Operation NANOOK

Conducted annually since 2007, Operation NANOOK takes place in several locations across Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. It is the largest sovereignty operation in Canada's North.


The objectives of Operation NANOOK are to:

  • assert Canada’s sovereignty over its northernmost regions;
  • enhance the Canadian Armed Forces’ ability to operate in Arctic conditions;
  • improve coordination in whole-of-government operations; and
  • maintain interoperability with mission partners for maximum effectiveness in response to safety and security issues in the North.


Approximately 850 civilian participants and Canadian sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen will take part in Operation NANOOK from August 21 to September 2, 2016 in and around the Whitehorse and Haines Junction area of Yukon as well as in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. Civilian participants from several federal and territorial agencies in Yukon will also take part in the operation.

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has deployed: 

  • A land component including members from:
    • the Second Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment, based out of Valcartier, Quebec
    • 5 Canadian Engineer Regiment, also based in Valcartier, Quebec;
    • 12e Régiment blindé du Canada based in Valcartier, Quebec
    • Loyal Edmonton Regiment based in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
    • 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group with 60 patrol units distributed in communities across the North
    • the Canadian Army’s Arctic Response Company Group comprising primarily members from Quebec City and Montreal, Quebec (34 and 35 Canadian Group Brigade)
  • A maritime component comprising:
    • two Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels, Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) Shawinigan and HMCS Moncton, both based in Halifax, Nova Scotia
    • a team of divers from Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific) based in Esquimalt, British Columbia 
  • An air component including multiple aircraft:
    • CC-138 Twin Otters based in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
    • CH-146 Griffon helicopters based in Edmonton, Alberta
    • CH-147F Chinook helicopters based in Petawawa, Ontario
    • CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft based in Comox, British Columbia 
  • Military command, staff and support personnel including members from the Canadian Forces Joint Operational Support Group.

Federal and territorial partners include: 

  • Government of Yukon 
  • Town of Haines Junction 
  • City of Whitehorse 
  • Champagne Aishihik First Nations 
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada 
  • Global Affairs Canada 
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada 
  • Public Health Agency of Canada 
  • Parks Canada 
  • Service Canada 
  • Public Safety Canada 
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police


  • Military observers from France, United Kingdom, and United States are observing Operation NANOOK 2016.

Operation scenarios

Op NANOOK 16 consists of two scenarios: an earthquake scenario and an arctic security scenario.

The first scenario, from August 21 to September 2, will see a whole-of-government response to a simulated earthquake in the Whitehorse and Haines Junction area of Yukon. The Canadian Armed Forces will provide assistance to federal and territorial agency efforts to manage the consequences of the event.

The arctic security scenario runs August 24 to 29 in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. It includes patrols, Search and Rescue training and simulated combat exercises while retrieving a lost asset.

Operation NANOOK enables the Canadian Armed Forces to showcase its ability to operate effectively in the North while improving relationships with northern partners that would be required to respond to a request for assistance in the event of a real emergency.

The global environment

The Arctic has vast reserves of fossil fuels and an abundance of minerals, including gold and diamonds, so the region is attracting more and more Canadian and international attention. Additionally, climate change is gradually eroding the Arctic icecap, so the waters of the Arctic Archipelago are more navigable every year and more ships enter the region. Air traffic in the North is also growing; the annual total of flights on polar routes in Canadian airspace increased from fewer than 1,000 in 2003 to almost 10,000 in 2010.

The increase in traffic at sea and in the air, and the escalating exploitation of natural resources in the North, boost the risk of sovereignty challenges, environmental problems, accidents giving rise to search-and-rescue requirements, and criminal activity, especially illicit entry of people and goods.

Past deployments



Operation NANOOK 15 was based out of Inuvik, Northwest Territories from August 16-30, 2015.  NANOOK 15 was supported by some 650 military personnel in what has become the largest and best known of all Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) operations conducted annually.

A whole-of-government endeavor, NANOOK 15 centered on safety, security and defence in Canada’s North.  The operation served to enhance CAF collaboration with other government departments and agencies and strengthened relationships with local authorities, Indigenous peoples and international partners.

The United States also contributed to the success of NANOOK 15, with the United Kingdom and France having attended as exercise observers. 

NANOOK 15 was conducted as a joint, combined and interagency training opportunity exercising CAF assistance to government departments and agencies.  Operating scenarios included oil spill and consequence management, security, and safety scenarios involving safety and security themed training events in and around the communities of Inuvik, Uluhaktok, Tuktoyaktuk, Sachs Harbour, and Fort Smith.  These scenarios were developed and executed in order to exercise Canada’s sovereignty in the north and rehearse CAF assistance to national, regional and local response to crisis.

