Ontario Rangers complete historic year of service

Article / May 6, 2021 / Project number: 2021-05-06--rangers

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By Sergeant Peter Moon, Public Affairs Ranger, 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group

Borden, Ontario — The Canadian Rangers of Northern Ontario have just finished the busiest year in their history.

Ranger Patrols in the region went on active service on April 3 last year to help combat the COVID-19 crisis, an initiative dubbed Operation LASER, and as part of Operation VECTOR, under which they assisted with vaccine delivery.

“Since April 3 of last year we have had an exceptional and historic year,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Shane McArthur, commanding officer of 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (3CRPG), which commands the Canadian Rangers of Ontario from its headquarters at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Borden. “What the Rangers and the headquarters staff have achieved in that time should make them proud of themselves. I know I am proud of them.”

The unit has about 600 Rangers, who are part-time Army Reservists, in 29 First Nations across the far north of Ontario. Most of those are remote and isolated fly-in communities with no year-round road access.

“I would say 40 to 45 per cent of the Rangers volunteered in one capacity or another for a period of time in the past year,” LCol McArthur added. “That’s about 250 in total.”

The Rangers assisted Ornge, the province’s air ambulance and emergency medical service, in providing COVID-19 vaccines to 34 First Nations in support of provincial vaccine rollouts.

While supporting the fight against COVID-19, they also responded to a number of other emergencies.

Rangers played a leading role when Neskantaga First Nation evacuated most of its population to Thunder Bay during a water crisis by helping keep the nearly deserted community functioning by performing a range of duties over 57 days.

They assisted in the evacuation of Eabametoong First Nation when it was threatened by a forest fire and played a leading role in supporting Muskrat Dam First Nation when its diesel generators broke down in winter.

They also saved lives in numerous search and rescue missions in addition to maintaining much of their training schedules.

None of what the Rangers achieved in Northern Ontario could have been done without the dedicated work of the headquarters staff at CFB Borden, said LCol McArthur.

“The headquarters staff accomplished the near impossible. They are the people who plan, organize, support and sustain our efforts. What we do is a whole team effort that allows the Rangers to do what they do in the North.”

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