by Lt(N) Andrew McLaughlin


Approximately 300 soldiers from 33 Canadian Brigade Group (33 CBG) recently completed a major emergency response exercise in Mattawa and North Bay with local civilian partners.

33 Territorial Battalion Group (33 TBG), formed by 33 CBG, headquartered in Ottawa, and consisting of Army Reserve units from across Central, Eastern and Northern Ontario, deployed to the Town of Mattawa for simulated emergency response Exercise Trillium Venture from May 3-5, 2024.

Trillium Venture was a Joint Task Force Central (JTFC) training event that practiced the planning and execution of a domestic operation in response to a request for assistance (RFA) from the provincial government or other Canadian federal departments. It maintained JTFC’s high level of readiness to immediately respond to RFAs when called upon by the government of Canada.

The events in Mattawa and North Bay were only part of a major exercise that saw JTFC assets and personnel deploy to multiple communities. The exercise was held across Ontario with approximately 1,500 JTFC personnel, composed of members from the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Air Forces (RCAF), and the Naval Reserve (NAVRES).

For the land component of the exercise, 31 CBG was deployed to the South Huron area, 32 CBG to Simcoe County, in addition to 33 TBG in the vicinity of Mattawa. JTFC is headquartered in Toronto and responsible for all Canadian armed Forces personnel and assets in Ontario during Operation Lentus, the year-round operation that provides emergency support to Canadian communities following an official RFA.

Photo: MCpl Jim Saunders


The Northern Ontario component of the exercise began with an Air Force CC-130J Hercules aircraft from 436 Squadron delivering critical supplies to 33 TBG at the Jack Garland Airport in North Bay on May 3. This supply flight was conducted to demonstrate and test the capacity of 22 Wing North Bay and RCAF assets to support Army Reserve elements tasked with responding to emergencies like natural disasters, including flooding and wildfires. The flight delivered critical supplies and equipment including mobile generators, which could be used to provide relief to residents in an emergency.

A CH-147 Chinook helicopter from 450 Squadron operated from Explorer’s Point in the heart of Mattawa on May 4, drawing a crowd of curious onlookers. The RCAF provided rapid supply of critical materiel during the simulated flooding emergency, demonstrating clear interoperability with 33 TBG and JTFC in the process.

Multiple other training evolutions exercised the TBG’s capacity to respond to a community in crisis. Sappers from 33 Combat Engineer Regiment and Assault Pioneers from the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment practiced debris clearance and other related construction tasks during the simulated emergency response at Dorion Hill in Mattawa. A detachment of Naval Reserve personnel operated small boats with the Engineers and Pioneers off the marina, practicing emergency water crossing and supply operations.

The community welcomed the deployment, after an extensive public communications plan was initiated weeks before the exercise in conjunction with local officials. Various posters were mounted on government buildings and small businesses, and local media helped inform the community of the upcoming exercise, the expected noise, and increased road, water and air traffic.

Hundreds of Mattawa residents attended a “Meet-a-Soldier” event on the sunny Saturday afternoon, where military and other first responders’ vehicles were on display, and personnel from the CAF and participating organizations were available to speak with the public and show them their various equipment. Recruiters were on site to discuss the many employment opportunities available and to provide information on how to join part or full-time.

Photo: MCpl Jim Saunders


The size, structure, and capability of JTFC support is tailored to the specific emergency situation, and the territorial battalion group was developed, in part, for disaster response in domestic operations, precisely like the one simulated on Ex Trillium Venture.

“We confirmed that we’re operationally ready, and able to deploy our members rapidly,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Jason Fox, commanding officer of 33 TBG. “[The exercise] definitely helped strengthen our territorial battalion group and increased our ability to deploy and respond to domestic emergencies when called upon.”

Overall, the exercise demonstrated JTFC readiness and interoperability — with various RCAF aircraft participating, with the RCN operating watercraft, and among 33 TBG leadership working alongside various partner agencies and organizations.

“We showed that JTFC stands ready to provide highly trained personnel and resources to support and serve fellow Canadians during natural disasters when called upon by the government,” said Colonel James McKay, commander of 33 CBG. “Having an opportunity to train alongside our partners in this beautiful community was extremely beneficial, and the hospitality shown by the people of Mattawa was greatly appreciated.”


Lt(N) Andrew McLaughlin is a public affairs officer with 33 Canadian Brigade Group.