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Today marks 30 years since the Gulf War came to an end, almost seven months after Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait. From 1990 to 1991, more than 4,000 Canadians served in the Middle East as part of the international Coalition that fought to restore freedom to the Kuwaiti people. At its peak, Canada’s contribution numbered more than 2,700 Canadian Armed Forces personnel in the region at one time.

Canada’s first military actions came at sea in August 1990, when three Canadian warships joined the Coalition fleet that would secure the waters off Iraq and occupied Kuwait. That October, Canadian CF-18 fighter aircraft were sent to the Middle East to help take control of the skies above the Gulf. Canadian medical, communications, logistical and security units would also play important support roles in the conflict.

While Canadian women had made significant contributions and sacrifices that put them in harm’s way in previous conflicts, the Gulf War was the first time female Canadian Armed Forces members served in combat trades, and they went on to play important roles on land, in the air, and at sea.

Though Canada suffered no loss of life during the Gulf War, the burdens many returned home with were heavy, and some carried them for the rest of their lives. On the 30th anniversary of the end of the Gulf War, we pay tribute to everyone who so bravely assumed the risks that came with serving in uniform in the Persian Gulf, and thank those Veterans still with us for stepping forward in defence of peace and liberty in Kuwait.

Quotes
“For those of us who were around, watching the start of Operation Desert Storm still stands out as one of those moments that will always stay with you. Thirty years later, it’s incredibly important we make sure that the generations that follow remember the contributions that thousands of Canadians made during the Gulf War. We thank them for their remarkable service today.”

The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence

“During February, we pay tribute to the thousands of Canadians who served in the Middle East during the Gulf War. The land, air and sea support they provided to the multinational coalition contributed greatly to liberation of Kuwait, and the continued Canadian presence along the Iraq-Kuwait border in support of the United Nations enabled further security in the years following the end of the war. To those who served, we are forever grateful for your service.”

The Honourable Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence

Quick facts

After Iraq invaded Kuwait, Canada joined a coalition of more than 35 countries to liberate the small Gulf nation.
More than 4,000 Canadians served in the Gulf War, helping liberate the country of Kuwait.
The Gulf War was the first conflict where Canadian women served in combat roles.