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The Honourable Roméo Dallaire – Canada’s International and Local Hero

Some people do not go through life working and struggling to bring benefits solely to themselves. Some people live for themselves and others – strangers. As a human race, in one way or the other, we are reaping from a familiar stranger’s struggle. When Nelson Mandela died he was celebrated across the world for not only giving freedom to black South Africans but also, for freeing the minds of many from across the world from the bondage of prejudice, stereotyping and hate. How many people who celebrated the life of Madiba in December 2013 ever met him? Definitely not a lot of us. Yet, people like him, the three fallen Moncton Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers, MLK Jnr., and other amazing people that the world has seen and those that we are still blessed to have around, are to us familiar strangers. Some familiar strangers sacrifice having a simple, happy life so that others who need such luxury will have it. Recently, I skimmed across an announcement that Canadian Independent Liberal Senator, The Honourable Roméo Dallaire, will be retiring from the Senate this June. What caught my attention and what has had him on my mind since then, was his story.

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Roméo Dallaire served as the commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) from 1993 to 1994. The goal of this establishment of 1993 was to restore peace in a then-troubled Rwanda. Dallaire witnessed the Rwandan genocide. During the genocide, he protected the targeted group – the Tutsis. Governments in Canada clearly admired his work and service as Dallaire was awarded several positions here after his service in Rwanda. In 1994, He was appointed the Deputy Commander of Land Force Command in Saint-Hubert, Quebec. In that same year, Dallaire held the position of Commander of 1st Canadian Division. He was appointed a Liberal Senator in March 2005 thus automatically gaining the title – The Honourable. Despite being a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder, Dallaire continues to serve Canadians and all peoples. He continues to seek ways to make a difference and ways to correct some wrongs that he had noticed from his experience in Rwanda during war times. He is a Co-Director of The Will to Intervene (W2I) Project. Dallaire is also the founder of the Child Soldiers Initiative – childsoldiers.org. At the front page of the website is a statement by Dallaire – “The ultimate focus of the rest of my life is to eradicate the use of child soldiers and to eliminate even the thought of the use of children as an instrument of war.” It is no surprise that The Honourable Roméo Dallaire’s retirement announcement was responded to with prints that signify gratitude and loss. Upcoming ‘loss’ of a man with a huge heart and upcoming ‘loss’ of a great Canadian politician, come June 17th, 2014. Then, gratitude for all the things that we think we are going to lose. However, there is no loss. Dallaire’s contributions to Rwanda and to Canada will never be erased. I admire L’honorable (The Honourable) Roméo Dallaire for being a selfless human being, a likely familiar stranger who continues to put in effort to make change in our world. I hope to meet L’honorable Dallaire someday. On behalf of all Canadians and all citIzens of the world, Merci beaucoup L’honorable Roméo Dallaire.

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