HMCS Halifax has returned home to Nova Scotia after a six-week deployment to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
The 225 crew members got a warm welcome Tuesday morning from hundreds of family and friends gathered at the navy dockyard in Halifax.
The frigate, along with the destroyer HMCS Athabaskan, left Halifax harbour on Jan. 14 loaded with first-aid kits, power generators and other supplies to help in the relief effort.
Halifax was situated off Jacmel, about 30 kilometres southwest of the capital Port-au-Prince. The crew provided medical care and cleared debris so aid could get through.
Lt. Michael Vanherk said many of the crew members enjoyed meeting the children they visited in the orphanages in Haiti.
"There were certainly a couple of kids in the orphanage that people got attached to. I know that the group that I was with ashore that day, a lot of them had grabbed onto the kids and were holding them for half an hour or an hour, and they really touched the hearts," he said.
"When they had to put them down, there was certainly tears all the way around."
Vanherk was met on the dock by his proud family.
"They were doing something to help the people that really needed help," his wife, Hilary, said.
His teenage son, Mark, said the experience taught him how lucky he is to live in Canada.
"It just makes you realize how lucky you are to live someplace like Canada, or you could be like the kids in Haiti, not being able to eat for days. If we don’t get food for a couple hours, we complain," he said. "It’s just a big reality check for you."
His daughter, Alisa, praised her dad for all his work to help the people of Haiti.
"I'm very proud because he's been doing so much, and all of them down there have been doing so much, to help the people that need it," she said.
The Athabaskan remains off Haiti.
An estimated 200,000 people were killed and millions left homeless when the 7.0-magnitude quake hit on Jan. 12.