Junior Canadian Ranger program a growing success in Northern Ontario

Canadian Rangers supervise Junior Canadian Rangers on a shooting range.
Canadian Rangers supervise Junior Canadian Rangers on a shooting range. Credit: Peter Moon

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The Junior Canadian Rangers program in Northern Ontario has proven to be so successful that instructors are in short supply.

“We now have almost 1000 Junior Canadian Rangers in 20 First Nations,” said Captain John McNeil, the Canadian Army officer who commands the Junior Rangers in Northern Ontario. “It’s great news because it proves the program is working.”

The Junior Rangers are a Government of Canada youth program funded by the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. It also benefits from additional funding and support from other levels of government and private corporations.

The program began after members of the CAF noted that youth in remote northern communities showed little interest in Army, Navy, or Air Cadet programs.

“The Junior Ranger program is more relaxed than the cadet programs,” said Capt McNeil. “We want our training to concentrate on safety on the land and water, in lifestyles, and in helping to maintain traditional skills.”

In Peawanuck and Fort Severn—Ontario’s two most northerly communities—all youth aged 12 to 18 are Junior Rangers. Sandy Lake First Nation has 125 youth in the program. Other large enrollments are at Fort Hope with 85 Junior Rangers, North Caribou Lake with 75, and Kashechewan with 70.

Before a First Nation community can have a Junior Ranger patrol, it must have a Canadian Ranger patrol. The Canadian Rangers run the program with the help of visiting Canadian Army instructors, in conjunction with a local adult committee which represents the interests of the community.

Junior Canadian Rangers, open to boys and girls ages 12 to 18, began in 1996 in Moose Factory, Ontario, shortly after the national launch, and now has 3400 Junior Rangers in more than 125 remote and isolated communities across the country.

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