Honours for Rangers
Governor general authorizes new award
NNSL (Oct 25/99) - One of former governor general Romeo Leblanc's final acts on the job was authorizing a new honour recognizing Canadian Rangers.
The honour goes to those Rangers who perform special service in Canada's Northern regions.
That includes not only the territories but also the northern parts of provinces.
Col. Pierre Leblanc, who is no relation to the governor general, heads the Northern division of the Canadian Forces.
He said he thinks the award will provide an incentive for people to join the Rangers.
"For those who are part of the Rangers, it will provide an incentive to serve at least for a period of time," said Leblanc.
He said the honour is really a public recognition of the contribution that the Rangers make to Canada.
On a regular basis, Canadian Rangers provide the core of search and rescue capability throughout the Arctic.
"Sometimes on a weekly basis a Ranger patrol will go out to assist an RCMP search in community X. During the winter months it is more prevalent because of the conditions but we've had searches in the summer months as well," said Leblanc.
Rangers are also instrumental in protecting Canadian sovereignty, he said.
One recent example of this came Labour Day weekend when Rangers spotted what they suspected was a foreign submarine off the coast of Pangnirtung.
"A whole bunch of hunting boats were going across the Cumberland Sound going to the camp. There were two boats and right between they saw a submarine pop out of the water between the two boats," said Tim Dialla, who is in charge of the Rangers in Pangnirtung.
Dialla said he was about 77 km from the sighting when the hunters radioed him about the submarine.
After an extensive search by the military, the sighting was never confirmed by military authorities.
To qualify for the new honour Rangers have to serve for four years and have participated in three Ranger exercises either in support of Canadian Forces operations or the training that they conduct on the land, Leblanc said.
Leblanc said more than 2,000 Rangers qualify to be considered for the honour.
"We haven't been advised of when the ceremony will be yet. The governor general's agenda is still being formulated," he said.
"For the introduction of a new service medal, the intention was to have a ceremony possibly at Rideau Hall where the governor general would present sort of a sample of the decorations. Obviously, we can't bring in all the Rangers in Canada to this ceremony."