Canadian Forces ranger patrol activated in northern Sask. First Nation to help guard against COVID

·2 min read

A special group of northern Canadian Armed Forces reservists are helping a northern Saskatchewan community guard against the threat of COVID-19.

Members of the Wollaston Lake Canadian Ranger Patrol spent the weekend getting ready to support the nearby Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation to prepare for any coronavirus cases.

While Hatchet Lake has not had any cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, officials looked at rising counts in neighbouring communities, and didn't want to take any chances.

"We're lucky we have nothing," said Hatchet Lake Chief Bart Tsannie.

"But we don't know what's coming tomorrow or the next week or the next month because the virus is right on our doorstep."

According to the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority, on Sunday there were 89 cases in the Far North East region, where Hatchet Lake is located.

The Ranger group will be doing whatever it can to help out the community, especially elderly people.

"Right now, we're just piling wood for the people who can't get wood for themselves," said Peter Gazandlare, a band councillor and veteran member of the Rangers.

"We're doing whatever we can to help out the community at this time."

The Wollaston Lake Rangers were mobilized in the community for three months at the start of the pandemic, but were called down in the summer.

Another group of Rangers in Ile-a-la-Crosse were also activated this spring, helping out the community with emergency planning and distributing supplies.

Chief Tsannie said a group of health workers, elders and others have been meeting in the community weekly, to try to make sure the virus doesn't get a foothold in the community.

The Canadian Rangers perform a wide variety of roles in the community, including search and rescue and emergency preparedness across northern Canada.

The Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation is located 700 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.