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Rwanda - Canadian Armed Forces in Rwanda

Canadian Armed Forces


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Rwanda - Canadian Armed Forces in Rwanda


Spinning globe of the World, "Canadian Forces in Rwanda" map of Rwanda appears on screen

Go to Rwanda 1994,

FIlm roll of pictures to include Head of Skeleton

to witness the aftermath of

Dead bodies laying in doorway with rubbage all around

the killings of 750,000 people.

Dead bodies piled on top of each other,

I was exposed to mass graves I exhumed bodies of mothers and

Pile of bones and skeletal head laying on the ground

children still swaddled,

A young girl face down, dead on ground while adults come forward, UN white truck in background

their heads were smashed.

Multiple skeletal heads

I’ve seen multiple mine injuries disease and death was everywhere,

dirty grounds of bugs and destruction

and the society had totally gone mad. The first sight I had, when I came,

Canadian Forces Veteran Jean-Yves St-Denis

I landed at the airport, got into a jeep with another Canadian and he drove me home and he said, “Oh by the way, when we get up that hill be careful, there’s a dead woman in the middle of the street that’s rotting away.”

warehouse full of dead bodies, some covered in blankets, some exposed

Hundreds of thousands of bodies were everywhere in the country, literally

Close up of dead bodies and skeleton head laying on ground

Canadian Forces Veteran Etienne Paulin

It didn't smell great when we arrived there. The smell along with the heat was really suffocating.

Canadian Forces Veteran Jean Yves St-Denis

I saw a hospital who had a pile of bodies maybe 20 feet high in front of that, you know, just laying there.

Canadian Forces Veteran Jerry Deveau

There were so many that most of us got fairly adept at being able to tell

Decaying body on back with a plastic jug beside laying on ground on top of blankets

by the smell if the bodies were a couple

Multiple skeletons laying on ground decaying, some covered with blankets, some exposed to the elements

of days old, couple of weeks old, a month old, or whatever.

Canadian Forces Veteran Mike Desmeules

When we walk in Rwanda, you always have to watch where you were going and watch the people

Local Rwanda people standing on platform as other locals passed by on street

because who are they? We don’t know.

Canadian Forces Veteran Denis Allaire

If you were not part of that particular tribe or family tree, their cattle was worth more than you were.

Canadian Forces Veteran Etienne Paulin

I often spoke with the young Hootus at the waterhole, you know. I ended up making some contacts there. They weren't more than 12, 13 years old I asked them and killing a Tutsi was like a game to them. By going hunting, no remorse or pains of concisous They talk about it with a smile from ear to ear.

Canadian Forces Veteran Jerry Deveau

We drove through the city, you had to stop at checkpoints and, while they had a firefight fifty feet in front of us. And sit there and watch guys get killed and bleed out right there, and when you’re looking out the window you’re watching a guy bleed out and then the fighting stops, the shooting stops and you, you know, the UN vehicle is sent through the checkpoint.

Canadian Forces Veteran Etienne Paulin

It would break any man who has a heart. Even those who don't would find one.

Canadian Forces Veteran Denis Allaire

And you’re just in disbelief to see how far human beings can go to serve an end.

Canadian Forces Veteran Mike Desmeules

We went to a stadium in Kigali, Rwanda. We stayed at a stadium for, that’s where our, we were stationed at that stadium. No running water, no electricity, nothing. It was very dirty when we got there. We had to clean, first thing we did.

Canadian Forces Veteran Etienne Paulin

The floor of the stadium was brown and it was a beautiful stadium. You could see it was polished marble but it was all brown. And if you were so unlucky as to spill a little water on it, you could see it was covered in organic human waste. It stank.

Canadian Forces Veteran Mike Desmeules

We didn’t have any cots then. We slept on the floor in a sleeping bag and big rats came out to our place and oh my god, they was the size of a cat!

Canadian Forces Veteran Jean Yves St-Denis

We had to survive sometimes on eating with perished goods or whatever we could find so there was no support and and it was very difficult.

Canadian Forces Veteran Denis Allaire

Our hands were tied, you couldn’t protect yourselves

A lcoal laying in hospital bed being treated by nursing staff wearing rubber gloves and dressing a wound with gauze

or the local population.

Canadian Forces Veteran Jean Yves St-Denis

You’re dodging bullets, you’re trying, you get frustrated because the UN is not there and can not provide you with the resources you’re looking for and you’re wondering all the time, “Why am I here?”

Canadian Forces Veteran Etienne Paulin

We heard dogs barking, dogs howling. We heard complaints, shots being fired, machine guns going off. People screaming! It seemed to be women and children.

Canadian Forces Veteran Jean Yves St-Denis

So I slept with a loaded pistol underneath my pillow and a fully semi-automatic weapon charged on the side my bed. I said, ‘I want to go home, I want to make sure I’m going home not in a body bag’, I guess.

Canadian Forces Veteran Jerry Deveau

I don’t care who you are, you can not train and prepare for that amount of, you know

Head of a skeleton amongst the brush on ground

that type of horror and misery and death.

Skeleton parts laying on the grass and clay

Skeleton head laying on ground

You just don’t..

Canadian Forces Veteran Jean Yves St-Denis

It was an aberration of life.

Canadian Forces Veteran Mike Desmeules

It stays with you forever.

Collection of interviews with veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces recounting their experience of military service in Rwanda. The veterans of this video are: Jean-Yves St-Denis, Etienne Paulin, Jerry Deveau, Mike Desmeules, Denis Allaire.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
February 2, 2010

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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