Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

October 05, 2011 11:00 ET

International Specialists Meet in Whitehorse to Focus on Arctic Search and Rescue

WHITEHORSE, YUKON--(Marketwire - Oct. 5, 2011) - Today marks the beginning of a two-day table top exercise (TTX) in Whitehorse, Yukon for international Search and Rescue (SAR) specialists from the eight Arctic Council states. This will be the first ever gathering of international SAR delegations to discuss joint strategic and operational aspects of aeronautical and maritime search and rescue in the Arctic.

"Canada is proud to host the first-ever gathering of search and rescue specialists from the eight Arctic Council states to discuss our activities in the North," said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence and lead federal minister responsible for Search and Rescue. "Canada's signing of the Arctic SAR Agreement and hosting this first international table top exercise, are tangible demonstrations of our Government's commitment to Arctic Sovereignty and to the international SAR community."

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper and our government have made the issues facing Canada's Arctic a priority like never before," said Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. "We will continue to exercise our sovereignty over Canada's Arctic while working with our partners in the Arctic Council to address emerging issues in the North."

The exercise was convened as a result of the signing of the Arctic SAR Agreement on May 12 2011 in Nuuk, Greenland by the eight Arctic council states: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States of America.

Canada Command is the Canadian Forces (CF) Headquarters responsible for the conduct and coordination of aeronautical and maritime search and rescue operations within Canada. The CF works closely with the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) and other search and rescue organizations, including the international community, to save the lives of people lost or injured, often in remote and dangerous locations.

"I am delighted to welcome the delegates to Whitehorse for this first SAR TTX," said Lieutenant-General Walter Semianiw, Commander Canada Command and exercise host. "Our presence today in Whitehorse demonstrates to Canadians and the international community the importance our respective nations place on safety and security in the Arctic."

The table top exercise will focus on air and marine incidents which could potentially occur in the Arctic which would require international cooperation and resources. It will hopefully be the first of many international forums stemming from the Arctic SAR Agreements.

Note to Editor / News Director: Media are invited to attend the opening of the first Arctic Council Search and Rescue Table Top Exercise, Wednesday October 5, 2011 commencing at 8 a.m. Lieutenant-General Walter Semianiw will make opening remarks followed by a media question and answer opportunity.

On-site Public Affairs contact will be Ms. Jennifer Wright, (867) 873-0700 x 6922. For further information, please contact: Canada Command Public Affairs Operations, phone: (613) 990-5238 or (613) 897-5439.

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