Operation Hestia

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CC-177 departing from Montreal International Airport after having repatriated Haitian Canadians

Operation Hestia is the name of the Canadian Forces humanitarian response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake which struck Haiti on 12 January 2010. Operation Hestia is the military component of an interagency response that also involves Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The headquarters for Operation Hestia were established in the city of Jacmel.[1]

Force composition[edit]

The Canadian Forces deployed approximately 2,000 personnel, including the Air Component under the Command of Colonel Scott Clancy, and with a Naval Task Group from CFB Halifax, Nova Scotia, under the command of Maritime Command Captain Art McDonald, comprising:

The battalion of the Royal 22e Régiment deployed to Haiti can only remain on station until late-March, as they will need to deploy to California, for training, prior to deployment to Afghanistan.[2][3]

Withdrawal is expected to be complete by April.[4]

Mission timeline[edit]

Athabaskan was deployed to the city of Léogâne and Halifax was deployed to the city of Jacmel (Governor-General Michaëlle Jean's hometown[5]), arriving at their respective locations off Haiti on 18 January 2010.[6] Both naval vessels deployed their ship's companies as light engineering platoons, with the use of light equipment such as chainsaws, for relief operations in Haiti. They comprised approximately 500 sailors, and the ship's boarding parties were tasked with providing security to the sailors on shore.[7] Athabaskan and Halifax had departed CFB Halifax for Haiti on 14 January 2010.[8] Relief flights using CC-130 Hercules into Jacmel Airport started on 19 January, after having previously been scouted by CH-146 Griffons on 14 January.[9] The identification of Jacmel Airport as a possible site for use and the decision to use Jacmel was made by Major-General Yvan Blondin.[10]

8 Air Communications and Control Squadron installed runway lighting on 19 January at Jacmel Airport, enabling aircraft to land at night, with radar control of the airspace provided by the nearby HMCS Halifax. Opening the Jacmel airfield 24 hours-a-day was intended to help relieve congestion at Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince.[11]

As of 20 January 2010, 1,504 people were evacuated from Haiti to Canada on 17 flights. 1,727 Canadians have been located while 479 were still unaccounted for.[12]

On 22 January, the DART facility in Jacmel moved from next to the Saint-Michel Hospital to the harbour.[13] The DART field hospital was set up on the pier and was operating at capacity.[14] The DART's Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit, which produces potable water from whatever source is available, including sea water, was set up on a jetty in Jacmel.[15] Air traffic control was established at Jacmel Airport and, as of 22 January, the airport could accommodate a mix of 160 military and civilian fixed-wing and helicopter flights a day.[13] The 1st Canadian Field Hospital was deployed to Léogâne.[16] The Van Doos, have been deployed to Léogâne, to help with recovery efforts.[17]

As of 24 January in Jacmel, the organization of refugee camps continued, with the start of construction of proper latrines. Food distribution was being delivered by the UN, with Canadian soldiers providing security, and Haitian Girl Guides and Boy Scouts handling crowd control and organization.[18] Canadian military firefighters were inspecting buildings in Jacmel to ascertain which were structurally sound and usable. A Canadian military clinic had been set up on the beach, with the Forces also establishing a tent city for those residents who had lost their homes.[19] Canadian soldiers were providing security for food distribution points in Léogâne.[20]

On 28 January, Jacmel's first post-quake baby was born at the DART clinic.[21] Late in January, plans were made with the U.S. to shift military flights from Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince to Jacmel Airport, to allow civilian flights into the capital's airport. It was expected that approximately 100 flights would be shifted to Jacmel. Canadian Forces were preparing for the increase in traffic, and were already dealing with degradation of the airstrip surface due to its current overuse.[10][22] The Canadian Forces also started to monitor Jacmel-area orphanages to help protect against orphan-trafficking.[23]

After three weeks of operations, the Canadian Forces were "everywhere" in the Leogane-Jacmel Corridor.[24]

