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 Peacekeeping Monument on the Sunday closest to August 9. It is organized by the local chapter of the Canadian Association of Veterans in UN Peacekeeping (CAVUNP), the Canadian Armed Forces, Veterans’ Affairs Canada and the RCMP.
Other ceremonies held across Canada are generally organized by members of the Royal Canadian Legion or CAVUNP. Mission veterans who are interested in participating in a ceremony should contact the local chapters of these organizations to find out if a ceremony is being planned in their area.
You may also find a local ceremony on the Veterans Affairs website under Calendar of Events (click on Search Events to view all upcoming events for a given calendar year).
Approximately 3,000 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. Currently, there are more than 140 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.