Canadian Rangers and Inuit depend on each other for knowledge

Article / April 10, 2019 / Project number: 19-0085

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By Yves Bélanger, Servir newspaper

Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec — Relations between Quebec’s Inuit communities and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are excellent.

That is the main conclusion of a thesis, entitled: Les Rangers canadiens et les Rangers juniors canadiens : vecteur de sécurité humaine des Inuits canadiens or, in English: Canadian Rangers and Junior Canadian Rangers: Human Security Vector of Canadian Inuit, written by French citizen Magali Vullierme to complete her PhD studies in political science at the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin in France.

Dr. Vullierme developed the thesis from 2014 to 2018. The process included several trips across the Atlantic during which she met with members of 2nd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (2 CRPG) based in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec to better understand Inuit integration into the CAF.

Though she expected to find resentment on the part of the Inuit about the CAF in terms of how they were treated by the government in the past, Dr. Vullierme found the opposite to be the case.

“In fact, they navigate their differences very well,” she said, noting she also found military service via the Canadian Ranger program is very popular among Inuit in the region and that those who choose to serve do so with pride.

“Serving with 2 CRPG is a real honor for them. They have a great desire to be well-prepared to perform the tasks assigned to them.”

Dr. Vullierme said she particularly enjoyed seeing the respect CAF personnel have for their Inuit Ranger colleagues.

“The 2 CRPG instructors adapt more to the Inuit culture than the reverse. The training offered does not come at the expense of Inuit culture. I really feel they learn from each other.”

Applause for  the Junior Canadian Rangers program

Over the course of her work in Canada, Dr. Vullierme found the Inuit she encountered were grateful for the positive effects the CAF presence has on the youth in their communities.

“The Junior Canadian Rangers program and the values it conveys are of great importance to them, particularly in terms of the personal development of young people in their communities.”

Next steps for Dr. Vullierme

Although her thesis is now completed, Dr. Vullierme will continue her studies and research on military life.

In November 2018, she began a postdoctoral position at the Strategic Research Institute of École Militaire in Paris. She expressed gratitude to the 2 CRPG chain of command for opening the doors and facilitating the task.

"Among other things, they allowed me to go where the Canadian Rangers work to interact with the Inuit."

A realistic portrait: 2 CRPG commander

Lieutenant-Colonel Benoit Mainville, 2 CRPG’s Commander, said Dr. Vullierme’s thesis presents an accurate picture. He appreciated reading the summary of the thesis.

"She has very well understood the kind of relationship that 2 CRPG has with the Inuit, and has had for a very long time,” he said.

He explained that for the CAF, it has always been important for the Inuit to maintain their culture and traditions.

"Their ancestral knowledge is essential to enable us to carry out our missions in this region of the country where the weather conditions can be very challenging. They have as much to teach us that we have to teach them."

LCol Mainville confirmed that local Inuit community members take great pride in their service with 2 CRPG.

“In fact, just over one in 10 adults in this community are currently members of the Canadian Rangers,” he added.

Approximately 5000 Canadian Rangers currently serve in northern and remote communities across Canada. A sub-component of the Army Reserve Force, Rangers assert Canadian sovereignty as well as assisting in search and rescue operations and in natural disaster response.

The Junior Canadian Rangers program is open to youth aged 12-18. Canadian Ranger mentors teach these youth traditional skills – such as hunting, fishing and living off the land – as well as Ranger skills, including first aid and firearm safety.

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