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Arctic alliance

By Jackey Locke

With so much emphasis on the North these days, when Dr. Brian Veitch received a call in August from the Harris Centre to go to Iqaluit for a sovereignty exercise, he jumped at the opportunity.

“The invitation was to observe the 2008 Operation Nanook Arctic Sovereignty exercise,” said the associate dean of research with the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “My immediate interest in attending this exercise was to communicate to our military and government officials that Memorial is very interested in Arctic issues, and that the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science is sharpening its focus on this strategically-important area.”

Dr. Veitch said the visit also provided him with an opportunity to establish closer links with the Canadian Forces. In addition to his role as associate dean of research, he is the chair of the faculty’s ocean and naval architectural engineering program.

“We are the only university in the country that teaches ocean and naval architectural engineering and we want to ensure that the Canadian Navy has an opportunity to take an active role in our program, whether that’s through sending their naval officers here to take engineering degrees, or joining some of our collaborative research projects,” he explained.

Operation Nanook, a $3-million, 10-day sovereignty and security exercise, focused on exercising emergency responses to scenarios that included an oil spill, a mass evacuation of a cruise ship due to a fire on board, and a public health threat. It was also an opportunity for the Canadian Forces and other government departments and agencies to collaborate on key issues. As one of the largest northern operations, it included participants from the army, navy, air force, as well as Canadian Rangers, and members of the RCMP, Canadian Coast Guard, CSIS, and Canada Border Services Agency.

Dr. Veitch believes that opportunities such as this one are valuable to the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and to Memorial as a whole.

“The Arctic will be transformed in the next few decades as mining and energy projects are developed and transportation expands. Our research program anticipates some of the associated challenges with a view to reducing
the engineered footprint on this tough, but fragile region.”