Operation Nanook set for Nunavut, Yukon next month
Armed Forces, numerous agencies, to practice emergency response, law enforcement
The federal government is set to run the 2013 version of its annual Arctic emergency response and law enforcement exercise, Operation Nanook, between Aug. 2 and Aug. 23 this year at four locations in Nunavut and Yukon.
Billing it as a “sovereignty operation,” Ottawa has conducted Operation Nanook exercises every year since 2007.
Focusing mostly on disaster response and law enforcement, these operations bring branches of the armed forces together with numerous civilian agencies, including the Coast Guard, Transport Canada, the RCMP, Public Safety Canada and territorial governments.
“In the Arctic, responding to emergencies requires a coordinated team approach,” the Department of National Defence said on a web page describing Operation Nanook 2013.
This year, Ottawa plans mock emergencies in four places:
• Resolution Island
The RCMP and the armed forces will play out a scenario that involves “suspected suspicious activity” on Resolution Island, which lies just past the mouth of Frobisher Bay in Hudson Strait. This exercise will include a transfer at sea between a Royal Canadian Navy vessel and a Coast Guard vessel, as well as a shore landing.
• King William Island
Canadian Rangers will conduct “sovereignty patrols” and report on “activities” in the Northwest Passage.
• Cornwallis Island
The Canadian Armed Forces, working with hunters, will respond to “suspected poaching activity” that falls within the law enforcement mandate of Environment Canada.
The armed forces will work with the City of Whitehorse and the Government of Yukon on a mock disaster relief exercise that responds to a wildfire.
The Department of National Defence says that about 1,000 people will participate in this year’s version of Operation Nanook.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office has not announced if Harper will make his customary summer visit to northern Canada to view Operation Nanook exercises and promote the Conservative government’s northern strategy.
The new defence minister, Rob Nicholson, has not yet announced any plans to visit either.
In 2011, a mock disaster exercise planned for Resolute Bay turned into a real one, when First Air flight 6560 crashed into a hillside near the community’s airport, killing 12 people.