The newly constructed St. John’s Convention Centre hosted the fourth annual Maritime and Arctic Security and Safety Conference (MASS16) on October 27 and 28. The event, hosted by the Aerospace and Defence Industry Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (ADIANL), focused on northern and maritime concerns and challenges.

The Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador supported the conference, which drew revered national and international guests and speakers. The aim of the conference, according to their website, “is to promote stakeholder collaboration, technological innovation, harsh environment research and development, and world-class education efforts that are contributing to various components of northern development.” Combining efforts and various perspectives on arctic safety and security issues led the ADIANL to select “Converging Interests” as the theme for the conference.

Operating over two days, the conference brought varied speakers and patrons to the capital city including representatives from government, academia, research, industry, stakeholders, military, and both the Canadian and U.S. Coast Guard. Topics such as Northern Security and Surveillance, Port Security, Search and Rescue Capabilities, and Maritime Domain Capabilities were discussed at length. 
 Hosting the conference in St. John’s allowed for a focus on the province as an avenue to access the advancing capabilities of the North Atlantic and the Polar Regions. The advancement of these opportunities are directly linked to Atlantic Canada through the industry of both renewable and nonrenewable resource potential, shipping potential, and geopolitical concerns. The intent of the conference seemed to be to bring together multiple stakeholders across all domains, in order to address and engage these topics collectively.

Our Canadian Armed Forces began the conference, represented by Brigadier-General Bruce Ploughman who currently holds the position of Chief of Staff Readiness at Canadian Joint Operations Command. Many other respected representatives of both the Canadian and U.S. Coast Guard and government conducted important and informative engagements during the conference.

According to Sharon Beattie, Operations Manager of ADIANL, the conference “facilitated a dynamic networking opportunity consisting of: pan-NL (including representation from Labrador and the West Coast); pan-Canadian (with representation from Nunavut, Atlantic Canada, Central Canada and British Columbia); bilateral for Canada and U.S. engagement (senior speakers from the Canadian Coast Guard, the Canadian Armed Forces, the RCMP, the United States Coast Guard and the United States Navy): polar focused discussion (representation from defence attaches from Australia, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Norway and the United States)”

The presence of both national and international military at the conference was an important facet as the issues surrounding northern and rural security and safety were discussed. Topics such as Canadian Armed Forces presence in the Arctic, the US Coast Guard’s Arctic presence and strategy, the US Navy’s approach to navigating the Arctic, and the capabilities for the future for all divisions of military as it concerns northern development were discussed. In this month of Remembrance it is important to recognize these military personnel who maintain civil positions such as this, while representing our country. These positions allow for our country and our province to participate actively within conferences, education, community programs and growth opportunities such as MASS16.