By Peter Moon
Canadian Rangers are providing emergency assistance to three remote First Nations on James Bay as spring ice break-ups threaten to flood the communities.
“It’s a good example of Canadian Rangers being able to assist their communities when required,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Shane McArthur, the Canadian Army officer who commands the 700 Rangers in 29 First Nations across the Far North of Ontario. Rangers are part-time army reservists.
A mobile support team, known as a Ranger Go Team, flew into Kachechewan on Sunday to assist local Rangers in the ongoing evacuation of the Cree community. The Go Team, composed of Rangers from Bearskin Lake, Moose Factory, Sandy Lake, and Pikangikum, all volunteered for the mission. The Albany River frequently forces the community to evacuate when the river floods during the annual ice break-ups.
Rangers are assisting in the evacuation of Fort Albany which is on the south shore of the Albany River and also subject to frequent spring flooding.
In Attawapiskat local Rangers have been placed on active duty to monitor water levels on the Attawapiskat River and be prepared to help evacuees if a major evacuation takes place.
“The Go Team was formed for Kashechewan,” Lt.-Col. McArthur said, “so we can support the local Rangers by bringing in additional forces when local Rangers are not sufficient to meet our tasks in an emergency in the community. Some local Rangers have been forced to leave the community because their family members have been flown out and they want to remain together.”
“I’m always appreciative of being able whenever we can to provide help,” he said. “When a request for assistance comes in we are always ready to do whatever is approved to support our communities as we are mandated to do.”
(Sergeant Peter Moon is a Ranger with the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden.)