OP NANOOK-NUNAKPUT Enhanced by Personal Connections

September 2, 2019 — Defence stories

The manuals were out and the information was flowing between the crew of the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) and members from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) who sat down during Op NANOOK-NUNAKPUT on board the CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier. This unique opportunity afforded the chance for both teams to learn from each other about how our two organizations work. The discussions varied from the intricacies and difficulties of operating in the Canadian North, to the best means of communication, and realistic ways that the CAF and CCG could support each other on future Operations in the Arctic.

For Capt Mary-Frances Jasper, of 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, this meeting was a special homecoming. Before becoming a pilot, Capt Jasper was a deckhand with the Canadian Coast Guard. She served on board the icebreaker CCGS Martha L. Black where one of her regular duties was to fly out with the ship’s helicopter over the frozen tundra. It was here that her passion for the sea, turned into a passion for flight.

After putting herself through flight school, receiving mentorship from the CCG pilots and flying every chance she got, Capt Jasper enrolled in the Air Reserves as a Helicopter pilot in 2001. Recently she transferred to the Regular Force, and now lives in Edmonton with her husband and son.

Being once again back on the deck of a Coast Guard ship, Capt Jasper found her career had come full circle. She was able to help guide the meeting and use her knowledge of both organizations to find creative solutions to the realistic support scenarios discussed.

It was also a poignant moment for Capt Jasper as she knew that opportunities like this are few and far between. Although she has been always been a women drawn to non-traditional careers, the one constant throughout them all is the sense of service and of belonging to something larger than herself.

“My first jobs in the Coast Guard were foundational to who I have become. It was only during this visit when my former life met my new life that I realized just how significant of an impact it was,” said Capt Jasper after the visit on the Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

Operating with Other Government Departments is one of the elements of Operations like NANOOK. Although relationships between the CAF and the CCG have always existed, it is the intimate personal connections like Capt Jaspers’ that makes these relationships special and truly strong.

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