Operation Backpack a continued success during Arctic deployments

Nearly 100 backpacks were collected, with the help of the Halifax and Region MFRC, prior to the ships’ departing for the Arctic this past summer.


Operation Backpack a continued success during Arctic deployments

By Lt(N) Lisa Tubb,
HMCS Harry DeWolf

As another school year started at Inuujaq School in Arctic Bay, Nunavut, on August 25, students in a Grade Four class were writing their names on desk placards as the day ended. Little did they know sailors aboard HMCS Harry DeWolf were coming to anchor in the bay, only a few hundred metres from their classroom.

Sailor First Class Raymond Kwan shows children how to use the “Big Eyes” binoculars to get a close up look of their community, as part of the tour to visitors from the Hamlet of Arctic Bay, Nunavut during Operation NANOOK-NUNAKPUT on August 26.

After an amphibious landing on the shoreline, a handful of Harry DeWolf sailors made their way to the Inuujaq School with some precious cargo – dozens of backpacks filled with school supplies. These backpacks had been collected by the Halifax and Region Military Family and Resource Centre over the year and given to the crews of Harry DeWolf and HMCS Goose Bay for delivery to communities during their participation in Operation Nanook-Nunkaput 21.

Sailor First Class Amy Harris was part of the contingent invited into the fourth-grade classroom to ceremoniously donate the backpacks.

“The kids were very surprised and excited. The best part of that experience was after the school had let out, a few sailors and I were still there exploring the village when some of the kids ran up to us and were so excited to show us that they got to take a backpack home.”

As a mother of two herself, she added, “It was a surreal experience. We take for granted so many simple things like school supplies, and regard having to go shopping for them as an inconvenience.”

During Operation Nanook-Nunkaput 21, Harry DeWolf travelled to several Arctic communities to forge relationships within their affiliated Qikitani communities that included Pond Inlet, Grise Fjord, Arctic Bay, and Cambridge Bay, among others. Activities ashore included community barbecues, meeting with local leaders and elders, ship tours, and the donation of backpacks. Goose Bay donated their backpacks during a port visit to Iqaluit on August 28.

Operation Backpack is an annual donation drive to supply youth in the Arctic with the necessary materials for a successful academic year. The Halifax and Region Military Family and Resource Centre is always looking for more donations of school supplies, as well as lightly used or new running shoes, sports equipment (for basketball, soccer, volleyball), and ice skates for youth in Arctic communities.