“Indigenous Communities are at the Heart of Canada’s North”: Media Misperceptions of the Canadian Rangers, Indigenous Service, and Arctic Security

P. Whitney Lackenbauer


This article critically interrogates the assumptions and critiques levelled at the Canadian Rangers by two ardent media critics: Robert Smol and Scott Gilmore. Situating the Canadian Rangers in the Canadian Armed Forces’ Arctic Operational Picture, it argues that the Rangers are an appropriate and operationally valued component of a Canadian military posture designed to address Northern risks across the defence-security-safety mission spectrum. Rather than seeing the Rangers as a sideline to the “serious” military show that Smol and Gilmore would like to see play out in the North, their proven ability to operate in difficult and austere environmental conditions – often reflecting applied Indigenous knowledge of their homelands – and to maintain interoperability with mission partners to address practical security challenges is highly valuable. By serving as the “Eyes, Ears, and Voice” of the CAF in their communities, the Rangers embody federal approaches to collaboration and partnership predicated on ideas that Northerners are best placed to make decisions in areas that impact them.

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.