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So successful, they ran out of shirts

Baker Lake Junior Canadian Ranger program sees sky-high interest
Ninety-five Baker Lake youth took part in a Junior Canadian Rangers program in February. It was about triple the interest that organizers expected. Photo courtesy of Loic Lollier

When Loic Lollier, Ranger instructor and part of the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group in Yellowknife, brought the Junior Canadian Rangers program to Baker Lake in February, he thought 30 or so youth might show up.

“I think we ended up with 95 kids and ran out of clothing to give them,” he remarked, saying that’s a good problem to have.

“It’s a great program and it actually took off pretty good, more than we expected to be honest.”

Lollier said plans have been in the works for a while to bring the Junior Canadian Rangers (JCR) program to Baker Lake, which already has a Rangers program, but the paperwork was finally completed recently and he and his team were able to visit the community to get it off the ground last month.

“It’s really driven by the community,” Lollier said about the JCR program. “It’s a really flexible program. We want the community to input as much as possible. The ultimate goal of this program is for us to run it from afar and the community just runs the program and does it.”

In Baker Lake, he helped train youth on military activities, doing drills with them and building their discipline, as well as running social activities to improve their confidence in public speaking. Hunting, fishing and traditional activities driven by the community are part of the program too.

“The kids really enjoyed it,” said Lollier. “They took to it really fast. I was impressed how fast they learned it.”

He added that the school, community facilities and local businesses were all very helpful too.

“The community is amazing,” he said, mentioning that the school was extremely supportive. “It’s always great when you go into a community and the school is on board.”

For the high degree of interest, Lollier said the community is going to need more Rangers to manage all those youth. The big goal now is to solidify the adult committee to oversee the program – how often they meet, what activities they do, what the tempo is like.

Lollier already has his eye on a couple of national gatherings for junior rangers coming up, which he said some Baker Lake youth might be attending.

“I feel like it’s an amazing community to start to this program,” he said. “There’s a lot of work ahead to do, but all the base and foundation for a great program is there.”

Lollier added that he’s always available to talk about the program for anyone who wants to reach out.

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