PEAWANUCK – Canadian Rangers from two small Cree communities on Hudson Bay have completed two successful missions to aid stranded snowmobilers in a 24-hour period.
The first involved a 35-year-old resident of Peawanuck who was snowmobiling to Fort Severn when his machine broke down when he was about half way to his destination. The two isolated communities are about 180 kilometers apart by air.
The windchill temperature at the time was about -20C with brisk winds. He had no survival equipment except for a satellite telephone. He called family members in Peawanuck to ask for help. The Ontario Provincial Police asked the Canadian Army for help and the Peawanuck Ranger patrol was authorized to assist. Rangers are part-time army reservists.
A three-man Ranger rescue team set out on snowmobiles to go to the man’s aid. They were Master Corporals Mike Koostachin and Jason Hunter, and Corporal Maurice Mack.
“It was a hard drive to get to him,” said Corporal Mack. “The blowing snow made it difficult to see where we were going. When we found him he had a fire going and he was fine. He had been on the phone with his family and (Sergeant Matthew Gull, the Peawanuck Ranger patrol commander), so he knew help was on its way and we would get to him.”
The Rangers placed his broken down snowmobile on a toboggan and drove the machine and its owner back to Peawanuck.
A 30-year-old man and his 15-year-old son, both residents of Fort Severn, had left Peawanuck, which they had been visiting, just before the first snowmobiler who got into difficulties when his machine broken down. The father and son were travelling on a single snowmachine.
After a period of time, Sergeant Gull phoned people in Fort Severn to see if the father and son had arrived. When he was told they had not he alerted the local authorities and the OPP asked for army help. The army authorized the use of Rangers from the Fort Severn patrol.
A two-man Ranger rescue team, consisting of Master Corporals Sinclair Childforever and Angus Miles, left Fort Severn by snowmobile and found the father and son about 25 kilometers from the community. They had run out of fuel for their snowmachine. The Rangers gave them fuel and escorted them safely to Fort Severn.
“This is another example of the quick reaction of the Rangers in the North to an emergency,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Shane McArthur, the Canadian Army officer who commands the Rangers of Northern Ontario. “It makes us very proud of what they do when there is a danger to life and limb. The Rangers got there and did their job professionally and competently to aid these three individuals.”
(Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden.)