Canada’s Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships to Affiliate with Inuit Nunangat

The future HMCS Harry DeWolf
The future HMCS Harry DeWolf

Published May 27, 2019 5:39 PM by The Maritime Executive

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 HMCS Harry DeWolf and the Qikiqtani region of Nunavut, was formally recognized during a visit by her Commanding Officer, Commander Corey Gleason in Iqaluit on Monday.

Affiliation between an HMC Ship, its sailors and civilian communities is a long-standing and honored 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 and their crews will build ties with the communities in these regions during routine operations in Canada’s Northern waters. 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.

Approximately 43 percent of Canada’s ocean coastline is found within the Nunavut Settlement Area; 104,000 out of a total of 243,000 kilometers. 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. 

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.

“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

“Inuit have been an integral part of Canada’s efforts to establish sovereignty in the Arctic,” said P.J. Akeeagok, President, Qikiqtani Inuit Association. “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.”