Canada's Role in Peacekeeping
Canada's long experience in peace missions puts our military in high demand when an crisis state arises. Undeniably, in many ways the Canadian Forces members who participate in international peace and humanitarian support efforts act as Canada's ambassadors; the face of our country in places of turmoil. These men and women provide a range of expertise and using both the skills of war and the skills of peace which enables them to able to fulfill a wide variety of important tasks. However, serving on a peace mission is dangerous. The Canadian Forces members who participated in helping to bring about the end of conflict and ease the suffering of people in East Timor put their lives on the line. Our neighbors witnessed humanity at its worst in Rwanda. Our siblings held back hellish mobs to restore order in Cyprus. Our co-workers sought out those wishing to harm the innocent in Afghanistan. Our teachers defended those caught in the crossfire of bloody civil war in the Former Yugoslavia. Our friends safeguarded the rights of the individual in Somalia. Our mothers and fathers curbed the spread of tyranny in the Gulf War. These heroic displays of fortitude across the globe has given Canada a name for itself in the realm of war and peacekeeping. However, approximately 125 Canadians have died in the course of peace support missions overseas, paying the final price in their efforts to help the people in these strife-torn lands. Many more have been injured in these efforts.
East Timor is a small island off the coast of Indonesia in the South Pacific. The island is a mountainous, fifteen thousand square kilometers, inhabited by primarily one million impoverished people. The island was a colony of Portugal until 1975 when their European big brother left the island altogether, leaving the East Timorese at the hands of their neighbour, Indonesia. Indonesia wanted East Timor, so, ignoring the orders of the U.N., invaded. Some East Timorese fought and many fled; it was a massacre. In 1976, East Timor became an Indonesian province. More than one hundred thousand deaths occurred during these times. Whether it be by famine, forced resettlement, or armed resistance, the East Timorese's problems were rooted in their new conquerors. Eventually, politics changed in Indonesia and East Timor had a U.N. supervised referendum to decide to stay as a part of Indonesia, with special autonomy, or, to become the...