Each year, those who pass by the National War Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier might see the sunlight bouncing off buttons on a dark green Canadian Army uniform or a black Royal Canadian Navy jacket. They might see the Royal Canadian Air Force’s distinctive blue wedge cap. This year, passersby may have also noticed the Canadian Rangers’ signature red ball cap and matching red sweatshirt.
The National Sentry Program (NSP) sees sentries posted from April to November at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the National War Memorial. The sentries honour the sacrifice of Canada’s military personnel. Since its beginning in 2007, the NSP has had military personnel from all over Canada stand as sentries, guarding the Tomb. However, for the first time in the program’s history, the Canadian Rangers were included for one of the rotations.
From June 10 to 25, 2018, Canadian Rangers stood as sentries at the National War Memorial. Although this was the first time that the Canadian Rangers have been tasked to provide sentries for the NSP, this is just one of the many times they’ve served Canada.
An essential part of the Canadian Army’s Reserve Force, the Canadian Rangers represent the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in over 200 communities, many of which are located in Canada’s remote and isolated areas. Rangers have aided in research and data collection to advance environmental knowledge. They also help respond to natural disasters and search and rescue operations, just to name a few examples of the wide array of tasks they face.
Master Corporal Dallas Allison of the 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (CRPG), the Port Simpson Patrol and the British Columbia Company expressed the satisfaction he finds in his experience as a Canadian Ranger. “It has been incredibly rewarding. I’m continually pushing myself out of my comfort zone, which has helped me to grow as a person, and improved my leadership skills, survival skills, tracking skills and mentoring skills. I’m very proud to be a Ranger and proud of our accomplishments as a patrol, company and group. I’m proud to serve this country.”
For some, being a Canadian Ranger is almost innate. “I was born and raised in a remote area out in the bush and the skills I learned from living in that environment make being a Canadian Ranger a natural fit,” said Sergeant Vivian McDonald of the 4th CRPG, the Alberta-Saskatchewan Company and the Grande Cache Patrol.
The Rangers agree that participating in the NSP was an exceptional experience. “The most interesting and important thing I have done as a Canadian Ranger is being part of the first time Rangers across Canada have participated in the National Sentry Program,” stated Master Corporal Mike Sheppard of the 5th CRPG and the Labrador City Patrol.
A business owner. Proud parents. A volunteer ski patroller. The sentries come from diverse backgrounds, but the thread connecting these reservists is their experience of being the first ten sentries to represent approximately 5 000 active Canadian Rangers.
“I cannot articulate enough the sense of pride and honour I feel to be able to participate in the NSP,” said Sergeant McDonald. “I am humbled to be able to personally honour those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for Canada. I am proud to represent 4th CRPG, the Alberta-Saskatchewan Company and the Grande Cache Patrol, the Aseniwuche Nation of Canada, and my family in Canada’s capital.”
The purpose of the NSP is to reinforce remembrance and respect for those who have served. The NSP also highlights Canada’s rich military history displayed by the National War Memorial. Having Canadian Rangers guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier not only continues their mission, but it exhibits the many ways CAF members are currently serving Canadians.
The Maple Leaf, Dawnieca Palma, Canadian Joint Operations Command Public Affairs