Operation ELEMENT

Under Operation ELEMENT, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is supporting the whole-of-government response to an influx of asylum seekers crossing into Canada from the United States. The CAF was tasked with providing temporary accommodations and making them available to federal and civilian partners for use.

The CAF set up two interim lodging sites in St-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec and at the NAVCAN facility in Cornwall, Ontario. The sites consist of modular tent shelters with lighting and heating.

On September 22, 2017, Public Safety Canada made the decision for the CAF to dismantle certain parts of the interim lodging sites.

Personnel & equipment

Over the course of this mission, the CAF has deployed about 370 troops to St-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec, and Cornwall, Ontario.

Equipment includes:

  • Heating systems
  • Lighting systems
  • Medium support vehicles
  • Trucks
  • Heavy engineering support vehicles (15 tons)
  • Buses
  • Cube truck
  • Ambulances
  • Service cars

Although CAF members deployed as part of Operation ELEMENT have very little interaction with asylum seekers, the CAF has ensured that there are several military women and Creole-speaking members amongst the troops. Having at heart cultural sensitivities and out of respect for the families and the vulnerable people on site, the CAF wishes to facilitate exchanges, if they occur.

Mission Context

The CAF launched Operation ELEMENT on August 9, 2017, after a request for help from the federal government.

Since the end of July 2017, there has been a significant increase in asylum seekers at the Canadian border.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are using significant resources to manage this increase.  As a result, Public Safety Canada is working with a number of government departments to support the CBSA and the RCMP.

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