Junior Ranger Program inspires tomorrow’s leaders

Junior Canadian Ranger Wilbert Shisheesh of Lac Seul, Ont., offers Commander of the National Cadet and Junior Canadian Rangers Support Group, Brigadier-General Dave Cochrane some blackberries during the permaculture workshop held on Aug. 14 at Ruckle Provincial Park on Saltspring Island. Photo by SLt Natasha Tersigni

Junior Canadian Ranger Wilbert Shisheesh of Lac Seul, Ont., offers Commander of the National Cadet and Junior Canadian Rangers Support Group, Brigadier-General Dave Cochrane some blackberries during the permaculture workshop held on Aug. 14 at Ruckle Provincial Park on Saltspring Island. Photo by SLt Natasha Tersigni

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

A select group of Junior Canadian Rangers from across the country converged on Salt Spring Island last week for outdoor adventure geared to enhance leadership skills.

Western Canada’s 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group held this year’s annual National Leaders Enhance Training Session (NLETS) in the scenic Gulf Islands. The event hosted 35 Junior Canadian Rangers (JCRs) between the ages of 16 and 18 who travelled to Vancouver Island.

The Junior Canadian Rangers (JCR) are a community-led, army supported youth development program – one of the four programs of the National Cadet and Junior Canadian Rangers Support Group

Many of their members come from First Nations communities and are guided by members of the Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (CRPG), a team of approximately 4,000 part-time reservists who act as the eyes and ears in remote isolated regions for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). 

They provide lightly equipped, self-sufficient mobile forces to support CAF national security and public safety operations in Canada. The CPRG often works closely with local detachments of the RCMP to assist in search and rescue (SAR) and forest fire management operations.

Highly Motivated

Before the JCR’s outdoor adventure began on Aug. 10, they were housed at Pearson College in Metchosin. For three days they participated in orientation and leadership training sessions under the guidance of Major Scott Macdonald, Officer Commanding the Junior Canadian Ranger Company, 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group.

The Junior Rangers attending this year’s training session are a hand-picked and highly motivated group of youths, he says. They were nominated to attend this year’s event after recommendations from senior leadership at individual CRPG detachments and their community advisory boards. 

“Over the course of 10 days each Junior Ranger rotated through different leadership roles designed to help them learn and develop confidence in their leadership skills,” said Maj Macdonald. 

On Aug. 10 Maj Macdonald, a small team of CRPG supervisors and the Junior Rangers travelled to Salt Spring Island with their tents and camping gear in tow to begin the training session. Their activities included a three-day open-ocean kayak expedition in and around Salt Spring Island, along with hiking, rock climbing, intertidal studies and sea life learning sessions, and organic farming and perma culture training sessions. The bulk of their activities were led by Jack Rosen of Coastal Current Adventures, an experienced outdoorsman who guided the group around the waters and terrain of Salt Spring Island.

Each JCR also took charge of the group to hone their leadership skills.

“The idea is to take young people from different regions of Canada and let them have the opportunity to lead a section, come up with a plan, communicate the plan, deliver orders and supervise the task. They also manage the group in small tasks throughout the day,” said Maj Macdonald.

Pay it Forward

That leadership facet of the NLETS was an “invaluable opportunity” for 18-year-old JCR Emily Brolly of Winnipeg.

“I am really grateful to this program for bringing me outdoors. Winnipeg has been my little box for too long and I am glad to be travelling somewhere different,” she said.

Her patrol group is not typical of the CRPG as it conducts activities in a high-crime, inner-city environment. Brolly and other junior rangers assist with volunteer community work projects while also conducting neighbourhood watch patrols in conjunction with an Indigenous community group called The Bear Clan.

“We do a lot of pay-it-forward work as many of our junior rangers come from neighbourhoods with crime and many other problems,” said Brolly. “It is very easy to become part of the concrete jungle, so one thing I like about the junior rangers is that we take kids away from that and get them outdoors as much as possible.” 

For others junior rangers from more remote locations like Robert Gienger, of Grand Cache, Alta., also 18, the NLETS provided him a chance to leave his isolated community nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

“I have learned so much through the JCR program and have been looking forward to this training session all summer. Because I come from a place that always seems to be cold and damp, there isn’t too much excitement where I live,” he said. “Coming to the B.C. coast has been a breath of fresh air.”

The 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (4CRPG) is one of five operating Ranger patrol groups and covers a geographical area that includes B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The other groups include: 1CRPG, all three northern territories; 2 CRPG, Quebec; 3CRPG Ontario and 5CPRG, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Filed Under: Top Stories

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