The United Nations deployed troops on peacekeeping mission on May 29, 1948, for the first time. The mission was to the Middle East, which to observe and maintain the ceasefire during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
Since the first mission, more than 125,000 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members have served on UN Peacekeeping missions, and close to 130 have lost their lives. National Peacekeepers’ Day, August 9, was chosen to honour and remember those who currently serve, previously served and sacrificed during Peacekeeping operations.
The day was chosen to commemorate the event in 1974, where nine Canadian Peacekeepers lost their lives when their plane was shot down over Syria. It is said to be the highest number of Canadian Peacekeepers killed during a single incident.
It was first declared on June 30, 1993, by the British Columbia Order in Council 856. However, it was officially made nationally in June 2008.
“Today on the 10th anniversary of National Peacekeepers’ Day, we join Canadians in expressing our deepest gratitude to Canadian peacekeepers, past and present. We recognize the women and men who have upheld Canada’s proud history of peacekeeping throughout the years by helping to bring peace and security to vulnerable people and communities in some of the world’s most volatile regions. Canada has provided instrumental support to restore peace and security in areas devastated by conflict. Our peacekeepers play a vital role in achieving these objectives while demonstrating compassion and courage.
“Canada is proud to have had more than 125,000 members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, diplomats, civilian experts, and provincial and municipal police officers serve on a variety of United Nations peace support operations and multinational task forces around the world since 1949.
“Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, underscores our commitment to peacekeeping and peace support operations. This commitment is evident as Canadian Armed Forces troops recently began a year-long United Nations peace operation, the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), until July 2019.
“Furthermore, Canada remains steadfast in its pledge to advance and support global peace and security in the face of the evolving challenges faced by peacekeepers. This is why the Government of Canada launched new efforts to reform and modernize peace operations, including the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations and the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers. This is also why Canada has approved the deployment of up to 20 Canadian police officers to support the United Nations and European Union efforts in Mali.
“We remember the nine Canadian United Nations peacekeepers who tragically lost their lives on August 9, 1974, when a United Nations-marked Canadian Armed Forces transport aircraft was shot down during a resupply mission in the Middle East. This remains the largest single-day loss of Canadian life during a peace support operation. These Canadians, counted among the 122 Canadian peacekeepers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of peace since 1949, will not be forgotten. Their bravery continues to be represented in the selfless work of peacekeepers around the world,” said in a statement released by the Minister of National Defence Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale and Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland.