War museum photo exhibit chronicles service on the home front

Rosalie Favell, an acclaimed Métis artist from Ottawa, returns from deployment in the North with telling portraits if Canadian Rangers.

Canadian Rangers front and centre in Canadian Forces Artists Program — Group 8

Rosalie Favell is an Ottawa-based Métis artist, one of six whose work is represented in the exhibit at the Canadian War Museum. (Mario Carlucci/CBC)

A new exhibit at the Canadian War Museum highlights the country's unsung domestic military presence, much of it in the North.

Six civilian artists deployed with search-and-rescue operations, avalanche control and Canadian Rangers between 2016 and 2018 as part of the Canadian Forces Artists Program ­— Group 8.

"Military art has long played an important role in depicting Canadian history," the museum's acting director general, Caroline Dromaguet, said. "The works created by this particular group of artists reflect contemporary themes that resonate broadly, and will contribute to an understanding of what it means to serve with the Canadian military on the home front." 

This portrait of Canadian Ranger Gerard Maktar was taken by Rosalie Favell. (Canadian War Museum/Rosalie Favell)

For Ottawa-based Métis artist Rosalie Favell, the opportunity to tell the story of people serving in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, for the Canadian Rangers was a privilege.

"Indigenous people were on the land from the beginning, and they welcomed visitors to their land and helped them survive and showed them a way of life to live off of that land. And the Rangers are sort of carrying on in that respect. From my study of them, being an Indigenous person, I thought, 'Where are my people within the Forces?' And so it made sense to follow the Rangers and see what their role might be." 

During Favell's deployment with the Rangers she witnessed them teach survival skills to their non-Ranger colleagues in the Canadian Forces. 

"They were collecting berries, fishing and teaching them about that, specific to their land." 

Photographer Philip Cheung was also on that deployment with Favell. Cheung has had a lifelong fascination with the Canadian Rangers, who took him on a survival training exercise years ago when he was a reservist. 

"They're a Canadian icon, and not many Canadians even know who they are," said Cheung, who's based in Toronto and Los Angeles.

Here's more from the Group 8 exhibit

Rangers John and Steven Ukuqtunnuaq and Simon Tucktoo, from the Philip Cheung series Arctic Front. (Philip Cheung)
Tim Pitsiulak's 2010 drawing, Rangers. Pitsiulak was part of the Canadian Forces artist program of 2010. The renowned Cape Dorset-based artist, himself a Ranger, died of complications from pneumonia in 2016 at the age of 49. (Tim Pitsiulak)
Emmanuelle Léonard's Hercules, Winnipeg-Resolute, 2019. (
Still image from Aislinn Hunter's video installation, A word and a body are not the same thing, 2019. (Aislinn Hunter)
Still image from Simone Jones's video piece Rescue, 2019. (Simone Jones)
A still image from Andreas Rutkauskas's Against Nature, 2016. (Andreas Rutkauskas)