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Press Release

CMA Awards Medal of Honour to Senator Roméo Dallaire

Canada NewsWire

OTTAWA, Aug. 1, 2012 /CNW/ - The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) will present the 2012 CMA Medal of Honour to Senator Roméo A. Dallaire, for his dedication to helping the general public better understand post-traumatic stress disorder.

"The CMA Medal of Honour recognizes personal contributions to the advancement of medical research and education," said CMA president Dr. John Haggie. "Senator Dallaire has worked tirelessly in advocating for better understanding about post-traumatic stress disorder."

"Some of us who have been injured in mind and physically have, through that experience, been given opportunities to influence the system, to attempt to eliminate stigmas and to focus the attention of the authorities on the priority of a healthy nation, said Senator Dallaire. "I hope that I have served these causes reasonably well and I am especially honoured to be recognized by the Canadian Medical Association for really doing what I believe to be my duty."

Senator Dallaire enrolled in the Canadian Army in 1964 after four years in cadets and the military reserves. He attended Royal Military College Saint-Jean and in 1969 graduated with a bachelor of science. He also attended the Canadian Land Forces Command and Staff College in Kingston and the United States Marine Corps Command and Staff College in Virginia.

He was promoted to the rank of brigadier-general in 1989 and assumed command of Royal Military College Saint-Jean. In 1991, he was appointed commander of 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group at Valcartier. He left Valcartier on July 1, 1993, to take command of the United Nations Observer Mission in Uganda and Rwanda, and the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda. As leader of a peacekeeping mission, he was prepared to enforce a peace treaty, but instead found a humanitarian disaster. Despite his best efforts to warn the UN about the impending genocide, 800,000 people were killed in just 100 days. In recognition of his exceptional leadership and professionalism, he was awarded the Meritorious Service Cross.

Senator Dallaire was promoted to the rank of major-general in 1994 and on his return to Canada served as commander of the 1st Canadian Division and deputy commander of the Canadian Army. He was promoted to lieutenant-general in 1998 and held senior positions in the Defence Department. He was released from the Canadian Forces on medical grounds in April 2000.

Since then, Senator Dallaire has worked to help the general public better understand post-traumatic stress disorder. He has been a visiting lecturer at Canadian and American universities and has written about conflict resolution, humanitarian assistance and human rights. He also was appointed by the United Nations to an advisory committee on genocide prevention. In 2004-2005 he was a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University, where he undertook research on conflict resolution and the exploitation of child soldiers.

He was called to the Canadian Senate in 2005 and was a special adviser to the minister responsible for the Canadian International Development Agency on matters relating to war-affected children around the world. He also is a ministerial adviser on matters related to serving and retired military members and their families, and on the professional development and education of members of the Canadian Forces.

His book Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda (2003) described the horrors of the Rwanda genocide and his experience in and after the UN mission. His book won the Governor-General's Award for Non-Fiction in 2004 and was adapted as a full-length feature film that in 2007 won an Emmy Award for Best Documentary. He subsequently published They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children (2010), a book that condemns the exploitation of children as child soldiers.

Selected awards include the Vimy Award of the Canadian Conference of Defence Associations (1995), the U.S. Legion of Merit (1996), the Order of Canada, Officer (2002), the first Aegis Award on Genocide Prevention from the Aegis Trust of the United Kingdom (2002), the United Nations Association of Canada Pearson Peace Medal (2004), Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec (2005), and the Harvard University Humanist Award (2005). He has received honorary doctorates from many Canadian and American universities, is a fellow of Ryerson Polytechnic, and in 2006 was named an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Senator Dallaire is the 29th recipient of the CMA Medal of Honour, the highest award bestowed upon someone who is not a member of the medical profession. The medal was to have been presented at a ceremony held at the Shorty Brown Arena in Yellowknife on Aug. 15, during the CMA's 145th annual general meeting. Senator Dallaire is unable to attend the ceremony, the medal will be presented to him at a later date.

SOURCE: CANADIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION