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Northern commander visits Inuvik patrol
One large Canadian Ranger patrol a year not enough, says Sgt. Hank Rogers

Kira Curtis
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, February 24, 2011

INUVIK - After 13 years as a Canadian Ranger, and a lifetime in the North, Ranger Sgt. Hank Rogers knows a thing or two about the land up here, and how to monitor it. But right now he and his men are only scheduled for one large patrol per year, which to him is too much time laying dormant.

NNSL photo/graphic

Brig.-Gen. Guy Hamel, left, met with Inuvik's Canadian Rangers on Thursday, Feb. 10, to discuss the future of the Rangers in Inuvik. - Kira Curtis/NNSL photo

So when the new commander of Joint Task Force North visited this month and met with Inuvik's patrol for the first time, Rogers asked for more to do.

Brig.-Gen. Guy Hamel, commander of Joint Task Force North, and chief warrant officer Gilles Laroche made their first visit to Inuvik early this month since Hamel took over command of the Northern forces last summer.

The visit was part of a tour which took the men across the NWT and Yukon, finishing in Inuvik where Rogers and a few other Rangers were able to meet with Hamel to discuss the future of the Rangers and what is needed in Inuvik.

"Communication is one of the key issues," Hamel said in the lobby of the Mackenzie Hotel. "I wanted to show my face."

Hamel acknowledged the harshness of the land and how vital the wisdom of the rangers is to JTFN as well as search and rescue personnel in the Arctic.

That knowledge Rangers hold is something Rogers doesn't want to see forgotten. On top of asking for more training patrols, he also wants to stir interest in the program. One way is partnering with Inuvik's army cadets and teaching them navigation and resourcefulness out on the land.

"I know the land pretty good, and I know the country. I wanted to train the younger rangers," Rogers said.

He said it's important to pass on knowledge from the elder Rangers, whose numbers are declining.

"Most of our elders are passing on so I try to do a lot of recruiting," Rogers said, adding he would always go to his elders to learn and get information about the land and people. "In the last five years we've lost about six or seven elders out of our patrol."

Hamel said the Canadian Forces plans to grow the Rangers in the North by about 100 people, to 1,900 from 1,800.

Rogers is all for that as he'd love to see more people out patrolling the land.

"We don't get paid that much but we love what we do," he said.

The Inuvik group has around 10 positions available at the moment. The need is most apparent around the time of patrols, as all the Rangers work and can't always get the time off to fill the approximately 20 positions.

Rogers said anyone who loves being on the land and wants to learn the different skills can join. New Rangers will be trained in GPS mapping, snowmobiling and monitoring the land, as well as first-aid and rifle training - for their trusty yet minimalistic .303 Lee-Enfield rifle.

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