Nunavut Canadian Ranger receives appointment to Order of Military Merit
Jorgan Aitaok of Cambridge Bay honoured for “distinctive merit and exceptional service”
Jorgan Aitaok of Cambridge Bay says he always wanted to be a Canadian Ranger.
“For sovereignty, patriotism, Canada. I always liked my country and my community,” Aitaok said in a recent interview in Cambridge Bay. “So I thought I’d join the Rangers and give something back to people in Canada and Cambridge Bay,”
Aitaok, 44, started out in 2004 as a private in Cambridge Bay’s Canadian Ranger patrol and within three years became its sergeant.
Now Aitaok will be honoured Dec. 2 with an appointment to the Order of Military Merit at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
The Order of Military Merit recognizes “distinctive merit and exceptional service displayed by the men and women of the Canadian Forces, both regular and reserve.”
Many have demonstrated “dedication and devotion beyond the call of duty,” and the order honours them for their commitment to Canada, says information about the decoration posted on the website of the Governor General, who inducts appointees into the order.
Only one tenth of one per cent of Canadian Forces members receive appointments to the order.
“I’m excited and happy” to be honoured, Aitaok said.
Aitaok has travelled widely as an unofficial ambassador for the Canadian Ranger program, whose members are “the eyes and ears of the Canadian Forces” in the North, according to the Department of National Defence.
One speaking trip brought Aitaok, a mineral agreement and promotions advisor for Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. in Cambridge Bay, to the underground NORAD headquarters in Colorado.
But “I’m always nervous,” speaking in front of crowds, Aitaok said.
Like other Canadian Rangers in his patrol, he participates in regular land exercises. He’s also developed skills as a top shooter and often joins in search and rescue operations around his community.
Cambridge Bay’s patrol continues to grow, Aitaok said.
The patrol includes several women and some Rangers who are in their 80s.
“If you’re motivated to join,” that’s what counts, Aitaok said
Two Inuit Canadian Rangers have previously been appointed into the Order of Military Merit.
Last February Sgt. Markusi Qinuajuak from the Akulivik Canadian Ranger patrol in Nunavik was appointed to the Order of Military Merit for “his exceptional services with the Canadian Rangers.”
And in 2009 Canadian Ranger Ollie Ittinuar of Rankin Inlet’s patrol — then, at 88, the oldest serving member of the Canadian Forces — was inducted into the Order of Military Merit, the first Nunavut resident ever to be awarded the decoration.