New Canadian Ranger patrols set up in Cat Lake and Pikangikum
By Sergeant Peter Moon, 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group
The Canadian Rangers have expanded their presence in the Far North of Ontario with the addition of new patrols in Cat Lake and Pikangikum First Nations.
“It’s a big step forward for the Rangers,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Matthew Richardson, commanding officer of the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, which now commands 630 Rangers in 27 remote and isolated First Nation communities in Northern Ontario.
“It allows us to provide Ranger capabilities for emergency response into areas where we didn’t have them before,” Lcol Richardson said.
Graduation parades were held after the new Rangers from the two Ojibway communities completed basic training. The new Ranger patrols consist of 18 new Rangers from Cat Lake, which has a population of 500, and 34 new Rangers from Pikangikum, which has a population of over 3,000. The training was conducted by Canadian Army instructors and experienced Rangers from other First Nations in Northern Ontario.
Brigadier-General Jocelyn Paul, commander of 4th Canadian Division, attended the parades as the reviewing officer. A member of the Huron-Wendat First Nation in Quebec, he is the highest ranking Indigenous member of the Canadian Armed Forces. He said it was the first time he has seen so many newly graduated Indigenous members of the Canadian Army.
He noted how impressed he was by the number of elders, relatives, friends and members of the local leadership who attended the graduations. “I really enjoyed seeing the local support,” he said. “You could see the pride in their eyes.”
The patrols are commanded by two newly appointed sergeants who were elected by their fellow Rangers and supported by their chiefs and councils. The Cat Lake patrol commander is Sergeant Charles Wesley, an experienced hunter. The Pikangikum patrol is under the command of Sergeant Buster Kurahahara, a former band councillor.
“They are natural local leaders,” BGen Paul said, adding: “They are now endowed with a lot of local responsibility. I have the feeling they are assuming their roles with a lot of pride.”
BGen Paul also noted the remarkable number of women among the new Rangers, making up almost half of the group in Pikangikum and a majority of the new Rangers in Cat Lake.
“I think the senior leadership of the Canadian Armed Forces would be extremely pleased to see that we basically had parity in the two groups of new Rangers,” BGen Paul said.
The first woman to be elected chief of Pikangikum, Amanda Sainnawap, was also sworn in as a Ranger. She said the Rangers will be a big asset for her community and she looks forward to the establishment of the Junior Canadian Ranger program in Pikangikum.
Cat Lake Chief Matthew Keewaykapow was out of the community at the time of the graduation parade. In a message he sent to the parade, he congratulated the new graduates and added: “We’ve been working on getting the Rangers up to Cat Lake for a long while now. It’s nice to see our members in uniform. We’re very proud of them.”
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