Operation NANOOK

From: National Defence

Operation (Op) NANOOK takes place each year across Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Labrador. It features up to 4 deployments throughout the year.

Op NANOOK is the Canadian Armed Forces’ signature northern operation comprised of a series of comprehensive activities designed to exercise the defence of Canada and to secure our northern regions. 

How many people are deployed?

The number and makeup of CAF members changes from year to year based on planned activities and exercises.

What are they doing?

During Operation NANOOK, the CAF:

  • exercise the defence and security of Canada our northern regions
  • improve our ability to operate in a challenging environment requiring unique skillsets
  • improve coordination with Indigenous, federal and territorial governments, and our northern partners 
  • respond effectively to safety and security issues in the North

There have been four activities under Operation NANOOK:

  • a series of presence activities along the Northwest Passage
  • a maritime domain defence and security exercise in Northern Labrador, Nunavut and Greenland areas
  • a major air disaster exercise in Yellowknife, NT
  • emergency and disaster response training with government partners in and around Yellowknife and Behchokǫ̀, Northwest Territories.

History and context of the operation

Operation NANOOK, which began in 2007, took place annually with one major activity in the north.  In 2018, NANOOK was separated into 4 distinct activities held in different northern communities throughout the year.

At its core, Op NANOOK strengthens the Canadian Armed Forces’ knowledge of this vital region, allows us to work hand-in-hand with our fellow Arctic nations and key allies, and fortifies our close partnerships with federal, territorial, and local communities. Working in Canada’s North also hones our ability to operate in a challenging environment requiring unique skillsets, in-depth local knowledge and, support and equipment designed to operate in extreme weather conditions.

Canadian Armed Forces relationship with Northern partners

During Operation NANOOK, the CAF work and train with a variety of partners. Focusing on working with key Allies and partners makes the CAF more effective in the North.

These partners include international military partners, and other Canadian federal departments and agencies, territorial and Indigenous governments, and local organizations. Canada’s contributions to Arctic security are a key part of the Canada-United States defence relationship.

Indigenous communities are at the heart of Canada’s North. The CAF works to deepen its relationships with these communities, particularly through collaborative and continuous discourse throughout the year. The CAF continues to build on mutual understanding with northern community leaders.

Global Significance

State and commercial actors from around the world are becoming more interested in the long-term benefits from of operating in the Arctic as the region becomes more accessible. There are also large reserves of fossil fuels and minerals. These factors are expected to lead to increased commercial activity, research, and tourism in and around Canada’s northern region.

The increase in traffic brings new safety and security risks. Canada must be ready to respond to search and rescue missions, as well as natural or man-made disasters.

Past deployments

2020

Operation NANOOK 2020

Operation (Op) NANOOK was conducted in communities and locations across Canada’s Arctic including Nunavut, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and the Northwest Passage. The 2020 iteration of Op NANOOK included the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), other Government Departments and Agencies, domestic, and international partners.

Op NANOOK 2020 was conducted in two parts:

  • Op NANOOK-NUNALIVUT: Nunavut, February 24 to March 27, 2020
    • Main focus: High Arctic winter operations
  • Op NANOOK-TUUGAALIK: Eastern Arctic waters, August 4 to August 24, 2020
    • Main focus: Contributing to the CAF’s maritime domain awareness of the seas in the Eastern Arctic

    Common to all aspects of Op NANOOK is the respectful partnership between the CAF and the peoples and communities indigenous to Canada’s North. Canadian Ranger units and local governments all contributed greatly to the success of Operation NANOOK 2020.

    An annual event since 2007, Op NANOOK enhances Canada’s surveillance and presence across its northernmost regions, strengthens coordination with whole-of-government partners and the way Canada’s military operates in arctic conditions. In addition, it provides the CAF opportunities to work with mission partners to determine how best to respond to safety and security issues in the North

    2019

    Operation NANOOK 2019

    Operation (Op) NANOOK was conducted in communities and locations across Canada’s Arctic including Nunavut, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and the Northwest Passage. The 2019 iteration of Op NANOOK included the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), other Government Departments and Agencies, domestic, and international partners.

    Op NANOOK 2019 was conducted in four parts:

    • Op NANOOK-NUNALIVUT: Northwest Territories, March 17 to April 1, 2019
      • Main focus: High Arctic winter operations
    • Op NANOOK-TATIGIIT: Yukon, May 27 to June 7, 2019
      • Main focus: Wildfire evacuation training
    • Op NANOOK-NUNAKPUT: Nunavut, August 11 to 30, 2019
      • Main focus: Wildfire evacuation training
    • Op NANOOK-TUUGAALIK: Northwest Passage, August 9 to September 13, 2019
      • Main focus: Naval presence along and monitoring of Northwest Passage

    Common to all aspects of Op NANOOK is the respectful partnership between the CAF and the peoples and communities indigenous to Canada’s North. Canadian Ranger units and local governments all contributed greatly to the success of Operation NANOOK 2019.

