Canadian Rangers meet on Yellowknife Bay for exercises
'It's good to see all the communities from around Great Slave Lake join together' says Lorraine Villeneuve
A –34 windchill on Yellowknife Bay didn't dampen the enthusiasm of more than 100 Canadian Rangers coming together from 10 Northwest Territories communities for Exercise Dene Ranger this week.
For some, just getting to the exercise required some of the Northern resourcefulness the Rangers are known for.
"I believe I blew a piston so [it was a] gotta-take-the-whole-engine-out-and-start-over kind of thing," said Dwayne Nataway, who travelled by snowmobile from Lutselk'e.
Maj. Craig Volstad, commanding officer of 1 Canadian Ranger Patrol said dealing with the unexpected — including breakdowns — is always going to be part of such a large exercise.
"When guys are coming 600 kilometres from their communities, vehicles break down, equipment fails, so we've had to improvise a few times along the way, getting communities here," he said.
"We've had a couple of minor injuries along the way where we've had to evacuate people — burnt hands, and a couple of other minor injuries. But that's what we're practicing. So we have the practice and the real-life scenarios, and the guys have done a great job."
On Friday the Rangers took to the ice of Yellowknife Bay for a series of exercises including setting a net under the ice, and a blindfolded Ranger-powered toboggan race.
Scott King, a trapper and expert outdoorsman, helped pull the Fort Resolution toboggan to a win.
"It was pretty hard, especially when you're running with the big boots," he said. "On the way back there I started powering out and my mind just kept saying 'Don't give up, don't give up.'"
The contests are competitions, but for the Rangers it's as much about comradery and reconnecting with friends and relatives they haven't seen in a while.
"I enjoyed the trip and meeting new people from all over and it's good to see all the communities from around Great Slave Lake to join together as one," said Ranger Lorraine Villeneuve from Fort Resolution.
Eric Laboline stopped on the way to the exercise to visit his grandparents, whom he hasn't seen in a while.
"I gave them a hug. I just said, 'Long time, I never saw you guys,'" he said.
"And they were happy for me too, because I'm a Ranger. They were proud of me because I travelled this far, all the way from my hometown Wekweeti, all the way to Yellowknife.
Exercise Dene Ranger continues until Tuesday.