In Canada we are fortunate to live in a country where we can take peace for granted. Unfortunately this is not the case in many parts of the world, and in these instances the international community comes together to help keep the peace.
On August 9 Canada recognized the efforts of Canadian Military and police peacekeepers that have served, or are currently serving in, support peace operations around the world.
Since 1989 close to 3,000 Canadian Police Officers have served on 50 peace operations in 30 countries around the world. This includes many current or former RCMP officers working in British Columbia.
“Police Officers from across Canada come to work each day looking to make a difference to people in their communities. When Officers show their commitment to helping others by taking a peace keeping role in a troubled country it highlights the qualities and commitment that we are lucky enough to have in our Police Officers in British Columbia,” says Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens, Commanding Officer of the RCMP in BC.
Currently there are close to 170 Canadian police serving in eight countries. These include Afghanistan, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kyrgyzstan, the Netherlands (Special Tribunal for Lebanon), South Sudan and the West Bank. In addition, a senior police advisor is deployed to Canada’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.
While deployed overseas Canadian Police work with the host nation police and international partners to rebuild and strengthen police services and related public institutions in countries experiencing conflict or upheaval.
“I volunteered to go to Afghanistan in the hope that I could make a small difference by helping to bring peace and stability to that war ravaged part of the world. After months of working in dangerous and trying conditions, unimaginable back in Canada, with dedicated, selfless and extremely professional military and police personnel, Afghans and NATO alike, I truly understand how the interests of peace are the interests of all of us. Seeing children able to laugh and learn where only fear and death once prevailed, made everything we endured there worthwhile,” explains Inspector John Brewer who served in Afghanistan.
Canadian Peacekeepers can experience significant challenges when encountering the realities that other countries face on a daily basis.
“Unless you were there, it is difficult to explain all the complexities in a country that has faced decades of conflict. A basic education, for example, was a significant problem. Imagine hiring a police officer in Canada who couldn’t read or write. In Afghanistan, this was the norm so recording a license plate from a fleeing vehicle was a challenge let alone a basic report on a crime to pass on to others. If you doubted the mission, you quickly found purpose after talking to a local Afghan who was full of hope that his country would one day be stable,” say Inspector Rick Greenwood, who was deployed to Afghanistan. “I have come back to B.C. with a greater appreciation for the International effort and the enormous sacrifice of the Military personnel. I have witnessed our tremendous contributions as Canadians on the world stage. Realizing all the layers that define a country, I am a proud Canadian.”
While the benefits to host nations are evident, the experience of serving as a peacekeeper has tangible effects that the serving police officer brings back to their communities and workplaces when they return.
“The opportunity to serve with the United Nations Peacekeeping effort as representative of the RCMP and Canada has been a tremendous honour for me. I think it is only when you are abroad and away from our own home environment that one can truly appreciate what we personally have to offer the Peacekeeping initiative as a Canadian. As rewarding in turn, is the rich cross cultural experience that it offers back to you. In all the world over, in ongoing UN missions, there are Canadians of all walks of life contributing in the Canadian way. It is an experience that stays with you always, one that reminds you daily to never take for granted how lucky we are to live in Canada just by the stroke of good fortune to have been born and raised here,” says Cpl Dan Moskaluk, a twice serving UN Peacekeeper to Haiti.
To find out more about the RCMP in B.C., go to : http://bc.rcmp.ca