Fort Albany Junior Canadian Rangers rally community support

Fort Albany JCR patrol
Some of the members of the Junior Canadian Ranger patrol from Fort Albany, Ontario, at a recent training camp. Photo: Sergeant Peter Moon, Canadian Rangers

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By Sergeant Peter Moon, 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group

The Junior Canadian Ranger patrol in the small Cree community of Fort Albany on the James Bay coast has built a mountain bike trail that takes about an hour to complete.

“The Junior Rangers themselves came up with the idea to build a mountain bike trail for the community,” said Sergeant Scott Hooper, the Canadian Army instructor who visits the community regularly to support the Junior Ranger training. “They went out with chainsaws and all the proper safety equipment, dressed the way they are trained to do, and they cleared out a whole bicycle trail. Right now, they are building signs to put on the trail. It is quite an achievement.”

“They are active and enthusiastic and the community is behind them in everything they are doing,” said Captain John McNeil, the Canadian Army officer who commands the 1000 Junior Rangers in 21 First Nation communities across the Far North of Ontario.

The Junior Rangers is a Canadian Armed Forces program for boys and girls aged 12 to 18 in remote and isolated communities across the Canadian North. It emphasizes safety on land and water, and in personal lifestyles.

“Everything about the Fort Albany patrol is just rocking and rolling right now,” said Sgt Hooper. “They are good and strong and they work well with each other. The Canadian Rangers in Fort Albany have gone above and beyond in their support for their Junior Rangers.”

The Junior Rangers provided volunteer help for the Canadian Rangers during the spring ice break-up emergency on the Albany River. Capt McNeil said the support from the community for the Junior Ranger program in Fort Albany was a large part of the reason the patrol is a great success. The band allows the Junior Rangers free use of its youth site for training, and parents volunteer to support the training in any way they can.

“The community has been plagued by a lot of social issues in the past and people are seeing what the program can do for their kids and they are supporting it,” added Capt McNeil.

One of the Junior Rangers, 15-year-old Tyler Edwards said “I like being a Junior Ranger because there are a lot fun things to do instead of being inside and being bored. I like going out with the program when there’s something going on. I like paintball and outdoor activities, such as camping, fishing, ice fishing, canoeing, and biking.”

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