Peace operations

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

Resiliency in the face of disaster

It is quite an experience to deploy on a peace operation. You experience a different culture. You engage with the local population. You pick up on different ways of doing things. It's very enriching.

Constable Julie Dupré

Constable Julie Dupré, from the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal, has experienced this, not once, but three times. She is currently deployed to the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). She was also deployed to Haiti in 2006 and 2009.

Constable Julie Dupré, SPVM, prior to her deployment to MONUSCO.

An extraordinary experience

MINUSTAH headquarters collapsed following the earthquake. It was a six-storey building. Cst. Dupré spent 72 hours without sleep, including over 40 hours in the rubble, looking for survivors. She pulled 15 perished co-workers out of the rubble.

Cst. Dupré was in Port-au-Prince when the 2010 earthquake hit Haiti. A harrowing experience, Cst. Dupré lived through the aftermath of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake. "It was panic in the streets. People were screaming and crying and didn't know what to do," she described. "My training kicked in and I did what I needed to do to help as much as I could."

Cst. Dupré served with the Canadian Armed Forces as a reservist for six years prior to her police training. At the time of the earthquake, she had over 14 years of experience as a police officer, including her prior deployment to Haiti.

During the earthquake aftermath, Cst. Dupré saved the life of a Haitian police officer. For this heroic act, she received the Medal of Bravery from the Minister of Justice of the Government of Quebec, and the Diamond Jubilee Medal from Queen Elizabeth II.

Sadly, her supervisor and a colleague, both with the RCMP, did not make it. Cst. Dupré assisted with recovering and identifying some of those who lost their lives.

While working with her supervisor, weeks prior to the earthquake, she reflected: "He had noticed that I did not take photographs. He told me that photographs immortalize the moments that I live and what I see. Since that time, I have taken many more photographs."

Lessons learned

The experience in Haiti taught Cst. Dupré that she is strong and well trained. She can get through any obstacle that comes her way because she was able to get through that one. That experience and good training has helped her in her current mission.

While deployed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cst. Dupré experienced another natural disaster. The Nyiragongo volcano in Goma erupted on May 22, 2021. Cst. Dupré and her Canadian colleagues relocated to Bukavu for two weeks.

"The hardest part of that experience was that we had to leave behind the Congolese we knew, without knowing if they were going to be safe," she explained. "Also, we did not know at the time if we could return to Goma later when the situation stabilized."

This event was the most challenging and difficult period of her current deployment. It reminded her of what she experienced in Haiti during the earthquake. Intense tremors followed both the earthquake and the volcanic eruption.

"I learned from these experiences that life is very fragile. You never know when it will end," Cst. Dupré said. "We have to make the most of life and appreciate every second of it. We need to tell people that we love them and appreciate them."

Duty of care is a significant part of any peace operation. Every effort is made to increase support before, during and after a deployment. It is important that deployed police officers know how to manage stress and seek help when experiencing a decline in mental health. They must remember that there are resources available to help with self-care.

Moving forward

As part of the MONUSCO mission, Cst. Dupré works on the Specialized Police Team focused on the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in vulnerable populations. As part of her work, she collaborates with Congolese who are part of associations, like non-profit or non-government organizations. Their focus is to come to the aid of victims of SGBV.

"As a woman, we should not underestimate ourselves and think that we are not qualified to do this work. We are fully qualified and experienced to do this," reassured Cst. Dupré. "Our presence, as women police officers, gives these people a glimmer of hope. It helps them realize they, too, can be a voice of change for action."

Cst. Dupré talks with the Director of the Yalife Oganization during an SGBV awareness event.

Cst Dupré participated in a presentation of a loincloth during an awareness-raising activity on SGBV among women's groups in Goma.

Cst. Dupré has made her presence known in the Goma community.

"Since my arrival in February, I have personally decided to take care of approximately 25 children who live in the streets. I give them food when I can. And thanks to the generosity of my friends and family, I was able to bring clothes and sandals back from Canada."

"It makes me happy to be able to help them and bring them a little bit of happiness in their life. And it reminds me of something my then supervisor told me back in 2009: If you have a place to live and food, you can overcome all the problems that are going to come your way."

The greatest thing that Cst. Dupré has learned from this unique position is that by being a peacekeeping officer, you can change people's lives through simple, small, everyday actions. Those actions can have a big and lasting impact.

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