Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in the gallery today, we have five members of the 1st Canadian Rangers Patrol Group from Hay River that I’m proud to welcome to the Legislative Assembly.

Rangers have become a fixture across the North. The 60 patrols and the three territories are comprised of 1,800 Rangers, making the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group the largest single reserve unit in the Canadian Armed Forces. The Hay River Patrol was established in 2011 after two and a half years of commitment and hard work by its members.

It is often said that the Rangers are the eyes and ears of the military. However, Mr. Speaker, they are much more than that. Rangers provide local knowledge and expertise to the Armed Forces, participate in search and rescue operations, provide support in response to natural and man-made disasters and humanitarian operations, and provide assistance to federal, territorial, and municipal authorities.

The 18 members of the Hay River Patrol are responsible for patrolling an area within a 150 km radius of Hay River, which includes the Great Slave Lake to the north, taiga plains to the south, and boreal forest to the east. As we know, Mr. Speaker, conditions are very different in the winter and summer, so training occurs throughout the year.

Last summer, members of the Hay River Patrol took part in Operation Nunakput marine training exercises, alongside members of the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the RCMP, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association, and various federal government departments. They participated in maritime patrols and training, and search and rescue exercises, that allowed them to practice their interoperability and hone their skills.

As I said, Mr. Speaker, training happens throughout the year, and this week, the Rangers in the gallery had a chance to hone their skills on the lake, under different conditions. They made their way to Yellowknife from Hay River via the Great Slave Lake. They spent four days traversing the frozen lake on snowmobiles. The temperature was in the mid-negative 30s; however, the wind chill meant that it felt closer to -70. One Ranger was forced to tum back, not because he couldn’t handle it, but because the machine he was driving couldn’t handle it. However, Mr. Speaker, despite the machinery and communication equipment that could barely hand the journey, and despite the cold, the wind, the pressure ridges, the snow drifts, and the whiteout conditions, they made it across the lake no worse for the wear, and with a wealth of new experiences and knowledge.

At the appropriate time, I will introduce the members, but I would like to ask the Assembly to help me in welcoming them to the Legislative Assembly. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Further to my Member’s statement, I would like to welcome, from the Hay River Ranger Patrol, Master Corporal Rob Wilkins, Ranger Warren Gibb, Ranger Quentin Steinwand, and, as it is International Women’s Day, I’d like to introduce and celebrate the two female rangers we have, Ranger Sheila Warren, who I’m told is the best marksman in the Ranger patrol, as well as Ranger Linda Carter who, in addition to being Hay River’s co-reigning citizen of the year, I am told is also the toughest Ranger.