THUNDER BAY – Eight teams of soldiers from Southern Ontario will celebrate the New Year by competing in a hockey tournament in Toronto to express their support and appreciation for the Canadian Rangers of Northern Ontario.
The players are army reservists from 32 Canadian Brigade Group, which consists of 2,400 part-time soldiers in 12 Southern Ontario units, with its headquarters is in Toronto. The day-long tournament will take place at York University on Monday, January 2.
“The purpose of the tournament is for the soldiers to enjoy Canada’s primary pastime by celebrating the New Year with hockey and by raising some money and awareness about the Canadian Rangers of 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group,” said Colonel Dwayne Hobbs, assistant chief of staff at 4th Canadian Division, which commands the army in Ontario.
“In a sense, it’s a way for the soldiers of 4th Canadian Division, who rely so heavily on 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, to recognize the support they get from the Rangers when we do domestic operations in the North or train in Ontario.”
There are 630 Canadian Rangers, who are part-time army reservists, in 23 remote and isolated First Nation communities across the Far North of Ontario. Twenty have no year-round road access. The Rangers save lives in search and rescue missions and evacuations for forest fires, spring floods, and other Northern emergencies.
“What the Rangers do is such a big component of what the army does in Ontario and the tournament is a thank you to them,” said Colonel Hobbs.
“The Ranger Foundation donated the trophy,” he said. “The Foundation’s mission is to raise awareness about 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group and raise funds to support the Rangers as they serve their communities in Northern Ontario.”
The Foundation, based in Toronto, provides a range of supports for the Rangers of Northern Ontario. It also supports the Junior Canadian Rangers, a program for indigenous boys and girls aged 12 to 18 in 20 First Nations in Northern Ontario.
“This is the third annual tournament for the Ranger Foundation Cup,” said Colonel Hobbs. “We are looking to expand the tournament in the future to include military units from across the province as well as emergency first responders. Everyone is welcome to come and enjoy the event. It’s going to be fun and it’s for a good cause.”
The growing number of southern soldiers supporting the tournament is impressive, said Lieutenant-Colonel Matthew Richardson, 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group’s commanding officer.
In February of this year 900 southern soldiers participated in a major winter exercise which involved them being trained in winter survival techniques in 13 First Nation communities in Northern Ontario by 100 Canadian Rangers.
“That made a big impression on the southern soldiers,” Colonel Richardson said. “Most of them had never met a Ranger before and few of them had been in the Far North. They were impressed by the Rangers’ survival skills and their remarkable record of serving their communities in emergencies.
“Perhaps one day we’ll see a Ranger hockey team participating in the tournament. That would be something to see. The Rangers are tough players. They’d be hard to beat.”
(Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden.)