Canadian Army Engineers conduct Exercise NIHILO SAPPER in Cape Breton

News Release

Members of 4 Engineer Support Regiment, participating in exercise NIHILO SAPPER 2016, build a bridge that will be used by all-terrain vehicles, spanning the Tetagouche River outside Bathurst, New Brunswick on November 9, 2016. Photo: Warrant Officer Jerry Kean, 5th Canadian Division Public Affairs © 2016 DND/MND

November 1, 2017 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Approximately 500 personnel from the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force‎ will participate in Exercise NIHILO SAPPER 2017, a large construction engineering exercise taking place in various locations throughout Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, from November 1 to 20, 2017.

The exercise provides hands-on technical training to regular and reserve force military engineers serving in Atlantic Canada and ensures they are ready to deploy on Canadian Armed Forces operations on short notice. During Exercise NIHILO SAPPER 2017, participants will complete community driven infrastructure upgrade projects, trail construction and remediation projects, and two bridge construction projects. Exercise participants will also conduct counter-improvised explosive device and expedited route opening capability training, and conduct joint dive training with the Royal Canadian Navy.

As outlined in Strong, Secure, Engaged, Canada’s defence policy, exercises like NIHILO SAPPER 2017 allow the Canadian Armed Forces to function as a multi-purpose military and deliver on operations from domestic humanitarian assistance and disaster response to high intensity combat.


“NIHILO SAPPER 2017 is a complex training opportunity that exercises a vital Canadian Army support element and provides us with an opportunity to work with our neighbours in communities throughout Cape Breton. Our military engineers build the facilities used to initiate and sustain Canadian Armed Forces operations and the training conducted during NIHILO SAPPER 2017 ensures they are ready to deploy to locations in Canada and around the world to support Government of Canada initiatives when required.”

– Brigadier-General Derek Macaulay, Commander, 5th Canadian Division

“NIHILO SAPPER 2017 is a valuable training initiative that provides military engineers with a unique opportunity to practice the skills required to build facilities used during Canadian Armed Forces operations in a realistic and challenging training environment. We have a team of professional soldiers, sailors, and air force personnel deploying all over Cape Breton and they are determined to complete these challenging projects with the highest standard of craftsmanship so that these communities can benefit from them for years to come.”

– Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher Cotton, Commanding Officer, 4 Engineering Support Regiment

Quick Facts

  • Exercise NIHILO SAPPER is an annual training event led by 4 Engineer Support Regiment based out of 5 Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown that helps military engineers maintain a high-level of readiness for potential requirements to support Government of Canada operations.

  • Soldiers will conduct hands-on technical training to maintain the skills necessary to construct and maintain operational bases and facilities used for Canadian Armed Forces deployments in Canada and around the world.

  • During the exercise, participants will complete the following projects:

    • Construct a 500-person camp in Sydney’s Open Hearth Park that will serve as the main operating base for the exercise.
    • Remediate the Siege Corridor and build a bridge over Freshwater Brook at the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site in collaboration with Parks Canada.
    • Construct a snowmobile trail in Wreck Cove.
    • Repair and restore the St. Alphonse Church in Victoria Mines.
    • Build a bridge on the Warren Lake Trail in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park in collaboration with Parks Canada.
    • 4 Engineer Support Regiment’s combat dive team will conduct joint training with the Royal Canadian Navy’s Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) at the Canadian Coast Guard College in Westmount.
    • Counter improvised explosive device and expedited route opening capability training in the Blue Mountain area near Marion Bridge.

Associated Links


Captain Jamie Tobin
Public Affairs Officer, Exercise NIHILO SAPPER 2017
Phone: 902-441-3209

Media Relations
Department of National Defence
Phone: 613-996-2353

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