The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) will affiliate each of its six new Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) with regions of the Inuit Nunangat.
The first such affiliation, between the future Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Harry DeWolf and the Qikiqtani region of Nunavut, was formally recognized during a visit by her Commanding Officer, Commander Corey Gleason in Iqaluit today.
Affiliation between an HMC Ship, its sailors and civilian communities is a long-standing and honoured naval tradition, with relationships lasting throughout the service life of the ship. The remaining affiliations within the Inuit Nunangat in the Kitikmeot and Kivalliq regions of Nunavut as well as the Inuvialuit, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut regions – will occur as each AOPS is constructed and enters service.
Over the next several years, the six AOPS’s and their crews will build ties with the communities in these regions during routine operations in Canada’s Northern waters. The relationships established between the Inuit Nunangat and the RCN AOPS will create solid partnerships that generate pride in both the ship’s company and the communities they will represent. Each ship’s company will work with community members, local leaders, and engage with youth groups, to build relationships based on respect, mutual understanding, and shared experiences.
“Canada’s Northern communities have unique experiences to share with our Royal Canadian Navy which will directly contribute to a deeper understanding of their culture and heritage. Strengthening our relationship with Inuit communities helps the Canadian Armed Forces to enhance its awareness of issues that confront those living in the North, and will contribute to a more meaningful engagement and enduring presence in the Arctic, helping to keep Canada strong at home”, said Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence.
“On behalf of the Government of Nunavut, I welcome the Commanding Officer to the Qikiqtaaluk and look forward to engaging with the crew of the future HMCS Harry DeWolf. I look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship between Canada’s Navy and our vibrant communities. We are excited to welcome you, and work with you to protect Canada’s Arctic”, said Joe Savikataaq, Premier of Nunavut,
“Inuit have been an integral part of Canada’s efforts to establish sovereignty in the Arctic. From Sanikiluaq on the Belcher Islands to Grise Fiord, in the High Arctic, Inuit were relocated to various Qikiqtani communities to establish Canada’s presence in the region. Today we embark on a new chapter in Arctic sovereignty, a chapter marked by dialogue and cooperation. In this spirit of reconciliation, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association welcomes the future HMCS Harry DeWolf”, said P.J. Akeeagok, President of Qikiqtani Inuit Association
“The Arctic is important to Canada’s identity, its security, and its future prosperity. These vibrant communities are at the heart of Canada’s North and form an integral part of Canada’s history and identity. Engaging with the people in the Inuit Nunangat will help the RCN to better understand and connect with this important region and enhance the conduct of our Northern operations for years to come. The RCN looks forward to working with these communities as we begin what promises to be a long-lasting and mutually respectful relationship”, said Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd, Commander of Royal Canadian Navy.
“Affiliation is an important naval tradition, and I am honoured that the crew of HMCS Harry DeWolf will perpetuate this custom with communities of the Qikiqtani region. As Commanding Officer of the future HMCS Harry DeWolf, my ship’s company and I look forward to operating in our Northern waters and to engaging with communities throughout the region”, said Commander Corey Gleason, Commanding Officer of HMCS Harry DeWolf .
Affiliation between the Royal Canadian Navy’s AOPS and the Inuit Nunangat supports Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, by strengthening the Navy’s understanding of the Arctic region and connecting with our most remote communities, said a statement from Canadian Department of National Defence.
Spanning three territories and stretching as far as the North Pole, Canada’s North is a sprawling region, encompassing 75 percent of the country’s national coastlines. The sheer expanse of Canada’s North, coupled with its ice-filled seas, harsh climate, and more than 36,000 islands make for a challenging region to monitor – particularly as the North encompasses a significant portion of the maritime approaches to North America.
Approximately 43 per cent of Canada’s ocean coastline is found within the Nunavut Settlement Area; 104,000 out of a total of 243,000 kilometres. 24 out of 25 Nunavut communities are coastal communities, including all 13 communities in the Qikiqtani region. The Qikiqtani region is the largest of the three regions in Nunavut, with a total population of 19,654; 15,507 of whom are Inuit.