Canadian Rangers tell their story at Ottawa’s Winterlude

People ride tubes down snow slides in Jacques-Cartier Park.
Visitors sliding at the Snowflake Kingdom in Jacques-Cartier Park, Gatineau, during Winterlude. Photo: Canadian Heritage

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By Peter Moon

Visitors to the annual Winterlude celebrations in the National Capital Region came out in force to learn about the Canadian Rangers.

Two Rangers from Quebec answered questions as two Rangers from Northern Ontario guided visitors through the interactive display. It was a major attraction at Jacques Cartier Park, located in Gatineau, Que. across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill.

“The public response to the Canadian Ranger display was overwhelming,” said Captain Ted Dinning, the adjutant of 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, which commands the Rangers of Northern Ontario. “The Rangers spoke about their critical role in ground search and rescue, evacuations, and other emergencies. Our visitors didn’t realize that Rangers played those roles, and walked away with a better understanding and appreciation of who Rangers are and what they do.”

The popular display included a tent showcasing the Ranger’s challenging living conditions as well as some of their specialized equipment. This included a snowmobile and a sled, which many visitors wanted to sit on for a photo.

“When I showed them on the map where I live, they’d say: ‘Wow, you’re from way up north,’” said Corporal Jesse Sutherland, a Cree Ranger from Fort Albany on the James Bay coast. “A lot of them had never heard of the coast.”

As visitors learned about the Rangers and what they do as part-time army reservists, many expressed surprise that about 40 per cent of the 550 Rangers in Northern Ontario are women.

“Most people don’t know anything about the Rangers,” said Sergeant Matthew Gull from Peawanuck on the Hudson Bay coast. “They were very surprised when we explained that we are part of the Canadian Army and told them what we do.”

Visitors were also surprised to learn that the majority of Canada’s 5000 Rangers in more than 200 communities across the Canadian North are Indigenous.

“When I told them I am Cree and showed them where I live, some people asked if I live all year round in a tent,” Sgt Gull, the airport manager in Peawanuck, said. “I had to explain I live in a house with electricity and plumbing. They were even more amazed when I told them about my full-time job.”

(Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for the 3rd  Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden.)

Sergeant Matthew Gull was one of the Rangers manning the display at Jacques-Cartier Park during Winterlude. Photo: Sgt Peter Moon

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