Thompson, Nelson House, The Pas RCMP officers learn wilderness survival from Gillam Canadian Rangers

Six Northern Manitoba RCMP officers took part in basic wilderness survival training with two dozen Canadian Armed Forces soldiers from Western Canada in Gillam Oct. 25-27, learning about shelters, signals, food water and being alone in the outdoors from Canadian Rangers.

The Canadian Ranger Gillam Patrol hosted the survival training weekend along with members from the Snow Lake and Swan River Canadian Ranger patrols.

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Canadian Rangers are are class A part-time reservists in the Canadian Army Reserve Force. There are about 5,000 of them in five patrol groups covering more than 400 Canadian communities. Their mission is to provide lightly equipped and self-sufficient mobile forces to support the Canadian Armed Forces sovereignty and domestic missions. They often operate in sparsely settled northern, coastal and isolated areas that can’t be covered conveniently or economically by other Canadian Armed Forces subcomponents. As such, operating in remote wilderness areas is second nature to them, and they often take part in search and rescue operations.

After lessons on wilderness survival basics, the Western Canadian soldiers and RCMP officers from Thompson, Nelson House and The Pas, were split into groups of two and taken into remote wilderness areas with only a sleeping bag, their clothes, matches, a tarp, an axe and one military food ration. For two days and two nights they practised building and starting fires, building shelters, finding a water sources and feeding themselves by either picking berries or setting up snares forsmall game. Canadian Rangers checked on them a few times a day, providing tips to improve their campsites.

“The biggest challenge that the candidates faced this weekend was the weather,” said Canadian Ranger Gillam Patrol commander Sgt. Darren Walker in a press release. “This fall type of area is a cool, wet, damp environment so just making sure they have shelter and fire are the biggest factors. We all know you can go a couple of days without food, but for the amount of time they are out there hyperthermia can set in if they just sit in their sleeping bag and have rain and snow fall on them.”

Thompson RCMP member and participant Sgt. Glenn Stuckless said the training is important for Northern Manitoba RCMP officers, who travel on winter roads and to remote locations in pairs quite often.

“If they get stranded somewhere these are the skills they are going to need,” he said, adding that networking with Canadian Ranger members in the area was also valuable. “These are the Canadian Rangers that will respond when we call for assistance with local ground search and rescues. They have a wealth of knowledge and it is great to be able to learn from them. It is really neat for the RCMP members to show up and learn the fundamental survival skills such as starting a fire, how to build a basic shelter, survive without food, and find a water source. A lot of members that come up to northern detachments might not have these skills so it is a great learning experience for them and I am hoping to continue to do this type of training with Canadian Rangers and get RCMP officers from across the province to take part.”

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