    An annual event since 2007, Op NANOOK enhances Canada’s surveillance and presence across its northernmost regions, strengthens coordination with whole-of-government partners and the way Canada’s military operates in arctic conditions. In addition, it provides the CAF opportunities to work with mission partners to determine how best to respond to safety and security issues in the North.

    2018

    Operation NANOOK 2018

    Disaster response

    From September 21 to 28, 2018, CAF members worked with partners in and around Yellowknife and Behchokǫ̀, Northwest Territories. They practiced how military and civilian organizations would respond to emergencies and natural disasters in Canada’s north.

    The training focused on helping the Government of the Northwest Territories and a number of local municipal and Indigenous government partners exercise their emergency management plans.

    Together, they went through a series of escalating scenarios. The CAF’s focus was to exercise how it would evacuate people in the event of a forest fire.

    Major air disaster exercise

    Approximately 270 CAF members participated in a major air disaster exercise in Yellowknife, NT from September 17 to 21, 2018.

    While the CAF has the primary responsibility for aeronautical SAR—that is, searching for downed aircraft—a major air disaster would require a coordinated response. So, during the exercise, CAF members worked alongside other government departments, Non-Governmental Organizations, and private companies.

    The exercise involved soldiers, airwomen and airmen, including medical professionals and support personnel. The following aircraft were involved:

    • CC-130 Hercules
    • CH-146 Griffon
    • CH-149 Cormorant

    As part of the scenario, SAR technicians and health services personnel conducted a number of training activities, including initial triage, stabilization, medical treatment, and preparation for onward movement.

    Maritime domain defence and security

    About 300 CAF members deployed on Operation NANOOK from August 8, 2018 to September 4, 2018. They participated in a maritime domain defence and security exercise in Northern Labrador, Nunavut and Greenland areas.

    HMCS Charlottetown and HMCS Kingston visited a number of communities in the Arctic. This gave the sailors an opportunity to connect with and strengthen relationships with northern communities.

    CAF members worked alongside governmental partners and departments as well as international partners, including the Danish Navy.

    Presence patrols

    From July 16 to September 7, 2018, CAF members conducted a series of presence activities along the Northwest Passage. This included the following:

    • presence patrols
    • water and air reconnaissance
    • survival training

    Members of 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group monitored internal waterways during the busiest time of year for maritime traffic.

    Northern partners, including other government departments, participated in several activities.

    2017

    Operation NANOOK 2017

    Operation NANOOK 2017 took place from August 14 to 25, 2017, in Labrador and Nunavut. Nearly 900 CAF members and civilians took part.

    Operation NANOOK 2017 had two parts:

    1. Rankin Inlet, Nunavut: Joint Task Force (North) focused on the full range of crisis response and consequence management activities resulting from an overwhelming emergency in an isolated community, engaging multiple tiers of government and partners including the Canadian Armed Forces.
    2. Labrador: Joint Task Force (Atlantic) led a response to a security scenario. CAF members and other government departments and agencies were involved.

    This was the 10th iteration of Operation NANOOK.

    2016

    Operation NANOOK 2016

    About 850 Canadian military members and civilians served on Op NANOOK 16. It ran from August 21 to September 2. It took place near the Whitehorse and Haines Junction area of Yukon and in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. The CAF sent in land, sea, and air units. This included military members for command, staff and support. Civilians from federal and territorial organizations also joined in.

    Op NANOOK 2016 took place in two parts. One was a safety exercise. It featured a whole-of-government response to a simulated earthquake. The other was arctic security training. This included military patrols, search and rescue training, and simulated combat exercises. The CAF showed that it could work well in the North with other partners. This is important in a real emergency.

    2015

    Operation NANOOK 2015

    Op NANOOK 15 was based out of Inuvik, Northwest Territories. It ran from August 16 to 30, 2015. About 650 military members took part.

    NANOOK 15 centered on safety, security and defence in Canada’s North. The CAF worked with other government groups. It also worked to forge better ties with local authorities, Indigenous peoples and international partners.

    Other countries also helped make NANOOK 15 a success. The United States took part in the training exercises. The United Kingdom and France sent observers.

    CAF members from sea, land and air units took part in NANOOK 15. The CAF also supported government departments and agencies. There were several training scenarios. They included exercises on oil spill and consequence management, security, and safety issues. Safety and security themed training events took place in and around five northern communities. This did two things. One was to exercise Canada’s sovereignty in the North. It also showed how the CAF supported a national, regional and local response to crisis.

    Op NANOOK confirms that the CAF can operate well in the Arctic. The exercises show that Canada’s supports its mission partners’ response to safety and security in the North.

    2014

    Operation NANOOK 2014

    Operation NANOOK 14 took place in the Baffin Island region of Nunavut from August 20 to 29. More than 800 participants took part. There were members from all CAF branches as well as people from federal and territorial governments. The Royal Danish Navy sent a ship. The United States Navy provided a surveillance aircraft.

    NANOOK 14 was driven by training scenarios that provided a visible presence in the North. It showed Canada's ability to respond to security and safety incidents in the region. There were two key areas of focus. One was search and rescue (SAR) capabilities. The other was the CAF’s ability to support other government departments (OGDs) in remote areas of the North.

