Canada has deployed police officers to peace missions around the world since 1989. Over 4,000 Canadian police officers have been to over 33 countries, including Sudan, Kosovo, West Bank, Haiti and Afghanistan. They help rebuild or strengthen police services in countries experiencing conflict or upheaval. Through police participation in these missions, Canada commits to building a more secure world.
Serving on a mission is a unique opportunity for police officers to contribute to public safety in unstable countries. It also allows them to improve their leadership, and problem-solving and intercultural skills. This benefits their police services and the communities they serve at home.
How it works
Requests for Canadian police come from organizations such as the United Nations or from specific countries. The decision to deploy Canadian police is made via the Canadian Police Arrangement (CPA), a partnership between Global Affairs Canada, Public Safety Canada and the RCMP. The goal of the CPA is to support the Government of Canada's commitments to build a more secure world through Canadian police participation in international peacekeeping and peace support operations, which are critical to longer-term security system reform and conflict-prevention efforts.
The RCMP manages the deployment of Canadian police, including:
- planning and evaluating missions
- selecting and training personnel
- providing support throughout the deployment
Canadian police personnel deployed abroad come from a wide range of police services, not only the RCMP. These police officers have many roles depending on the mission, including:
- training, mentoring and monitoring
- supporting free and fair elections
- investigating human rights violations
- responding to humanitarian crises
Canadian police can also work on specialized teams that focus on areas of:
- community policing
- management development
- serious and organized crime
From refugee to Police Commander: Giving back to Canada and the world
Commander Minh Tri Truong, from the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), is almost three months into his second peacekeeping operation. He deployed in April to take part in the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).
This Canada Day, Commander Truong is thankful for the opportunities Canada offered to his family when he was a young boy. He reflected about how he got to where he is today.
Commander Truong came to Canada as a refugee. "I'm very happy to be able to contribute to making the world a better place by giving every human being the chance to have their dignity respected," he explained. "This is the chance I had when I fled my country, Vietnam, in the midst of war and famine. I was eight years old."
After a life-threatening sea journey, Commander Truong and his brother ended up in a refugee camp on Galang Island in Indonesia. The camp was run by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
"After living in this camp for seven months, Canada was the first country to welcome us as refugees," he reflected proudly. "It's therefore a deep felt honour for me today to represent Canada at the United Nations and to contribute to its humanitarian mandate."
Commander Truong became a police officer with the SPVM. Early on in his life, he had decided to serve and make a meaningful living for the society that gave him this new opportunity in life. His first deployment was in Haiti, right after the earthquake in 2010.
"The working conditions were difficult in Haiti after the earthquake. I definitely had to go beyond my comfort zone. But I learned that you need a realistic view of the mission objectives," he said. "It's important to remain positive regardless of challenges. I focused on small positive actions I could take every day. It's those small daily victories that allowed me to see the true and long term meaning in my mission."
Commander Truong believes that his past experience in Haiti is helping him approach the mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with more resilience.
"You can't revolutionize the world in one year of mission. But you can contribute to the journey."
Where he is now
As part of MONUSCO, Commander Truong is the Team Leader of the Criminal Investigation Support Unit. He's responsible for the direction and coordination of Serious and Organized Crime in the capital, Kinshasa.
In addition to this team lead role, he's also the Contingent Commander for the Canadian police deployed to the DRC. "An international mission allows me to develop a network of relationships throughout the world. In the context of globalization of criminal activities, the collaboration between countries is important to defeat criminal networks," Commander Truong explained.
"On a more personal level, it's always rewarding to share our police expertise with the international community."
Commander Truong elaborated on the struggles with deploying to a peace operation.
"There has been and will continue to be moments of frustration and misunderstanding with people you're trying to help. In spite of this, you have to maintain respectful relations with all the mission personnel and the people you meet," he said. "You must remember—always maintain and promote the excellent reputation of Canada, even when you are going through difficult times. Because at end of day, Canada's excellent reputation is more than good geopolitics and respect. It is, to the community, a source of hope and courage for their living."
The decision to deploy
Commander Truong is grateful for his opportunity to contribute to peace operations on behalf of Canada. "It's a great moment of pride and a privilege for me to be able to go on a mission in a Canadian uniform, to have the honour of representing Canada, the Canadian police officers, and the SPVM, more so, for a second time."
Beyond his career as a police officer in Canada, Commander Truong wants to pass on to his children a sense of pride in serving his community. "I want them to know that their father has contributed to making the world a better place by promoting democracy, freedom, and human rights," he said proudly. "I want to make them realize how lucky we are to live in one of the best countries in the world and that once in need for help, I now have the opportunity and the wealth to help those in need."
Proud to be Canadian
Canadian police have established an excellent reputation in international policing through their expertise, leadership, professionalism and dedication. "It's in our approach and in the way we share our know-how that makes us appreciated and respected in the world," explained Commander Truong. "Beyond being a police officer in Canada, we have the chance to participate in fulfilling challenges offered by peacekeeping missions, and to promote the know-how of Canadian police officers with our international colleagues. I know this new experience will also make me a better officer and a better person back in Canada.
"I'm proud to be Canadian. In the eyes of the world, I embody an ideal of life and a model for the respect of human rights, justice, equality and generosity in the world.
"Happy Birthday to all Canadians around the world, from Kinshasa."
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