FORT ALBANY – The Junior Canadian Ranger patrol in the small Cree community of Fort Albany on the James Bay coast has been named the best in Ontario.
“They deserved to win the trophy this year for the best patrol,” said Captain John McNeil, the Canadian Army officer who commands the 1,000 Junior Rangers in 21 First Nation communities across the Far North of Ontario. “They are active and enthusiastic and the community is behind them in everything they are doing.”
The Junior Rangers is a Canadian Armed Forces program for boys and girls aged 12 to 18 in remote and isolated communities across the Canadian North. It emphasizes safety on the land and water and in personal lifestyles.
“Everything about the Fort Albany patrol is just rocking and rolling right now,” said Sergeant Scott Hooper, the Canadian Army instructor who visits the community regularly to support the Junior Ranger training. “They are good and strong and they work well with each other. The Canadian Rangers in Fort Albany have gone above and beyond in their support for their Junior Rangers.”
Captain McNeil said the support from the community for the Junior Ranger program in Fort Albany was a large part of the reason the patrol was named the best in the province.
“The community has been plagued by a lot of social issues in the past and people are seeing what the program can do for their kids and they are supporting it,” he said.
The band allows the Junior Rangers free use of its youth site for training. Parents volunteer to support the training in any way they can.
The Junior Rangers provided volunteer help for the Canadian Rangers during the spring ice break-up emergency on the Albany River. They work as volunteers at the Farmers Market.
“There are some very strong Junior Rangers in the patrol,” Sergeant Hooper said. “They are all very active.”
“I like being a Junior Ranger because there are a lot of fun things to do instead of being inside and being bored,” said Junior Ranger Tyler Edwards, 15. “I like going out with the program when there’s something going on. I like paintball and outdoor activities, such as camping, fishing, ice fishing, canoeing, and biking.”
The patrol‘s recent big recent contribution to their community is a mountain bike trail that takes an hour to cycle.
“The Junior Rangers themselves came up with the idea to build a mountain bike trail for the community,” Sergeant Hooper said. “They went out with chainsaws and all the proper safety equipment, dressed the way they are trained to do, and they cleared out a whole bicycle trail. Right now, they are building signs to put on the trail. It is quite an achievement.”
(Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden.)