Ranger from Nunavik receives Order of Military Merit honour in Ottawa
Kangiqsujuaq’s Charlie Arngak was awarded the Order of Military Merit by Governor General Mary Simon earlier this month.
Charlie Arngak, a Canadian Ranger from Nunavik, recalls the ceremony where he was named as a member of the Order of Military Merit as “very emotional.”
“I had my wife, my daughter and my three grandchildren with me,” he said in a recent interview.
Arngak said he has known Gov. Gen. Mary Simon — who invested him and 131 other Canadian Armed Forces members to the Order of Military Merit at the May 12 ceremony — for a long time.
During his time working on the James Bay Northern Quebec Agreement, Simon was one of the negotiators and board members with him.
“There were so many flashbacks in my life when I received the medal,” he said.
He said his first contact with the Rangers came when he was young. He remembers the first time he saw crews from the military ships come ashore in Kangiqsujuaq, and he realized the sergeant was Inuk.
“A few years later, the same sergeant came to me and asked me if I wanted to join the Rangers since they needed interpreters,” Arngak said.
That sergeant was Amaamak Jaaka. Arngak accepted his offer.
To this day, he still takes on the role of interpreter, but over the years his contributions to his community have involved many roles.
Once on a cold January day, “we were going on the land and we passed broken ice with a long crack,” he recalled. “Then I heard on the radio that there was concern for two young guys who went hunting.
“I called one of the Rangers in my community, I said that there was a crack [in the ice] and they must have gone through that.”
They eventually found the pair, who had fallen in the water just where Arngak had predicted they would be. They were safe, but their snowmobile was lost.
Arngak still does rescues today. Just after returning from Ottawa following the award ceremony, he was called into action.
“I got home,” he said, “and a few minutes later I went up with a rescue team in a helicopter.
“I would really like to thank my family, my wife, my children, and the people of my community. They have really helped me.”