THUNDER BAY – Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day is calling for further investment in the Canadian Rangers Program after they responded to two distress calls over the holidays, one as recent as Sunday in sub-zero temperatures on an ice road between the communities of Attawapiskat and Kashechewan.
“The Canadian Rangers answered a call late Saturday night about an accident north of Kashechewan involving a skidoo and a person stranded in -26 tempertatures,” said Mushkegowuk Council Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon. “The Rangers decided to transfer the injured on a sleigh to Attawapiskat hospital and got there at 4 am Sunday morning and arrived back in Kashechewan at 8 am this morning. Kudos to our Canadian Rangers who answered the call and probably saved a life.”
Another incident on Christmas Eve also ended up a success after a Canadian Ranger team from Muskrat Dam was dispatched to search and rescue mission to assist a stranded Christmas shopper.
According to reports, the shopper, a member of the Muskrat Dam Ranger patrol, got into difficulties on his way home after a Christmas shopping trip to Sioux Lookout. He drove his truck from Sioux Lookout to North Caribou Lake, left it there, and was on his way to Muskrat Dam by snowmobile on Dec 23 with a sled full of Christmas shopping when he encountered unsafe ice on a creek about 30 kilometres from Muskrat Dam.
After a six-hour wait the Ranger team found him shortly before midnight. They used felled tree trunks to build a bridge over the creek and ensured he was able to cross it safely with his snowmobile and sled. Escorted by his fellow Rangers, he was home in time for Christmas.
In October, Rangers completed successful searches in four Northern Ontario communities. They involved two hunting parties, a missing 9-year-old boy, and an elderly woman.
“The Canadian Rangers program is very essential in the north and we urge the Federal Government to continue to support the program. Many times these men and women respond to emergency situations in dire situations and have saved lives,” said Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day.
The Canadian Rangers have been called the ‘eyes and ears of the north’ and are part-time volunteer reserve soldiers from the remote communities they serve. One of their major responsibilities in Northern Ontario is providing on-the-ground search and rescue expertise in their remote communities on behalf of the OPP, who are the lead ground search agency in Ontario. In most cases, the Rangers complete a search before the OPP can assemble and fly in a search team.
Since January 2011, an unusually high number of Canadian Rangers and Junior Rangers, 49 in total have died, a trend the military chaplain responsible for the North called “significant” and raised as a concern in a report for the chief of the defence staff and chief of military personnel in early 2014.
It was reported in October 2015 the Canadian Forces ombudsman will conduct a full review of the Canadian Rangers program following stories about deaths among members of the military’s northern patrol units.
The review of the Rangers comes as the ombudsman releases a series of investigations over the next few months that focus specifically on Canadian Forces reservists, the part-time soldiers who are called upon for domestic operations or to augment and support the military’s regular force.
The Canadian Rangers also run the Junior Canadian Rangers program that brings in valuable training for young people.