Iqaluit celebrates launch of new Junior Ranger patrol
“Leadership skills in the future. Ranger skills. Traditional skills"
A member of the newly-formed Iqaluit Junior Rangers strolls in late for the opening ceremony of the Canadian Forces program Dec. 5 at Nanook Elementary School.
As the new Junior Ranger approaches, Junior Ranger Patrol Leader Monica Nuqingaq stays in formation and doesn’t flinch, with her hands behind her back, back straight, and shoulders facing forward — but Nuqingaq follows the latecomer with her eyes as she crosses the gymnasium floor.
The tardy girl quickly finds her place in formation with the rest of the Junior Rangers, who stand in perfect rows of three, expressionless and silent.
There’s just a quick look from Nuqingaq as the girl passes by.
Discipline and responsibility is a key part of the Junior Ranger program, says Major Jeff Allen, commanding officer for the First Canadian Ranger Patrol group.
“Leadership skills in the future. Ranger skills. Traditional skills,” Allen said, listing benefits of being in the program.
Allen travelled to Iqaluit from Yellowknife for the opening ceremony of the Iqaluit Junior Rangers program — northern Canada’s 41st Junior Ranger patrol.
Although Iqaluit already has a cadet program run by the Canadian Forces, Junior Rangers offer something different.
“Things like survival, navigation, marksmanship, all of those skills that are inherent in the Ranger program,” Allen said.
“Also the big difference is learning traditional skills,” he said.
That can include anything from soapstone carving, preparing seal skins, music, dance, and art.
“It’s what’s important to the community versus any kind of written or prescribed methodology. It’s what’s important for the community from the cultural, historic, from the people’s perspective,” Allen said.
The Iqaluit community, local Canadian Rangers and the members of the Canadian Forces will decide together what programs the Iqaluit Junior Rangers specifically needs.
“It allows traditions to be reinforced within that community,” Allen said.
This free Junior Ranger program, which runs year-round for youth aged 12 to 18, also gives them the opportunity to travel to Yellowknife or to Alberta, where 200 youth meet up for enhanced training sessions.
“And usually that’s a fun set of skills and challenges that we put before the youth that they may have never had the opportunity to do,” Allen said.
Quttiktuq MLA Ron Elliott couldn’t agree more. The Canadian Junior Rangers have been up and running in Grise Fiord for more than 10 years now, he said.
“Some of these young people will actually get to go to Whitehorse to get some experience in situations that we can’t offer in communities,” Elliott said. “A lot of the kids in smaller communities, you don’t go swimming. So there’s no opportunity. But they go get lessons, canoeing and kayaking, things like that.”
“The Junior Ranger program gives [youth] an opportunity to look at other opportunities, and they get involved in things like Northern Youth Abroad programs and students on ice,” Elliott said.
“Either in attendance in school, they’re more active in the community, they’re more active in volunteerism,” he added.
Iqaluit mayor John Graham, former Iqaluit mayor Madeleine Redfern, and Nunavut Commissioner Nunavut Edna Elias were also on hand to witness the launch of the Junior Ranger patrol, along with several proud parents.