Canadian Rangers Leading Leadership Skills

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Junior Canadian Rangers march proudly during training course
Junior Canadian Rangers march proudly during training course
Junior Canadian Rangers march proudly during training course
Junior Canadian Rangers march proudly during training course

Junior Canadian Rangers Being Inspired to Greater Things

THUNDER BAY – A group of Junior Canadian Rangers from across the Far North of Ontario has completed a week of intense leadership instuction during which they managed to impress soldiers undergoing training at the Canadian Army’s training centre at Meaford, near Owen Sound.

Wherever the Junior Rangers went on the base they marched smartly after only a short period of instruction.

“Who would have thought they’d enjoy drill the way they have,” said Captain John McNeil, the army officer commanding the 750 Junior Rangers across northern Ontario. “They were excited by being next to soldiers. They wanted to impress the soldiers and they did.”

“The drill’s been fun,” said Laurinda Miles, a 17-year-old Junior Ranger from Fort Severn on the Hudson Bay Coast, Ontario’s most northerly community. It was a sentiment shared by almost all of the 19 Junior Rangers, who came from 13 First Nations.

The 10 days of training prepared the Junior Rangers to be able to assist army instructors at Camp Loon, a Junior Ranger camp held annually in the bush north of Geraldton. The camp provides advanced training every July for about 160 Junior Rangers with a stress on teaching them to be safe on land and water and in their personal lifestyles.

Junior Canadian Rangers work together to write down causes of stress during classroom work
Junior Canadian Rangers work together to write down causes of stress during classroom work

During the course at Meaford the Junior Rangers learned the principles of leadership, how to deal with various forms of stress, public speaking, and how to work in groups and teams.

“It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed it,” Junior Ranger Miles said. “I’ve learned a lot, how to encourage people to be a leader and how to encourage people to come out of their shells. The first day we were all quiet. And then we started to talk to each other. Now we’re like one big happy family. We practice what we are learning.”

Warrant Officer Ron Wen checks the bed space of Junior Canadian Ranger Jack Linklater of Attawapiskat
Warrant Officer Ron Wen checks the bed space of Junior Canadian Ranger Jack Linklater of Attawapiskat

“Their communities see this leadership training as a huge deal for their youth,” Captain McNeil said. “We’re trying to inspire the Junior Ranges to greater things. Their training is different from military training. It’s softer. But at the same time we want to get as much leadership ability into them as we can in a short time.“

The Junior Rangers were joined on the course by nine indigenous youth from southern Ontario, from the Chippewas of Rama and Beausoleil First Nations as well as the cities of Orillia and Barrie. They participated as part of a three-year trial program to see if the Junior Ranger program, designed for youth aged 12 to 18 in remote and isolated northern communities, can bring youth from northern First Nations and indigenous youth from the south together in a mutually worthwhile way.

Junior Canadian Ranger Mason Sugarhead of Fort Hope training on the military C7 assault rifle under the watchful eye of an army instructor
Junior Canadian Ranger Mason Sugarhead of Fort Hope training on the military C7 assault rifle under the watchful eye of an army instructor

The trial was put in place after the Georgian Bay Indian Friendship Centre approached the Canadian Armed Forces and asked if the military could help with a training program for indigenous youth in their southern area.

“I’m enjoying myself greatly,” said Sheldon Campeau, a 16-year-old Ojibway high school student in Barrie. “We’re doing fun things. I’m actually learning about leadership. And I’m learning about life in the north.”

While the Junior Rangers enjoyed the classroom instruction two of the highlights of their training were learning how to rappel down a tall tower and how to shoot the military C7 assault rifle.  To prepare for shooting they were taught firearms safety and the principles of marksmanship.

They had to use civilian rules for their shooting – only five rounds in a magazine and no automatic firing. But they spent a day on a 100-metre military range and each Junior Ranger shot a total of 95 rounds at civilian targets and at tied down balloons blowing in the wind.  “I’d say they enjoyed themselves,” Captain McNeil said.


(Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Ranger Patrol Group.)

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