Rangers end summer on high note

Submitted by the Stewardship Youth Rangers

Our last week as Stewardship Youth Rangers with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry was filled with plenty of hard work and learning!

We went to MNRF’s Aviation Forest Fire and Emergency Services’ forward attack base at Vedette Lake, where fire management technician Randy Opaski spoke to us about fire operations and career opportunities.

We also received a full briefing on safety and procedures when taking flight in a helicopter!

A FireRanger crew showed us how to safely handle tools used on the fire line, such as setting up and operating water pumps and laying hose, which we had a chance to try by fighting a mock fire.

Then on the Tuesday, we hosted our annual year-end presentation and barbecue at the United Native Friendship Centre in Fort Frances to share our experiences and accomplishments with co-workers, program partners, and family.

We discussed why we felt our work was important, the benefit our projects have had on the environment in our communities, and the important skills we have acquired.

We also shared a video that showcased all of the hard work we accomplished this summer.

It was a wonderful day and we thank everyone who came out to support us!

The following day, we travelled to the Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung National Historical Site, also known as Manitou Mounds, located along the Rainy River to attend the second-annual Youth and Elders Summit.

This was an opportunity to bring elders and youth together to share our experiences and learn from each other.

The day began with introductions, a pipe ceremony to open the event, and several songs. We then gave a presentation on our work and the learning opportunities we had experienced.

We were grateful that the elders provided their insights about the program, and shared their own experiences and stories. And we were very proud when the elders and other participants acknowledged all of the hard work we have done with an honour song.

A big meegwetch to everyone who took the time to spend the day with us!

On the Thursday, we toured several sites of New Gold’s Rainy River project, located about 65 km northwest of Fort Frances.

This mine site currently is in the development stage, but we were able to tour the core shacks (where the processing plant will be), tailings pond sites, and the actual open pit.

New Gold’s staff geologists explained how they use magnetic fields to determine the location of different types of minerals. We also learned about the impact the mine will have on the environment and how the company is planning to restore the area following its operations.

It was a very interesting day and a great opportunity to learn how this project will impact our area.

Then on the Friday, we travelled to Rainy River to count seedlings at an oak grove site.

We learned this oak community is unique to this part of Ontario and is targeted for a prescribed burn, which will restore and maintain the grove by increasing the population of woodland species and reducing competing non-fire-tolerant species.

We learned that fire is important to natural plant regeneration.

It was a great last week for all of the SYR in Fort Frances. As we reflect on our summer, all of us agree that this job was one filled with memories to cherish and experiences that will benefit us well into the future.

A big thank you to everyone who made this great experience possible, and thanks to all of you for following us as we shared experiences on our journey!