Army reservists testing winter survival skills with snowmobile trek from Gillam to Churchill Feb. 14

Approximately 70 Canadian Armed Forces reservists from the 38 Canadian Brigade Arctic Response Company Group (ARCG) will begin arriving in Gillam Feb. 8 to prepare for Exercise Arctic Bison 2020, a 10-day training exercise to develop winter survival skills.

Most of the equipment and personnel will arrive in Gillam Feb. 8, with the remainder of the reservists arriving Feb. 15. The exercise will run Feb. 14-21 with all participants deploying back to Winnipeg on Feb. 23.

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This event is designed to develop and test soldiers’ winter survival skills as they travel from Gillam to Churchill using snowmobiles and sleds. The main route of travel for the soldiers will be the Manitoba Hydro line from Gillam to Churchill. Community relations activities introducing the soldiers to both town’s residents are also planned.

The ARCG last conducted a winter exercise in Northern Manitoba in 2011, traveling from Churchill  north to Nunalla on the shore of Hudson Bay near the Manitoba-Nunavut boundary and then one to Arviat, Nunavut. That exercise – named Northern Bison – also included members of the second battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and consisted of 265 soldiers overall, including 144 reservists and 108 regular members of the Canadian Armed Forces and 13 Canadian Rangers, who travelled on 141 snowmobiles. A previous winter training exercise took place in the Churchill area in 2009. While in Nunalla in 2011, soldiers set up a forward operating base, including a hospital, built snow shelters and harvested local game.

In 2014, about 100 reservists acting as the ARCG held a six-day training  exercise called Spirit Way near Thompson in late August, enacting a scenario in which a plane had crashed in a remote area and survivors had wandered away

The 38 Canadian Brigade Group is an Army Reserve unit consisting of about 1,000 reservists from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and northwest Ontario.

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