," "able seaman" and "ordinary seaman."

Gates also claims that the navy is trying to make sure their most junior members can feel proud of their ranks and feel safe.

"What this will do is ensure a safe environment so there is no double entendre," Gates said. "Definitely at the tactical level, we want to make sure our most junior members understand and feel safe when they are being called their rank, being called their name or being addressed."

Beginning Friday, the public and members of the navy will have the ability to vote for two alternatives for the term, both of which replace "seaman" with "sailor" in different ways.

One of the ways replaces existing "seaman" ranks with "sailor" and the other replaces terms like "leading" and "able" with "sailor first-class" and "sailor second-class."

Alternative terms can also be suggested.

The online poll will take place until the end of the month and senior commanders will receive the results and then make the decision.

The cabinet will eventually have to approve the suggested change.

Critics have come forward online saying that removing the term will result in a loss of tradition. Some add that political correctness is not needed in the navy. Others who are for the move say it is long overdue.

Gates pointed to the current sailor shortage in the navy noting that the term may potentially turn people away from signing up.

"When they hear you’ll start off as an ordinary seaman, it’s maybe just a little thing, but it did not resonate," Gates said. "So we know it’s not resonating with recruits and for us it’s a matter of making sure we’re being representative and that we are modern and forward-looking."

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