The Canadian Rangers and the headquarters staff of the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, which commands the Rangers of Northern Ontario have been awarded a rare military honour, a Canadian Armed Forces Unit Commendation.
It is the second time the unit has received the honour. It received its first Unit Commendation in 2019.
The unit has 600 Rangers, who are part-time army reservists, in 29 remote and isolated First Nations across the Far North of Ontario.
“The most recent Unit Commendation is for responding to dozens and dozens of requests for emergency assistance,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Shane McArthur, the unit’s commanding officer. “The newest commendation is for our response to the COVID crisis and assistance in evacuating several First Nations in forest fires, all while we were dealing with our standard tasks involving floods, suicide prevention, fires, and ground search and rescue missions, We clearly saved dozens of lives, not just in our 29 communities, but in others that do not have Canadian Rangers in them.”
The Unit Commendation cited the unit’s response to COVID-19 outbreaks in more than 32 First Nation communities in 2020 and 2021. Many of the communities were overwhelmed by the COVID pandemic and many went into lockdown. The Rangers provided a range of supports to the frightened communities. They delivered food and water to housebound residents, collected their mail, delivered toys and games to children, conducted wellness checks, liaised with chiefs and councils, provided transportation, and gave humanitarian assistance. While providing assistance in the communities many Rangers and headquarters staff caught COVID themselves.
They also assisted regional health authorities in the delivery of vaccines to the residents of 32 isolated First Nations. They provided key support in the evacuation efforts of eight communities threatened by forest fires in 2020 and 2021.
“This significant honour makes me feel very proud to be part of such a unique and dynamic unit,” Lt.-Col. McArthur said. “I am humbled by the accomplishments of my Rangers and headquarters staff.”
The first commendation, awarded in 2019, was for the unit’s response to youth suicide crises in Wapakeka and Nibinamik First Nations. Upon a moment’s notice 40 Rangers deployed and arrived in the communities within a day to conduct around-the-clock patrols and provide counsel to at-risk youth.
A Unit Commendation consists of a pennant, scroll, and a gold medallion. They will be presented at a ceremony before the end of the year in Ottawa.
The announcement of the award was made by Brigadier-General Josh Major, commander of the army’s 4th Division, at a ceremonial parade at Canadian Forces Base Borden honouring the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Rangers in 1947. He said the unit was the busiest in the Canadian Army in 2020-21. “That is quite an impressive accomplishment,” he said.
(Sergeant Peter Moon is a Ranger with the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at CFB Borden.)