August 9th is a day to honour and remember all Canadian peacekeepers who have served or are currently serving in support of peace operations around the world.
Officially established in 2008, the date was chosen to commemorate the events of August 9, 1974 when nine Canadian peacekeepers serving with the United Nations Emergency Force in Egypt and Israel lost their lives when their plane was shot down over Syria.
Every year in August, Canadian military members and veterans as well as police officers come together in ceremonies across the country to mark National Peacekeepers’ Day.
A national ceremony is held in Ottawa at the National Peacekeeping Monument on the Sunday closest to August 9. It is organized by the Canadian Association of Veterans of United Nations Peacekeeping, the Canadian Forces, Veterans’ Affairs Canada and the RCMP.
Approximately 2,800 Canadian police officers have served on international peace missions through the RCMP since 1989, training, mentoring and advising their counterparts overseas on every aspect of policing, in addition to supporting elections security and providing humanitarian assistance, to name a few examples.
Currently, there are 170 police officers from across Canada serving in some of the world’s most challenging places, including Afghanistan, Sudan and Haiti.
The first two deaths in the history of the RCMP’s international peace operations deployments occurred in January 2010, when Chief Superintendent (C/Supt.) Doug Coates and Sergeant (Sgt.) Mark Gallagher, both RCMP members, perished in the devastating earthquake in Haiti. In December 2005, retired RCMP Sgt. Mark Bourque also lost his life in Haiti while serving with CANADEM, a Canadian non-governmental organization.
At the 2010 National Peacekeepers’ Day Ceremony in Ottawa, the widows of C/Supt. Coates and Sgt. Mark Gallagher received the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld medal, which is awarded posthumously to those who lose their lives during service with a peacekeeping operation.