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Kids in the hood

Philippe Morin
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 18/06) - Young people from across the NWT are having fun and learning useful skills, thanks to the Junior Canadian Rangers program.

In Fort McPherson, the rangers have 35 youth aged 12 to 18, who meet on Sundays at the Charlie "Geejam" Snowshoe arena.

Warrant Officer Floyd Powder, who helps teach Fort McPherson's group, said the program has 34 "patrols" across the North, with branches in the NWT, Nunavut and Yukon.

He said the program teaches Ranger skills, traditional skills and life skills, such as marksmanship, ice fishing, trapping and first aid.

"The program is designed for smaller isolated communities," he said, adding the Rangers also learn things like outdoor survival and trapping.

Warrant Officer Dave Coupland, who has been in the armed forces 20 years, said the program is similar to cadets, in the sense that it could lead to a career.

But it's not all serious. on Dec. 3, most of McPherson's junior rangers just seemed to be having a good time playing pool and goofing around in their matching green hoods.

"We play hockey, we play soccer, it's fun," said Eric Blake.

One junior ranger, 13-year-old Angela Alexie, was proud she recently won an air rifle tournament.

"It was the first time I shot," she announced.

Coupland said the program is a success because it's designed for kids of the North.

"Cadets spend more time on military skills, we do more traditional skills," he said.