By Peter Moon
CAMP LOON – The Mishkeegogamang First Nation’s Junior Canadian Ranger (JCR) patrol has been named this year’s best Junior Ranger patrol in Ontario.
The announcement was made at Camp Loon 2019, making Mishkeegogamang the first JCR patrol to win the coveted trophy twice. Its earlier win was in 2014.
“I’m not surprised,” said Warrant Officer Sheldon DeWolfe, the patrol’s Canadian Army instructor. “I’ve worked with them for the last three-and-a-half years and it’s been a great experience. They’re a great bunch of kids.”
The patrol consists of JCRs from Mishkeegogamang and the nearby town of Sioux Lookout as well as from Ojibway Nation of Saugeen. A dedicated group of drivers transports the JCRs to meetings, training exercises, and events.
The Junior Canadian Rangers is a Canadian Army program for boys and girls aged 12 to 18 across Canada’s North. There are more than 1,000 JCRs in 27 First Nations across the Far North of Ontario. Camp Loon is an advanced training camp for JCRs held annually in the bush north of Geraldton.
Two high school teachers in Sioux Lookout are credited with making the Mishkeegogamang patrol a success. They are Master Corporal Brent Lavine, who is responsible for the patrol, and Corporal Kayla Blakney.
“They are a very active patrol,” said Master Warrant Officer James Courier, Camp Loon’s sergeant major. “and Kayla and Brent have both dedicated a lot of their personal time to working with their JCRs. A lot of the credit goes to them.”
“I was very surprised to hear we were the winners,” said Corporal Blakney. “But it was a very nice surprise.
“Brent and I both try to keep our kids active with weekly or bi-weekly meetings, with exercises every six weeks to two months, a camp, doing a (shooting) range, or on-the-land in tents in all four seasons.
“The patrol has 25 kids and 15 show up regularly. Working with them is one of the highlights of my life. They are great kids to work with.”
(Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden.)