Ranger training thrills students

Kristen McEwen
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Graduating at the end of August might seem a bit late to some people, however for 55 students from across the province, the time to celebrate their efforts is welcome.

The Saskatchewan Resource Rangers (SKRR) held their annual ranger relay and graduation ceremony at the Senator Allen Bird Memorial Gymnasium on Friday.

“The Ranger Relay consists of some physical activity,” said Mika Carriere, SKRR provincial co-ordinator.  “(Students are) going to be running a course and each course has five stations and at each station they answer three questions that relate to what’s all tagged there.”

Teams consisting of five students — representing Prince Albert, Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation, Yellow Quill First Nation, La Ronge and Stanley Mission — took part in the Ranger Relay, which consisted of themes like outdoor survival, culture, life lessons, fire and SIAST.

The Resource Ranger program is a six-week course that provides Aboriginal students ages 16 to 19 with a summer job to explore employment opportunities for a career relating to natural resources.

“Throughout the six weeks they focus on a lot of survival training,” Carriere said. “They do some basic CPR, and their WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) and TGD (Transportation of Dangerous Goods) — basic certificates they need to get into pre-employment. And they also do a lot of cultural activities within their communities.”

Students Prince Albert, Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation, Yellow Quill First Nation, La Ronge and Stanley Mission also received training in ATV safety, boat safety, and fire safety courses. Some had the chance to participate in firefighting fitness tests as well. During the program, students also worked with instructors from the natural resource department at SIAST.

“It’s a really community-driven program where the co-ordinators are from these northern communities — and southern and central,” Carriere said. “But they’re the ones that work with the communities and ask, ‘how do we tailor the program to fit the needs of the youth?’ They choose what’s best for the youth, to see what’s needed …”

Lindsay Bear, the co-ordinator for Stanley Mission, said her eight students learned about mines in their first week.

“They did fire safety and they did lots of stuff hands-on … and lots of lecture ...,” she said. “If you were out on a fire, No. 1 (rule) was safety.”

The group also helped out their community one week at the Stanley Mission gathering.

“They helped out the elders and helped with clean-up, and setting up and taking down the camp,” Bear said. 

The SKRR program started in 2006, funded by the Canadian Forest Service, the First Nation Forestry program, the Prince Albert Grand Council, Prince Albert Model Forest and the Ministry of Environment.

“There’s aspects from each entity, I guess, that funded certain portions for either student allowances, some of the fire-training aspects and remuneration for certification through the Ministry of Environment,” said Cliff Buettner, the forestry program director with the Prince Albert Grand Council.  “And we kind of co-ordinate and set up the graduation and assist the communities and some of their costs associated to training; so it was kind of a partnership approach where … there was an obligation by the communities to have kind of a program established and a schedule …”

According to Buettner, more than 300 students have graduated from the program since it started.

For Jodi Ross, a member of the Prince Albert relay team, said the experience with the program was good overall.

“I’ve always had an interest in the outdoors,” she said. “I love going camping and stuff like that but I never had the chance to and it was just an opportunity that sounded awesome.”

During the relay race on Friday, Ross experienced making a melon roll for the first time. A melon roll is the term used by firefighters when they roll up a fire hose.

“That was my first time doing a melon roll,” she said. “I saw it done and I said well let’s put theory (to the test).”

In the afternoon, the rangers received certificates declaring they successfully graduated from the program. The students also received certificates for ATV safety and enter-level firefighting certificates.

Ross hopes to enter into a career dealing with the environment.

“It was a great experience and people should try and join up for next year.”

Organizations: Prince Albert, Saskatchewan Resource Rangers, Resource Ranger Hazardous Materials Information System Prince Albert Grand Council Ministry of Environment Canadian Forest Service First Nation Forestry

Geographic location: Stanley Mission, La Ronge

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