Friday, April 1, 2011

The Eskimo..."Standing on guard for thee."

“Military to test new Arctic search-and-rescue plan.
Rapid reaction force would focus on airplane crashes, environmental incidents and shipping accidents.”

So read the headline in the GLOBE and MAIL published March 31, 2011 and written by a Bob Weber.

I guess it’s befitting the Eskimo is “standing on guard for thee.”  After all, Canada is our home on Native land.

How ‘bout this for a mouthful…The Rapid Reaction Force North.  A Lt. Colonel Gino Chretien says, “It’s a project to try and get troops up as fast as possible if an incident happens up here in the North.” The Force’s main component is obvious, utilizing local Eskimos who exist in all of Canada’s Arctic communities. It’s no secret too the Arctic throughout history has been used for military purposes. For example, in the mid 1950’s the United States (U.S.) government leased land across the Arctic from Canada and built the then Distant Early Warning Line (DEW Line). Even then, utilizing local Eskimos like my late father contributed to the construction of and worked for the U.S. at a number of those radar sites in the western arctic. The DEW Line sites have now been upgraded to what is known as the largely unmanned North Warning System. Today, any Arctic rescues are coordinated out of the Search-and-Rescue Centre in Trenton, Ontario, thousands of kilometers away and any rescues can take days for any kind of initial response.

Enter the Eskimo…now known as Inuit and “Rangers.”  Like Tonto used to say to his buddy, the Lone Ranger, the Eskimo is perhaps the new “Kimosabe” (trusted friend).

Capacity building for the Rangers is an issue though. “It isn’t clear what help the Rangers would be able to provide beyond, “…polar bear security and comfort” says Lt. Colonel Chretien.

The Rapid Reaction Force North, of course, requires further development. For now, the project known as Operation Nunalivut will deploy aircraft from Comox, BC on Vancouver Island and Greenwood, Nova Scotia on the east coast. I guess notifying the local Eskimo – Inuit – Ranger is as “rapid” as you’re going to get.  I guess too, it won’t be just up to God to keep us “glorious and free.”