The Canadian Rangers, a sub-component of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Reserve, provide patrols and detachments for employment on national-security and public-safety missions in those sparsely settled northern, coastal and isolated areas of Canada which cannot conveniently or economically be covered by other elements or components of the CAF. Formally established in 1947, the Canadian Rangers protect Canada's sovereignty by reporting unusual activities or sightings, collecting local data of significance to the CAF, and conducting surveillance or sovereignty patrols as required.
Canadian Rangers are dedicated, knowledgeable members of the Army and reflect the diversity of the communities they belong to. Many Canadian Rangers are Aboriginal and there are a total of 23 different languages spoken. Easily recognized by their red sweatshirts and ball hats the Canadian Rangers play an important role in advancing public recognition of Canada’s Inuit, First Nations and Métis.
There are currently over 4 700 Canadian Rangers in 178 communities across Canada. This number is expected to increase to 5,000 in 2012.
Mission – Canadian Rangers
The mission of the Canadian Rangers is “to provide lightly equipped, self sufficient, mobile forces in support of the CAF’s sovereignty and domestic operation tasks in Canada.”
Tasks – Canadian Rangers
The National Canadian Ranger Task List is as follows:
Conduct and Provide Support to Sovereignty Operations:
- Conduct, participate in and provide support to sovereignty and surveillance patrols and training in Canada
- Conduct North Warning Site patrols
- Report suspicious and unusual activities
- Collect local data of military significance;
Conduct and Provide Assistance to CAF Domestic Operations in Canada:
- Conduct coastal and inland water surveillance
- Provide local knowledge and CR expertise (guides and advice)
- Participate in Search and Rescue (SAR) operations
- Provide support in response to natural or man-made disasters and humanitarian operations and;
- Provide assistance to Federal, Provincial/Territorial or Municipal authorities;
Maintain CAF presence in the Local Community:
- Instruct, mentor and supervise the Junior Canadian Rangers; their work with the Junior Canadian Rangers (JCR) Program, while not an “operational” task, does assist in achieving national goals through nation building and significantly improving the quality of life of young people in the most isolated areas of Canada; and
- Participate in/support events in the Local community (such as Yukon Quest, Canada Day, and Remembrance Day, etc.).
The Canadian Rangers are the military’s eyes, ears in the North hence their motto, Vigilans; “The watchers”. Their original focus on sovereignty and surveillance is still a priority however having proven time and time again their resourcefulness and capabilities the Canadian Rangers have easily grown into other Domestic operations. Some significant examples of Ranger activities include routine Search and Rescue Operations and significant contributions in disasters such as the avalanche at Kangiqsualujjuaq in northern Québec or the drinking water crisis in Kashechewan, Northern Ontario. The Rangers perform their tasks exceptionally well and their value as an operational resource for the Canadian Armed Forces cannot be disputed.