Five members of the 100 Mile House Canadian Rangers Patrol travelled north in late August to take part in phase one of the Fourth Canadian Ranger Patrol Group Kitkatla Trail project.
The project was to help the Gitxalla Nation of Kitkatla lay the groundwork for a tsunami evacuation route. Sergeant Clayton Bennett, 100 Mile’s patrol commander, said the trip was rewarding for everyone who took the two-hour ferry ride from Prince Rupert.
“It was great. The community was very welcoming and supportive. It was a pleasure to be there and we did our job,” Bennett said. “It was a full day of work and there were over 20 of us working on it so many hands make light work.”
After a brief first aid refresher course, Bennett led Master Cpl. Tom Nickel, Master Cpl. Dave Bjorkman, Canadian Ranger Baden Riley and Canadian Ranger Wayne Laughren out into the bush. Using chainsaws and other logging equipment the rangers cleared a corridor behind the community up to the higher ground. Bennett said most of Kitkatla is just above water level so if the unthinkable should ever happen the community would be at serious risk.
With the new trail, Bennett said both children and elders will be able to get up and out of the way more easily. Captain Natasha Tersigni, the Rangers’ public affairs officer, said this is only the beginning of further plans. Tersigni said that in addition to clearing deadfall, a rope was set up to help elders walk up the mountain.
“This trail is a part of the community’s tsunami evacuation plan, and the Fourth Canadian Ranger Patrol Group is looking forward to partnering with the Gitxaala Nation to make long-term improvements to this trail over the next few years,” Tersigni said.
Part of the goal of the operation was to raise awareness about local ranger patrols like 100 Mile House’s. Bennett said the operation is just part of what the Rangers do regularly in 100 Mile House and across B.C.
In the case of a natural disaster, he said Rangers are among those called up to respond and implement the federal government’s disaster relief operations.
They can also be utilized by municipal governments so long as they follow the proper chain of command, Bennett added. For example, he said they assisted in the search for a missing woman near Williams Lake a year ago.
“We still have to go home, get our kit and our uniform and get ready. We have our go bags ready to go and our follow-up kits,” Bennett said. “If you call search and rescue up they have everything they need. We’re all self-sufficient. You can call us, drop us somewhere and we’ll be self-sufficient for 72 hours before we need to resupply.”
READ MORE: Longtime Canadian Ranger retires
The Rangers conduct monthly training missions at their training centre at 5833 Horse Lake Rd. Bennett said they train to operate radios, navigate, bushcraft and administer wilderness first aid.
“I joined for something to do basically. I was with the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary when I lived on the Coast and we don’t have that here in 100 Mile,” Bennett said. “It was this or search and rescue. It’s a great learning experience with lots of good people.”
Anyone looking to join the Rangers has to go through a recruitment process first. Bennett said prospective recruits will be invited out to three meetings to make sure people are generally interested in joining.
The Rangers are part of the Canadian Armed Forces, Bennett said, which scares some people away.
Anyone between the ages of 19 to 65 still looking to join can get in contact with Bennett via firstname.lastname@example.org.