Canadian Rangers assessing interest on Hay River Reserve

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo Lt.-Col. Luis Carvallo, left, commanding officer of the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, and Chief Roy Fabian of K'atlodeeche First Nation both spoke at a Jan. 18 meeting on the Hay River Reserve.

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
Lt.-Col. Luis Carvallo, left, commanding officer of the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, and Chief Roy Fabian of K’atlodeeche First Nation both spoke at a Jan. 18 meeting on the Hay River Reserve.

There seems to be considerable interest in seeing the Canadian Rangers come to the Hay River Reserve.

A Jan. 18 information meeting by the Canadian Rangers and K’atlodeeche First Nation attracted what was generally agreed to be a very good turnout of about 20 people.

The concept is not to set up a new Canadian Rangers patrol on the Hay River Reserve but to establish one or two sections – made up of 10 Rangers each – of the existing Hay River patrol.

“It’s good to see good interest,” said Chief Roy Fabian, who spoke in favour of the idea.

Fabian said he had previously written the commanders of the Canadian Rangers telling them the First Nation wanted to be consulted about patrols on its traditional land.

“So one of the things that was suggested was that KFN can begin starting their own Rangers, a section it’s called,” he said.

Fabian said becoming Canadian Rangers would be a chance for Dene on the reserve to participate in protecting their traditional lands, noting the land is shared with Canada by treaty.

“To me, I think it’s an excellent opportunity for us to get involved in something like this,” he said.

The meeting was also told there is a possibility of setting up a Junior Canadian Rangers program on the reserve for youth aged 12 to 18 years.

Fabian was strongly in favour of that idea, noting it would help turn young people away from alcohol and drugs.

Lt.-Col. Luis Carvallo, commanding officer of 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, which covers all three of the territories, was on hand for the Jan. 18 meeting.

Carvallo explained there are currently two sections of the Hay River patrol, which has about 15 members and no associated Junior Canadian Rangers program.

“We’re talking about the possibility of establishing one, maybe two, sections in the K’atlodeeche First Nation reserve,” he said. “So two sections of a total of 20 people, and as well the Junior Rangers.”

Carvallo said proximity to the existing Hay River patrol prevents the Canadian Rangers from establishing another patrol so close by on the Hay River Reserve.

The commander said each patrol has a constitution that could give the First Nation a say in the selection of members for the section on the Hay River Reserve and give that section its own identity.

The constitution would also outline how the section would be governed and how the full patrol would come together to ensure quality control.

If a Junior Canadian Rangers program is set up on the reserve, Carvallo said there would also be another two Canadian Rangers whose sole function would be the success of the program.

The commanding officer said the section could be established in as little as two months but it would take six months to a year for potential members to go through the process of joining – which involves enrolling as a paid reservist in the Canadian Armed Forces – and that includes security screening, criminal records checks and vulnerability sector checks since Canadian Rangers work with youth.

“Does it mean that if you have a criminal record you can’t become a Ranger?” said Carvallo. “No, not necessarily.”

If there is a criminal record in a person’s past, the commander considers the offence and when it took place.

“I’m the one that takes a look at the conditions and I balance what is the situation at hand, and I’m the one that makes the final decision if somebody is in or out,” he said.

After hearing Fabian and Carvallo speak, Amos Cardinal asked the other potential Canadian Rangers at the meeting what they were thinking.

“Are we all interested in getting this thing going so the band can submit something?” he said. “I say yeah.”

There were a lot of people at the meeting, he said. “So I think we’re interested.”

Cardinal then asked whoever was interested to raise their hands, and the majority did so.

Near the end of the meeting, Peter Redvers, the director of land, resources and negotiations with KFN, said he believed there is interest for the chief and council to put a letter together to say the community would like to pursue a KFN section of the Hay River patrol, and that it would like to begin the process of recruitment and working on a constitution.

Following the meeting, Carvallo told The Hub that a KFN section of the Hay River patrol would be an opportunity for realignment of the patrol to be more inclusive.

As for the possible impact of a Junior Canadian Rangers program on the existing army cadet corps in Hay River, Carvallo said the capacity of the community was considered.

“Right now we understand there’s capacity for only one youth program in Hay River and right now we are leaving Hay River primarily for the cadets,” he said. “So that’s their domain. There’s no intent for us to go there.”

In addition, he noted his understanding is that no youth from the reserve participates in the army cadet corps.

Carvallo said youth from Hay River would not be excluded from joining a Junior Canadian Rangers program on the reserve, and youth from the reserve would still be able to join the army cadet corps in Hay River.

–Paul Bickford