I was posted to 8 Wing Trenton, Ont., in July of 2012.
A month and a half after my arrival I was offered a chance to go to Canadian Forces Station Alert in Nunavut as the station’s supply and logistics officer. I jumped at the opportunity to explore the most northerly permanently inhabited settlement on the globe.
The position is a great professional development opportunity that any junior officer in the Canadian Forces should strive to experience. The supply and logistics officer is in charge of supply and traffic and you can imagine how important this task is to the survival and continued existence of a station as isolated as this one.
At parallel 82° 29’ 58’’ north latitude and 62° 20’ 05’’ west longitude, Alert is situated at the far tip of Ellesmere Island. Russia is closer to Alert than Ottawa, and on a clear day the mountains of Greenland can be seen on the other side of the Lincoln Sea.
The first thing that struck me in Alert is how dry the weather was, like a desert covered with snow. The dry weather can cause headaches or nose bleeds and all the rooms on the Station have a humidifier. [I also found that] the wide emptiness and sparse infrastructure makes distances deceptively hard to predict.
Apart from the commanding officer, I was the only other officer on the station. The remainder of the Station members is a mix of non-commissioned members and civilian contractors.
From the commanding officer to the cleaners, everyone I met in Alert was a true professional, dedicated to the success and well-being of the station. The commanding officer’s motto is “One team, one mission” and that cohesion was evident in the activities of Alerts’ inhabitants.
During my posting I had many responsibilities, from being the primary point of contact for Operation Boxtop (the Station’s twice-yearly major resupply run) to writing responses to inspections. I was responsible for the welfare and career progression of a crew of four and I coordinated with all the section heads on the station and outside organizations to gather information, write and prepare reports on the station’s activity. And those were only few of my many responsibilities.
During my posting, I made lifetime friends, and grew as a person and a professional. I hope that future supply and logistics officers at CFS Alert have as memorable a time as I did.