Canadian Ranger receives Order of Military Merit
By Sergeant Peter Moon, 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group
A Canadian Ranger from a remote Oji-Cree community in the Far North of Ontario has been awarded one of Canada’s highest honours.
Sergeant Linda Kamenawatamin, commander of the Canadian Ranger patrol in Bearskin Lake, north of Thunder Bay, was in a class at the 4th Canadian Division Training Centre at Meaford, near Owen Sound, when she was told there was a phone call for her. “I thought what is it?” she said. “Who knows I am here?”
The caller was Brigadier-General Jocelyn Paul, commander of the Canadian Army in Ontario, the 4th Canadian Division. “It was my first time talking to a general,” Sgt Kamenawatamin said, adding: “He told me I was receiving the Order of Military Merit for the outstanding work that I was doing in my community. I was pretty nervous talking to him, and all I really knew was that I was receiving a medal and I would be flown to Ottawa to receive it from the Governor-General.”
Sgt Kamenawatamin is the first woman among the Rangers in Ontario to receive the Order of Military Merit, an honour that was created in 1972 to recognize outstanding service and devotion to duty by members of the Canadian Armed Forces. It is the military equivalent of the Order of Canada. She has already been awarded the Special Service Medal and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her military service.
“The Order of Military Merit is one of the highest honours a military member can receive,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Matthew Richardson, who commands the Canadian Rangers in Ontario. “Linda is a leader in her own right. She’s been the one that has kept the Bearskin patrol alive when times were bad. She’s done the same for the Junior Canadian Rangers. She’s the go-to person that exemplifies the good work the Rangers do in Northern Ontario,” he added.
The process for her award began with a nomination from Warrant Officer Daniel Stortz, an instructor with the Canadian Army. “I know few Rangers who are as dedicated as she is,” he said. “She’s dedicated to the Rangers, to her family, and to her community. She does it all.”
Sergeant Kamenawatamin has been a Ranger for 10 years. Her full-time job is with a company bringing hydro to her isolated community of 500 people. She is the mother of five children who range in age from 10 to 24. “I raised my nieces and nephews and their kids, too,” she said.
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