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Ministers of National Defence and Veterans Affairs mark the 65th anniversary of the United Nations Emergency Force peacekeeping mission in Egypt

ILC89-16-19

Today marks the 65th anniversary of the deployment of Canadian troops to Egypt to take part in the first large-scale United Nations peacekeeping mission.

In 1956, after years of increasing tensions between Egypt and European powers, Egypt seized control of the Suez Canal waterway. Later that year, Israel invaded Egypt and approached the Suez Canal, with the British and French then landing troops of their own in the Canal Zone to secure it.

In order to help restore peace and prevent a major international confrontation, Lester B. Pearson, Canada’s then-Secretary of State for External Affairs, called for the creation of a multinational armed force to deploy to Egypt. The United Nations Emergency Force was soon established and was initially comprised of troops from 10 countries, totaling more than 6,000 peacekeepers. In many ways this marked the start of Canada’s reputation as a key contributor in international peacekeeping efforts.

Thousands of Canadian peacekeepers would serve in Egypt in the years that followed, playing key roles in transportation, communications, supply and health support efforts for the mission.  Our military personnel in Egypt suffered the largest loss of life in any single Canadian peacekeeping effort, with more than 50 Canadian soldiers making the ultimate sacrifice. We remember them, and we thank all those who served. They represented our nation with courage, dedication, and professionalism.

Since 1956, our Canadian soldiers, sailors, aviators and special operations members have continued to strive to bring peace and security to vulnerable people and communities across the globe. On this day, let us pay tribute to our peacekeepers, both past and present, for their service and commitment toward building a safer world for all.

“On the 65th anniversary of the United Nations Emergency Force peacekeeping mission in Egypt, we remember the Canadian Armed Forces personnel who answered the call of service in order to promote stability and peace in the Middle East. We also pay tribute to the professionalism and compassion of Canadian Armed Forces members who have upheld Canadian values by bringing security to vulnerable communities around the world. We owe them and their families our recognition and thanks.”

The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence

“For more than 65 years, Canadians have stepped forward in support of peace around the world. Our peacekeeping legacy is a source of pride for Canadians, and that legacy began when more than 50 members of the Canadian Armed Forces gave their lives in service of peace in Egypt. We remember them and their comrades today, and thank all those Canadians who have defended peace whenever and wherever they’ve been needed.”

The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence

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