Johnson on patrol
Brenda Johnson says she was interested in becoming a Ranger because she enjoys being outdoors

FORT SMITH (Apr 13/98) - Gender isn't an issue when it comes to being a member of the Canadian Ranger Patrol, according to Master Cpl. Brenda Johnson of Fort Smith.

"I think your first year, you have to show you've got it -- compete with the male ego," she says. "Just to prove that you can handle it and keep up."

In Johnson's experience, beyond the rookie year, things tend to remain on a more even keel.

"I think with most of the patrols it works out quite well. Most of them accept the females pretty easily," she says. Of the 1,330 Rangers in the North, approximately 50 are women and 10 of them are in leadership roles, according to Lt. Mark Gough, of Northern Area Headquarters.

While out on patrol, Johnson is keeping an eye out for any suspicious activity, but she has yet to see any.

"Not down here. We're too close to the border," she says.

Search and rescue is another important duty that the Rangers carry out. Johnson says she was interested in becoming a Ranger because she enjoys being outdoors.

"You've got to like the bush to get into it," she says, smiling. "This is the thing that gives me a break ... it's, more or less a form of relaxation."

Johnson, a former cadet, heard of the program by word of mouth five years ago. Now her husband and children ask her, "When are we going to see you next?" she laughed.

"I think we're good role models for our kids," she says in a more serious tone. "We teach them to respect the weapons, your surrounding and your culture."

Being a part of the first Canadian Ranger Patrol stand-up parade earlier this month was very important to Johnson.

"We made history here today. It was exciting," she says of the ceremony, marking the transfer of control from Ottawa to the North.

With only three days to practise for the event, "the hardest part was getting everybody co-ordinated," Johnson says.

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