By Peter Moon
A group of Canadian Rangers from across the Far North of Ontario has completed a Canadian Army advanced training course designed to improve the quality of the training they provide to Junior Canadian Rangers in their communities.
The Rangers were some of the master corporals and corporals who run the Junior Ranger program in their remote and isolated communities. The week-long course was delivered at the 4th Canadian Division Training Centre at Meaford, near Owen Sound.
“The purpose of the training is to get information to the corporals and master corporals responsible for the Junior Ranger program in their communities, to help them do their jobs better, and enable their youth to have weekly activities and to do some fabulous training,” said Captain Jason Dech, the Canadian Army officer who commands the Junior Ranger program in Northern Ontario.
The Canadian Rangers are part-time army reservists. The Junior Rangers is an army program for boys and girls aged 12 to 18 across the Canadian North. The program is offered in Ontario in 21 First Nations as well as in high schools in Thunder Bay, Timmins, and Sioux Lookout. Two Rangers living in Thunder Bay who help run the school program attended the training at Meaford. There are almost 800 Junior Rangers in Northern Ontario.
The Rangers on the course at Meaford, “Are learning some things on planning, budgeting, time management, some youth counseling techniques, how to work with youth, and gaining a general overview of what the Junior Ranger program should look like in their communities,” Captain Deck said. “We have a lot of experience here. We have Rangers who have been with the Junior Ranger program for many, many years. We have Rangers who are new to the program. We have new Rangers. Some are former Junior Rangers themselves. There is a lot of sharing of experiences and ideas. They are all going home with new skills and ideas.”
The classes were taught by army instructors and some experienced Canadian Rangers.
The Junior Ranger program emphasizes the importance of safety for the Junior Rangers when they are on the land and water and in their personal lifestyles. Living in the Far North can be challenging for many Junior Rangers.
“The training here deals with some of the types of things that Junior Rangers are struggling with as they are growing up,” said Sergeant Eva Clarke, an army instructor. “We’re making (the students) aware of the challenges their youth are facing, their on-line exploitation, bullying, abuse, all of those things.
“We’re giving them information so that they are aware, not necessarily with how to deal with it, but to just allow the youth to talk so they can be provided with direction to go to the appropriate resources. Many of the candidates on this course have faced these things themselves”
Master Corporal Kathleen Beardy, a Ranger for 18 years, an Elder, and a member of her band council, was one of the course students. She runs the Junior Ranger program in Muskrat Dam First Nation.
“The younger corporals and master corporals on this course are fast learners,” she said. “They understand and they learn fast. They will take home what they learn here and it will be useful to them in the long run.
“The Junior Ranger program is a very valuable program for the youth in our communities. The youth learn a lot from it and you see that in their later years. It is an important program for the First Nations of the North. What is being learned here will make it better.”
Photo and story by Sgt Peter Moon.