Junior Canadian Rangers complete training, receive Honorary Newfoundlanders certificates

Seven Junior Rangers from Northern Ontario
Seven Junior Rangers from Northern Ontario completed seven days of advanced training in Newfoundland. Photo: Sergeant Peter Moon

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By Sergeant Peter Moon, 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group

Seven Junior Canadian Rangers from the Far North of Ontario completed a challenging week of advanced leadership training in Newfoundland in August.

They spent most of their time in Gros Morne National Park, a world heritage site on the west coast of Newfoundland that is noted for its geological history and exceptional scenery, where they hiked, took boat trips, and explored the mountainous terrain.

“It was beautiful,” said Junior Ranger Chasity Koosees, 17, of Kashechewan. “I’ve never seen anything like it. I’d go back again if I could.”

The Junior Rangers are a Canadian Army program for youth aged 12 to 18 in remote and isolated communities across the Canadian North.

Captain John McNeil, the officer commanding the 1000 Junior Rangers in 24 First Nation communities in Northern Ontario, said: “The Junior Rangers did a lot of activities they would never have been able to do otherwise, such as horseback riding. Some of them had only ever seen a horse before on television or in pictures. They got to do a lot of hiking and walking on trails that paralleled the ocean. They found some of the hills and inclines hard, since they are not used them where they live, but they managed.”

A highlight of the week for the seven was a traditional “screech-in” ceremony. They had to answer a number of questions as first time visitors to Newfoundland, eat a big chunk of baloney, and down a non-alcoholic drink instead of the customary shot of the province’s famous Screech, a rum with high alcohol content. At the end of the ceremony, the Junior Rangers were dubbed Honorary Newfoundlanders and given a certificate to take home with them.

The trip was the first outside of Ontario for Junior Ranger Marven Hunter, 18, of Peawanuck. “It’s flat where I live,” he said. “So it was nice seeing a different type of landscape. The park was very spectacular. It was worth all the walking we did.”

The seven Junior Rangers from Northern Ontario were Sharilyn Anderson of Kasabonika Lake, Saul Chookomolin of Fort Albany, Marven Hunter of Peawanuck, Simeon Kakepetum of Sandy Lake, Chasity Koosees of Kashechewan, Cassie Nanakeesic of Muskrat Dam, and Joanna Quequish of North Caribou Lake.

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