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Rangers train to protect the North
Ten days of combined on-the-land training and in-class training

Samantha Stokell
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, December 1, 2011

Inuvik Rangers celebrated with a feast and awards after their annual 10-day training session last week.

NNSL photo/graphic

The Inuvik Rangers on their final day of on-the-land training on Nov. 21. Front row, from left, are Marty Kunnizzi, James Rogers, Freddy Rogers, Alexandria Elanik and Hank Rogers. Back row, from left, are Desmond Rogers, Alex Elanik, Pat Springman, John Jerome, Danny Smith, Katrina Gully, Ernest Dillon, Abel Tingmiak and Louis Jerome. - photo courtesy of Robin Dawatsare

From Nov. 15 to 24 the rangers underwent recruit training, first aid, patrol techniques, mapping and GPS as well as rifle training. At a ceremony on Nov. 23, rangers received recognition for years served and best shot. The group also spent four days out on the land, about 15 to 20 km from Inuvik, from Nov. 18 to 21.

"It's important for us because it's the only time of year we got to do the program," said Sgt. Hank Rogers, the patrol lead for the Inuvik Rangers. "We have monthly meetings to keep sharp during drills and get together but this allows us to communicate better."

While on the land they camped out at night in the -30 C temperatures and did traditional activities such as jiggling for fish, hunt moose and snare rabbits. They would have checked fish nets, but it was too cold.

They also learned search and rescue techniques, how to build a runway and a helicopter pad. Throughout the year the rangers could be called on to help guide the Armed Forces in any search and rescue activities, since they are part of the Canadian Forces.

"They are part of the reservists. They don't get used for border patrol, or deployed outside of Canada," said trainer Master Cpl. Robin Dawatsare of Yellowknife. "We use them as local guides within the area. They're also used for sovereignty, to show that we're flying the flag all around the North."

Three times each year, the Inuvik Rangers perform checks on the DEW Line North Warning Station in Parson's Lake, to make sure it's working and not damaged. Other than those two military duties, the rangers help out in the community and assist with Boy Scouts or cadets, as well as community events.

During the on the land portion of the training, the rangers took part in rifle training and had a competition to see who had the best shot. That honour went to Marty Kunnizzi from Fort McPherson.

The patrol also had one new recruit sworn in Alexandria Elanik. The majority of Inuvik's Rangers are over the age of 50, but Elanik is only 23.

"I joined because my dad's been in it for 36 years and I'm following in his footsteps," Elanik said. "(The training) was good, everything, the competition, the shooting."

Elanik doesn't have a lot of experience with shooting or living on the land, but the Rangers are giving her that experience and she's learning a lot.

The strength of the Rangers for the Armed Forces comes from their local knowledge. Rangers provide patrols for regions that are isolated and sparsely populated.

"They're the local experts within their environment," Dawatsare said. "Locally, they're the people to talk to."

Five medals were also awarded for service. Sgt. Major Rogers and Cpl. Desmond Rogers received a Special Service Medal with a Ranger Bar for completing four years and four Type 1 training courses.

Alex Elanik received his third Canadian Forces Decoration for serving 36 years with the rangers, and rangers Louie Jerome and Hank Rogers received their first Canadian Forces Decoration for serving 12 years.

There are currently more than 4,250 Canadian Rangers in 169 communities across Canada.

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