The first large-scale Canadian peacekeeping mission started in Egypt on November 24, 1956. Since then, Canada’s commitment to international peace efforts and other overseas military actions has been constant and visible. Some of the other peacekeeping missions involving Canada have included Cyprus, the Golan Heights, the former Yugoslavia, Somalia, Rwanda and East Timor.
There are approximately 65,000 Regular Force and 25,000 reservist members in the Canadian military. In 2011, women made up approximately 15% of the Canadian military, with more than 9,400 female personnel serving in the Regular Force and some 4,800 women serving in the Reserves.
In Canada, August 9 is designated as National Peacekeepers’ Day. This date was selected to recognize the greatest single loss of Canadian lives on a peacekeeping mission, which occurred on that date in 1974. All nine Canadian peacekeepers that were on a United Nations-marked Canadian transport aircraft were killed when their plane was shot down by Syrian missiles.
The first Persian Gulf War began on August 2, 1990, after Iraq invaded Kuwait. More than 4,000 Canadian Armed Forces personnel served in the Persian Gulf region in 1990–1991.
Nearly 40,000 Canadian Armed Forces members served in support of multinational peace support operations in Balkans.
In September 1993, Canadian soldiers experienced their most intense firefight since the Korean War when members of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry were pounded with heavy machine gun fire, grenades, cannons and small arms fire in the Medak Pocket of Croatia.
The Canadian Armed Forces also perform many other important functions such as search and rescue, patrolling our air space and territorial waters, supporting anti-drug operations and helping out in the aftermath of natural disasters. The Canadian Rangers, an element of the Reserves, provide a military presence in the sparsely populated areas of northern Canada. There are approximately 5,000 Canadian Rangers who provide support to domestic operations.
In 1988, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded collectively to UN peacekeepers in recognition of their efforts over the years to help restore peace to countries in turmoil.
Canadian soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan in late 2001, in support of the United Nations Security Council resolution to root out terrorism. Approximately 40,000 Canadians served in that theatre of operations before the mission came to an end in March 2014.
More than 175,000 members of the Canadian military have participated in dozens of international peace support efforts over the past six decades in countries all over the world. Of these, more than 1,700 have made the ultimate sacrifice in the defence of peace and freedom, and each of them is commemorated in the Seventh Book of Remembrance – In the Service of Canada.