On 19 February, HMCS Halifax finished its operational tour, and left Jacmel.[25] As of 22 February, military evacuation flights ended, Canadians that desired to leave were required to depart via commercial flights via Port-au-Prince International Airport, which had resumed operations. Over 4600 Canadians were evacuated on 48 flights. 50 Canadians were still listed as missing, while 34 were confirmed as killed.[25] 1,681 members of the Canadian Forces remained in Haiti.[26] On 22 February, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon announced the start of a progressive drawdown of deployed Canadian Forces in Haiti.[27]

On 2 March, HMCS Halifax returned to CFB Halifax.[28] On 5 March, it was announced that the 850 soldiers from CFB Valcartier of Joint Task Force Haiti (JTF Haiti, JTFH) would start gradually returning.[29] As of 7 March 90 members of the Van Doos had returned home. It was announced that HMCS Athabaskan would end its mission on 10 March.[30][31] On 9 March, the Jacmel dockside Canadian walk-in medical clinic closed, after treating more than 10,000 patients.[32] As of 16 March, the Canadian military vacated Jacmel.[33] Athabaskan returned to CFB Halifax on 17 March 2010.[34][35]

On 1 April 2010, the Joint Task Force Support Element closed the mission and the last remaining Canadian military forces left the theatre from the Port-au-Prince International Airport.


After a fortnight of operations, a survey showed significant approval of the operation as a fitting Canadian response.[36] The UN also expressed approval of the mission by Canada, but stated that the Canadian troops would not stay long.[37][38] After three weeks of operations, the Haitians of Jacmel were happy with the help the Canadian Forces were providing.[24] After five weeks, morale was high amongst Canadian Forces personnel deployed to Haiti.[39] After two months, the Haitian government expressed its gratitude for Canada's help.[40]

Many groups charge that the Canadian Forces departed Jacmel abruptly, leaving it in no condition to continue on as a receiving and distribution hub. After the pullout, the airport could no longer process international flights, as no equipment remained to operate the control tower, nor heavy equipment to process the planes, or security to police supplies at the airport. The seaport was left without heavy equipment to handle cargo on ships, and without security to secure the port.[41][42]

