Sam Samplonius has over 40 years of CAF Reserve Force full-time & part-time service, and is a Military Sexual Trauma (MST) survivor. Like many other survivors, her first assault happened during her Basic Recruit training when she was 17 years old. Sam was an active member of IJ700 since 2015 when she became involved in the Hands Project and maintained the IJ700 Instagram account for inspirational messages. At that time she felt she had dealt with her multiple sexual assaults and constant sexual harassment well, and was enjoying a successful Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) career happily married to a Regular Force CAF spouse for over 20 years.
However in 2016 she was again a victim of MST that was so traumatizing that it caused the loss of her full-time military position. The mental and physical trauma of this incident also led to the breakdown of her marriage as she tried to cope with the added release of unresolved previous MST, depression and hypervigilance.
Diagnosed with complex PTSD in 2018, through regular therapy Sam has taken on
the challenge of dealing with the sexual and gender harassment she has experienced, and the military sexual trauma inflicted from numerous incidents of domestic violence, kidnapping and unlawful confinement. She finds helping others is one her best healing practices. With the recent assurances of the CAF to address harmful behaviours within the military and provide support for victims, Sam would like to use her extensive 20 years+ of volunteer experience in Conflict Resolution, and federal Employee Assistance programs to help other MST survivors come forward and access the resources they need to enrich their healing journey.
As a Reservist, Sam maintained a federal Public Service career concurrently while serving in the CAF. Following on her original plan to be a military Logistician, her career was still in DND Materiel Management, but due to MST, as a civilian.
Starting as a forklift operator, shipper/receiver, then eventually a Regional Procurement & Contracting Manager, she retired as the Contracting & Procurement Supervisor from CFSCE at CFB Kingston. During her career she also volunteered for many workplace initiatives relating to Employee Wellness and Diversity, gaining extensive experience in Joint Occupational Health & Safety program development as a Master Trainer and Union Shop Steward. For ten years she co-facilitated for the Treasury Board JLP Anti-Harassment course for Managers. Collaboration not confrontation has been a personal mantra stemming from her Union Local Executive membership days.
As a Public Servant, Sam was able to take leave at times to accept many opportunities for full-time CAF Reserve contracts on regional and national projects that made full use of her repertoire of skills and experience in training development and facilitation, conflict management, policy review, ethics and diversity. In addition, her pursuit in personal Officer Professional Development has made her an avid learner of anything pertaining to leadership, ethics, organizational behaviour, change management and conflict management.
Now retired from the Public Service and facing a medical release from the CAF, Sam will be increasing her work in the area of CAF Veteran advocacy that she began in 2007.
As an avid animal welfare advocate, retirement will also allow her to increase her time that she spends volunteering at her local wildlife rescue & rehabilitation centre, and fostering feral and abandoned cats to find them new furever homes. She should not have any more "foster fails" now that she has permanently rescued four cats of her own. Her Meliora Service Dog in Training, Isis (the Goddess), also keeps her busy as they travel a complex PTSD healing journey together.
In addition to Co-Founding and managing INJ20K, she also volunteers as a Senior Advisor with the Canadian Military Sexual Trauma Community of Practice, and also as a volunteer Special Advisor for the Atlas Institute for Veterans and Families as required. (Connect on LinkedIn)
Sam believes real changes can happen, but everyone needs to collaborate and become part of the healing process that too many people have put off through
fear of reprisal.
Paula DeWit is a passionate person who thrives on collaborating with people. She is an experienced musician who loves to bring singers and players together with the ultimate goal of making great music and bringing much joy. Paula has developed a reputation for excellence with her artistic music direction and leadership in both choirs and orchestras in the Fraser Valley and metro Vancouver region.
Music gives her life purpose and a reason to get up in the morning. Through her life stories she has the desire to help others and instil hope for a fulfilling life. Paula experienced Military Sexual Trauma, workplace bullying and harassment during her tenure in the Regular Force. Her desire is to inspire and encourage others.
Eventually we hope to build this volunteer team that can come up with education events that we can facilitate usually within our Community Hub or virtual platforms, but wherever possible we will try and create "mini hubs" of survivors that can plan in person get-togethers in their local areas.
It is with both deep gratitude and sadness that I write my last INJ20K Update.
Almost 2 years ago, very reluctantly I assumed a leadership role within the MST Community we had created on Facebook. This came at a time when the deadline for the CAF Sexual Misconduct lawsuit claim period was in full swing, and emotions were high. Knowing of no other way other than to build relationships as well as to look at things in a business lens with a clear vision and mission, I gathered a team early on with Sam and others in leadership roles. They played a critical part in reframing what an advocacy relationship could look like.
I know that Sam is going to continue the evolution of INJ20K in a way that continues these efforts and more, and I will in every way possible be rooting for and supporting Sam from a distance as she navigates the future of INJ20K.
