Rangers recognized
Special service medals awarded

Daniel MacIsaac
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Feb 25/00) - The Canadian Armed Forces says it continues to value the role played by Rangers across the North.

As a token of that appreciation, Col. Pierre Leblanc and an entourage from Yellowknife visited the Beaufort Delta last weekend to award Rangers with more than four years active service with the newly-commissioned Special Service Medal and Ranger bar.

"A number of years ago, (former governor general) Romeo Leblanc travelled North and was extremely pleased with the contribution the Rangers make to the sovereignty of Canada," said Col. Leblanc in Aklavik on Saturday morning.

"He wanted to show the country's appreciation with recognition, and the idea for the Ranger bar was born."

Leblanc said the army recognizes the contributions the Rangers have made, since first being formed in 1942, and continue to make.

"You are the eyes and ears of the Canadian Armed Forces," he said, "and you help protect the sovereignty of your country in this beautiful land, in this beautiful Arctic."

After holding presentations in Fort McPherson and Tsiigehtchic on Friday, the delegation moved on to Aklavik on Saturday morning. Of the 14 active Rangers in attendance, Sgt. John Koe, Master. Cpl. Jerry Arey and Rangers Jacob Archie, Randy Gardlund, Frank Paul, Wally Tyrrell, George Edwards and retired Ranger John Wayne Kikoak received medals.

Koe said the Rangers typically go on one to two missions a year, with the RCMP detachment co-ordinating search and rescue operations. He said last year's rescue of three teens lost in the Delta was an example of a successful effort, when all individuals and agencies get involved.

The entire community of Tuktoyaktuk came out to watch proceedings at Kitti Hall, where millennium relay festivities were also taking place Saturday afternoon. Sgt. Darrel Nasogaluak, Master Cpl. David Nasogaluak, Rangers Jesse Panaktalok and Sandy Wolki and retired Ranger Lee-John Panaktalok received the medal.

In Inuvik, Master Cpl. James Rogers and Rangers Bob Hurst, Alex Elanik, Edward Dillon and Sandy Stefansson attended a small ceremony Sunday morning to receive their medals, which will also be given to Rangers David Kasook, Abel Tingmiak, Freddie Rogers, Sandy Kalinek, John Rogers, Larry Angusuk, Lawrence Rogers, Linly Day and retired Ranger George Dillon.

Asked why they chose to join the Rangers, most of the men couldn't say directly, referring instead to family or friends being involved and thinking it might not be a bad idea. Familiar with the land and in love with spending time on it, they said they simply understand the need to lend a helping hand when one is needed.

"Whatever the emergency, we try to get out and help them," said Jesse Panaktalok.