A Hay River Canadian Ranger patrol could be set up by the new year, Canadian Armed Forces officials said following the graduation of 15 local Rangers last week.
With the addition of the latest graduates, there are currently 21 Canadian Rangers based in Hay River – more than enough to form a local patrol, Capt. Steve Watton said. The patrol will be officially “stood up” following their first patrol exercise, which is tentatively scheduled for early next year, Watton explained.
“We’re looking at February-March,” he said following the Nov. 10 ceremony.
A number of local and territorial dignitaries were on hand for the ceremony at the Hay River Community Hall, including Katlodeeche First Nation Chief Roy Fabian, Western Arctic MP Dennis Bevington, Hay River North MLA Paul Delorey, Northwest Territories Commissioner George Tuccaro, and Hay River RCMP detachment commander Sgt. Scott Buchanan. The course, which gives the candidates the knowledge and skills they will use on patrols, began on Nov. 4.
Tuccaro extended best wishes and congratulations from the people of the NWT, saying he was confident the graduates would represent Canada’s north “with honour, duty, dignity and confidence”
“I want to let you know how proud northerners are of you,” he said. “Everyone of you is a positive role model of what people can accomplish in serving and protecting your communities. You set challenges to yourself and then you meet those challenges.”
Thanking both the community of Hay River and KFN for their contributions, Maj. Jeff Allen, the commanding officer of 1 Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, said the graduates have come a long way in a relatively short time.
“Without them volunteering and stepping up to the plate, the Ranger program wouldn’t exist in the first place,” he said.
“These 15 individuals on parade took that initiative, took that step forward and have now done the initial step towards their career in the Canadian Armed Forces and to promoting safety and security in the north.”
Capt. Sean Cantelon, deputy commander of Joint Task Force North (JTFN), said he was excited to see a new Ranger patrol established, especially in one of the NWT’s “honoured” communities.
“You are our bedrock as we deal with any type of sovereignty crisis in the north. We always turn to the Rangers,” Cantelon said as he addressed the graduates. “Welcome to the Canadian Forces. Welcome to the Canadian Rangers. And thank you to the Town of Hay River.”
The graduates were: Leroy Bloomstrand, Boyd Warner, Jeremy Storvold, Kathy Beaupre, Kevin Lafferty, Anthony Beck, Nancy Yakeleya, Ronald Hogan, Marjorie Whiting, Robert Wilkins, Linda Carter, David Dewar, Rashna Bundan, Henry Tambour, and Dian Papineau-Magill.
Beck said he applied to join the Rangers in order to help people in his community.
“I saw it as an opportunity, I got excited and I wanted to do it,” he said, noting that every one of the graduates brought something to the table. “Within that group there’s lots of versatility (and) lots of strengths.”
Storvold was presented with the “Top Shot” award during the ceremony, for his proficiency on the gun range. He said he will have tough competition for the award at future target practice events.
“Once these guys get some practice using the rifles it’s going to be fun defending it,” he said. “It’s good to have it for now, but I know these guys are pretty good.”
Storvold, who moved to Hay River in June, said he was pleased to be around people who were proud to call the north home.
“We have some people in here that are really knowledgeable about the area, the lay of the land, and traditional knowledge,” he said. “They’re proud to be in the north, they love the area.”
Papineau-Magill’s husband, Peter, said he was honoured to see his wife recognized for her accomplishment.
“It’s the day before Remembrance Day so I’m a little teary-eyed,” he said. “I think it’s great for the community and great for Canada.”
Watton said seven new Ranger candidates have already been identified. Their basic course will be integrated with the patrol exercise in the new year.