As is the norm, those on healing journeys come and go and this is one of the great difficulties navigating this space. I thank those who remain, and those who served in supporting the MST Community as part of the INJ teams. Without the tireless efforts of volunteers (on their own healing journeys), there would be dimness for many who don't have the support of families and friends or otherwise.
As we launched INJ20K, we brought on professionals in an advisory capacity who could inform on matters where we lacked the expertise and confidence. To all of those who stepped forward and in this realm, thank you - you made the volunteering efforts easier.
As you witnessed, collaboration and building relationships to find a path forward in the MST space is not and has not always been an easy one - but it is my belief that the path less travelled is where the most enduring work gets done. It is difficult and painful at times - but it also brings the most rewards.
I am proud of what we accomplished together that created avenues for serving CAF members and veterans to be more open about their experiences to help influence change. I am proud we've been able to be a hub for many in our MST community to find a safe space to find empathy and understanding. Both very important in order to find ways to restore their body, mind and spirit so they could find empowerment through their own journeys.
There is much work yet to do - from building an engagement framework that keeps people safe and voices heard, to continued evolution of Peer Support Program through SMSRC and the Transition Centres.
I would be remiss if I didn't give a special thanks to Sam, who has been a rock and stay during the good and the bad. Thank you Sam for all you did and for all you will continue to do - my deepest gratitude. The MST Community is lucky to have you.
Fair winds my friends.
When Dr. Lori Buchart and Sam Samplonius founded INJ20K, it was with the vision that there was no way just one person could accomplish our mission now that society, the Department of National Defence, and the Canadian Armed Forces were more aware of the real impact that the lack of support & resources for victims & survivors of sexual assault and harmful inappropriate sexual behaviour was having in many lives.
Therefore a decision was made to try and form a team of caring volunteers to focus on specific areas of what INJ20K is trying to respectfully accomplish through advocacy and resource sharing. A formal structure was required in order to identify roles and provide a framework that could easily assimilate a turnover of volunteers. This would provide sustainable guidance on best practices and lessons learned on how to best help our lived experiences be incorporated into policies being developed by government entities. This structure would also be required if we decided to take a next step and formally create a not-for-profit organization so we could broaden our educational resources with applying for grants.
We committed to focusing on collaboration with anyone involved in MST advocacy and CAF culture change, not confrontation, in order to Support~Restore~Empower our INJ20K survivor group.
This volunteer was designated as our main point of contact and spokesperson for agencies and external stakeholders seeking INJ20K input. This position helps guide the team strategically using the collective feedback from the team, and when necessary, the valuable feedback solicited from the members within our Private Community Hub group. It is hoped that this method can ensure as many points of view are taken into consideration when our group is asked for program content and policy advice. They would also be responsible for developing and maintaining any strategic operational documents that may be required to function as a viable and safe resource for MST survivors and provides guidance to other teams members when necessary should INJ20K seek a not-for-profit organization status.
This role is currently filled by the Co-Founder, Sam Samplonius.
This volunteer would work in collaboration with the Chairperson with a focus on the internal Advisors and Operations. Specifically by managing the INJ20K website by developing and gathering content to stay up to date on current news, events, and information regarding MST. They would also ensure media & stakeholder contacts & queries are tracked, and draft press releases for collaborative approval with the Chairperson.
In addition they would oversee the management of our INJ20K social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In collaboration with the Chairperson, they are also responsible for developing any strategic operational documents that may be required to function as a viable and safe resource for MST survivors and provides guidance to other teams members when necessary.
This role is currently filled by the Co-Founder, Sam Samplonius.
This volunteer serves as the senior Navigator of our Mod Squad for our Private Community Hub on Facebook, and in tandem with the Admin Coordinator coordinates the verification and acceptance of new Members in the INJ20K Community Hub.
This volunteer would assist INJ20K with coordinating educational resources and events for the INJ20K Community Hub and external stakeholders as required.
This volunteer would assist the Chairperson with coordinating any group meetings for INJ20K by performing the usual administrative functions of scheduling, minutes and follow-up reminders. When necessary this volunteer may also provide external meeting support. Additionally this volunteer would respond to queries from our website Contact Form and in tandem with the Membership Coordinator verify new Hub member requests.
This role is currently filled by the Hub Membership Coordinator.
These AMAZING volunteers help to ensure that our Private Facebook Group we call our Community Hub remains a safe and respectful space for MST survivors, by monitoring posts to ensure that the Group Boundaries (aka rules) that all Members agreed to before joining are adhered to.
This group of amazing volunteers are either serving or retired CAF/DND members that have agreed to be a sage resource for ideas and feedback on INJ20K ideas for culture change in the CAF by providing insight to ensure we propose diverse solutions that take into account a number of lived experience perspectives.