HMCS Winnipeg supports UN conference

HMCS Winnipeg
HMCS Winnipeg alongside Canada Place for the United Nations Peacekeeping Defence Ministers’ Conference.

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By Lieutenant (Navy) Ellie Aminaie

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Winnipeg was in Vancouver recently to support the United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping Defence Ministers’ Conference held November 14 to 15, 2017.

The conference was held at the Vancouver Convention Centre and had UN delegations from more than 79 countries and five international organizations in attendance. Annual high-level discussions have become an important part of the international community’s effort to support UN peacekeeping operations. Building on these efforts, Canada brought the UN and member states together to engage in a wide-ranging discussion on UN peacekeeping.

Recognizing that integrating gender perspectives and empowering women are integral to improving the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping, these cross-cutting issues were integrated into all aspects of the event, including in discussions on peacekeeping planning and performance. Two other important issues included policing and operating in francophone environments.

It was a highly coordinated event organized by the Department of National Defence, with key representation from all Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) elements. The CAF element was led by Joint Task Force Pacific on behalf of Canadian Joint Operations Command. Security was managed by the RCMP.

The conference had many high profile Canadians in attendance including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence; Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and la Francophonie; and Michaëlle Jean, Secretary-General of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.

Also in attendance were General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff, and retired Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire, who was there for a youth-focused event.

Actress Angelina Jolie, who is a Special Envoy to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, delivered the keynote address.

During the welcome reception held at the Vancouver Convention Centre, HMCS Winnipeg’s Guard of Honour was on parade, showcasing the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN).

While alongside Canada Place, Winnipeg provided a hosting platform for various events throughout the conference. One notable event was a luncheon held onboard, co-hosted by Minister Bibeau and His Excellency Marc-Andre Blanchard, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the UN. Guests discussed various gender initiatives made in their respective nations and the event provided an opportunity for the exchange of ideas in furthering those initiatives.

Lieutenant (Navy) Calley Gray, Winnipeg’s Marine Systems Engineering Officer, represented the RCN at the luncheon.

“I was honoured to be included in the discussions surrounding gender initiatives and to have an opportunity to provide input into the matter,” she said. “My overall impression is that the delegates were pleased by the efforts made by the RCN through Operation Honour and GBA+ (Gender-Based Analysis) training, and that we have gender focal points onboard the ships with the proper training advising command on gender matters.”

Ship tours were offered to all UN delegates throughout the conference, many of whom took advantage of the opportunity to meet the sailors. The UN Youth Network, which includes 150 members ranging in age from 18 to 29, also received a comprehensive tour. They asked engaging and insightful questions ranging from marine mammal protection to Asia-Pacific security.

As Winnipeg departed Canada Place and proceeded back to Esquimalt, B.C., the crew reflected on their encounters with various UN delegates. While the event was a coordinated effort by various Canadian agencies overall, the entire ship’s company was also fully engaged and contributed to its success.

Courtesy of The Lookout

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