Canadian Peacekeeping started in 1956 with the Suez Crisis. In that same year Canada’s Minister of External affairs Lester Pearson suggested that the UN actually lead peacekeeping forces into areas of conflict. His actions lead to the first deployment of UN peace-keeping forces. Since then Canada has been involved in every peacekeeping operation that the UN has led. From the Suez Crisis in 1956 to the Deployment in Afghanistan that has just ended. Our peacekeepers with the blue helmets are well-respected worldwide.

Jack - photo - UN

Rwanda: In the 1950’s there was an ethnically motivated rebellion against a class system created by German and Belgian colonists that favored a minority ethnic group called the Tutsi (14% of the population) over the far larger Hutus (85% of the population). But this was not just a simple revolution, it would evolve to become a genocidal massacre throughout the 1960’s. Thirty years later in 1990 exiled Tutsi’s attacked in revenge, this started a six month civil war that ended in a cease fire in 1991 thanks to the intercession by French troops. On the 6th of April in 1994 a bomb went off on the Hutu president of Rwanda’s plane killing him instantly; within a few hours the Hutu were already on the radio blaming the Tutsi and the United Nations did nothing. That night the revolution turned into a genocide, Hutu soldiers went house to house killing all the Tutsi’s and non-extremist Hutus that they could find, again the United Nations did nothing. Even two weeks later when the Rwanda Prime Minister and ten soldiers that were acting as his bodyguards were butchered the UN still did nothing, and it wasn’t until very late June that the UN authorized troops to be deployed into Rwanda. With the second United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) came an increased number of U.N. troops to 5,500. These troops were tasked with ensuring the security of a cease-fire, providing security for refugees and supporting humanitarian relief efforts. On the 21st of June 1994, the Government of Canada approved the deployment of a communications unit that numbered almost 350 soldiers. This unit provided all communications for the UNAMIR from the 21st of July in 1994 to the 25th of January 1995 (Canada’s participation in UNAMIR ended in Rwanda on February 15 that same year).

            The Former Yugoslavia: The conflict in Yugoslavia was fought in a series of conflicts that lasted throughout the 1990’s. Beginning in 1990 and ending in 1999 it led to the dissolution of the Social Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Canada aided in UN peacekeeping efforts by contributing 175 soldiers to act as escorts for the UN missionaries as well as protecting villages from ethnic “cleansing” of the paramilitaries.

            Somalia: In 1992 the Country of Somalia was experiencing a famine and was in the midst of a civil war. That year the UN launched “Operation Restore Hope” a mission directed by the U.S.A but there were large forces of Canadians there as well providing food and other relief efforts to the population. The mission had an unforeseen scandal on the part of the Canadians. One night a Somalia teenager was arrested by members of the Canadian Airborne Regiment and was subsequently tortured and beaten to death. During the starting stages of the investigation it was believed that the incident concerned only a few low-ranking members of the armed forces but as the investigation continued it was revealed that there had been intercession high up the chain of command to try and hide this crime, as a result the Airborne Regiment was disbanded in 1995.

East Timor: East Timor began to experience great political turmoil when it began to move away from its parent country Portugal in the 1970’s and much Civil debate erupted over whether or not it should become its own autonomous country or to become a part of Indonesia. Then in late 1974 the Indonesian government launched a secret attack on East Timor, as a result the country fell into a civil war in 1975. Thousands of people fled to nearby Indonesia. In 1976 Indonesia then invaded the territory and made East Timor a part of Indonesia. In the few years after the invasion a series of disasters struck East Timor including armed resistance against Indonesia, people being forced to move elsewhere and a famine that killed thousands of people. With Indonesian accepting the UN’s offer to help end the violence the UN sent in an Australian-lead taskforce in 1999 to help keep peace. Canada itself contributed the HMCS Protecteur, an infantry company, and transport planes to support the mission. Over 600 Canadians were sent over to fulfill key roles such as providing security, building camps and fixing facilities, as well as helping with humanitarian efforts. But the most important part of the Canadian relief efforts was the work of the Canadian Airlift Task Force, which comprised of two Hercules class aircrafts and over 100 troops. Between September and November these Canadians transported about one million kilograms of cargo and over 2,000 passengers between Australia and East Timor. But after this sizeable military contribution the Canadian government scaled back the military involvement in East Timor. Thanks to peace keeping efforts East Timor became autonomous in 2002 but there remained a UN presence until 2005.

The Gulf War: In August 1990 the wealthy oil country of Kuwait was invaded by Iraqi troops. Immediately the UN demanded that Iraq withdraw its troops from Kuwait, threatening to place economic sanctions on it if it failed to comply. January of 1991 when the deadline for an Iraqi withdrawal was not met the United States and 27 other countries (including Canada) began to bomb different areas from the air and the ocean. Canada contributed a squad of CF-18 bombers, units from the Canadian army and a few ships from the Canadian navy that were patrolling in that area; “Operation Desert Storm” had just begun. The use of new “smart” weapons like laser guided bombs and cruise missiles in the Gulf War destroyed most of Iraq’s armed forces as well as most of the country’s infrastructure. The Gulf War was ended on the 28th of February in 1991.

Cyprus: United Nations set up the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus in 1964 to stop the Turkish and Greek Cypriots from fighting each other over different disagreements. This program was expanded in 1974 after the Greek Cypriots did a military takeover and the Turkish invaded Cyprus. At the start the UNFICYP Was made of military and non-military personnel from much of the commonwealth (including Canada) as well as Denmark, Finland and Sweden it is currently made up of many more Countries that but Canada still is a part of it. From the deployment of UNFICYP up until 1974 the Canadians ran the Nicosia district and until the mid-1990’s we kept a battalion of solders in Cyprus.

Afghanistan: After the terrorist attack on the world trade center on September 11th 2001 Governor General Adrienne Clarkson authorize over 100 Canadian soldiers on exchange programs in the United Stated to be deployed in Afghanistan. The Tarnak Farm incident occurred on 18 April 2002, when an American F-16 jet dropped a laser-guided bomb on a group of Canadian soldiers from the 3rd Battalion. The soldiers were conducting night-time training on a marked live-fire range, and the American pilots mistook their gunfire for a Taliban attack. Four Canadians were killed and eight were wounded in the friendly fire incident. Their deaths were the first Canadian deaths in Afghanistan, and the first in a combat zone since the Korean War. From 2011 to 2013 Canadians helped rebuild the Afghani infrastructure and educate its people. The Canadian troops recently left Afghanistan; At the time of this writing the Afghani war, at least for the Canadians, has been over for at least 15 days the Canadian armed forces have taken 158 fatal causalities.

Author: Jack


Bibliography Canada’s Peacekeeping missions. March 14, 2005 Canadian Forces in East Timor. February 18, 2014 Canada’s Role in the Afghanistan War. March 24, 2014 Canadian Forces casualties in Afghanistan. January 13, 2014 United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. March 9, 2014 Timeline: Involved since 2001, Canada wraps up its mission in Afghanistan. Cyprus. Canada’s Peacekeeping Role in Yugoslavia. January 16, 2013 The Canadian Contribution To United Nations Peacekeeping. CBC Digital Archives.