Military mounts its most ambitious Arctic trek

Mission will cover 8,000-kilometre span over three weeks

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Today the Canadian military begins its most ambitious Arctic sovereignty operation to date.

Three groups of Canadian Rangers, joined by regular forces personnel, are to leave Resolute today and push north as they explore different parts of Ellesmere Island.

In all, the three groups, which are each made up of six Rangers and two regular forces troops, are to cover some 8,000 kilometres – the longest distance ever for such an operation.

“It’s going to be a real test,” said Sgt. Peter Moon with the Canadian Rangers.

The purpose of the mission is to bolster Canada’s claim to Arctic sovereignty. “If you don’t use it, you lose it,” Moon said.

Inuit Child First, Indigenous Services Canada

It’s also meant to test the preparedness of Canadian Forces troops to operate in the North.

The possibility of a passenger jet crashing in the Arctic is one reason why the military would be deployed, Moon said.

One group will travel up Ellesmere Island’s east coast, north to Alexandria Fiord, where an abandoned RCMP outpost stands. Joined by the RCMP officer, this group will keep an eye out for Greenlandic hunters known to visit Ellesmere in search of polar bears.

The other two groups will travel up Ellesmere, one over land and one along the rugged west coast, to meet up at the Eureka weather station.

The military believes that no one – other than Inuit – may have travelled along the western route since the expeditions of Robert Peary.

These two groups will then continue on to the Alert weather station at the northern end of Ellesmere Island, where the operation is expected to end on April 13.

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The operation is expected to cost $1 million.

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