Peacekeeping around the world began with a Canadian: Lester B. Pearson, who became Canada’s 14th Prime Minister. In 1956, when Pearson was still the Secretary of State for External Affairs, he was instrumental in ending the Suez Crisis. Pearson worked to mobilize an impartial UN force to keep conflicting parties (Egypt and Israel/England/France) apart until a solution was brokered. He received a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts, but more importantly, Pearson inspired the idea of international peacekeeping. Since then, Canadians have served in more than 40 international peacekeeping operations.
Traditionally, peacekeeping forces exist to keep warring powers apart, but their roles have grown significantly. Canadian programmes now involve many civilians, and currently include the delivery of humanitarian aid, repatriation of refugees, and participation in community rebuilding and education. However, Canada does maintain active Canadian Forces in hostile areas and this has resulted in many casualties. Nevertheless, Canadians continue to volunteer for missions — evidence that we are willing to endanger ourselves in order to assist with achieving peace and securing rights and freedoms around the world.