North

Operation Nanook comes to a close for another year

Military and civilian personnel have been working together all week in the Yukon and Nunavut during the Canadian Military's annual northern training exercises.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, along with senior Canadian Forces officers, was in Haines Junction, Yukon, this week to see Operation Nanook in action. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)

This week, Canadian Forces helicopters were seen and heard above Whitehorse and Haines Junction as part of Operation Nanook. Military and civilian personnel have been working together all week in the Yukon and Nunavut.

This week's exercises in Haines Junction, Yukon, kept the small community busy. 

'We came together with first responders and the local Yukon government and other agencies,' says team commander Glen Cooper. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)
Over the week, 40 different rescue scenarios were performed, including a mock earthquake rescue, where teams had to break through concrete rubble and use specialized equipment to rescue survivors.

"We had multiple buildings that were set up as a disaster or post-disaster earthquake [scenario]," said Glen Cooper, team commander for National Defense.

"We came together with first responders of the local Yukon government and other agencies working together under one command unit to get people who were injured and get people out safely."

A high angle mock rescue being performed on Paint mountain near Haines Junction. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)

One of the last simulated rescues of the week was a high angle rescue (a rescue from a slope that is at more than a 50-degree incline) on a cliff face.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, along to observe the manoeuvres, described it as "a homecoming," noting that he spent six years with the Vancouver heavy urban search and rescue team.

Civilian first responders from various provinces also  participated in most of the exercises.

Mike Sereda, captain of Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, says Operation Nanook mimicked real life scenarios. (Mike Rudyk /CBC)
The captain of Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, Mike Sereda, says the scenarios felt like real life. "We have firefighters here, paramedics, different agencies coming together for the same cause."

Air Task Force Commander Martin Pesant said he was pleased with his team, and with how the Chinook and Griffon helicopters performed.

Air Task Force Commander Martin Pesant was pleased that the helicopters remained serviceable during the operation. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)
"We are fortunate enough that all our helicopters remained serviceable during the operations," said Pesant. "They required a lot of maintenance. This was great because we worked around the clock to keep them serviceable in order to support the whole operation, and the task force."

Military officials say this week's exercises helped them better understand the challenges of working in the vastness of the North.

Next year, Operation Nanook will move to Northern Labrador and the N.W.T.

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