Roméo Dallaire – a man who has come to represent Canada’s international leadership in the fields of peacekeeping and peacebuilding – is the 25th recipient of the Pearson Peace medal. The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor-General of Canada, made the presentation in her capacity as Honourary Patron of the United Nations Association in Canada on Wednesday, March 9, 2005 at Rideau Hall.
Roméo Dallaire evokes humanity’s conscience in the face of the failure of the global community to avert a genocidal disaster in Rwanda ten years ago. His own efforts to overcome his personal devastating sense of guilt has led him to speak and write extensively, bearing witness on behalf of the lost Rwandans – but also on behalf of those in places like Darfur, the Sudan, who are alive today, but may be dead tomorrow if we do not learn from the mistakes of the past. In his letter of nomination Peter George, President of McMaster University, noted that Dallaire has “put his own trauma on stage and brought a sharp, unwavering light to the politics and complications, but ultimately the hope, of peacekeeping”.
After some 35 years of exemplary service with the Canadian Armed Forces, including his role in 1993-94 as Commander of the UN Assistance Mission in Rwanda, Roméo Dallaire is now a tireless advocate on issues ranging from peacekeeping, to the trauma faced by our soldiers, to the tragic involvement of children in armed conflict. He is currently a Fellow at the Carr Centre for Human Rights at the Kennedy School of Governance at Harvard University. As a model of international citizenship, his actions evoke the Pearsonian legacy: “There is no Canadian so well deserving of this medal for reminding us all of the risks of closing our eyes to sorrow and inequity among our fellow travellers” said Kate White, Executive Director of UNA-Canada.
Note: Subsequent to his receipt of the 2004 Pearson Peace Medal, Roméo Dallaire was appointed to the Senate of Canada in June of 2005.
Photo by Sgt Éric Jolin
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