Work is underway to try to start the Junior Canadian Rangers (JCR) program in Baker Lake.
“From what I’ve seen, there’s definitely enough interest from the youth,” Cpt. Waheed Johnson of the First Canadian Rangers Patrol Group in Yellowknife told Kivalliq News.
On Nov. 12, Johnson held a community meeting on the proposed program at Baker Lake’s community hall to gauge interest and provide information. About 40 people attended, including seven Canadian Rangers.
“There are at least 70 interested youth in the proper age group from a pool of about 250 youth within the community,” said Johnson. “So, it’s definitely sustainable in that way. We have the community volunteers to form the adult committee, and we also have the Canadian Ranger Patrol Group members coming in to volunteer as leaders.”
The next steps are to meet with the mayor and the city administration and come up with a community resolution stating their support for the program, Johnson says, “and to have that training facility provided for the JCR to train in.”
During the meeting, Johnson also spoke about what the structure of that program would look like, the opportunities that it could offer youth and the existing partnership between the community and the Canadian Rangers, as Baker Lake has its own patrol group.
“I also mentioned in the meeting how important it is to the Junior Canadian Rangers program that there’s a fully functioning adult committee in place,” he said. “They decide what traditional and life skills that they want passed onto future generations through the program.”
The JCR program is an initiative of the Department of National Defence, which provides the structure, personnel and uniforms.
Though junior rangers are not official members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the army does provide training and funding, and the decision on whether or not to establish a JCR will have to work its way through the chain of command, said Johnson.
“This can take up to six months or a year,” he said. “It’s not going to be something that’s quick if approval takes place.”
Johnson said the JCR program supports “the mental and physical well-being of the youth, creating resiliency through a culturally and geographically sensitive program.”
His favourite parts of the program are summer sessions where youth from all JCR programs come together for enhanced training, “And just to see the teamwork, see them making those new friends and then working together to overcome challenges in a safe manner and in a fun way.
“Seeing those smiles on their faces and seeing how they grow from a shy individual to someone who is a bit more outgoing. Seeing that competence and that sense of accomplishment when they leave is a great feeling.”