Why Roméo Dallaire can’t sleep and what he’ll do next

Senator Roméo Dallaire announced his retirement from the Senate today. CBC News Network’s Evan Solomon reports Dallaire is retiring because of a combination of issues: His desire to spend more time on post-traumatic stress disorder research and public speaking on international causes, ongoing struggles with PTSD, and frustration with the continuing Senate scandals.

Shameless Idealist Roméo Dallaire

In a press conference held later in the day, Dallaire says he wants to devote more time to his commitments abroad and his personal projects, including child soldiers, a committee of genocide prevention, research on PTSD  and the drafting of two books.

“I’m 68 years old and I have an awful lot of work ahead of me.”

Romeo and Michel

(Michel Chikmanine and Romeo Dallaire, 2012)

In 2012, we interviewed Roméo Dallaire for a documentary series called Shameless Idealists, produced in collaboration with Free the Children. Dallaire spoke openly about his life-changing job leading the UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda in 1994. Amid a growing civil war, he chose to disobey orders from the UN who refused his proposed mission to stop the distribution of weapons. Says Dallaire, “I broke the orders because they were immoral.”

Dallaire suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder still to this day. “We come back from those missions significantly affected psychologically by the extremes that we’ve lived – by what you see, what you participate in and what you can’t do anything about. It creates an inability to sleep and often even pushes you to extremes like trying to stop the pain by taking away your life.”

Although he is retiring from the Senate, you can expect Dallaire to remain active in the causes he believes in. As he says in Kensington’s documentary profile, “We should be involved in not only stopping these conflicts that are still going on, but in trying to prevent them.”

Watch the full 22-minute interview with Roméo Dallaire and the incredible former child soldier Michel Chikwanine on our website www.shamelessidealists.com

Shameless Idealists is a series of intimate portraits of celebrities who are creating positive social change. Craig Kielburger, co-founder of Free the Children, is the host.