Canadian Rangers step up to help during pandemic

Members of the Port Hardy Canadian Ranger Patrol install signage in Winter Harbour on May 9.

Members of the Port Hardy Canadian Ranger Patrol install signage in Winter Harbour on May 9.

Canadian Ranger Lindsay Chung, Quesnel Canadian Ranger Patrol ~

When communities across western Canada asked for help responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian Rangers from 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (4 CRPG) were quick to answer the call.

They have worked with a variety of partners to do everything from distributing food to isolated residents to staffing emergency response centers.

In support of Operation Laser, the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) response to the pandemic, more than 200 Canadian Rangers in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba have been on standby since April, with many Patrols from 4 CRPG activating their Local Response Forces after requests for support from their communities.

In northern Saskatchewan, Canadian Rangers from the Wollaston Lake, Fond-du-Lac, Île-à-la-Crosse, and Lac La Ronge have worked as liaison officers through their local emergency operations centres, assisting with duties at the centres; hunting and fishing to provide food for residents; putting together and delivering care packages; and conducting wellness checks, among other tasks.

Partnerships are key and many of them have been built over a long period, says Master Warrant Officer Jim Vogl, 4 CRPG’s Alberta/Saskatchewan Company Sergeant Major.

“Being a community-based organization or unit within CAF, much of the relationships needed to furnish success on operations were already there, with Canadian Rangers living among and knowing the people,” he said.

There are many reasons the Canadian Rangers are a valuable partner in domestic operations such as Op Laser.

“With Canadian Rangers coming from all different walks of life, they bring a vast variety of skill sets to the table,” he said. “We’ve got very skilled hunters, very experienced search and rescue people. They bring a bit of fluidity to operations in the north because of the relationships and skill sets they have. The big one is the professionalism they bring to the table and the dedication to assist and aid their communities when they need them.”

Lac La Ronge

In Lac La Ronge, Saskatchewan, eight members of the Lac La Ronge Canadian Ranger Patrol worked with the Lac La Ronge Indian Band Emergency Coordinator and delivered COVID-19 information; transported and delivered personal protective equipment (PPE) to the six Lac La Ronge Indian Band reserve communities; delivered Red Cross isolation kits to communities; supported vulnerable families by shopping for grocery supplies and delivering them; sorted and prepared 14-day isolation hampers meant for homes where a family member develops COVID-19; and collected, hung and dried traditional medicine for elders, including Chaga, ratroot and water lily.

The Lac La Ronge Rangers collaborated with the Red Cross, the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, the Prince Albert Grand Council, the Jeannie Bird Health Clinic and Lac La Ronge Indian Health Services, and the Rangers worked with emergency workers and band security in each community.

Wollaston Lake

In other parts of northern Saskatchewan, 12 members of the Wollaston Lake Canadian Ranger Patrol worked with Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation officials to deliver firewood and food to community members in self-isolation, assisted with COVID-19 communication and prepared and staffed the community response centre.

Fond-du-Lac

Eight members of the Fond-du-Lac Canadian Ranger Patrol worked with Fond-du-Lac Dene Nation officials and the Fond-du-Lac Health Centre to assist with the transportation and distribution of supplies, helped set up and staff the community’s emergency response centre, delivered food and firewood to elders in isolation, and assisted with the community COVID-19 awareness campaign.

Île-à-la-Crosse

Thirteen members of the Île-à-la-Crosse Canadian Ranger Patrol worked with community officials to collect and distribute firewood, fish and deliver food to residents, staff the community response centre, and assist with COVID-19 communication.

British Columbia Company

Canadian Rangers from 4 CRPG’s British Columbia Company have been tasked as Local Response Forces as well and have supported their communities’ response to COVID-19 in many ways.

On northern Vancouver Island, members of the Port Hardy and Port McNeill Canadian Ranger Patrols worked with the Regional District of Mount Waddington to deliver hand sanitizer, gloves and masks, and set up COVID-19 information signage in mid-May.

Canadian Rangers travelled by boat and ATV to Old Quatsino to bring supplies and signage, by truck to Winter Harbour, and by boat to Gilford Island.

“On the Old Quatsino tasking, we had one Canadian Ranger from Port McNeill come as a support boat so we had two vessels on the water, just as a security network,” said Canadian Ranger Sergeant Tom Cook, the Port Hardy Patrol Commander. “Port McNeill was also instrumental, they were the ones who did the shuttling down to Shelter Point Distillery, which is where the hand sanitizer was being produced, so they were involved at that end of it. The emergency operations centre is in Port McNeill, so they weren’t just bringing hand sanitizer up for us; they were bringing it for other agencies on the North Island for distribution as well. It was good to work with Port McNeill.”

Dease Lake

In northern British Columbia, four members of the Dease Lake Canadian Ranger Patrol worked with community officials to set up and distribute food hampers May 11 to 14. The Rangers also cleaned and prepared the vacant building where the hampers were assembled.

“Our help was very needed, and they couldn’t thank us enough,” said Canadian Ranger Sergeant Edith Carrier, Patrol Commander of the Dease Lake CRP. “We’re happy to do that, to be able to help the community.”

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Filed Under: Top Stories

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