Reporting on Canada’s return to its more traditional role as peacekeeper, Steven Chase contrasts today’s demands on peacekeepers with those of the past.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Social studies, current events, history

Key Questions to Explore:

  • How has Canada’s role as peacekeeper changed over the past three decades?

New Terminology:

Sajjan, deployment, non-committal, destabilization

Materials Needed:

Globe article

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

During the ten years that the Conservative government was in power, Canada slowly reduced its peacekeeping role in the world as it increased involvement in active military campaigns, especially in recent years when it joined the U.S. and others in launching air strikes against ISIS targets in Iraq. The incoming Liberals promised to return to what they deemed the respected and traditional role of peacekeeper, as our country had done in places like Cyprus and Rwanda in decades past.

However, Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan reminds Canadians that traditional peacekeeping may be a thing of the past, as the role has changed from one of keeping an established peace between two warring parties to one which focuses on “peace support operations.” The latter is more involved with creating conditions for peace which do not yet exist and is thus much riskier for the personnel involved.

Students can benefit from a brief lesson on Canada’s past peacekeeping missions and on the kinds of conflicts into which Canadian military personnel will now be inserted. Working in pairs, students will use the article and the Internet to complete a short in-class assignment.

Action (lesson plan and task):

To introduce the topic, show students a picture of Defence Minister Hajit Singh Sajjan from this link: Ask if anyone knows who this person is. Some may be surprised to see a Sikh Canadian as the top military commander.

Ask students if they know of any military operations that Canada has been involved in over the past ten or 15 years. Remind them that Canada went to war in Afghanistan in 2001, following the 9/11 attack and that our troops remained there for ten years.

Ask students about Canada’s historical role as a peacekeeper with the United Nations and note that for half a century Canada was known as a key peacekeeper in the world, and that we won a Nobel prize for Peace in 1956.

Next, provide them with the Globe article, as well as the link above, and this link to the Canadian Encyclopedia: They are to work in pairs to complete the following short assignment.

Work Sheet

Using the article by Steven Chase and the links provided by your teacher, complete the following tasks:

  • Using the article by Steven Chase, list some of the possible countries where Canadian peacekeepers might be deployed in the coming months and years. What is different about modern peacekeeping compared with previous decades?
  • Finally, how do you feel about Canada resuming more of a peacekeeping role in the world, as opposed to taking a more active fighting military role in conflicts?

When students have finished their assignments, engage them in a short discussion about the subject of peacekeeping. Ask whether they think it is less, more or just as dangerous for the military personnel involved as actively conducting a war. Ask how they feel as Canadians about being peacekeepers and whether the change in policy might make them more or less interested in a military career.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Students discuss their assignment
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

  • Students can list some of Canada’s peacekeeping assignments as well as some of the possible countries in which our troops may now be deployed to keep the peace.

Confirming Activity:

  • Students report on news of Canada’s choices for deploying peacekeeping troops.