The Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping, the Canadian Armed Forces, Veterans Affairs Canada, and the RCMP hold a ceremony each year on the Sunday nearest August 9th at the Peacekeeping Monument in Ottawa to recognize international peace support efforts. This day commemorates the losses people sustain on all sides due to trauma and death in conflict zones/peace missions.

Children’s Books

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-The-Pooh by Sally Walker

This uplifting picture book tells the story of a Canadian military veterinarian who bought a black bear cub which became the regiment mascot. When the military vet gave Winnie to the London Zoo following his frontline deployment, children thronged to see her. Historic notes, photos and websites offer extra insight at the end.

Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion by Jane Barclay

Inspired by true events, this memorable story juxtaposes old sepia photos against bright depictions of the present, as grandpa shares his military experiences with his young grandson. Metaphors such as being ‘proud as a peacock’ make complex ideas easy to understand. The story culminates in the pair participating in a Remembrance Day parade.

Coming Home by Greg Ruth

This moving story offers realistic illustrations of a boy’s experience waiting for his mom to disembark a troop plane. The drawings portray his anticipation of her return among a busy crowd in which many families reunite with military personnel.

Hero Mom by Melinda Hardin

This feel-good picture book portrays the many things military moms do to create a safer world. The text represents the children’s views that their moms’ achievements make them superheroes and the illustrations show the moms carrying out their real-life duties.

Soldier Mom by Alice Mead

This realistic novel shares the story of a pre-teen angered by her mother’s deployment. The story speaks to the myriad adjustments involved when a family member is deployed: military service disrupts family plans and brings complicated feelings of abandonment.

Adult Non-Fiction

Pearson’s Peacekeepers: Canada and the United Nations Emergency Force, 1956-67 by Michael Carroll

This multifaceted account explores the challenges that peacekeeping forces encountered during extended negotiations along the Egyptian-Israeli border during the Suez crisis. Former Prime Minister of Canada, Lester B. Pearson, received the Nobel Peace Prize for working with United Nations colleagues to create the world’s first, large-scale peacekeeping force to de-escalate the situation. Learn more about the complexities involved in the Canadian state’s role as conciliator.

The Ghosts of Medak Pocket: The Story of Canada’s Secret War by Carol Off

This investigative history describes the genocide perpetuated against civilian Serbians by the Croat army following their engagement with Canadian peacekeepers. Kept under lid by the Canadian state, the atrocities haunted returning soldiers. Many military personnel struggled with mental illness, homelessness and died by suicide.

Waiting for First Light: My Ongoing Battle with PTSD by Romeo Dallaire

This sobering memoir by retired Canadian general and former senator Romeo Dallaire details his trauma as a witness to the Rwandan genocide. Dallaire credits his medical dismissal for propelling him to become a human rights and mental health advocate. He shares his passion for addressing wartime trauma faced by children as child soldiers and rape victims.

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger

This thought-provoking reflection looks at the ways we overcome trauma by seeking something bigger than ourselves. Junger believes that our need to identify with others stems from an innate desire for community. A few modern models of social support networks include Indigenous communities, military deployments, and disaster victims who collaborate to survive.

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk

This insightful primer shares current neuroscience on how traumatic stress resides in the body and brain and negatively impacts physical and mental health. It also synthesizes studies on how trauma impacts our collective ability to engage in employment, education, crime, relationships, etc.

Adult Fiction

Forest Green by Kate Pullinger

This poignant story offers a moving account of how a single traumatic event can disrupt a person’s life. An idyllic portrayal of a young boy in a sleepy town darkens when the locals exhibit hostility towards vagrants and tensions boil over. From this point forward, the reader sees how trauma warps the young man’s life while a fleeting connection to love offers hope.

Fire in the Stars by Barbara Fradkin

A former international aid worker returns home hollowed by trauma. When a fellow survivor goes missing in the Great Northern Peninsula, she joins an investigator to solve the missing persons case. The backdrop of the rugged Newfoundland landscape reflects her state of mind.

Lost in September by Kathleen Winter

This stunning novel offers a compassionate portrayal of a young ex-soldier battling PTSD while living rough on the streets of Montreal. Reimagining historical accounts of well-known Canadian figure General James Wolfe, Winter transplants him to modern Montreal in this unforgettable portrait.

Confined Space by Deryn Collier

This taut mystery showcases an ex-Canadian Forces commander turned small town coroner whose routine investigation of a tragic accident takes on menacing tones when another body is discovered. Shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award for best unpublished first crime novel from the Crime Writers of Canada.

The Long Take: A Noir Narrative by Robin Robertson

This lyrical noir novel shares the life experience of a D-Day veteran with PTSD who looks to the city for distraction at a turning point in history of ‘the dream gone sour.’ The emerging journalist comes to a better understanding of himself as he reports on a society riven with problems.

Learn more about National Peacekeepers Day here.