Back in November, the 65th anniversary of the deployment of Canadian troops to Egypt to take part in the first large-scale United Nations peacekeeping mission was commemorated.
After seeing tensions between Egypt and European powers increase over time, in 1956, Egypt took control of the Suez Canal waterway. Later that same year, Israel, Britain, and France invaded Egypt and approached the Suez Canal to recover control.
A multinational armed force was created and deployed to Egypt to restore peace and prevent a major international confrontation. Lester B. Pearson, Canada’s then-Secretary of State for External Affairs, was the person who made the call to create this force.
United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF)
Soon after, the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) was established and comprised of more than 6,000 peacekeepers from 10 countries. This marked the start of Canada’s reputation as a key contributor to international peacekeeping efforts in many ways.
On November 24, 1956, the first Canadian Armed Forces personnel deployed. Since then, Candian soldiers, sailors, aviators, and special operations members have continued to strive to bring peace and security to vulnerable people and communities across the globe.
“On the 65th anniversary of the United Nations Emergency Force peacekeeping mission in Egypt, we remember the Canadian Armed Forces personnel who answered the call of service in order to promote stability and peace in the Middle East,” stated Anita Anand, minister of national defence, “We also pay tribute to the professionalism and compassion of Canadian Armed Forces members who have upheld Canadian values by bringing security to vulnerable communities around the world. We owe them and their families our recognition and thanks.”
Thousands of Canadian peacekeepers served in Egypt in the years after.
Canadian Military Personnel Play Key Roles
They have played key roles in transportation, communications, supply, and health support efforts for the mission.
Unfortunately, “Canadian military personnel in Egypt suffered the largest loss of life in any single Canadian peacekeeping effort, with more than 50 Canadian soldiers making the ultimate sacrifice,” stated a press release.
“For more than 65 years, Canadians have stepped forward in support of peace around the world,” said Lawrence MacAulay, minister of veterans affairs and associate minister of national defence, “Our peacekeeping legacy is a source of pride for Canadians, and that legacy began when more than 50 members of the Canadian Armed Forces gave their lives in service of peace in Egypt. We remember them and their comrades today and thank all those Canadians who have defended peace whenever and wherever they’ve been needed.”