From 'seaman' to 'sailor': the Royal Canadian Navy adopts gender-neutral titles

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Navy is changing the titles of its junior ranks to be more inclusive.

The references to "seaman" in the English-language designations — ordinary, able, leading and master — will be replaced with more gender-neutral terms that also better align with the existing names of the ranks in French.

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The ranks will now be known as sailor third class, sailor second class, sailor first class and master sailor.

The move comes as the navy, which is short hundreds of sailors, aims to become more diverse and inclusive and help everyone feel safe and proud of their jobs.

News of the possible change received criticism online this summer, as some decried what they saw as too much political correctness, or a loss of tradition.

That prompted the Royal Canadian Navy's deputy commander, Rear Admiral Chris Sutherland, to warn there is no place in the force for sailors who subscribe to "hateful, misogynistic and racist beliefs."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 27, 2020.

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