Snowmobiles converge on Yellowknife for Dene Ranger exercise

This weekend will mark the first time so many Rangers gather in the N.W.T. for games and exercises. But the first step is getting there. 'We're in some pretty deep snow and crashing our way through.'

'We're in some pretty deep snow and crashing our way through,' says ranger instructor by sat phone

Rangers gather in Fort Resolution to head to Yellowknife for a gathering that will see about 135 Rangers from nine communities. (submitted by Dollie T. Simon)

Ten teams of Canadian Rangers are making their way to Yellowknife this week for Exercise Dene Ranger. It's the first time so many groups of Rangers will come together in the N.W.T.

Starting Thursday, they'll take part in exercises, games and even a parade in Yellowknife's Old Town.

But the first step is getting there.

"We're in some pretty deep snow and crashing our way through," Ranger instructor Craig Routery said by satellite phone Tuesday morning.

Routery had camped out with four other Rangers just west of Indian Lake en route from Wekweeti to Behchoko.

"The machines have been holding together really well," he said. "We're pressing through snow about mid-thigh deep. It's a real hard plough. I'm just hoping we can get to that road so that we can give the machines a rest."

Routery planned to cover another 100 kilometres today en route to Behchoko.

There, his group will meet up with about 65 other Rangers from the Tlicho who will head towards Yellowknife en masse.

"It's something we have not seen in a while," he said.

Rangers are also traveling to Yellowknife from Fort Providence, Fort Resolution, Lutselk'e, Fort Simpson, and Fort Smith. In all, the 135 Rangers will patrol more than 1,400 kilometres from nine communities, heading to Great Slave Lake and home again. 

Once in Yellowknife, one of the first activities will be a marksmanship competition. Teams will shoot at blocks of ice, and the team that comes back with the most unused ammunition wins.

"Other games will be based on fishing, being able to move equipment, that sort of thing," Routery said. 

On Saturday, the Rangers plan to conduct a parade in around Old Town "so that the public can come out and meet the Rangers and see what we're about."

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