TIMMINS – Sergeant Matthew Gull, commander of the Canadian Ranger patrol in Peawanuck, a small Cree community near the Hudson Bay coast, has been invested as a member of the Order of Military Merit in a unique military ceremony.
He was named a member of the prestigious order in December, 2019 but could not go to Ottawa to receive the order’s insignia and be invested at Rideau Hall because of the Covid-19 epidemic. Instead, he has been invested in a first of its kind video teleconferencing ceremony by Lieutenant-General Wayne Eyre, the acting chief of the defence staff.
The general was In Ottawa for the ceremony and Sgt. Gull was in the Algonquin Regiment’s mess in Timmins. He was in Timmins as one of a number of Rangers helping members of two First Nations in northwest Ontario who were forced to evacuate by forest fires.
“It was disappointing not to be able to go to Rideau Hall,” said Sgt. Gull. “But the virtual ceremony was a humbling experience and a great honour. It was nice to do it with all my family present and to have my youngest daughter, Amelia, put the insignia on my uniform. She’s 12 and a Junior Canadian Ranger.”
Also present for the ceremony were Tara Sloss, Sgt. Gull’s fiancée, and his two other daughters, Nova and Aurora. Nova is also a Canadian Ranger and Aurora is a Junior Canadian Ranger.
The Junior Canadian Rangers is a culturally appropriate Canadian Army program for youth aged 12 to 18 in the Canadian North.
The Order of Military Merit is one of Canada’s highest honours. It was created in 1972 to recognize outstanding service and devotion to duty by members of the Canadian Armed Forces. It is the military equivalent of the civilian Order of Canada.
Sgt. Gull, like all Rangers, is a part-time Army reservist serving in the Canadian North. He has been a Ranger for 23 years and commander of the Peawanuck patrol for more than eight years. He has been awarded the Special Service Medal and the Canadian Forces Decoration for his military service, as well a commendation for saving lives in numerous search and rescue operations.
“Does he deserve this honour? Absolutely,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Shane McArthur, who commands the 600 Rangers in 29 First Nations across the Far North of Ontario.”One of the reasons he got it was for the number of lives he has saved during many challenging search and rescue missions. He should be very proud of his accomplishments. He is one of our outstanding Rangers. He’s an individual that’s totally committed. It’s great to have someone with his capabilities, his talent and skills sets, who can act on behalf of his community when there’s a call for assistance in an emergency, many of which are life threatening.
“He teaches (on the land) survival skills to soldiers from the south. He mentors the Junior Canadian Rangers in his community. He is certainly deserving of this high honour.”
(Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden.)