In 1999, when Timor tried to reassert its independence from Indonesia, the country of over one million people was ravaged by militia-led violence. Homes were burned, civilians were killed, and between 500,000 and 700,000 people were displaced.
Canada joined a UN-authorized, Australian-led multinational force to East Timor to restore peace and security, protect and support the existing UN mission in carrying out its tasks, and help humanitarian aid reach affected citizens.
The more than 650 CAF members and 15 Canadian police officers who deployed to the region filled important roles such as providing security, constructing a camp, repairing local facilities, and keeping the naval task force supplied.
Twenty years later, Canada remains grateful to the CAF members and civilian police who served in East Timor as part of Operation TOUCAN.
“The mission in East Timor is among the largest in Canada’s proud peacekeeping history. As we mark 20 years since the end of Operation TOUCAN, we thank the hundreds of Canadians who went across the world and put their lives at risk to help secure peace for the Timorese.”
The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
“Canada’s support for Timor-Leste self-determination 20 years ago helped pave the way for the democracy and freedom enjoyed by the Timorese today. To all those courageous members of the Canadian Armed Forces who deployed to East Timor, Canada’s largest mission in Asia since Korea in the early 1950s, thank you for your service.”
The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence