The United Nations has sent two dozen peacekeeping missions to trouble spots in the world since the first United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) was deployed in 1956. This came at the suggestion of Canadian secretary of state for external affairs, Lester B. Pearson, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his initiative.
The force, comprised largely of Canadian peacekeepers, travelled to the Middle East to secure the Suez Canal as a neutral zone after the president of Egypt, Nasser, seized the predominantly English- and French-owned Suez Canal Company.As of 1999, Canadian peacekeepers had participated in nearly all the UNEFs and were active in Bosnia, Croatia, Minurca, Haiti, and elsewhere.
Born in Truro, Nova Scotia, Major-General Lewis McKenzie is notable for his role as chief of staff of the United Nations Protection Force in Yugoslavia, beginning in 1990. McKenzie, who embodies the Canadian tradition of world peacekeeper, received his commission as a soldier in 1960 in the Queen's Own Rifles regiment. He performed his first peacekeeping duty in 1963 in the Gaza Strip. (This is located in southwest Palestine, on the Mediterranean Sea at the border of Israel and Egypt.)
McKenzie's career as a peacekeeper has won him fame both in Canada and internationally. He retired from the Canadian Armed Forces in 1993, ran unsuccessfully for federal office with the Progressive Conservative Party in 1997, and now serves as a senior research fellow at the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies.