Since 1948, when the United Nations dispatched peacekeepers for the first time, more than 125,000 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members have served on international peacekeeping missions, and close to 130 have lost their lives.
To remember the sacrifices of Canada’s peacekeepers, Aug. 9 is set aside as National Peacekeepers Day.
“Canada has a long and proud history of peacekeeping. For decades, brave Canadian women and men have put themselves in harm’s way to protect the world’s most vulnerable civilians – including women, children, and marginalized groups.
“On National Peacekeepers’ Day, we celebrate all those – past and present – who have worked selflessly to advance the cause of peace, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law around the world.” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a statement.
In 2008, Canada chose Aug. 9 as the day to commemorate the Canadian heroes of peacekeeping missions. The date was chosen to mark the events of Aug. 9, 1974, when nine Canadian peacekeepers, serving in the United Nations Emergency Forces in Egypt and Israel, lost their lives when a plane was shot down over Syria.
“Since the days of Lester B. Pearson, the members of our military and police forces – as well as many Canadian civilians – have made concrete contributions to the pursuit of hope and security in international conflict zones. These individuals stand for the very best of what it means to be Canadian,” noted Trudeau.
As pointed out by Trudeau, peacekeeping is engrained into Canadian identity and the Government of Canada is currently looking into possibilities of once again sending CAF troops on peacekeeping missions.
“Moving forward, we will increase Canada’s support to United Nations peace operations: providing more personnel and training to UN peace support missions; increasing our conflict prevention, mediation, and peacebuilding efforts; advancing the roles of women and youth in the promotion of peace and security; and supporting UN reform efforts to make peace support initiatives more effective.
“Finally, on this day, let us pay tribute to the many Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice during peacekeeping operations in distant lands so that both local populations and Canadians alike could enjoy a more peaceful world. We will remember and honour their selfless contributions to humanity,” said Trudeau.
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