By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs
Eastern Canada’s 5th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (5 CRPG) recently welcomed two new patrols, The Humber Patrol and The Northern Straits Patrol, into the fold.
That means a doubling of the Ranger presence in western part of the island of Newfoundland – four patrols where there had only been two – and the addition of 64 new individual Rangers. A number of veteran Rangers have also joined the new patrols in order to be geographically closer to their areas of operation.
Newfoundland and Labrador has 32 Ranger patrols in total.
“This generally doesn’t happen very often,” said Chief Warrant Officer Ray Murrin, 5 CRPG’s Sergeant-Major, following a parade to inaugurate the new patrols on November 17, 2018. “Today was a very important and significant day and I congratulate each and every member.”
The members of the new patrols met for only the second time from November 15-19 in Cormack and Deer Lake, NL. There were swearing-in ceremonies, as well as voting to elect candidates for leadership positions within the Patrols: patrol commanders, section commanders, and their seconds-in-command.
They were also issued their C-19 rifles, which are new models replacing the aging Lee Enfield .303s – which were first issued to Rangers in 1947 – and received safety and live-fire training.
Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew Heale, 5 CRPG’s Commanding Officer, said finding enthusiastic recruits was one of the simpler aspects of what is otherwise a complex process.
“At the end of May  we gave our patrol commanders the go-ahead to begin recruiting and we started the paperwork,” he said. “And by early September, we had 60 Rangers’ paperwork completed and we were in a position to swear them in.”
Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada's Defence Policy directs Ranger patrols nation-wide to strengthen and enhance training and effectiveness. Warrant Officer Kenneth Wells, 5 CRPG’s operations warrant officer, said the additional Newfoundland patrols will go a long way to achieving that goal.
“The St. Georges and Port Saunders patrols covered a significant area of land,” he explained. “So there was enough room to expand. Some of the Rangers were so spread out, if they had to support a ground search and rescue, they would have had to drive a significant amount of time to assist. Having new patrols broadens our capabilities.”
WO Wells attributes the enthusiasm of area residents to the fact that many of the skills a Ranger needs are an everyday part of their lives.
“You have a lot of people that spend an extensive amount of time on the land,” he said. “For a lot of people, the roles and tasks of the Rangers are just their way of life.”
That is certainly true for veteran Ranger Murray Sheppard, who joined the newly-formed Humber Patrol after seven years with St. George’s. A native of York Harbour, he makes his living in the pulp and paper industry.
“I’m responsible for deciding where we’re going to harvest timber, where we’re going to construct the roads and in doing so you have to be out on the land, navigating through the woods using map and compass. A lot of it is similar to what we’re doing here with the Rangers.”
Ranger Sheppard’s experience was likely a factor in his being elected to the role of Patrol Second-in-Command, which came with a promotion to the rank of Master Corporal.
“I’m hoping I can help our new Rangers get up to speed on GPS and navigation,” he said.
Ranger Judy Way is one of the newer members of the Northern Straits Patrol, having only joined in September. She made the leap after many positive experiences as a volunteer with the Junior Canadian Rangers (JCR) program in her home community of Green Island Cove.
“The JCRs are a really big part of the area. And they’re really involved in volunteer work and that’s where I got into it from. My son is not quite old enough yet but he’s interested and that kind of piqued my interest as well.”
Search-and-rescue operations are where the Rangers are most visible to Canadians but Ranger Way said a large part of the appeal for her are the little things they and JCRs do to help their communities, such as volunteering at food banks.
“It’s a community organization and I think the youth look up to us, so it kind of prevents them, in my opinion, from drifting off to roads they probably shouldn’t drift down. That’s a really good thing.”
LCol Heale added that there is still more good news ahead in 2019.
“We plan next year to stand up two additional patrols in Labrador,” he said. “Hand in hand with that, we plan to stand up two new JCR patrols on the island of Newfoundland next year. And the following year we plan to stand up two in Labrador.”
The Canadian Rangers are a sub-component of the Canadian Army Reserve, providing a military presence in northern and remote communities. The Rangers conduct sovereignty patrols as well as assist with natural disasters such as forest fires and floods and in search-and-rescue operations. They provide lightly-equipped, self-sufficient mobile forces to support Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) national security and public safety operations within Canada. They regularly train alongside other CAF members to remain prepared.
The Junior Canadian Rangers program was launched in 1996. It is for youth aged 12 to 18 and offers them opportunities to participate in fun and rewarding activities under the mentorship of Rangers.