Who We Are

The Search and Rescue Volunteer Association of Canada (SARVAC) is a registered not-for-profit and educational organization that supports, coordinates, develops, informs, promotes and implements search, rescue and emergency response with the underlying principle of saving lives.
SARVAC is administered by volunteers who train and practice search, rescue and survival skills in various parts of Canada . The organization is supported by the National Search and Rescue Secretariat and is funded through donations and fund-raising events.SARVAC takes pride in offering a vital National service. In addition to its search and rescue activities, it provides a medium for liaison and the exchange of information among federal, provincial/territorial, local, and volunteer search and/or rescue agencies and organizations.

Our History

Established in 1996, the Search and Rescue Volunteer Association of Canada (SARVAC) is a federally incorporated registered Canadian Charity that provides a national voice for ground search and rescue volunteers in Canada.

We address issues of common concern, to develop consistency, and promote standardization or portability of programs and volunteers, and deliver initiatives that benefit and support all ground search and rescue volunteers in Canada, as well as the general public.

SARVAC represents the thirteen provincial and territorial volunteer Ground Search and Rescue Associations in Canada.  The Board of Directors is comprised of volunteer representatives from each of the provinces and territories.  Ultimately, SARVAC represents the interests of 9,000 Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) volunteers throughout Canada who provide search and rescue services on land and inland waters.

Our Guiding Principles

Local SAR Groups

We promote the formation of local search and rescue organizations by providing support in the form of guidance and material on organizing and developing local units, educational materials, and consulting services.

SARVAC promotes standardization of ground search and rescue through the development of core competency standards, curriculum development,  procedures, communications, and distribution of sample plans, programs, and procedures.


We strive for flexibility in response to meet the requirements of ever changing environments in timely fashion.


  • Establish education programs aimed at improving the standards of performance for ground search and rescue.
  • Promote, develop, and coordinate educational programs to better equip the general public to cope, both mentally and physically, with the natural environment and with problems from natural and man-made disasters and emergency situations.
  • Promote knowledge of search and rescue issues and programs, and promote communication between organizations by the publication of newsletters, journals, and social media.

Public Voice

  • Represent public opinion on ground search and rescue issues through liaison with Federal, Provincial/Territorial, local agencies and Members of Parliament.  Maintain liaison with search and rescue equipment suppliers in order to promote the development and refinement of emergency response equipment.
  • Conduct meetings and symposia in order to provide a public forum for promoting ground search and rescue in Canada.
  • Upon request of Federal, Provincial/Territorial, or local agencies or Members of Parliament, provide consultation and expert testimony on emergency response related subjects.


Cooperation and collaboration with Provinces and Territories while respecting roles and responsibilities of jurisdictions.

Respecting the cultural diversity of search and rescue providers and users.


Creating value from new ideas moving forward.