SANDY LAKE – The high point of a week-long joint training exercise by Canadian Rangers from four remote First Nations in Northwest Ontario was providing an escort for the Stanley Cup when it arrived in Sandy Lake First Nation on a surprise visit.
“I enjoyed the exercise,” said Ranger Harry McKay from Sachigo Lake. “There were a lot of new experiences to go along with it, but the big one was seeing the Stanley Cup. I’d never seen it before. We all got our photographs taken with it.”
“The Rangers provided an impressive snowmobile escort, they looked good,” said Warrant Officer Barry Borton, a Canadian Army instructor. “It was a huge experience for all of them and they did a great job.”
Exercise Mobile Ranger involved Rangers from Muskrat Dam, North Caribou Lake, and Sachigo Lake coming together into a snowmobile convoy to travel to Sandy Lake, where they were joined by Rangers from the local patrol.
The combined group then snowmobiled to the training site on Lake Lemonade, about 60 kilometres south of Sandy Lake, where they practiced cold water rescue, how to re-warm cold water victims, navigation, and how to run a large camp.
They took turns wearing immersion suits and going into a hole cut in the lake ice to practice different techniques for getting out of the water. “The wind chill at the time was -38C and they did it in the dark, with the hole in the ice illuminated by the snowmobile lights,” Warrant Officer Borton said. ”They also did it with the lights out to give them an idea of what it’s like to go through ice and into the water in the dark.”
Mobile Range was the first exercise of its kind for Ranger McKay, who became a Ranger last year after completing six years as a Junior Canadian Ranger. An avid hunter, it was the first time he had travelled in such a large group by snowmobile.
“It was the first time I’d done ice rescue and it was exciting,” he said. “I enjoyed meeting people from other communities and they helped me out. They taught me how to keep myself busy all the time, instead of just standing around. I can’t wait for more training like this.”
(Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden.)