    The two scenarios took place off the coast of Baffin Island in the Davis Strait and York Sound. Both were simulations. Both showed how the participants could work together and be effective.

    • A Search and Rescue (SAR) exercise (SAREX) was held from August 20 to 23 in the Davis Strait. It featured a fishing boat in distress. Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) Halifax led the SAR operation to locate the boat and survivors. The JRCC was supported by HMCS Shawinigan, HMDS Triton, and the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Henry Larsen with their aircraft.
    • From August 25 to 29, Canadian Armed Forces members responded to a 50-passenger cruise ship grounded due to mechanical difficulties in York Sound. The CAF sent out a major air disaster kit. It worked with OGDs to respond to the simulated crisis.
    2013

    Operation NANOOK 2013

    Operation NANOOK 13 had three main focuses. One was to support emergency management scenarios. The second involved a response to public safety threats. The last was to assist law enforcement agencies. The operation ran from August 2 to 23.

    There were four separate scenarios. They took place in four different areas of Canada’s North with distinct geography.

    • In Whitehorse, CAF members, in the air and on land, provided the Government of Yukon with disaster relief. This was because of a national wildfire that was threatening that city.
    • Environment Canada asked for CAF assistance on Cornwallis Island, Nunavut, after a report of suspected poaching activities in the area.
    • The CAF worked with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on Resolution Island. They helped investigate simulated suspicious activity.
    • The Canadian Rangers conducted simulated patrols on King William Island. This was to report on activity in the Northwest Passage.
    2012

    Operation NANOOK 2012

    Operation NANOOK 12 ran from August 1 to 26. It demonstrated Canada's Arctic capabilities in two locations that are far apart. One was Inuvik and Tsiigehtchic, Northwest Territories, in the western Arctic. The other was Hudson Strait, Hudson Bay and its shore area.

    In both places, CAF members took part in simulated scenarios. In the West, CAF air and land forces worked with the RCMP and other government partners. The scenario involved a security incident. In the East, the RCMP led a whole-of-government response to a “vessel of interest” scenario. They asked for military assistance. Both cases centred on the primary focuses of the CAF at home. These are safeguarding the nation, stopping threats to Canadian security, and responding to emergencies anywhere in the country.

    Global participants on Operation NANOOK 2012 included:

    • a warship from the Royal Danish Navy
    • a U.S. Coast Guard vessel
    • observers from the United Kingdom and the United States

    More than 1250 CAF members took part in NANOOK 12. They were from:

    • the Royal Canadian Navy
    • the Canadian Army (including the Canadian Rangers)
    • the Royal Canadian Air Force
    • the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command
    2011

    Operation NANOOK 2011

    Operation NANOOK 11 ran from August 4 to September 1. It was planned in two phases. The first phase was conducted with international partners from the United States and Denmark. It included sovereignty and presence patrolling. This was done ashore on Cornwallis Island and at sea in Davis Strait, Baffin Bay and Lancaster Sound. It also involved the first use of an unmanned aerial vehicle in the high Arctic.

    The second phase was an exercise using an air-disaster scenario. It was cancelled to allow the engaged forces to respond to a real crisis. On August 21, 2011, First Air Flight 6560 crashed near Resolute Bay, Nunavut. CAF members on NANOOK 11 were first on the scene. They helped the civilian authorities throughout the rescue and recovery operations.

    About 1100 CAF members served on NANOOK 11. They came from:

    • the Royal Canadian Navy
    • the Canadian Army (including the Canadian Rangers)
    • the Royal Canadian Air Force
    • the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command

    There were also more than 100 allied military personnel.

    2010

    Operation NANOOK 2010

    Operation NANOOK 10 ran from August 6 to 26. It took place in the eastern Arctic and high Arctic. More than 900 CAF members took part. There were also about 600 personnel from the Canadian Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Royal Danish Navy. The operation ended with a whole-of-government exercise. It was a simulated petrochemical leak in Resolute Bay, Nunavut.

    2009

    Operation NANOOK 2009

    Operation NANOOK 09 ran from August 6 to 28. It took place on the southeastern coast of Baffin Island. It had three phases. The first was sovereignty patrolling. The second was a military exercise focusing on warfare against submarines. The last was a whole-of-government exercise that involved more than 15 departments and agencies.

    2008

    Operation NANOOK 2008

    Operation NANOOK 08 ran from August 16 to 26. It took place in and around three communities on Baffin Island. These were Iqaluit, Kimmirut, and Pangnirtung in Nunavut. NANOOK 08 involved emergency exercises at sea. These included the evacuation of a ship in distress and an oil spill.

    2007

    Operation NANOOK 2007

    Operation NANOOK 07 ran from August 7 to 17. It took place on Baffin Island near Iqaluit and Kimmirut in Nunavut. It included drug trafficking and oil-spill scenarios. It involved about 650 CAF members, two surface ships, a submarine, and four types of aircraft.

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