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Canadian Rangers deployed to Nunavik to fight COVID-19

Members of Royal Canadian Air Force’s 436 Transport Squadron and Canadian Rangers evacuate residents of the Pikangikum First Nation community onboard a CC-130J Hercules during Operation LENTUS, 10 July 2019. Photo: Cpl Ken Beliwicz TN12-2019-0244-48

In a response to a request from Quebec due to COVID-19, the 2nd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (2 CRPG) began mobilizing its 14 Canadian Ranger patrols in Nunavik on April 3rd.

Due to an agreement between Quebec and the federal government, 2 CRPG which has responsibility for about 76 per cent of Quebec land area, will be assisting the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services (NRBHSS), which reports to the Ministère de la Santé et des services sociaux (MSSS) of the Quebec Government.

“The Canadian Rangers of 2nd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group support the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services in Nunavik in preventing the spread of COVID-19,” said BGen Gervais Carpentier, 2nd Canadian Division and Joint Task Force (East) Commanding Officer. “We are proud to support this request from the Government of Quebec, which has been approved by federal authorities. The Canadian Rangers have a unique capacity and are integrated within their communities.”

As part of this response, 2 CRPG is deploying its military personnel and Canadian Rangers, who are permanent residents of the 14 Nunavik communities. The Canadian Rangers are members of the Canadian Army Reserve Force who provide the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) with a military presence in remote, isolated and coastal areas of Quebec’s Northern and North-Shore regions.

Since the start of the pandemic, government authorities have been concerned about the spread of COVID-19 in remote and isolated communities. The Canadian Rangers are making the well-being and safety of their communities a priority during this time. 

The tasks that they will perform will vary according to the needs and approval of the chain of command.

“The Canadian Rangers provide a range of specialized services in their geographic area of operation, including responding quickly to emergencies or ground search and rescue operations,” said LCol Benoit Mainville, 2nd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group Commanding Officer. “I am proud of our Rangers and their dedication to their community. Our Rangers will do their part and do everything they can to support their community during this complex crisis.”

At the end of March 2020, there were 305 active Canadian Rangers in Nunavik. To support Operation LASER – the CAF operation in response to the CODIV-19 pandemic – 2 CRPG plans to mobilize 40 Rangers on continuous standby and another 40 on call for short tasks as required.

2 CRPG has more than 700 Canadian citizens serving as Canadian Rangers with 17 per cent of Rangers in Quebec being women. It also has 700 youth, aged 12 to 18, participating in the Junior Canadian Rangers (JCR) Program in remote and isolated regions of Nunavik, James Bay and Quebec’s North Shore.

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