By Peter Moon
ATTAWAPISKAT – Members of the local Canadian Ranger patrol in a Cree community on James Bay are doing “a great job” supporting their remote First Nation during a continuing COVID-19 crisis , according to the Canadian Army officer who commands the Rangers across the Far North of Ontario.
Lieutenant-Colonel Shane McArthur met with Attawapiskat Chief David Nakogee and members of the Ranger team during a visit to the community, which is 500 kilometers north of Timmins.
“Chief Nakogee, who is a former Canadian Ranger himself, said he was extremely happy with the performance of the Rangers in Attawapiskat,” said Lt. –Col. McArthur. “I met with the Rangers and they are doing a great job. Their morale was very high and they were very positive.
“They are performing the standard tasks of supporting their community’s needs. They are distributing food and water, cutting and getting firewood to the elders, and answering the needs of isolated households in the community.”
Attawapiskat declared an emergency on January 6th when an outbreak of COVID overwhelmed the small community’s ability to cope with the situation. The province asked the federal government for help and the army authorized the Rangers, who are part-time army reservists, to help the community.
There are 600 Rangers in 29 First Nations in Northern Ontario.
Lt.-Col. McArthur also met earlier with Grand Chief Derek Fox of Nishnawbe-Aski Nation in Thunder Bay.
“The Grand Chief thanked us for our support in many First Nations during the pandemic,” he said. “We also discussed the Junior Canadian Ranger program and whether we would be able to hold our annual Camp Loon in July.”
The Junior Ranger program is a culturally appropriate army program for boys and girls aged 12 to 18 in remote communities. Camp Loon emphasizes safety on the land and water and in personal life styles for selected Junior Rangers. COVID forced the cancellation of the camp in the last two years.
“There is absolutely positive interest from the communities for Camp Loon to be held this summer,” Lt.-Col. McArthur said. “Everyone wants get the Junior Rangers up and running again. We are planning as if it is going to happen. There is a great need for the program and for Camp Loon.”
(Sergeant Peter Moon is a Canadian Ranger with 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden.)