Each Kitikmeot community has an active Ranger patrol comprised of part-time, non-commissioned Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Reservists who 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. 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 offer an accessible community-based solution.
Rangers, other community SAR practitioners, and hamlet office officials, however, emphasize the perceived difficulties in officially activating patrols. As a Ranger participant at the Kitikmeot Roundtable on Search and Rescue observed: “The Taloyoak Ranger Patrol has taken part in many SAR operations around the community, with Kugaaruk, and Gjoa Haven. Rangers called up when there are not enough volunteers or the search goes long. They should be involved in SAR discussions. Sometimes it takes too long for the Rangers to be activated in SAR situations. It is a very confusing process and sometimes people don’t seem to know how it works. This slows everything down and when someone’s life is in danger, it doesn’t make sense.”
Ranger support to GSAR operations in Canada’s northern territories has been plagued for decades by an overly convoluted and complicated process through which a Territorial Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) request 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group’s (1CRPG) assistance to support a local GSAR. As the Ranger participant in the roundtable concluded, the “Rangers can make a big difference and search and rescue…it should be made easier to use us.”
Suggestions and Solutions
Recent action has clarified the Ranger activation process. A Ranger patrol can contact the commanding officer of 1CRPG who can activate up to eight patrol members for 24 hours and cover their pay, fuel, and food.
Longer searches, however, still involve a complex activation process that involves multiple levels of government. Continued efforts to clarify when and how the Rangers are activated would be beneficial.