‘It’s just great to see the guys’
National Peacekeepers Day brings together old friends in Sydney
Cape Breton peacekeepers spent Wednesday reflecting on their time of service, friendships and members they have lost through the years.
A ceremony for National Peacekeepers Day paid homage to the men and woman who have served with Canadian Peacekeepers throughout the years.
The ceremony was led by members of the Major General Lewis MacKenzie Chapter of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping.
“It’s all about honouring the peacekeepers,” said the chapter president Jack Griffin, who has served more tha 30 years. “This is great for us to just all get together.”
Griffin joined the Major General Lewis Mackenzie Chapter 16 years ago and said helping others was his passion.
“I love every bit of it,” said Griffin.
Another member of the chapter and past-president, Bill Timbury, who has served more than 30 years and was involved in Cyprus, said the highlight of the day was meeting old friends.
“There were a lot of peacekeepers who showed up that I haven’t seen in a long, long time. It’s heartwarming to see them come out and be together,” said Timbury.
“A meeting like this everyone shows up and talk about old times and have a good conversation.”
Although Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping wasn’t founded until 1989, there have been Canadian peacekeepers all over the world since the late 1950s.
“Canadian peacekeepers have served all over the world, most Canadians remember Cyprus, the Golan Heights in Syria, the Sinai in Egypt, Sierra Leone, the Congo to name but a few,” said Michele Gardiner, an associate member of the chapter who emceed the event. “More recent UN ops were the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Rwanda. Many of these missions were not without risk. Since United Nations Emergency Force we have lost 130 soldiers; four of these are Cape Bretoners.”
The Cape Bretoners killed in action over the years were Cpl Elmer Gordon Groom, Trooper Joseph Hector Campbell, Pte. John Alexander Lerue and Capt. Aloysius Roach.
Twenty-two members of the Cape Breton Regional Police Service have participated in 24 peacekeeping missions through the International Peace Operations branch.
Afterward, members gathered for a reception at Kiju’s restaurant in Membertou to catch up with old friends.
“We meet once a month but everybody can’t make it all of the time,” said Griffin. “It’s just great to see the guys.”
Canada has been involved in more than 30 UN missions, with more than 125,000 Canadian peacekeepers participating.
Canadian peacekeepers still serve all around the world, including places like the Sudan, Kosovo, Haiti and the Arabian Sea.
Fred Arbuckle, from left, Bill Timbury, Butch MacNeil (wheelchair), Jack Royale, Jack Griffin, Don Gardiner and Michele Gardiner, who are members of the Major General Lewis MacKenzie Chapter of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping, pose for a picture at Kiju’s restaurant at a reception that followed a ceremony at the Sydney foardwalk commemorating National Peacekeepers Day.