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Alumnus Jean-Guy Lavoie helps clear the way for Colombians to return home

When Jean-Guy Lavoie gets a salute from a Colombian villager who has been able to return to his land thanks to landmine removal, he knows his work is making a difference. “Landmine clearance is enabling people to take back the land – lot by lot – to resume agricultural activities,” says Lavoie, an operations and quality assurance officer with the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS). “People along roads and trails are always appreciative and often stop their work to salute deminers passing by. Such impact is undeniable and sustainable … and very heartwarming. That’s why I love my work.” Lavoie has been working as an operations and quality assurance officer for the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) since he landed an internship with the organization while completing his MA in Human Security and Peacebuilding from Royal Roads last year. His job involves working with the Colombian government to set up infrastructure to manage civilian humanitarian demining, which has not yet started in Colombia. Right now, only the military does demining and the country is about to open the doors to civilian organizations (NGOs), who are the experts in humanitarian demining. “Military will demine areas for their specific strategic purposes whereas humanitarian demining won’t leave any mines behind,” Lavoie explains. “It’s 100-per-cent demining and civilian organizations can then give the land back to the community.”

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