IN HER WORDS: Maj. Kellie Brennan’s victim impact statement about Vance guilty plea

Click to play video: 'Gen. Jonathan Vance pleads guilty to obstruction of justice' Gen. Jonathan Vance pleads guilty to obstruction of justice
Canada's former chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction in an Ottawa court on Wednesday. The charge was laid against him following an investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour first published by Global News last year – Mar 30, 2022

The woman at the heart of the allegations of inappropriate behaviour against retired Gen. Jonathan Vance says she “wants to be free” and heal after his guilty plea to one count of obstruction of justice.

Maj. Kellie Brennan‘s victim impact statement was not read out in court but the defence did read letters from seven people supporting the request for Vance to receive a conditional discharge.

Read more: Gen. Jonathan Vance pleads guilty to obstruction of justice, gets conditional discharge

The letters were written by retired Maj.-Gen. Guy Chapdelaine, former chaplain for the military; retired Maj.-Gen. Simon Hetherington, former deputy commander in Afghanistan while Vance was leading the Canadian mission.; retired Warrant Officer Barbara Bajema; retired Warrant Officer Matthew Parsons; retired Chief Warrant Officer Andrew “Stan” Stapleford; and Gavin Liddy, former deputy minister at Public Services and Procurement Canada.

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Retired U.S. Lt.-Gen. Frederick “Ben” Hodges also wrote a letter.

Read more: Vance holds a top military award that comes with perks. Should he keep it?

He received that conditional discharge, with Justice Robert Wadden describing the evidence as showing Vance was a “man of good character.”

“I do take into account the fact that you are still in the position where you have much to contribute to society,” said Wadden in granting the conditional discharge.

“I don’t feel that it’s necessary to burden you with a criminal conviction.”

Below are Brennan’s words about the impact she said Vance’s conduct has had on her.

What is the emotional impact?

My one goal is to keep my children safe and secure, as their mother.

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I now question the motives of people who try to gain my trust. I no longer respect the military authority of obedience. I have lost my smile when I work.

It sickens me to have to say, I received over 200 emails from other members that conveyed to me the hardships they had also endured while they served. This was overwhelming to me, not knowing what to respond, and not knowing what to do.

Not one email conveyed that they had found any sort of reconciliation or resolution.

I now have changed jobs, as I was no longer comfortable with the leadership that ed [sic] governed me, they removed me from my position and asked me to prove and re-apply for my own job to ensure I was able to perform the duties that I performed every day since this offence without fail.

They lost respect for me and in turn, I lost respect for my chain of command.

As a soldier I was trained to follow orders and respect my superiors. To find myself in a position where my superior was abusing his power and using his authority to intimidate and silence me was a complete betrayal of everything I respected in the military.

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I now work for another group that is more inclusive, respectful, and I feel like I am beginning to learn to trust in the good in people again.

My feelings related to this offence are that I never want to ever speak, receive phone calls or texts from the offender. He has recently emailed me in the last month, and has texted me, I thought I was healing but this brought back such harsh emotions, of fear, that I prefer never to see him contact me again.

I want to delete his numbers and block his emails, I don’t want him to have any power over me or the ability to influence me in my lifetime. I want to live free of ever doing anything he tells me to.

I want to be free, heal, and keep my children safe, happy and look to the future.

What is the physical impact?

I have recurring back pain and stress-related nausea and other stomach issues that require physiotherapy sessions.

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I am frightened to confront others at work as many have negative impressions of me now and I find myself without any words to speak, as confrontation scares me now.

What are her fears for security?

I do not feel safe speaking to him.

He makes me feel ill, sick, and makes me question my core values, he has the ability to continue to influence my behavior, he makes me question my ability to keep my children safe, and secure.

He makes me feel manipulated, and weak, as I do not feel like I have any control or power to say no to him.

I hope one day I will grow stronger and rise above his influences, but for now — I must continue to heal without his ability to order me, influence my thoughts and behavior.

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What drawing or poem expresses the impact?

Over the dark green hills, by Leonard Cohen

As the mist leaves no scar
On the dark green hill
So my body leaves no scar
On you nor ever will
Through windows in the dark
The children come, the children go

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