Hay River is being considered as a possible site for a Junior Canadian Ranger program.
However, that comes as news to Capt. Poul Osted, the commander of the Army Cadet Corps already in the community.
Osted said he was surprised to see representatives of the Yellowknife-based 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group before and after the visitors presented the idea to a meeting of town council on Oct. 3.
“As far as I’ve been told, the Junior Ranger program is not allowed to set up in small communities where there is already a cadet corps,” Osted told The Hub.
“As far as I understand it, Junior Rangers is better suited to the smaller communities where there isn’t enough volunteer power or kids to support a whole cadet corps.”
Osted said there is very little he could or would do about any initiative to establish a Junior Canadian Ranger program in Hay River, which already has a Canadian Ranger patrol.
However, he said the Hay River Army Cadet Corps is “absolutely” going to continue running.
Osted, who has been the commander of the corps for nine years, is currently living in Fort Resolution where his wife teaches school and he works at the Gahcho Kue diamond mine, but he has committed to driving to Hay River for corps’ activities whenever he is able.
Capt. Waheed Al Mahdy from 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group spoke to town council about the Junior Canadian Ranger (JCR) program on Oct. 3.
“We’re here today looking and kind of gauging to see whether the community has the right resources, whether they’re actually interested in having this nice program and seeing how the Canadian Ranger Patrol is and whether they can actually support the program, as well,” he told council. “So we’re not actually deciding yet if a JCR program will start here but we’re putting out those feelers.”
Al Mahdy said his commanding officer hopes to set up at least four Junior Canadian Ranger patrols within a year or so, noting the paperwork would take up to a year.
The captain described the Junior Canadian Ranger program in glowing terms, saying it is better run and offers more freedom than the cadet program.
Al Mahdy described the cadet program as “almost a cookie-cutter” across the country, while the Junior Canadian Ranger program is more responsive to the wishes of a community and can incorporate traditions and culture, such as hunting, fishing, crafts, traditional language, dance and drum-making.
“Our main focus and my main focus is to keep the community and the traditions alive and well so that can also be passed on for future generations,” he said.
Al Mahdy said a community would have to provide free training space for a Junior Canadian Ranger program, which is free for young males and females aged from 12 until they turn 19.
Deputy mayor Donna Lee Jungkind told Al Mahdy she had heard that when a community has a cadets corps the Junior Canadian Rangers wouldn’t be set up in that same community.
“Normally that is the case but we have Pond Inlet and Iqaluit right now that both have both programs,” replied Al Mahdy, noting it depends on the situation and Ottawa makes the final call.
When asked about Al Mahdy’s comments to council, Osted said the Army Cadet Corps does have a far more organized program than the Junior Canadian Rangers, and the main focus is on mandatory training, even though it can also include other activities.