The Canadian military has announced the creation of a new reserve infantry company in Yellowknife, calling it the first permanent army reserve presence north of 60.
The Yellowknife Company will be part of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment. Officials said this week they hope to recruit 30 reservists from the N.W.T. capital over the next five years, and eventually recruit as many as 120.
The unit is part of the federal government's initiative "to increase the defence presence in the North, as part of the government's strategy for Arctic defence," said Lt.-Col. Lyle Herod, who hosted an open house in the city on Tuesday night.
Herod said the Yellowknife Company is meant to complement the existing military structure in Canada's North, which includes Canadian Rangers and Cadets.
Unlike the Canadian Rangers, a pan-northern reservist unit that helps military personnel on Arctic sovereignty exercises and search missions, Herod said members of the Yellowknife Company will receive combat training and can volunteer to serve overseas with regular Canadian Forces units.
"If a solider is trained, qualified in their military occupation, they can serve overseas," Herod told CBC News on Wednesday. "For instance, within a our brigade in Alberta we have about 1,400 soldiers … Right now we have 20 soldiers serving overseas and we have another 120 getting ready to head to Afghanistan in the fall."
Interested reservists must be at least 16 years of age to apply. They will receive some training in Yellowknife, then go to southern Canada to complete their basic infantry training.
A typical reserve company is composed of both part-time and full-time reservists.
Herod said no other reserve companies are planned in Canada's North.