By Peter Moon
TORONTO – Seven teams of soldiers from Southern Ontario celebrated the New Year by competing in a hockey tournament in Toronto to show their support and appreciation for the Canadian Rangers of Northern Ontario.
The players were army reservists from 32 Canadian Brigade Group, which has more than 2,300 part-time soldiers in 12 Southern Ontario regiments, with its headquarters in Toronto. The day-long tournament was held at York University in Toronto. The contest was won by the Lorne Scots who overcame the Queen’s Own Rangers of Canada in a closely fought final.
“Everybody who knows the work of the Canadian Rangers knows that they do incredible work in the Far North in some of the most austere environments in Canada,” said Colonel Dan Stepaniuk, 32 CBG’s commander. “This tournament was founded as a way to express our support for the ongoing and continued good work of the Rangers.”
The hockey tournament is also an opportunity for the soldiers to improve their physical fitness. “Physical fitness is essential to what we do in the Canadian Armed Forces,” he said. “This tournament allows us to promote physical fitness in a competitive team spirit and environment that embodies the spirit of the Canadian Armed Forces when we are on domestic and expeditionary operations. We want to do the best job we can and we play to win.”
The annual tournament was organized by the Ranger Foundation, which is based in Toronto and 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.
There are 550 Rangers, who are part-time army reservists, in 24 remote and isolated First Nations communities across the Far North of Ontario. Twenty-one have no year-round road access. The Rangers save lives in search and rescue missions and evacuations for spring floods, forest fires, and other Northern emergencies.
The number of soldiers who competed in the tournament and supported their teams “shows their appreciation for what the Canadian Rangers do,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Matthew Richardson, who commands the Rangers of Northern Ontario. “This is the fourth tournament organized by the Ranger Foundation, which is doing great things for the Rangers in Northern Ontario and spreading the word about all the great things they do for their communities.”
(Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden.)