Passing the torch: Change of command at 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group

Former commanding officer Lt.-Col. Luis Carvallo reflects on his time leading Canadian Rangers from across the North, as a new leader takes over the helm of the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group.

Lt.-Col. Luis Carvallo reflects on his 2 years at the helm, as a new leader takes over

Lt.-Col. Luis Carvallo handed over command of the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group to Lt.-Col. Tim Halfkenny on June 13, during a ceremony in Yellowknife. (Joint Task Force North)

In his two years leading Canadian Rangers from across the North, Lt.-Col. Luis Carvallo wasn't quite able to make it to every community under his command. But, you could forgive him.

While Carvallo says most units have their command based in a single community, as commanding officer of the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, Carvallo was responsible for 64 different communities spanning all three territories and northern B.C. The Canadian Rangers are a part of the Canadian military; they work to support sovereignty and operations in remote regions across Canada like the North.

Last week, Carvallo handed over the torch for the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group to a new commanding officer — Lt.-Col. Tim Halfkenny — during a change of command ceremony in Yellowknife.

As Carvallo reflects on all he's learned working with the Canadian Rangers in the North, one thing he'll remember from the places he did visit is that there are "great leaders all around."

From left to right, incoming commanding officer Lt.-Col. Tim Halfkenny, reviewing officer Brig.-Gen. Trevor Cadieu, and outgoing commanding officer Lt.-Col. Luis Carvallo sign the change of command certificates. (3 Canadian Division)

"Our rangers represent every corner of society," said Carvallo. "We have everybody from, you know, the unemployed or somebody who's just working part-time, to somebody who's an MLA or even the mayors and the chiefs of the communities."

And, in the North, the rangers play an important role — bringing communities together and playing a key part in tasks like local search and rescues, Carvallo said.

"In some cases, the rangers are one of the few federal or other entities that exist that help bridge the communities," he said.

"Being able to use the rangers in that capacity was always a bit of a highlight, to be able to see them help out at the community level."

Unique challenges in the North

Carvallo also learned about the unique challenges rangers face in the North — like trying to pass on commands between communities with different technological capabilities, Carvallo explained.

Despite those obstacles, he says the rangers are making strides. There is more of a focus on taking care of their well-being now, he said, adding he believes the rangers will be in good hands with their new leader who has already been working in the North for three years.

But Carvallo's best memory of all is from when he started his journey in the North — the day he took command of the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group in Whitehorse in June 2016.

"We had about 250 youth [junior rangers] on the parade square. It was their final graduation, plus the change of command," said Carvallo. "Just having that many youth out there, them singing the national anthem and just seeing how eager they were to be there … you can see the North coming together.

"So, to me, that was a great way to start my two years."

With files from Loren McGinnis and John Last


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