Canadian Rangers to the Rescue in Fort Severn First Nation

A Caribou Harvested to feed a family - Image Warrant Office Ron Wen, Canadian Rangers.
A Caribou Harvested to feed a family - Sergeant Christopher Koostachin, Canadian Rangers.

Canadian Rangers have rescued two stranded teenaged hunters and found an escaped suicidal patient in two successful search missions.

The boys, aged 14 and 15, got their all-terrain vehicles stuck in the challenging swampy terrain 100 kilometers north of Fort Severn and sent a text message to one of their fathers asking for help. Fort Severn is a small Cree community on Hudson Bay, 1,500 kilometers north of Toronto.

The boys were hunting for caribou and fishing to provide food for their families.

The local police in Fort Severn asked the Ontario Provincial Police for help but fog prevented a helicopter from being used to rescue the boys. The OPP asked the Canadian Armed Forces for assistance and the Canadian Army authorized the use of local Canadian Rangers, who are part-time army reservists, to go to their aid.

Sergeant Christopher Koostachin and Ranger George Kakekaspan, two experienced hunters, set out on ATVs. They traveled in heavy fog and had to cross four major tidal rivers to reach the area where the boys were stuck. They found the boys’ tracks and followed them to a vacant hunting cabin where the teenagers had taken shelter after freeing their machines. The boys were unharmed. The Rangers and the boys spent the night in the cabin. The temperature at night dropped to 4C.

Sergeant Christopher Koostachin, holding a trapped marten,commands the Canadian Ranger patrol in Fort Severn.
Sergeant Christopher Koostachin, holding a trapped marten, commands the Canadian Ranger patrol in Fort Severn. Image – Warrant Officer Ron Wen, Canadian Rangers

“The boys didn‘t want to waste (the fuel they had used in their ATVs) and wanted to get food for their families,” said Sergeant Koostachin. “We decided to let them continue the next day with their hunting and they succeeded in carrying out their task of getting food for their families. We helped them out. They each got a caribou and fish to take with them when we escorted them home.”

The two Rangers both harvested a caribou as well.

Members of the local Ranger patrol were called out in Nibinamik First Nation after an 18-year old suicidal patient fled from the community health centre. Nibinamik is a small Oji-Cree community 490 kilometers north of Thunder Bay.

The army authorized the local Rangers to assist the small Nishnawbi Aski Police detachment in the community in their search for the woman.

The OPP had an emergency response team ready to be flown in to join the search but were not needed when Ranger Morgan Sofea found the woman after a three-hour search. He got her safely back to the health centre.

The two missions “show once again the amazing resource the Canadian Rangers are to the OPP and to the province of Ontario,” said Sergeant John Meaker, the OPP’s provincial search and rescue co-ordinator. “It is a great partnership and the Rangers do save lives.”

“It’s wonderful news when the results of these two operations are so positive,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Shane McArthur, the Canadian Army officer who commands the Rangers in 30 remote and isolated First Nations across the Far North of Ontario. “It was great work by the Rangers, great reaction, and good initiative and it resulted in positive results and the safe return of all the individuals.”

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

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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.