Canadian Rangers from seven First Nation communities made a big impression on an army colonel during a four-day visit to northern Ontario.
“It has been a wonderful and very useful experience,” said Colonel Jennie Carignan, chief of staff for Land Force Central Area, the military name for the army in Ontario. “I was absolutely astonished at the way the Rangers have adapted to living extremely well in their environment.
“They are very knowledgeable about their own areas and their role is absolutely critical to the safety of their communities.”
Carignan encountered severe weather conditions during her visit, with temperatures dropping to –40C and windchills reaching as low as –58C. Despite that she shot outdoors with Rangers at Lac Seul, and went snowmobiling with Rangers on the shore of Hudson Bay at both Fort Severn and Peawanuck. She also saw Rangers from Attawapiskat, Kashechewan, Fort Albany and Moose Factory teaching winter survival techniques to soldiers from Toronto at a temporary training site near Moosonee.
“I was absolutely astonished at the way the Rangers have adapted to living extremely well in their environment. They are very knowledgeable about their own areas and their role is absolutely critical to the safety of their communities.”
- Colonel Jennie Carignan
It was the first time in 27 years in the army that she has traveled as far north. She said the visit gave her a better appreciation of the unique challenges faced by Northerners and the difficulties with traveling and maintaining communications in severe weather conditions.
Part of her duties at the army headquarters in Toronto are planning and directing the military response to emergencies in Ontario’s Far North, where Rangers often play an essential role.
In 2008, Carignan, a combat engineer, was appointed Canada’s first female commanding officer of a combat unit and served in Afghanistan for 10 months.
About 40 per cent of the 560 Rangers in 23 First Nation communities across Northern Ontario are women. Carignan was impressed by their role in the Rangers and by their abilities on the land. “They seem to be very happy and proud of their role as Rangers, and as leaders in their communities as well,” she said.
“The visit.” she said, “gave me a better situational awareness of the North and what it means to live in the North and to meet its challenges.”
Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden.
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