Search and Rescue (SAR) in the North

Responsibility for launching an air or marine SAR response in Canada’s North generally rests with the Joint Rescue Coorination Centre (JRCC) in the region where the response is needed:

  • JRCC Victoria provides the primary SAR response to the Yukon Territory
  • JRCC Trenton covers the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, including the north of Baffin Island
  • JRCC Halifax covers the southern half of Baffin Island

Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) SAR assets are carefully managed and strategically located across the country. These assets are based where they can effectively respond to SAR incidents in all regions. This takes into consideration:

  • where SAR incidents occur the most
  • how those areas are affected by weather
  • making sure there is supporting infrastructure

A JRCC can call on any SAR squadron to respond to a distress call in the North. It can also request the support of any nearby military asset. The JRCC can also call on nearby civilian or commercial vessels or aircraft to help if needed.

The CAF also sponsors the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA). It has member organizations throughout Canada, including the North. Specifically, this includes Northern-based commercial operators in Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet. This will help speed initial response to SAR incidents. It will get help sooner to those in need.

Northern Ground Search and Rescue (SAR)

Ground SAR in the North falls under the legal authority of each territory. They delegate the authority for ground SAR response to the police services in the area. Parks Canada takes the lead for SAR in national parks.

The Canadian Rangers often help with ground SAR in the North, upon request.

Arctic SAR agreement

The CAF cooperates with other countries to cover SAR in the Arctic. Canada also runs joint SAR exercises with other Arctic nations. In May 2011, Canada and seven other Arctic Council member states signed an Arctic SAR agreement in Nuuk, Greenland. This strengthened how Arctic Council members respond to emergencies in the Arctic.

Related links

Department of National Defence

Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF)

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