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
International Women's day: Adjusting to a COVID-19 world
It has been a year since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. This virus has uprooted the way of life for many. But none are so affected than those who were vulnerable before the pandemic.
Canada's international police peacekeeping and peace operations program kept going over the past year. The RCMP continued to deploy Canadian police officers to international peace operations. Where physical deployments were temporarily delayed, we switched to virtual means. We adapted. We overcame. And for those police officers already deployed, they kept working.
Deployed Canadian police continued to work through lock downs and great uncertainty. They continued to build a more secure world by assisting with security sector reform in fragile and conflict-affected states.
On this International Women's Day, we celebrate the acts of courage and determination by deployed Canadian police officers. In all the adversity this pandemic has brought, they have played an extraordinary role in continuing to advance gender equality and women's empowerment through their work in peace operations.
Women, peace and security
Despite the pandemic, deployed Canadian police officers continue to play a critical role in implementing Canada's National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. They contribute to the development of professional and effective law enforcement institutions that:
- respect the human rights of women and girls
- protect women and girls from violence, including sexual violence
- meet the needs of the local population
Canadian police officers, regardless of their gender, continue to work directly in roles that support the Women, Peace and Security agenda, through positions such as Gender Advisers or Human Rights Mentors in various missions, including Haiti and Ukraine. Canadian police have also directly supported efforts to prevent, address, investigate and prosecute sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). This includes through the specialized police team on SGBV, currently deployed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Modifying in mission
Sergeant Véronique Bouchard (Montreal Police Service) was deployed to Mali when the pandemic hit. "
I worked with all kinds of colleagues from around the world," she explained. "We all came with different backgrounds. This experience led me to find innovative ways to work."
When COVID-19 hit, the way of working changed. The mission was placed in lockdown and the majority of people had to work from their rooms.
The lockdown was hard on a lot of people because of the isolation. We checked up on others to make sure they were doing fine," said Sgt. Bouchard. "
The silver lining was the opportunity to develop close relationships with colleagues from around the world. Since no one could go home to their family, we were like one big family."
Constable Marie-Pier Paquette (Sûreté du Québec) worked alongside Sgt Bouchard in Mali, as a Patrol Team Leader. "
Initially, we did not have the necessary equipment to deal with the virus," Cst. Paquette explained. "
Once we had all the personal protective equipment, it left an impression that we were afraid of the local population or that one of us was a carrier of the virus."
Cst. Paquette knew it was necessary to inform and train the police officers, as well as the public, about the virus. "
After a few months, people began to understand and realize that we were taking their protection seriously."
Cst. Paquette and Sgt. Bouchard, along with the other Canadian police officers, developed a mission-wide reputation for instilling unity amongst mission personnel by being inclusive and treating everyone equally.
Superintendent Karen Ziezold (RCMP) is a senior police advisor with the European Union Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support. "
I started my deployment in Ramallah last March when COVID-19 was starting to rear its ugly head," she explained. "
I was caught in the middle when all mission members had to return to their home countries. Luckily, both the EU and the RCMP were fully supportive of working remotely from Canada."
Supt. Ziezold elaborated how at the time, no one could have predicted how long the pandemic would last. But through it all, efforts continued to advance the mandate of the mission, and Canadian police still made progress.
It would be difficult to say that COVID-19 affected my mission positively," Supt. Ziezold reflected. "
But what I've seen is the continued partnerships and cooperation. We were able to bridge the gap between working remotely and getting back into theatre. It's this spirit of determination and dedication by everyone that's so heartwarming and inspiring!"
COVID-19 is a serious health threat, and the situation is evolving daily. But Canadian police officers have established an excellent reputation in international policing through their expertise, leadership, professionalism and dedication. This pandemic has reinforced that image of deployed Canadian police.
The Program would like to thank all of its police partner agencies for their continued support over the past year. It is their participation that allows Canada's international police peacekeeping and peace operations program to continue delivering on its mandate, including helping to rebuild and strengthen police services in fragile and conflict-affected states.
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