Activities conducted each year during Operation NANOOK amplify the CAF’s ability to operate effectively in the challenging Arctic environment.  These activities serve as a demonstration of Canada’s continued commitment to support its Northern and Federal mission partners’ efforts to respond to safety and security situations.



Operation NANOOK 14 took place in the Baffin Island region of Nunavut between 20 and 29 August 2014. It involved more than 800 participants, including personnel from all branches of the CAF as well as federal and territorial governments, a ship from the Royal Danish Navy, and a surveillance aircraft from the United States Navy.

The scenario-driven operation provided a visible presence in the North and demonstrated Canada's ability to respond to security and safety incidents in the region. Operation NANOOK 14 focused on two key aspects: search and rescue (SAR) capabilities and 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 scenarios promoted interoperability between participants.

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


Supporting emergency management scenarios, responding to threats to public safety and assisting law enforcement agencies were the main focuses during this Operation NANOOK 13 from 2 to 23 August.

The operation included four scenarios taking place in four geographically distinct areas of the Canadian North.

  • In Whitehorse, Canadian Armed Forces members, in the air and on land, provided the Government of Yukon disaster relief as the result of a national wildfire that was threatening the City of Whitehorse;
  • Environment Canada requested the assistance of the Canadian Armed Forces on Cornwallis Island, Nunavut after a report of suspected poaching activities in the area;
  • on Resolution Island, the Canadian Armed Forces, worked with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and helped investigate simulated suspicious activity; and
  • on King William Island, the Canadian Rangers conducted simulated patrols to report on activity in the Northwest Passage.         


Operation NANOOK 2012 (1–26 August 2012) demonstrated Canada's Arctic capabilities in two widely separated locations: Inuvik and Tsiigehtchic, N.W.T., in the western Arctic, and Hudson Strait, Hudson Bay and its littoral area, including Churchill, Man., in the eastern Arctic.

In the western scenario, air and land forces worked with the RCMP and other whole-of-government partners in a simulated security incident. In the eastern scenario, an RCMP-led whole-of-government response to a simulated “vessel of interest” included a request for military assistance. Both scenarios emphasized the primary focuses of the Canadian Armed Forces at home: safeguarding the nation, deterring threats to Canadian security, and responding to emergencies anywhere in the country.

International participants on Operation NANOOK 2012 included:

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

Operation NANOOK 2012 involved more than 1,250 personnel from the RCN, the Canadian Army (including the Canadian Rangers), the RCAF and CANSOFCOM.



Operation NANOOK 2011 (4 August–1 September 2011) was planned in two phases. The first phase, conducted in cooperation with international partners from the United States and Denmark, included sovereignty and presence patrolling ashore on Cornwallis Island and at sea in Davis Strait, Baffin Bay and Lancaster Sound, and the first deployment of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in the high Arctic.

The second phase, an exercise using an air-disaster scenario, was cancelled to allow the engaged forces to respond to a real crisis. On 21 August 2011, when First Air Flight 6560 crashed near Resolute Bay, Nunavut, Canadian Armed Forces members deployed on Operation NANOOK 2011 were first on the scene, and remained to assist the federal, territorial and municipal authorities throughout the rescue and recovery operations.

The forces deployed on Operation NANOOK 2011 included about 1,100 Canadian Armed Forces members from the RCN, the Canadian Army (including the Canadian Rangers), the RCAF and CANSOFCOM, and more than 100 allied military personnel.



Operation NANOOK 2010 (6–26 August 2010) took place in the eastern Arctic and high Arctic. As well as more than 900 Canadian Armed Forces personnel, it involved about 600 personnel from the Canadian Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Royal Danish Navy. The operation concluded with a whole-of-government exercise using a spill-response scenario: a simulated petrochemical leak in Resolute Bay, Nunavut.



Operation NANOOK 2009 (6–28 August 2009) took place on the southeastern coast of Baffin Island. It comprised three phases: sovereignty patrolling, a military exercise focusing on anti-submarine warfare, and a whole-of-government exercise that involved more than 15 departments and agencies from all levels of government.



Operation NANOOK 2008 (16–26 August 2008) took place in and around three communities on Baffin Island: Iqaluit, Kimmirut and Pangnirtung in Nunavut. Exercises conducted during Operation NANOOK 2008 used maritime emergency scenarios, including the evacuation of a ship in distress and an oil spill.



Operation NANOOK 2007 (7–17 August 2007) took place on Baffin Island near Iqaluit and Kimmirut in Nunavut. It included drug-interdiction and oil-spill scenarios that involved about 650 Canadian Armed Forces personnel, two surface ships, a submarine, and four types of aircraft.

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