Peacekeepers Day parade attended by Retired MGen Lewis MacKenzie
This year’s National Peacekeepers Day parade was held at Peacekeeper’s Park in Angus, Ont. just outside of Base Borden attended by veterans, members, families and many decorated guests who gathered to remember the sacrifice of peacekeeping.
9 August is a time to commemorate peacekeeping efforts and recognize the degree to which peacekeepers put themselves in harm’s way for the safety of others around the globe.
“Peacekeepers are not only protecting civilians during active conflicts, but they also play a higher role in post-conflict reconstruction and peace building,” said Base Commander Colonel Jonathan Michaud, addressing those in attendance. “Their tireless effort in fostering sustainable development, promoting human rights and encouraging reconciliation lay the foundation for a more prosperous and harmonious future.”
Dozens of veterans and members waited patiently in the sunlight including retired Major-General Lewis MacKenzie who rode behind the march inside a Bombardier Iltis (German for polecat) utility vehicle, with the Flag of the United Nations mounted atop the roof.
“This date was chosen because in 1994, on 9 August, the Syrians shot down a Canadian UN aircraft, clearly identified as white and the United Nations said that they made a mistake…,” said MGen MacKenzie.
“At the time, there was a lot of tension. They shot it down thinking maybe it was an Israeli aircraft and nine peacekeepers all Canadian including the crew were killed. So that day has been chosen as Peacekeeper’s Day nationally.”
In the past there were up to 5,000 peacekeepers serving abroad, but now there are 45, along with 52 policemen working as peacekeepers.
Although Peacekeeping efforts are not highly prioritized as they once were, veterans like MGen MacKenzie remain proud of what their work has accomplished for Canada and countries in need.
“I had soldiers from 32 Different nations with me in Bosnia,” he said. “Some of them very small contingents, others larger, but I’m very proud of what my country has done and what our soldiers have done. Sailors and airmen, men and women and the police…”
With bagpipes playing, the ceremony proceeded with guests paying their respects to fallen soldiers whose names are inscribed on the Wall of Honour in Peacekeeper’s Park.
Distinguished guests or those representing a party participated in the wreath laying ceremony, taking a moment to pause and reflect after placing the wreath at the foot of the monument. Both Base Commander Col Michaud and Chief Petty Officer, 1st Class Robert Wilcox represented CBF Borden in this moment of remembrance.
“The path to peace is not without challenges,” said Base Commander Col Michaud during his speech. “The sacrifices [peacekeepers] make both physically and emotionally deserve our upmost gratitude and support. In this pursuit of peace, we must also recognize that it is a shared responsibility. As global citizens, we must stand together to support peacekeepers, advocate for peaceful resolution and address the of root cause of conflict.”
To watch the entire parade and ceremony on demand, click here.