Canadian Rangers celebrate mid-point of Aqikgik exercise
“It’s a privilege to be a Ranger”
KUUJJUAQ—The photo session alone lasted 15 minutes, starting with the ceremonial presentation of the axe, shots of Kuujjuaq’s Junior Canadian Rangers, then more senior Rangers, their commander and visiting dignitaries.
Participants in the 2017 Aqikgik exercise arrived in Kuujjuaq this week, where the 2nd Canadian Rangers Patrol Group celebrated the mid-point of a 2,600-km journey and a send-off for the next members departing on the next stretch of the expedition.
Among them, Master Corporal Charlie Takirk from Ivujivik, who travelled the portion of the expedition that visited Aupaluk, Tasiujaq, Kangiqsualujjuaq and Kuujjuaq. The expedition aims to travel by snowmobile through all 35 Quebec communities with Canadian Ranger or Junior Canadian Ranger patrols.
The exercise marks a year of anniversaries: the Rangers’ 70th anniversary, the 150th anniversary of the confederation of Canada and Takirk’s 20th anniversary as a Ranger.
The travel can be physically tiring, but seeing the region and being welcomed into each community makes it worth it, Takirk said.
“I love it, I would never say no,” he said. “It’s a privilege to be a Ranger.”
Takirk first joined the Canadian Rangers when he was 18.
“I really wanted to become regular infantry [with the Canadian Armed Forces},” he said. “And this was the next best thing.”
“My proudest moment is bringing back a victim alive and well—that’s why I do this.”
It’s not Takirk’s first expedition; in 2008, he was part of a team of Rangers that travelled 3,600 km from Kuujjuaq to Quebec City to mark the city’s 400th anniversary.
But this year, Takirk was able to snowmobile through communities in his own region. The first group in the Aqikgik expedition left Waskaganish on Jan. 27 to travel up the James Bay coast to Kuujjuaraapik, where a second group snowmobiled up Nunavik’s Hudson Bay coast to Ivujivik.
The third stretch of the journey went from Ivujivik to Aupaluk, where Takirk’s team began.
A new team left Kuujjuaq Feb. 25 en route to Schefferville, from where another group will head down towards Quebec’s Lower North Shore and Magdalen Islands.
The two-month long expedition aims to reach Mingan, Que. by March 17.
The exercise is one of the patrol group’s signature events, designed to assert its presence across Quebec’s North.
“But it’s also for testing our operational capabilities and a chance to exchange knowledge,” said 2CRPG spokeswoman Karine Roy.
There is at least one local Ranger taking part in each stretch of the trip, she said.
You can follow the progress of Aqikgik 2017 on the 2CRPG’s Facebook page.