The Social Contribution of the Canadian Rangers: A Tool of Assimilation or Means of Agency?
The Canadian Rangers is a subcomponent of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) reserve deployed in remote areas of Canada. Canadian Rangers’ patrols are composed mainly of indigenous under the responsibility of non-indigenous instructors. This close association of indigenous people with a non-indigenous military force raises the questions of assimilation and agency. How do patrols’ members describe the Canadian Rangers? Do elements of assimilation or of agency transpires from their discourse? This paper is based on an inductive analysis of twenty interviews and observations conducted in 2016 in Quebec. Two central themes can be identified in the data. First, phrases, or part of phrases, pointing towards the identification of assimilation were identified. Yet these elements refer to the assimilation – albeit limited – of instructors rather than Inuit. Second, elements referring to a positive contribution to Inuit agency were identified. These elements further explain the active support of Inuit for the subcomponent.