An internal governmental report on the operation after its conclusion noted that the DART team was not given priority in aid flights, and were left without equipment supplies or security that it needed to function at full capacity. It further stated that various media groups and special interest groups were bumping supplies and personnel for the operation off the flights into Haiti from Canada. Other less critical supplies from aid groups were bumping critical supplies and equipment. It also noted that although DART should be at full readiness, all the time, it was given byes on preparedness.[43]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ CTV National News, airdate 27 January 2010
  2. ^ Edwards, Steven (3 February 2010). "UN picks Clinton to head Haiti aid co-ordination". Vancouver Sun,. Retrieved 3 February 2010.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)[dead link]
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "GG receives warm welcome in Port-au-Prince". CTV News. 9 March 2010. Archived from the original on 11 March 2010. Retrieved 9 March 2010.
  5. ^ CTV National News, 18 January 2010
  6. ^ Maher, Stephen (18 January 2010). "HMCS Athabaskan, Halifax to be in Haiti early Tuesday". Chronicle Herald. Archived from the original on 22 January 2010. Retrieved 18 January 2010.
  7. ^ CBC News, The National, 18 January 2010
  8. ^ "Navy ships leave Halifax for Haiti". CBC News. 14 January 2010. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  9. ^ Galloway, Gloria (19 January 2010). "Canada's big task in Haiti starts on small airstrip". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  10. ^ a b Lett, Dan (30 January 2010). "Canada earns its wings". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
  11. ^ "Haïti : le Canada va rouvrir l'aéroport de Jacmel" (in French). Romandie. AFP. 20 January 2010. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2010.
  12. ^ "Operations Update". Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. Archived from the original on 3 February 2010.
  13. ^ a b Ibbitson, John (22 January 2010). "A city struggles to escape from chaos". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 25 January 2010. Retrieved 23 January 2010.
  14. ^ Popplewell, Brett (26 January 2010). "This Haitian town is singing Canada's praise". Toronto Star. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  15. ^ "Canadian clinic in Haiti running near capacity". CBC News. 26 January 2010. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  16. ^ Chase, Sean (22 January 2010). "Mobile hospital ready to deploy to Haiti". Toronto Sun. QMI. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  17. ^ "Des soldats de Valcartier prêtent main forte". LCN (in French). QMI. 23 January 2010. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
  18. ^ Maher, Stephen (25 January 2010). "It's home, at least for now". Chronicle Herald. Archived from the original on 27 January 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  19. ^ Panetta, Alexander (24 January 2010). "Canadian relief efforts face rough terrain, bad roads in quake-struck Haiti". The Canadian Press. Retrieved 25 January 2010.[dead link]
  20. ^ Alberts, Sheldon (25 January 2010). "Desperate rush on food distribution". National Post. Retrieved 26 January 2010.[dead link]
  21. ^ Mayeda, Andrew (28 January 2010). "Canadian military clinic delivers baby amid destruction in Haitian town". The Province. Canwest News Service. Retrieved 28 January 2010.
  22. ^ "US to help Haiti resume normal airport operations". The Washington Post. Associated Press. 30 January 2010. Retrieved 31 January 2010.[dead link]
  23. ^ Mayeda, Andrew; MacLeod, Ian (31 January 2010). "Orphan-trafficking fears rise in Haitian camps". Montreal Gazette. Canwest News Service. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
  24. ^ a b "L'aide humanitaire se fraie un chemin en province". France-Guyane. 9 February 2010. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  25. ^ a b "Canada stops Haitian evacuation flights, death toll set to jump". Canadian Press. The Canadian Press. 22 February 2010. Archived from the original on 28 February 2010. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  26. ^ "Canadian pullout begins". Vancouver Sun. Canwest News Service. 22 February 2010. Retrieved 23 February 2010.[dead link]
  27. ^ O'Neill, Juliet (22 February 2010). "Canada begins military withdrawal from Haiti". Montreal Gazette. Canwest News Service. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  28. ^ "L'Athabaskan rentre au Canada". Radio-Canada (in French). 17 March 2010. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  29. ^ "Media advisory – Valcartier troops back from Haiti". CNW. 5 March 2010. Retrieved 6 March 2010.
  30. ^ Spencer, Christina (7 March 2010). "Canadian troops preparing to leave Haiti". Toronto Sun. QMI. Retrieved 9 March 2010.
  31. ^ Leeder, Jessica (8 March 2010). "Haiti will not be 'left behind,' MacKay says". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 9 March 2010.
  32. ^ Leeder, Jessica (9 March 2010). "Michaëlle Jean's emotional reunion in Jacmel". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  33. ^ Leeder, Jessica (16 March 2010). "Jacmel's unofficial department of public complaints". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  34. ^ "HMCS Athabaskan returning from Haiti, scheduled back in Halifax on Wednesday". Canadian Press. The Canadian Press. 15 March 2010. Retrieved 15 March 2010.[dead link]
  35. ^ "Une deuxième frégate canadienne revient d'Haïti" (in French). RockDétente 107.3. Info Astral Media. 17 March 2010. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  36. ^ "Canadians approve of Haiti response: poll". CBC News. 28 January 2010. Retrieved 30 January 2010.
  37. ^ "L'ONU défend l'engagement militaire du Canada en Haïti". La Presse (in French). Agence France-Presse. 2 February 2010. Retrieved 3 February 2010.
  38. ^ "Haiti : Les troupes Américaines se retireront". Metropole Haiti (in French). 2 February 2010. Retrieved 3 February 2010.
  39. ^ Staples, Michael (23 February 2010). "Morale no problem for soldiers in Haiti – Lt.-Col". Daily Gleaner. Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  40. ^ Raj, Althia (17 March 2010). "Haiti's charge d'affaires thanks Canada for its help". Canoe News. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  41. ^ Jamer, Rod (25 March 2010). "Pulling the plug in Haiti". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 27 March 2010.
  42. ^ Leeder, Jessica (23 March 2010). "Departure of Canadian Forces hampers Jacmel's reconstruction". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 27 March 2010.
  43. ^ "Military rushed to Haiti without guns, ammo". CTV News. The Canadian Press. 9 July 2010. Archived from the original on 11 July 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2010.

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