North

Arctic sovereignty operation Nanook set to launch in Nunavut

Canada's eastern Arctic will be the scene of a simulated environmental spill and counter-drug operation next week as part of the Canadian Forces' latest Arctic sovereignty exercise.

Canada's eastern Arctic will be the scene of a simulated environmental spill and counter-drug operation next week as part of the Canadian Forces' latest Arctic sovereignty exercise.

Operation Nanook, a $3-million, 10-day sovereignty and security exercise that begins Tuesday, will bring more than 700 army, navy and air force members to Nunavut, along with 30 Canadian Inuit Rangers and members of the RCMP, coast guard and various government departments.

Operation Nanook runs until Aug. 17.

Brig.-Gen. Chris Whitecross, commander of Joint Task Force North, told CBC News that the military will spend time preparing for various scenarios. For example, it will collaborate with the RCMP on a counter-drug operation on Resolution Island, she said.

"Drugs [would be] coming in by boat going into Resolution Island. There's an airfield on Resolution Island, and from there having the drugs put on to an aircraft and come into Iqaluit," Whitecross said Wednesday. "So we're simulating illegal drugs coming into the country from the coast and going into the North."

Canadian Forces personnel will also be working with the coast guard on a simulated environmental spill and cleanup effort near the Nunavut hamlet of Kimmirut, Whitecross said.

Meanwhile, two Canadian Forces ships and a submarine will practise manoeuvres in Frobisher Bay, Hudson Strait and Davis Strait. A number of aircraft, including CF-18s, Twin Otters and helicopters from several military bases across Canada, will be also by flying across Nunavut as part of Operation Nanook.

On land, observation posts will be set up on Resolution Island and other points across the territory.

While it is widely expected that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will visit Nunavut during Operation Nanook, to announce a port location and military training site in the territory, Whitecross said she has not received any official word on whether that will happen.

Ranger Master Cpl. Mattoo Moonie Michael of Kimmirut isone of about 30 Rangers who will be involved in land exercises during Operation Nanook. Hesaid he hopes this year's operation will encourage more young people to become Canadian Inuit Rangers.

"It's better than watching the tube in one spot, you know," he said. "I sometimes [want] the youngers to get involved with Rangers too."

Whitecross said she wants to make some improvements from last August's Operation Lancaster, in which military personnel patrolled the waters, skies and land in and around Lancaster Sound near the Northwest Passage.

For example, Whitecross said she wants to improve the co-ordination and communication between the different organizations taking part in Operation Nanook this month.

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