North

Operation Nanook to simulate earthquake response in Yukon

About 850 military and civilians are participating in Operation Nanook, an annual northern sovereignty operation that has returned to the Yukon for the first time in three years.

Arctic security exercises also underway in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut

Members of the Canadian Forces are in the Yukon for Operation Nanook, 2016. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

The Canadian Armed Forces is conducting its largest northern operation of the year this week in the Yukon.

About 850 military and civilians are participating in Operation Nanook, an annual northern sovereignty operation that has returned to the Yukon for the first time in three years. 

This year, the majority of the exercises are happening in the community of Haines Junction, where multiple government agencies and the Canadian Forces will respond to a simulated earthquake.

Meanwhile, in Whitehorse, about 30 emergency responders are working closely with the military on a four-day intensive training session simulating a rescue, learning how to safely extract people from collapsed buildings.

"Today couldn't be a better day for the training," said Glen Cooper of CFB Esquimalt, noting the earthquake in Italy is on the minds of everyone participating in the Whitehorse exercise. 

"Sadly, we can see the amount of people killed or injured and sadly, the number seems to be growing by the hour," he said.

The exercise in Whitehorse is teaching some of the same kinds of skills being used by emergency workers responding to the Italian earthquake. Yukon Emergency Management Service and Whitehorse Fire department members are practicing how to reinforce unstable buildings, cut holes through concrete and metal beams, and how to use new technology to see inside compromised structures after an earth quake or natural disaster. 

"Structural collapse rescue is a level one course we are putting on to teach the basics," he said. 

In another portion of the operation, happening simultaneously in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, the Canadian Forces will conduct Arctic security exercises including patrols, search and rescue training and simulated combat exercises. 

With files from Mike Rudyk

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