By Peter Moon
The Canadian Rangers of Northern Ontario are busy, according to the Canadian Army officer who commands them.
“We’ve been continuously busy for almost two years now,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Shane McArthur. “We’ve been on the go continuously, supporting First Nations in COVID-19 crises, and assisting in vaccination roll-outs for first, second, and booster shots for adults, and we are supporting regional health authorities in getting five-to 11-year olds vaccinated.
“On top of that we provide a range of other emergency supports, such as search and rescue, and we run, when we can because of the pandemic, the Junior Canadian Rangers, a culturally appropriate program for boys and girls aged 12 to 18.”
Lt.-Col. McArthur is the commanding officer of 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, which has 700 Rangers, who are part-time army reservists, in 29 First Nations across the Far North of Ontario. 3CRPG’s headquarters is at Canadian Forces Base Borden, near Barrie.
About 70 Rangers are currently on active duty providing support for seven First Nations in Attawapiskat, Eabametoong, Kashechewan, Lac Seul, Mishkeegogamang, Peawanuck, and Pikangikum. The communities are currently dealing with about 355 cases related to COVID.
The Rangers liaise with their local chiefs and councils. They deliver food and water to quarantined households, cut and deliver firewood, and conduct wellness checks and supports for the sick and elderly.
“I’m always proud of my Rangers,” Lt.-Col. McArthur said. “They are doing a great job under difficult circumstances. They are helping their communities while living in those same difficult circumstances themselves. That is not a minor feat. I give accolades to all of them.
“I am also proud of my headquarters staff. Although we are undermanned and many of them are doing the jobs of two people they continue to provide crucial support and co-ordination for the Rangers and their First Nation communities.
The headquarters staff are doing a great job in very difficult circumstances.”
He said the Rangers have received important support for their work from Grand Chief Derek Fox of Nishnawbi Aski Nation and the chiefs and councils of all the First Nations where Rangers have gone onto active service. “Their help, support, and positive co-operation has been all important,” he said.
“On top of all this we are getting ready for the spring floods and the forest fire season,” he said. “It’s only a month and a half away but that is coming soon. We have to be ready for all of the existing challenges that we have now as well as the potential future challenges that come every year.
“We’re doing a great job in very difficult circumstances and I’m proud of all the Rangers and the staff at the headquarters.”
(Sergeant Peter Moon is a Ranger with 3CRPG at CFB Borden.)