HSPB grad leads demining operation in Mali


A graduate of the Human Security and Peacebuilding program is helping people in Mali by removing dangerous land mines before they can shatter lives, families and communities.

Jean-Guy Lavoie, who holds a Master of Arts in Human Security and Peacebuilding (2012), is leading demining operations in Mali as programme manager for the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), a part of the UN peacekeeping mission that has been in the country since 2013.

Before joining UNMAS, Lavoie worked as a police explosives instructor at the Canadian Police College in Ottawa after 25 years of leadership experience as a military officer, police supervisor and bomb technician primarily in Edmonton. Feeling like he had reached the end of his policing career, he says he was eager to have a greater impact on the international level.

“I realized that I have some technical abilities that could be of use for a future career and I started to think about using those skills in humanitarian work,” he says. “Mine action is an obvious one for me because it combines theoretical skills with technical skills, and the result is very clear when you see people going back to villages that have been demined or land that has been cleared of land mines and they can resume activities that will benefit their whole community.”

“Jean-Guy is at the cutting edge of human security and peacebuilding through his work on demining in Mali, Colombia and elsewhere,” says Prof. Ken Christie, head of the Human Security and Peacebuilding program. “He is helping people to reclaim their lives and livelihood which is such an incredibly important process. This is no mean task in conflict-riven and post-conflict societies.”

Watch Lavoie and his team at work in the video below.