Canadian Rangers

Photo courtesy of MCpl Baba Pedersen, Kugluktuk Ranger Patrol.

Each Kitikmeot community has an active Ranger patrol comprised of part-time, non-commissioned Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Reservists. The Canadian Rangers serve as the “eyes, ears, and voice” of the Canadian Armed Forces, providing a military presence in the remote parts of the country “which cannot conveniently or economically be covered by other elements of the CAF.” While Rangers are expected to be self-sufficient when on the land and use their own personal gear, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, or boats to conduct their duties (for which they are reimbursed according to nationally established equipment usage rates), the military also provides them with modest equipment and training. Each Canadian Ranger is issued a red hoodie sweatshirt, CADPAT (Canadian Disruptive Pattern) pants, red fleece, water-resistant shell jacket, combat boots, baseball cap, safety vest, navigation aids, and a bolt-action rifle (for protection against predatory animals, not for military combat). In addition, patrols are generally given a supply of camp stores, including tents and lanterns, two satellite phones, and two Track 24 devices (an Iridium satellite system that facilitates the monitoring and tracking of on the land movements).

A ten-day Basic Ranger Qualification Course is held for new Rangers, which includes rifle handling, general military knowledge, navigation (map & compass, GPS), first aid, search and rescue, and communications. Each year, Rangers are paid for up to twelve days of service, which includes annual patrol sustainment training and a field exercise, providing patrols with the opportunity to practice essential skills and work together as a team. Often, members also have the chance to participate in additional non-mandatory training courses, such as advanced SAR. In addition to these training activities, Rangers are paid when activated for official CAF taskings, which include emergency response activities and SAR operations. Importantly, beyond their paid service, Rangers perform their “eyes and ears” function as part of their everyday lives and are always present in their communities, ready to respond as required

Rangers can be called up to assist with SAR both as volunteers who know how to work effectively as a group and, when authorized, as an official military tasking for which they are paid. The CAF provides Canadian Rangers with flexible training that is tailored to local terrain and environmental conditions but generally involves several elements directly related to SAR capabilities: first aid, wilderness first aid, GSAR, constructing emergency airstrips on land and ice, and communications. Many Rangers take the skills they have learned from this training and use them as voluntary members of other community SAR organizations. When searches go on for extended periods, the search area is too vast to be covered by GSAR teams, and/or there are insufficient community volunteers, Ranger patrols can be officially activated and offer an accessible community-based solution. During the Kitikmeot Roundtable on SAR, one participant thanked the members of the Taloyoak Ranger patrol for their participation in several prolonged searches in the space between the two communities. She noted, “The patrol has helped a lot in the past. They’ve been ready to go. They’ve helped. Thank you all for being there.”

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