Canadian Rangers and Civilian Volunteers Rescue Lost Hunters

LCol Matthew Richardson
LCol Matthew Richardson

LAC SEUL FIRST NATION – Canadian Rangers, assisted by community volunteers, have completed a successful search for three missing hunters.

The hunters – two brothers and a sister – went out for what was planned as a short afternoon’s hunt for moose when they got into trouble. The three live in Kejick Bay, one of three Ojibway communities that make up Lac Seul First Nation, near Sioux Lookout.

They quickly got into trouble driving their snowmobiles in slushy conditions and then their machines broke down. They were ill prepared to be out on the land for an extended period. They had inadequate clothing and no emergency supplies. They tried walking back to Kejick Bay but had to stop when the sister began to get frostbite. They were able to start and maintain a small fire that gave them a little heat.

When they did not return to Kejick Bay the local police were alerted and they contacted the Ontario Provincial Police. The OPP asked the Canadian Army for assistance and the Canadian Ranger patrol in Lac Seul was ordered to respond. The Rangers are part-time army reservists.

A Ranger search party, accompanied by several community members, set out on snowmobiles to look for the missing trio. After searching for four hours on trails the hunters may have used the searchers spotted the light of their fire.  By then it was 4 a.m. and the temperature had dropped to -25C.

“We asked them if everyone was OK and they said no, they were freezing,” said Sergeant Ajay Jack, commander of the Lac Seul Ranger patrol.

“One of the brothers was getting wood and the other one was attending to the sister. She wasn’t in the greatest shape. She had frostbite and she was suffering from hypothermia.

“We had to get her out as soon as possible. We wrapped her up in blankets and a tarp and sent her off right away.”

The woman was transferred to an ambulance in Kejick Bay and taken to hospital for treatment. “I’m told she is stable,” Sergeant Jack said. “It’s a good feeling when you can help people in a situation like this. The community gave us great support.”

“The Rangers did a good job, once again,” said Sergeant John Meaker, the OPP’s provincial search and rescue coordinator. “They are community members and they are already in the community when an emergency occurs. They have the training, the means, the ability, and they have knowledge of their local trails to conduct a search like this.”

“It’s great that the Rangers were able to complete this successful search with the support of their community,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Matthew Richardson, who commands the Rangers in Northern Ontario. “Lac Seul is very supportive of its Rangers who really are an indispensable community organization in situations like this.”

The Rangers involved in the search were Sergeant Ajay Jack and Rangers Eric Bortlis, Derek Maud, and Doreen Quoquat. The civilian volunteers included Patricia Kejick, Lynden Lawson, band councillors Elvis Trout and Gerald Kejick, Darrin Trout, and Leroy Quoquat Sr. 

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Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group. Canadian Rangers are army reservists who provide a military presence in Canada's remote and isolated regions, including Northern Ontario. They provide skilled assistance in emergencies such as searches, plane crashes, forest fires, and floods. They also operate the Junior Canadian Rangers, a youth programme for boys and girls aged 12 to 18.