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Canadian peacekeeping mission to Mali to emphasize female personnel

A French soldier stands inside a military helicopter in Gao, northern Mali, May 19, 2017.
A French soldier stands inside a military helicopter in Gao, northern Mali, May 19, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Christophe Petit Tesson, POOL

OTTAWA – The Canadian military’s upcoming foray into Mali is expected to include a marked female presence as the Trudeau government looks to have Canada lead by example in the push to have more women on peacekeeping missions.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan on Monday will unveil details of Canada’s mission to Mali, which will centre around the deployment of up to six military helicopters.

The Canadian contingent will be a combination of Chinook helicopters, which will be tasked with providing medical evacuations and logistical support, and smaller Griffons to act as armed escorts for the larger transports.

READ MORE: Trudeau pushing ‘Canada is back’ narrative with Mali UN peacekeeping mission

The decision to send military helicopters to Mali follows a direct request from the United Nations after the Trudeau government promised in November to make such aircraft available to a future peacekeeping mission.

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But a senior government official says Canada will also take the opportunity to make good on another commitment, namely to help increase the number of peacekeepers who are women.

The official says that starts with walking the walk, which is why the military will attempt to ensure women are well represented among the 200 to 250 Canadian military personnel deployed to Mali.

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