Mentorship, mental health the focus at Ranger ‘Train the Trainer’ event

Article / March 20, 2019 / Project number: 19-0034

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By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs

Rigaud, Quebec — Junior Canadian Ranger Instructors (JCRI), the men and women who guide the Junior Canadian Rangers (JCR) program in Canada’s remote and Northern communities, gather periodically for a wide-ranging working group event, where the importance of their key tasks and roles are reinforced.

JCRIs from across the country were in Rigaud, Quebec January 16 and 17, 2019 for a ‘Train the Trainer’ session. This annual event is a two-way discussion in which JCRIs not only receive training but also exchange ideas and hear from outside experts.

Chief Warrant Officer William Crawford, Formation Chief of the National Cadet and Junior Canadian Rangers Support Group Headquarters (Natl Cadet and JCR Sup Group HQ), addressed the group, saying JCR and Cadets are among the largest youth programs in the country and will continue to be seen as a national priority.

Mentorship skills honed to empower youth

“Never underestimate this country’s commitment to youth development,” said CWO Crawford.

Colonel Paul Fleury, Natl CJCR Sp Gp HQ Deputy Commander, said urban Canadians often make the assumption that their rural counterparts are always well-versed in the wilderness skills that are the stock-in-trade of Canadian Rangers, which are a sub-component of the Canadian Army Reserve. They provide patrols and detachments for national security and public safety missions in sparsely settled northern, coastal and isolated areas of Canada.

In fact, he added, that’s often not the case for all youth in the North and other far-flung regions and they could certainly benefit from joining the JCR program.

“The work you’re doing is bringing those skill sets to those communities. Your job is to empower people, provide the tools.”

That said, Col Fleury urged the JCRIs to leave much of the responsibility to local mentors once they have been trained.

“Be the coach, not the quarterback,” he said. “Your job is to make sure things get done.”

Master Warrant Officer Dan Hryhoryshen, Company Sergeant Major of 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (4 CRPG), which is responsible for the Western provinces, also addressed the group.

MWO Hryhoryshen has been part of the Canadian Rangers since 1991 and had a hand in establishing patrols in British Columbia and Ontario. He expanded on Col Fleury’s comments, suggesting responsibility for training JCRs should be a 60/40 per cent split between local mentors and the Canadian Army.

He noted, too, that he has seen many youth succeed with the guidance of their local JCR mentors in his time with the program.

“Don’t underestimate the impact of mentorship on youth.”

Youth mental health supported

Mental health is a key consideration for any organization working with youth and was covered at the event on several fronts. Representatives from the Canadian Red Cross gave an overview of Psychological First Aid, a certification course that teaches students how to support both their own mental health and to help others cope.

RCMP representatives Sergeant Donnie Caisse and Mylaine Gauvreau, outlined the RCMP’s National Youth Strategy which, like the JCR program, engages directly with youth to positively influence their development.

The JCRIs were also asked for their input on updates to the Preventing Harassment and Abuse through Successful Education (PHASE) program.

Developed by the Department of National Defence with the help of the Canadian Red Cross and other expert organizations, PHASE teaches JCRs to recognize and respond to various forms of harassment and abuse, and includes topics such as discipline, consent, substance abuse and suicide.

The JCR program is for youth aged 12 to 18 living in remote and isolated communities. JCR mentors pass on a variety of Ranger and traditional Indigenous skills such as first aid, hunting and fishing, and living off the land.

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