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Doing his patriotic dutyWarren Gibb of Hay River recruits for Canadian Rangers
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, January 28, 2010
A couple of weeks ago, the Hay River man had the Arctic patrol group's symbol tattooed on his right arm.
"That's pretty serious, eh?" he said.
Gibb became a Canadian Ranger in October after completing a training course in Whitehorse.
Afterward, he became an unofficial recruiter for the organization in Hay River.
"I'm trying to build something for Hay River," he said.
Gibb is one of five Hay River residents who trained as Canadian Rangers last year, after the armed forces expressed an interest in forming a patrol in the community.
"I think it's a patriotic thing to do," he said. "This country is currently at war."
It's his way of showing respect for soldiers who are fighting Canada's battles in Afghanistan, he explained. "I'm trying to do my share at home."
The more than 4,000 Canadian Rangers across the country are a subcomponent of the Canadian Forces' Reserve serving in about 170 groups – called patrols – in remote, coastal and isolated communities, especially in the North.
They are identifiable by their red Canadian Ranger ball caps and red sweatshirts.
Among many other activities, they assist with search and rescue, and help protect Canadian sovereignty.
"The Canadian Rangers wave the Canadian flag," Gibb said.
It is about time for a patrol in Hay River, he noted. "There never has been one. It will be a rather historic event."
There are already patrols in many other NWT communities.
Gibb said the Hay River patrol would also include interested residents of the Hay River Reserve, Enterprise and Kakisa.
Once an adult patrol is formed, he hopes a Junior Canadian Rangers group can also be created.
Gibb has recruited 13 people to the patrol who are awaiting training to become Canadian Rangers.
Another 10 to15 members are needed to create an effective patrol, he said, adding that would bring the total to about 30 members.
Gibb began his recruiting efforts by talking to people with on-the-land skills – such as operating a snowmobile and ATV and setting up a tent – and those adept on the water and familiar with the South Slave area, although he said anyone 18 years of age or older can join and be trained.
"We're looking for anybody who wants to be part of the Canadian Rangers and part of the Canadian Armed Forces, be a proud Canadian and when tasked upon go out on sovereignty operations and domestic operations," he said.
They would be trained in such things as firearm use, map reading, military deportment, first aid, on-the-land survival, and more.
They would also participate in a patrol on the land once a year to test their skills.
Gibb, who has lived in Hay River since 1987, said he is familiar with the South Slave, including Great Slave Lake where he was once a commercial fisherman.
Now, the 54-year-old is an equipment operator with Tli Cho Logistics, and works at the Diavik diamond mine.
Gibb first became aware of the Canadian Rangers in the 1970s, when he visited Iqaluit as a regular member of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Gibb, originally from Ontario, comes from a military family, noting his father and grandfather served in the armed forces. At 12, he joined a cadet corps, then the militia and then the regular forces when he was 17. In all, he spent eight years in the armed forces, concluding with an armoured regiment – the 8th Canadian Hussars.
Gibb is hoping Hay River will have a Canadian Rangers patrol this year.
But either way, the already-trained Canadian Rangers in the community will be visible on Canada Day, he noted. "We're going in the parade this year."