The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have stepped in to provide troops and expertise in Quebec as asylum seekers from the United States continue to pour into Canada.
Under the banner of Operation ELEMENT, the CAF has deployed close to 110 troops to St-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec. Their main role is to assist in creating short-term shelter for the asylum seekers. The shelter consists of modular tent shelters with lighting and heating.
The CAF released the following statement:
“The Canadian Armed Forces is aware of the difficult situation that is requiring significant resources of Canada Border Services Agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other partners in the area of St-Bernard-de-Lacolle. Assistance from the Canadian Armed Forces was requested to support the civilian authorities of the Government of Canada to temporarily accommodate asylum seekers at the border.”
Since deploying on Aug. 9, military members have prepared sites for modular equipment and tents, established temporary infrastructure and equipment to assemble tents; installed almost 60 modular tents; and installed rigid wood floors, heating and lighting equipment for the tents.
On Aug. 12, the CAF started the development of a new site that would accommodate 700 individuals in 1,200 spaces. As of Monday, Aug. 14, 900 of these spaces are available.
Although the CAF has stated that its members have limited interaction with the incoming migrants, the military has ensured that there are several military women and men available who can express themselves in Creole.
“Having at heart cultural sensitivities and out of respect for the families and the vulnerable people on site, the CAF wishes to facilitate exchanges, if they occur.”
The military has been very clear that it will have no role in security matters and will not “participate in law enforcement tasks and will not assist civil authorities in the conduct of their law enforcement duties.”