Ginoogaming First Nation – A small group of Canadian Rangers who responded to a First Nation’s call for military assistance in a Covid-19 crisis made a huge impression on the small Ojibway community.
“We’re sad to see them leave,” said Sheri Taylor, a Ginoogaming First Nation band councilor and health director.”It’s been a great experience working with them.”
Ginoogaming, with a population of about 200, is about 310 kilometers northeast of Thunder Bay.
On January 31 the community reported nine active cases of Covid-19. It asked for military assistance and the Canadian Armed Forces authorized the use of Canadian Rangers, who are part-time army reservists to aid the distressed community and its exhausted health workers.
Six Rangers and two full-time members of the Canadian Army were dispatched to provide the community with assistance for 10 days.
“We assessed the situation and came up with a strategy,” said Warrant Officer Carl Wolfe, a Ranger army instructor. “We said we’re going to give the community the best ten days that we can and we would make as much difference as we could in those ten days and, regardless, we’d know we’d put forward our best effort.”
The team did just that, according to Councillor Taylor.
“They were a friendly bunch of guys,” she said, “and they did a lot of good for our community. They were willing to do whatever we needed them to do. They weren’t fussy about anything. They were there. Despite the temperatures (which dropped into the low minus forties) they braved the elements.The cold meant nothing to them.”
Among other tasks, the Rangers delivered food and other items to residents who were restricted to their homes because of the Covid lockdown.
The number of Covid cases dropped from nine to one and with the assistance of the Rangers over the 10-day period of their mission the community was able to recover from its exhaustion and resume running its affairs again.
Ranger Curtis Waboose, one of the Ranger team, was from nearby Long Lake No. 58 First Nation, which is also in lockdown. “The best thing was delivering stuff for the kids,” he said. “We gave them extra milk and cereal. The Elders were happy to see us. We cleared the snow from the paths to their homes.”
Lieutenant-Colonel Shane McArthur, the Canadian Army officer who commands the Rangers in Northern Ontario, said two Rangers remain in Ginoogaming to liaise and co-ordinate on behalf of the army with the band council.
“In Ginoogaming,” he said, ”our Rangers did a fantastic job and provided great service to a community that needed help. It just goes to show we can react and help out when we are needed. Ginoogaming is a smaller community and was in need of help . We provided a service and everybody is happy.”
(Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden.}