Six Junior Canadian Rangers from Wemindji had such a good time at a Junior Canadian Ranger camp in Ontario they didn’t want to go home.
“I’d like to stay longer,” said Kristina Georgekish, 13. ‘This is fun. We’ve made lots of new friends.”
The Junior Rangers from Wemindji are the first from Quebec to leave the province for advanced training. They spent five days at a camp on the Albany River, near Fort Albany, with other Cree Junior Rangers from the Ontario communities of Kashechewan, Fort Albany and Moose Factory.
They encountered some difficulties at first because of the different Cree dialects spoken on the Ontario side of James Bay but quickly adjusted and made friends, said Sergeant Regent Laplante, a Canadian Ranger instructor in Northern Quebec.
It was the second time Junior Canadian Rangers from both sides of James Bay have come together. During the summer, a group of Junior Rangers from Attawapiskat attended a camp on Ungava Bay for Junior Rangers from across Quebec. The Attawapiskat group made friends with Junior Rangers from Wemindji.
‘We’d like to have more visits,” said Major David Scandrett, who commands the Canadian Rangers in Northern Ontario. ‘We hope we may be able to hold a joint exercise with Canadian Rangers in one of the Cree communities in Quebec this winter.”
The Junior Rangers from Wemindji learned safe shooting techniques, using both rifles and shotguns, and obtained certificates from St. John Ambulance for proficiency in first aid and the Canadian Safety Council for operating power-assisted boats.
They did skeet shooting, practiced first aid on each other and with specially designed training models, were taught how outboard motors work, and learned how to operated a freighter canoe safely. They also had time for fishing, practicing their animal calls, playing various games and forging friendships.
The basic food for the camp was army fields rations, supplemented by moose, caribou, goose and bannock, “as well as the ubiquitous Klik, of course,” Major Scandrett said.
“Our group had a good time,” said Ranger Abraham Matches of the Wemindji Canadian Ranger patrol. “I think this was a good thing for them to come here and meet young people from this side of the Bay. I’d like to see this happen more often.”
It was the first time any of the Junior Rangers from Wemindji had been outside Quebec. The six were: Kristina Georgekish, 13; Geneva Sashaweskum, 13; Hilary Mark, 13; Darwin Visitor, 14; Damien Georgekish, 14; and Andy Matches, 12.
(Sgt. Moon is the public affairs Ranger for 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden, Ont. www.canadianrangers.ca.)